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Friday, August 03, 2012

RAB: Imagine: These Yankees at the original Yankee Stadium

“though it was a bit deeper in right-center”...Glad to see the LeTrostvine line is still being swallowed.

It’s hard to imagine any park looking quite like the one in which the Yankees played before the 1970s renovations. The dimensions were, by the modern standard, incomprehensible. Imagine you’re Alex Rodriguez and you hit one right on the sweet spot. It soars out to left-center and lands 390 feet from the plate — but is in the field of play.

(Or, better yet, imagine his 500th home run. That also would have been in the field of play, thanks to a 461-foot fence in center.)

True, the Yankees typically pound their homers to right. Back in the day the Stadium still had that short porch — it was actually a little shorter down the line, though it was a bit deeper in right-center — so it would have still played to the Yankees’ primary strength. But it’s hard to imagine the Yankees hitting many of their homers anywhere near right field.

Of course, there were righties who hit for power at Yankee Stadium. Joe DiMaggio led the league in home runs in 1937 while playing more than half of his game at Yankee Stadium. He hit 27 of his 46 homers on the road, sure, but that’s still 19 at home. He also produced a near .300 ISO at home, and an overall 1.061 OPS. Apparently that cavernous right field didn’t hold him back a bit.

...Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be room in today’s game for a park as oddly shaped as the old Yankee Stadium. Which is a shame. Sure, it might be difficult to lure pull-heavy right handed power hitters, but it’s not as though the Yankees attract, or even seek, many of them anyway. (A-Rod, for example, had superb opposite-field power). I’d love to see modern teams play in a Stadium like that.

Repoz Posted: August 03, 2012 at 01:31 PM | 22 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history, yankees

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   1. Steve Treder Posted: August 03, 2012 at 02:04 PM (#4199859)
(I haven’t seen the stat anywhere, and I’m sure he went opposite field plenty, but I have to wonder how many of DiMaggio’s homers were inside the parkers.)


No, I've read multiple places that DiMaggio was a dead pull hitter, and that most of the HRs he hit in Yankee Stadium were right down the line, which was only 318 feet. Left-center at home was where he hit all those triples, and yes, he likely hit more than a few inside-the-parkers.
   2. McCoy Posted: August 03, 2012 at 02:10 PM (#4199867)
Joe hit three inside the park home runs and only one of them was at Yankee Stadium. The other two were in STL and Philly.
   3. vortex of dissipation Posted: August 03, 2012 at 02:11 PM (#4199869)
B-R has DiMaggio credited with one inside the park home run at Yankee Stadium (in 1938) and two on the road. Everything I've read also says that Joe D. was a pull hitter.

Edit: Coke to McCoy
   4. McCoy Posted: August 03, 2012 at 02:14 PM (#4199874)
BRef has locations for 50 of his homers. Of those 50 40 of them went to left and 3 of them went to right. BRef has locations for 22 of his home HR and of those 22 16 went to the left and 3 went to the right.
   5. Brian Posted: August 03, 2012 at 02:17 PM (#4199879)
Imagine you’re Alex Rodriguez and you hit one right on the sweet spot. It soars out to left-center and lands 390 feet from the plate — but is in the field of play.


You mean like now? It's 399 to left center and 408 to center.
   6. The Long Arm of Rudy Law Posted: August 03, 2012 at 02:27 PM (#4199885)
A-Rod's 500th HR was down the left-field line.
   7. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: August 03, 2012 at 02:48 PM (#4199906)
A-Rod's 500th HR was down the left-field line.
It was. I suspect they mean the 600th, which was to dead center.

That was also, almost exactly, two years ago and A-Rod has hit 44 since. Not a record-breaking pace, I suspect.
   8. JE (Jason Epstein) Posted: August 03, 2012 at 02:51 PM (#4199910)
Hmmm, how would Joe D have fared at Safeco?
   9. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: August 03, 2012 at 03:41 PM (#4199955)
Ichiro's hair never stank of rice bran oil or smelly squid grease.
   10. AndrewJ Posted: August 03, 2012 at 06:16 PM (#4200142)
Imagine a lineup that balances those players with ones that can poke the ball into that enormous right-center field gap. In-his-prime Ichiro, for example, would have been great for that kind of gap hitting.

Modern field technology would make such a park even more attractive. While I wouldn’t want to remove the monuments from center field, there wouldn’t be any career-changing sprinklers in the outfield. Basically we’d have the old-time layout with modern technology. I’d be game for that.


Until 1973, the monuments were in the field of play. Bringing that back might be cool.
   11. Bowling Baseball Fan Posted: August 03, 2012 at 07:26 PM (#4200201)
When it came to field shape, nobody's were stranger than Fenway. Some were deeper and shallower, but that field is like a puzzle piece in a city sized jigsaw puzzle.
   12. Steve Treder Posted: August 03, 2012 at 07:40 PM (#4200210)
When it came to field shape, nobody's were stranger than Fenway. Some were deeper and shallower, but that field is like a puzzle piece in a city sized jigsaw puzzle.

Um, no. The Polo Grounds.
   13. Bowling Baseball Fan Posted: August 03, 2012 at 07:43 PM (#4200211)
Polo was just a big oval. Sticking baseball in the wrong building. Huntington Avenue Grounds will always be my favorite.
   14. McCoy Posted: August 03, 2012 at 07:47 PM (#4200214)
Polo was just a big oval. Sticking baseball in the wrong building. Huntington Avenue Grounds will always be my favorite.

They built the Polo Grounds for baseball!
   15. Steve Treder Posted: August 03, 2012 at 08:00 PM (#4200226)
They built the Polo Grounds for baseball!

Precisely. A sport never intended to be played in a big oval.

It was just a weird, weird stadium. If it hadn't existed, and a writer of historical fiction imagined it, that writer would be hooted down as having no clue about baseball parks.
   16. Bowling Baseball Fan Posted: August 03, 2012 at 08:03 PM (#4200230)
Man, my memory of the history of the place was all out of whack. I had it partially right, but put the overlapping polo/baseball years in the wrong place. By about 25 years. There does seem to be a sense of why change the original field every time they rebuilt the place.
   17. Bowling Baseball Fan Posted: August 03, 2012 at 08:11 PM (#4200233)
When I played softball in a rinky dink bar league years ago, that league had some classic old time wierd baseball parks. My home field was a reverse mini Fenway. Left field followed the road with a tree line guarding the street. Center just kept going forever following the neighbors fence. Right field had a 100 yr old two story schoolhouse right on top of the field. So close that hitting the roof was a ground rule double. You had to hit it over to get a HR. Obviously, our team was as loaded with lefties as it could get. Even my skinny ass could at least get doubles off the building. It was a great place.
   18. TerpNats Posted: August 04, 2012 at 10:06 PM (#4200678)
Let's not forget that dimensions in the early years of the renovated (1976) Stadium weren't all that different from the original ballpark, particularly in left-center (Death Valley). It wasn't until Steinbrenner decided to make Monument Park a fan attraction that Death Valley was moved in.

I still wish that the Marlins ballpark had been built in a shape similar to the Polo Grounds, sort of echoing the Orange Bowl. (I'm not sure you could have done it strictly over the same footprint for sun reasons, but it would have been fun.)
   19. JE (Jason Epstein) Posted: August 04, 2012 at 10:21 PM (#4200686)
I still wish that the Marlins ballpark had been built in a shape similar to the Polo Grounds, sort of echoing the Orange Bowl. (I'm not sure you could have done it strictly over the same footprint for sun reasons, but it would have been fun.)

Indeed, but as noted in a prior thread, MLB rules prohibit new ballparks from having the foul poles that close to home plate.
   20. McCoy Posted: August 04, 2012 at 10:29 PM (#4200697)
Unless they get an exemption. Which several new ballparks have gotten.
   21. JE (Jason Epstein) Posted: August 04, 2012 at 11:18 PM (#4200722)
Unless they get an exemption. Which several new ballparks have gotten.

What you're describing -- foul poles well under 300 feet away -- would go far beyond the usual exemption, no?
   22. TerpNats Posted: August 05, 2012 at 12:12 AM (#4200736)
Actually, I was thinking of the Polo Grounds shape more than the actual dimensions. Instead of 279 to left, 257 to right and 483 to dead center, as was the case in NY, how about 341 to left, 330 to right and 400 to center, but with deep alleys in the corners? Lots of caroms, doubles and triples, plenty of action. Have the seats down the lines gradually angle towards second base, with space between the walls and seats for bullpens (visitors in left, home team in right or vice versa).

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