As I have alluded to before, I have been amassing a small library of baseball books since childhood. With everything from books of trivia to memoirs to baseball literature, I have enough reference material on the sport that I often go to my bookshelf when writing posts here, seeking quotes or anecdotes. In fact, each of my last two offerings has included a reference from my personal library.
Today is no exception.
One of the earliest additions to my collection was a fine book by Lawrence Ritter, The Lost Ballparks. As the title would suggest, the book is devoted to bygone stadiums, places like the Polo Grounds and Forbes Field that have long since been torn down. Each chapter of the book is devoted to one or two ballparks and feature a chronology, with notable events listed. Often, demolition photos are even included, as well as pictures of what stands present day on the former sites (for instance, as of 1991, there was an auto dealership where Seals Stadium used to be in San Francisco.)
One of my favorite photos in the book shows Tony Taylor, a second baseman for the Philadelphia Phillies in the 1960s and ’70s, standing amidst weeds in an abandoned, desolate Connie Mack Stadium. He has a bat on his shoulder and a sad, vacant look in his eyes, as he stands near second base, the old scoreboard behind him. Opened in 1909, the stadium was last used by the Phillies in 1970 and sat derelict until being torn down in 1976. Taylor was photographed in 1974, three years after a fire severely damaged the deserted park.
As someone who minored in history in college, I find material of this sort fascinating. My grandparents own a ranch near Tracy, California with several buildings on the property that date back to the 1930s and before. Growing up, I used to often explore these empty dwellings, structurally unsafe as they’d become. One of the units from a Depression-era worker’s barracks even still has furniture inside from the late 1960s or early ’70s (the woman on the box of Tide has a beehive hairdo.)
Anyhow, I was recently re-reading Ritter’s book and after seeing the photo of Taylor yet again, I decided to see what else I could find online. I found the following on a website called Ballparks of Baseball. Here are links to three cool photos of Connie Mack Stadium, reposted with permission, and how the stadium looked during the half decade it awaited demolition:
This shows the grandstands after the 1971 fire. Note the jungle growth on the former playing field.
And next, more desolation:
Finally, we have a shot from a different angle.
Seems a little strange that old ads were left up– kind of makes me want to drink Coke.
Connie Mack Stadium was finally torn down at the All-Star Break in 1976 and today a church sits on the site. For whatever reason, these historical stadiums never seem to be saved. Demolition wrapped up less than two months ago at Tiger Stadium, which had opened in 1912, and structural demolition began on old Yankee Stadium last week. Hopefully, the same fate will not eventually befall Fenway Park and Wrigley Field.