3501 S. Broad St.
For ticket information call: (215)
Plays Here: Philadelphia
Phillies (NL); Philadelphia Eagles (NFL)
First opened: April 4, 1971
First Phillies game: April 10, 1971
Surface: Astroturf (1971-2000); NeXturf (2001-present)
Hugh Stubbins & Associates
Owner: City of Philadelphia
Cost: $50 million (financed by multiple bond issues)
There isn't much that is nice that I can say about the Vet - looking on
the bright side of this place is like looking on the bright side of a
multi-car accident. From the air, it is an almost perfect circle ...
well, another compliment eludes me.
The Vet was built in haste - and the city has repented in leisure - in a
complex near the southern tip of the city of Philadelphia that includes
the Philadelphia Spectrum, which used to house the Philadelphia Flyers of
the NHL and 76ers of the NBA, and the brand new First Union Center, which
is the new home of those teams. The stadium was built when
multi-purpose, artificial turf, symmetrical facilities were in vogue; the
stadium suffers from a variety of shortcomings common to ballparks of the
era. First of all, the circular configuration of seats may work for
football, but it leaves the majority of fans far removed from the action
on a baseball diamond. For fans in the upper deck, popups to he
second baseman and home runs to dead center are indistinguishable.
The massive foul territory leaves even the best seats in the house removed
from the action. Second, the brightly painted seats - red, orange,
yellow and blue, depending on the level - combine with the garish, almost
fluorescent green of the artificial turf and the matching fences to form a
sickly, garish rainbow of synthetic colors. Third, the hot dogs may
be the smallest in baseball. Fourth, the stadium is completely
encircled - there is no skyline twinkling during night games, no view of
Center City over the outfield backdrop, no waterfall display in center
field or renovated warehouse in rightfield.
Finally, the artificial turf is notoriously ill-kept. Infielders
frequently complain about the "Sunday hops" here, which occur
when the blazing afternoon sun bakes the turf into a hard surface, and
outfielders have been known to watch the ball hop over their heads.
The ball takes a lot of bad bounces here in general, catching seams and
bends in the rock-hard carpet.
Fans: Almost as unforgiving as the turf are the fans. Woe to the
infielder who misses a routine grounder or the outfielder who drops a
routine pop. Fans here are resentful - resentful that their team is
a hard-luck franchise, that they weren't born New Yorkers, that their team
plays in a cookie-cutter monstrosity, that their city is suffering an
urban decay. Perhaps no other fans are as hard on their players as
Phillies fans. For instance, attendance soared above 2.48 million
each year from 1976 to 1980, when the Phillies were wining - they won the
NL East championships in 1976, 1977, and 1978, and in 1980; they won the
World Series in 1980 by beating the Kansas City Royals. The World
Series returned to Veterans Stadium in 1983 and 1993, but the Phillies
lost both times. In 1993, the Phillies were fourth in the NL in
attendance, with a season record of 3,137,674; however, attendance has
since dropped to about half of that, as the team's fortunes have imploded.
The Philadelphia Phillies were one of
baseball's hard-luck franchises in 1971, when the Vet opened. They
had never won a World Series title - and that's going back to their
inception in 1883. The Phillies had been to the World Series just
twice in 88 years: they lost in 5 to the Red Sox in 1915, were swept by
the Yankees in 1950.
Of course, the Philadelphia Athletics had had some success - they won the
Series in 1910, 1911 and 1913, led by Hall of Famers Chief Bender,
"Home Run" Baker;
they went to the big dance in 1929 (beat the Cubs in 5), 1930 (beat the
Cardinals in 6) and 1931 (dropped a Game 7 to the Cards), led by Hall of
Famers Lefty Grove,
Jimmie Foxx and Mickey Cochrane
- but that was a different franchise, and Phillies fans were fed up.
Against this backdrop, they built a vast new stadium, supplanting the
glorious 20,000-eat Shibe Park (which had been built in 1909, and was a
part of the firmament of classic ballparks - the Polo Grounds, Ebbetts
Field, Yankee Stadium, Braves Field, Fenway
Park, Forbes Field, Navin
Field a.k.a Tiger Stadium, the original Comiskey
Park, Wrigley Field, Sportsman's Park
and League Park are the others.) This is still the largest National League ballpark, with a maximum
capacity of 62,418 (although Mile High Stadium temporarily took that title
when the Rockies played there).
After opening in 1971, the fences were raised from
6-feet to 12-feet because of an excessive amount of ground-rule doubles.
The Phillies are currently discussing building a new facility and hope to
finalize an agreement with the city during 2000.
Veterans Stadium Firsts:
Game - April 10, 1971
Hit - Larry Bowa
Run - Ron Hunt
Home run - Don Money
RBI - Bob Bailey
Stolen base - Ron Hunt
Victory - Jim Bunning
Save - Joe Hoerner
Walk - Jim Bunning
Strikeout - Jim Bunning
The park favors no type of hitter in particular, because of its symmetry
and thorough-going averageness of dimension. It tends to play
neutral for home runs somewhat, and gives an advantage to neither righties
nor lefties. It also boosts run production modestly, though not to
an appreciable extent. Hitters pick up the ball well out of the
pitchers' hands, especially during night games.
The artificial turf is poorly kept, and on hot afternoons it virtually
bakes into a hard top. The ball here is known to take notorious
"Sunday hops," and skip over outfielders heads. That said,
error totals tend to be low here, as the turf gives fielders a better
chance to field true bounces cleanly; however, doubles and triples are
boosted greatly as the slick turf sends the ball to the outfield wall with
unmatched rapidity. Agile corner outfielders who can get to the ball
quickly and make strong, accurate throws are welcome.
|Infield error index:
benefits: Hitters with a slashing stroke and gap power. The ball
races to the wall so fast that speedy players can turn singles into
doubles, and doubles into triples.
gets hurt: Slow-footed infielders who can't get to the quick hops
allow a large number of singles to scoot through. Gold Glover Scott Rolen
used to patrol his position with aplomb at third; Jimmy Rollins, who
has great range and speed, is also great at shortstop. Pitchers who get a lot of
ground balls can get singled to death - see Vicente Padilla.
PA: Left field (NE), Packer
Street and Interstate 76; third base (NW), Broad Street and Philadelphia
Naval Hospital; first base (SW), Pattison Avenue; right field (SE), Tenth
lines: 330 ft.
alleys: 371 ft.
field: 408 ft.
1971: 6 ft. -wood
1972: 8 ft. - wood
12 ft. - 6 ft. plexiglass above 6 ft. wood
- Lowest error factor in NL in 1999
- Lowest infield error factor in NL
- Second lowest infield error factor
in NL in 1999, 2000
- Highest double factor in NL in 2000
- Highest triples factor in NL in
- Highest strikeout factor in NL in
- Second lowest error factor in NL in
- Second highest triples factor in NL
- Retired numbers: Richie Ashburn (1),
Robin Roberts (36), Steve Carlton (32), Mike Schmidt (20) and Jim
- A "Liberty Bell" used to
hang from center-field roof on fourth level - it was hit only once, by
by Greg Luzinski, on May 16, 1972.