Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Unfabulous Baker Bowl

On this date in history:
1927: In the top of the seventh at the Baker Bowl with Phillies leading the Cardinals, 12-4, a section of the right field stand collapses causing hundreds of fans to fall on the patrons below. Although there are many injuries, the only death is caused by the stampeding crowd.

The fabulous Baker Bowl, as it was never called, housed the Phillies from 1895 until 1938, but to call it a major league ballpark would be an overstatement. It was so small that at its peak, it seated about 23,000 fans and it featured some of the shortest outfield fences in baseball. Gavvy Cravath, for example, fashioned a pretty good career in the Baker Bowl as a dead ball era power hitter; from 1913 to 1915, he hit 51 of his 62 home runs in Philadelphia.

But its small size isn’t really what separates it from a typical major league stadium—it’s the fact that the park was so poorly made that on not one but two separate occasions--first in 1903, then in 1927--sections of the stands collapsed during games, killing a dozen people and injuring hundreds. That Philadelphia management didn’t shut the place down after the first collapse is unconscionable. But that managerial incompetence probably explains why the Phillies won only a single pennant during their entire time in that ballpark.

No comments: