Sunday, September 4, 2022

Types of Baseball Parks : Jewel Box Ballparks

The earliest ballparks built or rebuilt of reinforced concrete, brick, and steel are now known as the jewel box ballparks or classic parks. Two-tiered grandstands became much more prevalent in this era, as well. The Baker Bowl in Philadelphia, which opened in 1895, was the first to use steel and brick as the primary construction materials and included a cantilevered upper deck seating area that hung out over the lower seating area. Although it did not use reinforced concrete in its construction, Baker Bowl is considered the first of the jewel box parks. The first of to use reinforced concrete was Shibe Park, which opened in 1909, also in Philadelphia.

The upper decks were typically held up by steel pillars that obstructed the view from some seats in the lower level. However, because of the supports used , the upper decks could come very close to the field. The two-tiered design was the standard for decades, until the New York Yankees built Yankee Stadium. To accommodate the large crowds Babe Ruth drew, Yankee Stadium was built with three tiers. This became the new standard until some recently built parks reverted to two, including PNC Park in 2001.

Most jewel box parks were built to fit the constraints of actual city blocks, often resulting in significantly asymmetrical outfield dimensions and large outfield walls to prevent easy home runs. Notable examples included League Park in Cleveland, which had a 40-foot (12 m)-tall wall in right field, and the Green Monster, the 37-foot (11 m)-tall left field wall at Fenway Park in Boston. Notable exceptions include Shibe Park and Comiskey Park, which were built on rectangular city blocks that were large enough to accommodate symmetrical left and right fields.

Other sports, such as soccer and football, were often played at these sites (Yankee Stadium, for example, was designed to accommodate football). In contrast to the later multi-purpose parks, the seats were generally angled in a configuration suitable for baseball. The "retro" ballparks built in the 1990s and beyond are an attempt to capture the feel of the jewel box parks. The only jewel box parks still used by Major League Baseball are Fenway Park and Wrigley Field.

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