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Capacity: 18,800
Baker Bowl

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LF: 342 ft.

LCF: 359 ft.

CF: 408 ft.

RCF: 300 ft.

RF: 281 ft.

Backstop: 60 ft.

Foul territory: Average.

 

Area of fair territory: 92,000 sq. ft.

Area of foul territory: Average

 

Fences: LF - 12 ft

            CF Clubhouse: 35 ft

            RF: 60 feet

 

Elevation: 100 feet

 

General Information

Who Played Here: Philadelphia Phillies (NL), 1887 to 1938
Opened: April 30, 1887
Reopened: April 14, 1904
First night game: No night games were ever played here
Last game: June 20, 1938
Demolished: 1950
Capacity: 18,000 (1895); 20,000 (1929); 18,800 (1930).

 

Architect: Al Reach (Phillies owner)
Owner: Philadelphia Phillies
Cost: $101,000

 

 

 

History

     The Baker Bowl was a marvel when it opened with 18,000 seats on April 30, 1887.  However, the wooden grandstand with its 40-foot-high right-field wall (later increased to 60 feet) was badly damaged in an 1894 fire.  During an August 8, 1903 doubleheader the third base stands collapsed, killing twelve people.  It was badly outdated when it was finally abandoned - the Phillies clung to their decaying park until 1938, when they joined the Athletics at Shibe Park.  In 1950 the Baker Bowl was torn down.

     There were actually two Phillies ballparks at this location.  The first existed from 1887-1894. It was built at a cost of $101,000 and had a seating capacity of 12,500.  There were 5,000 seats in a pavilion behind home plate and 7,500 seats in grandstands that extended down the left and right field lines.  This original ballpark was the first to offer pavilion seating for customers and the first with outside walls built entirely of brick instead of wood.  Virtually the entire ballpark burned to the ground on August 6, 1894. Fans were seated in temporary stands for home games during the rest of the 1894 season. Only part of the exterior outfield wall remained and was incorporated into the newly constructed stadium.

     The second ballpark was built between 1894-95 and was dedicated on May 2, 1895.  It seated 18,800 and is judged by historians as the "first modern ballpark" built for baseball.  The expanded stadium was the first one constructed with a cantilever design-at the time a radically new architectural technique in stadium construction.  Using cantilevered concrete supports eliminated many of the support columns in the pavilion that had made for so much "obstructed view seating" in the original ballpark and other existing stadiums.  Use of the cantilever design, according to one baseball historian, was " a defining moment for the future of ballparks."

     
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     The Baker Bowl fire was only one of several that besought owners of the period, and finally Shibe pioneered the use of concrete and reinforced steel instead of wood.  The new design led to safer parks and greater capacity.

 

The Reuben Berman incident: The Baker Bowl left a different sort of legacy for baseball fans in 1923.  Back then, owners would force fans to return baseballs that were hit foul into the stands - this often led to fan resentment and not a few incidents between ushers and spectators.  But in 1923, a brave 11-year-old named Reuben Berman decided to keep his foul ball.  The Phillies pressed charges, detaining him overnight; their legal case was strong, but the reviewing judge sided with Berman - he argued that the lad was just following his instincts and couldn't be blamed for wanting to keep a souvenir.  Baseball fans have been happy ever since.  

 

 

Analysis

 

     The Coors Field of it's day, the Baker Bowl produced some truly astonishing offensive performances.  For instance, in 1920 the Phillies (led by Cy Williams) smacked 50 HR at home and just 14 on the road.  The ballpark reliably boosted run production by 25% a year, and home runs by even more than that, throughout the 1920s and 1930s until it was abandoned n 1938..

     Far and away the liveliest ballpark of a lively era, the Hump helped Ed Delahanty and Chuck Klein earn their Hall of Fame credentials.  Klein put in a Triple Crown performance in 1933, and was selected the National League's Most Valuable Player, leading the senior circuit in hits (226), runs (152), home runs (38), stolen bases (20), and hitting a remarkable .348 and driving in 137 RBIs.

     Remarkably, Grover Cleveland Alexander also performed well here.  His 1916 record of sixteen shutouts is still the season record (that season, the Phillies smacked 29 HR at home and just 13 on the road).  Over two decades, Alexander won 5 ERA titles, led the league in innings pitched 7 times, and in wins, complete games and strikeouts 6 times each.

     So, a great pitcher can succeed here - but Alexander the Great was surely the exception.  Built on an oddly shaped parcel of land, Baker Bowl had unusual dimensions. From home plate to the bleachers down the left field line was a healthy 341 feet, to dead center field a respectable 408 feet.  However, many a ball was rocketed off the right field wall because it was only 280 feet from home plate down the right field line, a neighborly 310-320 feet in the right center field power ally.  Because of the cozy right field wall, Baker Bowl was often described as a "cigar box" and "band box."

 

Location

 

Philadelphia, PA: Left field (N), West Lehigh Avenue; third base (W), North 15th Street; first base (S), West Huntingdon Street; right field (E), North Broad Street; Philadelphia and Reading Railroad tunnel beneath outfield.  The Baker Bowl was located on a square block in North Philadelphia.  The right field line ran parallel to Huntingdon Street; right field to center field parallel to Broad Street; center field to left field parallel to Lehigh Avenue; and the left field line parallel to 15th Street.

 

 

Park Factors

 

 

 

Runs

HR

1911 115 255
1912 100 150
1913 119 187
1914 106 292
1915 109 320
1916 87 180
1917 114 278
1918 126 255
1919 125 175
1920 127 416
1921 115 233
1922 141 314
1923 144 273
1924 128 221
1925 144 207
1926 120 162
1927 103 124
1928 123 173
1929 130 141
1930 124 116
1931 120 120
1932 133 218
1933 153 181
1934 126 134
1935 137 148
1936 128 187
1937 125 168

 

Dimensions - History

Left field: 335 ft. (1921), 341.5 ft. (1926), 341 ft. (1930), 341.5 ft. (1931)

Center field: 408 ft.

Right-center: 300 ft.

Right field: 272 ft. (1921), 279.5 ft. (1924), 280.5 ft. (1925)

Backstop: 60 ft.

 

Fences - History

Left field: 4 ft. (1895), 12 ft. (1929)

Center-field clubhouse: 35 ft. (with 12 ft. screen on top, 1915)

Right field: 40 ft. (tin over brick, 1895), 60 ft. (40 ft. tin over brick, topped by 20 ft. screen, 1915)

 

Fun Facts

  • On May 30, 1935, Babe Ruth - then a member of the Boston Braves - took himself out of the lineup after the first inning of the first game of a doubleheader at Baker Bowl.  He never again played in a major league game.

  • Woodrow Wilson became the first US President to see a World Series game when he attended the second game of the 1915 World Series at Baker Bowl.

  • No ball ever cleared the 35' wall of the centerfield clubhouse.

  • The site of many Negro League baseball games - the Hilldale Daisies from Darby, PA, often played at the ballpark in the 1920s-1930s.  The Negro League World Series games were played at the ballpark in 1924-26.

  • Informally known by various names including Philadelphia Base Ball Park, the Huntingdon Street Baseball Grounds, National League Park - as it was officially called - and the "Hump," the "Cigar Box" and the "Band Box."  Gradually came to be known as Baker Bowl after William F. Baker, owner of the Phillies between 1913 and 1930.

  • Nicknamed "the Hump" because it was on an elevated piece of ground that had a railroad tunnel underneath the outfield.

  • Swimming pool in the basement of the center-field clubhouse prior to World War I.

  • "Health Soap Stops B.O." Lifebuoy sign on the high right-field wall.

  • Extra seats added in front of the fence in center for the 1915 World Series led directly to the Phillies losing the Series’ last game.

  • Between 1933-35, Baker Bowl was the home field of the Philadelphia Eagles football club-the team's first three years as a franchise in the National Football League. Thus, Baker Bowl became the first dual-use stadium for professional sports in Pennsylvania-an idea that would be formally resurrected with the construction of Veterans Stadium for both the Phillies and Eagles.

  • During Prohibition the outfield wall liquor ads were boarded over with grimy blank boards.

  • Home plate moved back a foot in 1925, making the right field foul pole 280.5 feet rather than 279.5 feet from the plate.

 

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