Baseball is America's past time... probably because baseball lovers are more diehard than any other sports fans out there. Baseball also has a fascinating history that is unique to and deeply rooted in each team's city, and baseball stadiums play a huge role in those stories. Of course, stadiums, like players, come and go. Whether you watched games at an iconic field as a kid or you're simply fascinated by the history that occurred at them, some of these old stadiums have been commemorated with plaques where home plate once was, allowing you to step up to the plate where baseball legends smashed records, wowed the crowds, and sometimes even broke hearts. Here are a few historic home plates you can visit today!
Denver's Old Mile High Stadium was originally built in 1948 for a minor league baseball team, the Denver Bears... which changed their name to the Zephyrs and then moved to New Orleans shortly after. The stadium still got plenty of use, though, because in 1960, the Denver Broncos, the city's new pro football team, took up residence there. Plus, Denver wasn't without a baseball team for long; a year after the Zephyrs left, the city was awarded a major league franchise: the Colorado Rockies. The Rockies played one season at Mile High Stadium while Coors Field was being built. It was used for other sports, like the US Football League Denver Gold and the city's soccer team, the Colorado Rapids, before it was torn down in 2002.
By the time Metropolitan Stadium, Minnesota's multi-sports stadium was abandoned, it was considered one of the worst in both football and baseball. The railings were hazardous, the infield was a mess, and the Vikings threatened to leave town if they weren't given a new place to play. The arena actually sat abandoned and suffered quite a bit of vandalism before it was finally torn down to make way for the Mall of America. The home plate plaque is located in the mall's Nickelodeon Universe, and there's a red stadium chair that marks the exact spot where the longest home run in the park's history landed: it was a massive 520-foot blast to deep left-center, courtesy of Harmon Killebrew. If you're super duper lucky, you might catch a home run just as epic at their current venue, Target Field.
Also known as White Sox Park, Old Comiskey Park was the home field of the Chicago White Sox (duhhh). It lasted an impressive 80 years, between 1910 and 1990, and when the Sox built a new stadium (right nearby, of course) they also named it Comiskey Park (although it was renamed US Cellular Field in 2003). For awhile, Old Comiskey Park was nicknamed "The Baseball Palace of the World", and it hosted four World Series' and three All Star games. It also frequently hosted the Negro League East-West All Star Game as well. It was the first outdoor stadium to install astroturf, and, of course, it was the location of the disastrous "Disco Demolition Night".
Crosley Field, the former home of the Cincinnati Reds, professional baseball's first team, was built in 1912, but the location had been home to the Reds' stadium since 1884, when it was called League Park. League Park was replaced by The Palace of the Fans (most epic name ever, by the way) in 1902. That stadium only lasted 10 years before Crosley Field was built. Crosley saw the Reds win the 1919 World Series and was the first stadium to host a night game-- President Franklin Roosevelt was the one to hit the button that lit the field up. It also hosted a Beatles concert and even the original Cincinnati Bengals football team. Crosley was demolished in 1970, and the lot was used to construct a few buildings... but the former location of home plate has been painted on the alley running between them. Great American Ballpark, their current stadium, is also used for concerts, and while it doesn't have quite the history of Crosley, it does have $1 hotdogs, tons of craft beer, and all-you-can-eat seats!
The Pittsburgh Pirates' old stadium, Old Forbes Field, was demolished to make way for the University of Pittsburgh, which is a pretty decent reason to knock a field down. Plus, they've made sure to commemorate the iconic stadium! If you head into the lobby of Posvar Hall, you'll find the home plate encased in glass and embedded in the floor-- although this isn't the precise location of home plate: a popular rumor (not confirmed) holds that the actual, real location is in the fifth stall of the nearby women's restroom! You can also find parts of the brick wall from the outfield around campus as well. Other parts of the wall and pieces of Forbes Field have been moved to PNC Park, where they currently play.
The Philadelphia Phillies shared Veterans Stadium (aka The Vet) with the Eagles from 1971 to 2003. At the time, it was one of the most expensive stadiums ever built, but the whole idea of one stadium for both football and baseball proved to not work out as well as planned-- the two types of fields are fundamentally different in shape and size. The Phillies' goofball of a mascot, the Philly Fanatic, was the one to push the button that imploded the stadium in 62 seconds flat. A few years later, the site was turned into a parking lot for the current stadiums, including the Phillies' new home, Citizens Bank Park... but the football field goalpost, the pitcher's mound, and home plate are marked around the lot... see if you can spot them all!
The Mets and the Jets both called Shea Stadium home, but alas, it was not meant to last. Despite its odd quirks, it hosted four World Series', a Beatles concert, and even a visit from Pope John Paul II. It was also, for one memorable year in 1975, the home of the Mets, the Jets, the Yankees, and the Giants, making it the only stadium in history to host two football teams and two baseball teams in the same year. Of course, they all now have their own stadiums, and even though Shea was dismantled in 2009 to make room for the nearby new stadium, Citi Field, you can still see the home plate in the parking lot.
Just a Civil War beard enthusiast, writer at Roadtrippers, and aspiring astronaut reaching for the stars.