Forbes Field Forever

Today, I saw a poster next to Michael Rowley’s desk and I asked if any of the baseball fanatics at Plaxo knew which stadium it was of.

Nobody did.

forbes19

I mentioned that I thought that it looked like Forbes Field to me. Given what I remember of the remains of it (the right field wall and home plate), it looks like the Cathedral of Learning would have afforded exactly this sort of view.

(When I was a kid, I used to point at the Cathedral of Learning, “the tallest schoolhouse in the West” and say “my mommy works there” (she actually worked nearby). My mom said that when I was younger I thought it was the Washington Monument: “Whenever we passed it, your eyes would get wide and you’d say reverently, ‘Washington!’”)

It turns out that stopping following baseball after the 1994 strike and being a die-hard Pirates fan had its advantages—it is a view of Forbes Field from the Cathedral of Learning.

A unique moment in baseball

The image is more significant than this. The fans, students at the University of Pittsburgh, are cheering the Bill Mazeroski home-run in the 9th inning of the 7th game of the 1960 World Series.

There are more recognized images of that day:

Maz_montage

The bottom left photo is probably the most recognizeable. I’ve seen that top photo in the montage once as an illustration where they labeled the Yankees on the field. When you see names like Yogi Berra, Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle, you start to wonder how the Pirates could have won that game.

Indeed I had a friend in high school who was a big Yankees fan and he often would mention how the Yankee’s beat the Pirates in every statistic except the one that mattered: games won.

This reminds me why I used to love baseball so much as a kid.

Remembering Forbes Field

Look at that photo again and you can see Carnegie Library and Museum of Natural History behind the scoreboard. It’s in the soot-coveered black that I remember it. In the 90’s they sandblasted the building and I was surprised to find that the building was composed of white sandstone!

In fact all of Schenley Park is on the other side of that fence and the most beautiful parts of Carnegie Mellon University. Look at George Silk’s “aerial shot” and you can see the beauty and character of a classic baseball field.

The first home run in Forbes Field was Babe Ruth’s last one. Now all that is left is the home plate and part of the right field wall. All the rest was destroyed and replaced with Three Rivers Stadium before I could have a memory.

Here is a website devoted to remembering Forbes Field.

An iconic image

Like Michael Rowley, I think I should purchase a print of this photograph.

The Smithsonian has a wonderful write-up on how Silk took this photograph. There are some other Silk photographs mentioned in the article.

It ends:

The Pirates, however, no longer play at Three Rivers but in yet another new stadium, PNC Park. Like other ballparks built in recent years, it was designed to evoke the feel of places like Forbes Field. The smaller parks bring spectators close to the action. They create an intimacy seldom felt in the stadiums they replaced. They try to re-create a time that George Silk captured one October day 42 years ago.

I no longer live in Pittsburgh; I no longer follow baseball. But this does remind me how a photographer can now capture that same feeling that George Silk captured so long ago.

I leave you with such a shot from PNC park that I favorited from Flickr:

“I’m Up Here!” by btezra.

11 thoughts on “Forbes Field Forever

  1. Erin

    I recently learned that my uncle is the young boy (wearing glasses) slapping Bill Mazeroski’s hand as he rounds third base in the final game of the 1960 World Series. I am trying to locate that single photograph so I can purchase it. Can you help? Thank you!

    Reply
  2. tychay Post author

    You can get an 8×10″ print of one photo here. There are probably other places if you try a net search of the name Bill Mazeroski home run.

    If you meant the other photo, I’m not too sure. The Wikicommons link where I got it from point to the following books Baseball in America by Robert Smith; Lost Ballparks by Lawrence Ritter. I’d look it up there and see if there is a captions and photo credit to begin my search. Then you can contact the news agency or rights holder.

    Reply
  3. eli sarver

    I wish you could still go out on the upper floor areas of the Cathedral. I’d love to shoot some photos from up there. Unfortunate that Forbes is now part of Pitt.

    Reply
  4. Paul Carlson

    Minor correction: Babe Ruth’s last home run was not the first home run at Forbes Field, but rather the first one to clear the roof of the right field stands. This homer was the last of three that the Babe had hit in that game (May 25, 1935). Forbes Field opened in 1909.

    Reply
  5. Patti Wilson

    I recently purchased a copy of the famous picture of the students
    on top of the cathedral from a company called art.com.

    Reply
  6. Carol

    The picture atop the Cathedral of Learning is a memory because my husband is in the group of students. That was great when he made Life magazine. As a Pittsburgher, I enjoy memorabilia from home. Love the sports in the Burgh.

    Reply
    1. Jack Herman

      My brother and I, plus several other members of our fraternity. Sigma Alpha Mu, were in that picture. Who is your husband? Does he remember how we go to be in that picture? I don't remember the details.

      Jack Herman

      Reply

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