Crosley Field snagging analysis

It’s been a while since my last snagging analysis of Ebbets Field. Now it’s time for a look at Crosley Field, home of the Cincinnati Reds from 1912 to 1970.

Let’s start with a side-by-side comparison of two aerial views of the stadium. The photo on the left was taken when Crosley first opened (it was called Redland Field at the time), and the one on the right was taken in the latter years:
1_crosley_aerial_views.jpg
In the photo on the left, you can see fans standing on the actual field. I’m not sure how that would’ve played out from a baseball-snagging perspective. All I can tell you is that teams used to let fans do that back in the old days. It was the original version of “standing room only.”
In comparing the two photos, you can also see that the buildings beyond the outfield walls were demolished, the second deck was extended down the lines, and lights towers were added. (On May 24, 1935, the first night game in major league history was played at Crosley Field.)
But what about the snagging?
Well, catching a home run was obviously tough to do inside the stadium because there weren’t any seats in left or center field, but snagging a homer would’ve been easy outside the stadium. Here’s another aerial view. It appears that the area behind the center field wall was a public street where anyone could’ve hung out:
2_crosley_aeriel_from_center_field.jpg
Here’s a look inside the stadium from around 1940. Check out the front of the bleachers in right field:
3_crosley_circa_1940.jpg
The first few rows appear to be empty.
Weird, right?
Here’s why:
4_crosley_right_field_bleachers_fence.jpg
I’m not sure if it was netting or fencing, but either way, it obviously wasn’t easy to see through, so the fans must have stayed back far enough that they could see over it. This would’ve made it really easy to snag home run balls that barely cleared the fence. I mean, there would’ve been a ton of room to run left and right.
It looks like there may have also been a cross-aisle seven or eight rows back:
5_crosley_right_field_bleachers.jpg
See that row with the arrow drawn in? Because of the slightly wider space between benches, there must have been some extra room to run. Unfortunately, the steepness of the stands would’ve made it hard to maneuver, but it still looks pretty good out there.
The main part of the grandstand looks cramped, but at least there were tunnels where you might have been able to stand and catch foul balls. Those tunnels have red numbers above them in the following photo:
6_crosley_view_from_right_field_foul_line.jpg
See how much foul territory there was? That would have made it tough to catch foul balls in stands, both in BP and during games.
The good news is that there were cross-aisles. You can see them better in the photo below:
7_crosley_cross_aisle_lower_level.jpg
There was also an aisle in the upper deck:
8_crosley_cross_aisle_upper_level.jpg
If you look at the tunnels in the photo above, you can see that they’re set a few rows back from the aisle. What this means is that the tunnels wouldn’t have a been a great place to stand because you would’ve had to dart forward before you could’ve run left or right.
Here’s an old photo taken from the Crosley Field press box. The aisle in the upper deck appears to be extremely narrow, but the aisle on the lower level looks better:
9a_crosley_terrace.jpg
It looks like the right field corner might have also been sloped. Check it out:
10_crosley_view_from_3rd_base_side.jpg
What’s the deal with that guy crouching to the left of home plate? Is he a photographer? That’s my guess. No chance he was wearing a helmet. If you look at the right field bleachers, you can see that the first few rows are full, so maybe the Reds only sold those tickets if everything else was sold out. Also, look at the front row in foul territory. That wall was really low — great for leaning over and scooping up foul grounders.
Finally, here’s one last photo, taken during the final game ever at Crosley Field on June 24, 1970:
11_crosley_field_june_24_1970.jpg
It looks like a minor league game, doesn’t it? Or even a semi-pro game in the middle of nowhere — but in fact that’s Bobby Bonds at bat and Johnny Bench behind the plate. I would’ve loved to be standing behind that left field wall.

13 Comments

Neat snagging analysis. If possible, can you possibly make one of Exhibition Stadium, Arlington Stadium (the old one), Baltimore Memorial Stadium, Comiskey Park (the old one), Mile High Stadium and Cleveland Municipal Stadium.

Interesting. I believe that’s Lou Brock in the color picture of the LF terrace, although the Cards are getting pasted in this game.

Awesome entry, Zack!

Wow that is pretty cool. The bleachers do look a little steep but yeah, no biggie. But, it would be sweet if you did mile high stadium next. Would be cool to see what you say about a stadium that moves to fit other sports.

CANADIAN BALLHAWK-
Thanks, glad you liked it. I’ve already done Exhibition Stadium:

http://snaggingbaseballs.mlblogs.com/archives/2010/03/exhibition_stadium_snagging_an.html

As for the other stadiums you mentioned, I plan to get to them eventually. I might do one next month when I have another extended break between games.

FATHER PUCK-
Yeah, I noticed that lopsided score as well.

VEGANTEMP-
Gracias.

STINKYTHECAT-
Mile High Stadium, eh? I’ll look into that. I’m really bummed that I didn’t actually make it there for a game. I was 17 years old when the Rockies played their final game there, so it certainly would’ve been possible.

I just wanted to let you know that I throughly enjoyed reading your latest analysis of Crosley Field. It’s one of 3 ballparks I wished I went to watch a ballgame along with Forbes Field and Shibe Park. Please continue this series.

Hey Zack it was nice meeting you yesterday at Camden. Hope the snagging went well!
Wiley
http://baseballtraveler.mlblogs.com

Hi Zack! I am a new follower of you. I have read some of your blog stories and I have seen the Youtube videos that you have done. I am 15 years old and would like to be a baseball snagger like you one day. I tried to make the ball retrieving device (glove with rubber band, sharpie, and string) .

How do you put the sharpie in there so it stays? I tried putting one end of it on a corner of the bottom webbing and the other end of sharpie on a finger pocket. The sharpie ends up going between the finger pockets and falling out or just coming out all together.

Any help would be apprecieated. I live about 45 minutes from the Marlins ball park (Sun Life Stadium) so I will probably have to go to right field to use the ball retrieving device since left field has empty seats infront you cant go in.

I am also probably going to Yankee Stadium July 3rd. Where is a good spot to catch the balls and where is a good spot for the ball retrieving?

Thanks for your help and I will continue to follow your blog and I am planning on purchasing your 2 books.

Thanks,
Austin

Hey Zack- Great shots of Crosley Field. This brings back some great old memories, my father and uncle took my brother and I to see Bob Gibson pitch against the Red’s. We spent the night at the Sheraton-Gibson Hotel. The outfield lights mounted on tall stands at Crosley were replicated when building Great American Park. We also saw Rose, Bench, Tolan, Perez and Lee May of the Red’s. In those days Cincinnati was a brewery town.

PARIS4242-
Thanks so much. Really glad to hear it.

BASEBALL TRAVELER-
Great meeting you as well. (Awesome name for a blog, BTW.)

AUSTIN-
Sorry for the super-delayed reply. For some reason, I didn’t see that you had left a comment. Getting the Sharpie to stick inside the glove is tricky. Check out this blog entry I wrote about it for some pointers:
http://snaggingbaseballs.mlblogs.com/archives/2006/03/the_glove_trick.html
Be careful with the glove trick in Miami. The security guards there aren’t too fond of it, or at least that’s how it was when I was there a few years ago.

TJC7007-
Glad you enjoyed it. The Reds sure did have some amazing players.

I might be able to shed some light on this topic as I attended games at Crosley. A couple of the pictures you have posted were taken by me. The Terrace? Crosley sat below street level on the site of an old brick yard. The Terrace was originally just in left field but was eventually extended all around the outfield. It was steepest in left field.
Standing in the tunnels was not tolerated by the ushers. Anyone who lingered for more than a few seconds was ‘encouraged’ to find the seat they paid for. Same for standing around in the upper deck in the walkway thinking you would get a foul ball. Not allowed.
There was considerable room along the foul lines and behind home plate to keep fouls in-play. But, as time went by, more of the field was used for seats down near the OF walls and fences.
I visited the site of Crosley Field two summers ago. The only vestige I found was the outline of the terrace under a building that stands there now.

I really doubt if anybody really cares, but that isn’t Lou Brock standing on the terrace in left field. It is Alex Johnson of the Reds. If you notice on the scoreboard, the batter is Number 20.
The only #20 in the game at the time was the left fielder for the Cardinals who just happened to be Lou Brock.
Based on information on the scoreboard, it was pretty easy to figure out that the game pictured was played on June 9, 1968. And even though the Reds appear to be trouncing the Cards, St. Louis actually score 10 runs in the top of the fifth inning, and ended up winning the game 10-8. As a matter of fact, the current batter (Lou Brock) hit a home run in the at-bat pictured.

TPIERETT48-
Wow! Thanks for weighing in on this, and I hope it’s okay that I used some of your pics. It’s so interesting to hear about this old stadium from someone who was actually there. Truly incredible.

PEANUTSENVY-
I care. For real. I love hearing stuff like like this and figuring out decades-old mysteries. Thanks for the comment.

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