Mr. Baker Bowl himself, Chuck Klein. Probably no player’s career was as affected by the Baker Bowl as Klein’s was. He was a lefthanded batter who learned to hit high flyballs into right field, and batted an incredible .395 in 581 career games at the Baker Bowl (He hit .286 in road games and .221 after the Phillies moved to Shibe). He also hit 164 homers there, as opposed to the 136 he hit in the over 1200 games he played in stadiums other than the Baker Bowl. In 1933, his splits were laughably absurd, as he hit .467 with 20 HRs and 81 RBIs in 72 games at home, and .280 with 9 homers and 39 RBIs in 80 games on the road. This home cooking kept Klein out of the Hall until 1980.
This shot must have been taken in the 1900s or 1910s, because there is a beer sign (before Prohibition) and the fence is moved in tight at center (there would later be a gap between those center field seats and the fence, which provided sort of a strange nook you can see below). Notice how center field stands seem to extend into the field. You can also see it in centerfield of this pic of Baker Bowl dimensions. I also don’t see the Lifebuoy sign or the tin fence above. I do know they moved the rightfield wall back about 8 feet in the 1920s. I’m thinking that that created the strange nook in center, and is why you don’t see it in the above photo. As for the giant tin wall in right, that was an added creation once they realized how absurdly easy it was to hit a home run there.
This is just a great shot of the whole venue (sent to us by site fan Mark Komp), though whoever wrote “America’s finest ballpark” was clearly delusional or had never been to another ballpark. Must have been so weird to play center. You could run due right chasing a fly ball and crash into a fence. I believe this shot was from the 1930s. I know that Coke sign was still standing after the ballpark was no longer in use.
This shot gives you a good idea of just how tall that crazy right field wall was. 60 feet, 23 feet taller than the Green Monster. CHeck out how it looms over the guy in right field. It was constructed of a bunch of different materials, then covered with tin, so it made a very distinctive sound when the ball hit it. ANd keep in mind, the mesh fence above the green was also part of the field.
Here are the umps for the 1915 World Series at the Baker Bowl. The guy with the megaphone is the PA announcer, and I wonder if he is the same guy you see in this postcard, since it was a similar time period. Now if you haven’t seen it already, this computerized model of Baker Bowl is well worth a gander.
Here’s Part 1 of the Baker Bowl photos.
The Phils played their final game at the Baker Bowl on June 30th, so today I’m gonna post a couple of things about Baker Bowl. I really liked this piece, written about Baker Bowl, in 1937 by a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. Gonna post some pics and videos soon.
On May 25th, 1935, the Babe, playing out his career as a member of the Boston Braves, put on a show in Pittsburgh. He went 4-4 with 3 Home Runs and 6 RBIs. In the two movies that depicted the Babe’s career (The Babe Ruth Story in 1948 and The Babe in 1992), it was portrayed as his final game. It was not. The Babe played in 5 more games, the last of which came at Baker Bowl against the Phillies on Memorial Day, May 30th. It did not provide much of a Hollywood ending.
The following comes from the Philadelphia Athletics Historical Society:
Ruth was inserted in the line-up, batting third and playing leftfield. Coming up to bat in the first inning, Ruth faced Phillies’ pitcher Jim Bivin. 1935 was Bivin’s only year in the Major Leagues, and he played the entire season with the Phillies. He compiled an unenviable 2-9 record for a woeful team that would finish the season in seventh place with a 56-93 record. Bivin, nevertheless, would have the singular distinction of being the last pitcher ever to face Babe Ruth in a Major League game.
At the plate, Ruth grounded out softly to Phillies first baseman Dolph Camilli as the Braves went down without scoring any runs in the inning. Ruth took his customary place in the outfield for the bottom half of the inning. Phillies’ second baseman Lou Chiozza hit a soft fly to leftfield. Ruth came in trying to make the catch, but the ball dropped in front of him and rolled past him to the wall. A run scored, but Chiozza, trying for an inside-the-park home run, was thrown out at the plate when Braves shortstop Bill Urbanski retrieved the ball and got it back to Braves catcher Al Spohrer in time for the tag out. The Phillies wound up scoring three runs in the inning and would go on to win the game 11-6.
The Babe, frustrated, took himself out of the game after the first inning. The Babe had already stated that this would be the last road trip of his career, so the fans, aware that this was to be his final appearance in Philadelphia, gave him a loud ovation. The following comes from Rich Westcott’s book Philadelphia’s Old Ballparks:
As the inning ended, Ruth tucked his glove in his pocket, turned, and ran to the clubhouse in centerfield. The fans, sensing that the end of a glorious career might have arrived, rose and gave Ruth a standing ovation.
Catcher Joe Holden and trainer Leo (Red) Miller were in the Phillies clubhouse when Ruth clattered up the stairs past Boston’s first-floor clubhouse and burst through the door into the home team’s locker room. “Red turned and said, ‘Hello, Babe. Is there anything I can do?’ He thought he might have pulled a muscle,” Holden remembered. “Babe said, ‘No, no, there’s nothing you can do for old age. I’ve just had too many good days to have this happen to me.’ Then I saw Red shake hands with the Babe. It didn’t register at the time that Babe’s career was over.”
RELATED: The 1929 World Series Project.
On today’s date in 1887, the Baker Bowl opened for business. The home of the Phillies from 1887-1938, the Baker Bowl was located on North Broad Street, by West Lehigh Avenue. When it opened in 1887, it was considered state of the art. It was the first ever stadium built of brick and steel. The foul territory was enormous, making the stadium non-fan friendly, but it was appreciated by pitchers. The first game, played on April 30th, 1887, was won by the Phillies, 19-10, over the NY Giants. The Phillies would end the 1887 season 75-48, and finish the year 4 games behind the Detroit Wolverines. Amazingly, Phillies pitcher Charlie Ferguson would lead the team in RBIs, with 85, despite only batting 264 times.
The Baker Bowl’s most famous feature was its enormous right field wall. Located a mere 280 feet from home plate, the wall was an incredible 60 feet tall. By comparison, the Green Monster is 37 feet high (and 310 feet from home plate). The enormous wall was an add-on. When the stadium opened, there was a normal sized wall in right, meaning that balls consistently flew out of the park. The Baker Bowl came to be known as The Bandbox. The nickname was later applied to other stadiums, and is now used for any stadium with intimate, homer-friendly features (You might even called CBP a bandbox.)
The Phils played 51 seasons there and only managed one pennant (1915). There was a giant advertising sign on the right field wall which read “The Phillies Use Lifebuoy”. Legend has it that a graffiti artist snuck in one night and next to the ad wrote, “And they still stink.” The Phils were indeed awful for the vast majority of their history in Baker Bowl. They moved to Shibe in 1938 and stayed there until 1970, when they moved into the Vet.
The Philadelphia Athletics Historical Society has an excellent history of the ballpark on their site, and I have posted a bunch of very cool photos after the jump.