BAKER BOWL

The Cigar Box, The Band Box

Former names Philadelphia Base Ball Grounds (1887-1895)
National League Park (1895-1913, officially thereafter)
Location Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Opened April 30, 1887
Closed June 30, 1938
Demolished 1950

Owner Philadelphia Phillies
Surface Grass
Construction cost US$80,000
Architect John D. Allen
Capacity 18,000 (1895)
20,000 (1929)
18,800 (1930)

Field dimensions Left Field - 341 ft (104 m)
Center Field - 408 ft (124 m)
Right-Center - 300 ft (91 m)
Right Field - 280 ft (85 m)
Tenants
Philadelphia Phillies (NL) (1887-1938)
Philadelphia Eagles (NFL) (1933-1935)

Baker Bowl's right field wall circa 1920 after the metal screen was added to extend the total height to 60 feet (18 m). Notice the Phillies advertisement for Lifebuoy Soap along the length of the wall. An often-told joke was that even if the team used the product, they still "stunk".

Fire destroyed the grand stand and bleachers of the original stadium on August 6, 1894. The loss of $80,000 in damages was covered fully by insurance. The fire also spread to the other adjoining properties, causing an additional $20,000 of damage.

Temporary stands were built in time for a game on August 18. It was then fully rebuilt in fireproof materials with a cantilevered upper deck. It also contained a banked bicycle track for a while, exploiting the cycling craze that caught the nation's fancy in the late 1800s. In terms of pure design, the ballpark was well ahead of its time, but subsequent problems and the thriftiness of the team's owners undermined any apparent positives, as the ballpark soon became decrepit and unsafe.

During a game on August 8, 1903, some carrying-on in 15th Street caught the attention of bleacher fans down the left field line. Many of them ran to the top of the wooden seating area, and the added stress on that section of the bleachers caused it to collapse into the street, killing 12 and injuring 232. This led to more renovation of the stadium and forced the ownership to sell the team. The Phillies temporarily moved to the Philadelphia Athletics' home field, Columbia Park while Baker Bowl was repaired. The Phillies played sixteen games at Columbia Park in August and September 1903.

During its tenure, the park also hosted Negro League games, including those of the Hilldale Daisies and Negro League World Series games from 1924-1926. The first two games of the 1924 Colored World Series between the Kansas City Monarchs and the local Hilldale Club were hosted at Baker Bowl on October 3 and October 4, owing to its larger capacity.

It was during a 1929 exhibition with a Negro League team that Babe Ruth hit two home runs that landed about halfway into the rail yards across the street in right

 

 

Baker Bowl is the best-known popular name of a baseball park that formerly stood in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Its formal name, painted on its outer wall, was National League Park. It was also initially known as Philadelphia Park or Philadelphia Base Ball Grounds.

It was on a small city block bounded by N. Broad St., W. Huntingdon St., N. 15th St. and W. Lehigh Avenue.

The ballpark was initially built in 1887. At that time the media praised it as state-of-the-art. In that dead-ball era, the outfield was enclosed by a relatively low wall all around. Center field was fairly close, with the railroad tracks running behind it. Later, the tracks were lowered and the field was extended over top of them. Bleachers were built in left field, and over time various extensions were added to the originally low right field wall, resulting in the infamous 60-foot (18 m) fence.

The ballpark's second incarnation opened in 1895. Its upper deck was notable for having the first cantilevered design in a sports stadium and was the first ballpark to be constructed primarily from steel and brick. It also took the rule book literally, as the sweeping curve behind the plate was about 60 feet (18 m), and instead of angling back toward the foul lines, the 60-foot (18 m) wide foul ground extended all the way to the wall in right, and well down the left field line also. The spacious foul ground, while not fan-friendly, would have resulted in more foul-fly outs than in most parks, and thus was probably the park's one saving grace in the minds of otherwise-frustrated pitchers.

During the 51½ seasons the Phillies played there, they managed only one pennant (1915). The 1915 World Series was significant in that it was the first time a sitting president attended a World Series game when President Wilson attended and threw out the first pitch prior to Game 2. The Series was also the first post-season appearance by Babe Ruth.

On June 9, 1914, Honus Wagner hit his 3,000th career hit in the stadium. Babe Ruth played his last major league baseball game in Baker Bowl on May 30, 1935.

The ballpark was abandoned during the middle of the 1938 season, as the Phillies chose to move 5 blocks west on Lehigh Avenue to rent the newer and more spacious Shibe Park from the A's rather than remain at the Baker Bowl. Phils president Gerald Nugent cited the move as an opportunity for the Phillies to cut expenses as stadium upkeep would be split between two clubs. At Baker Bowl, the Phillies finished with a 30-38-1 record against the A's in City Series exhibition games.

Baker Bowl was the first field of the Philadelphia Eagles who played home games at the stadium from 1933 through 1935. In their four years at Baker Bowl, the Eagles had a record of 3-11-1. With the ballpark in poor condition, the Eagles left Baker Bowl after the 1935 season for the city-owned Municipal Stadium. Municipal Stadium was only ten-years old at the time and could provide seating for up to 100,000 spectators.

Shibe Park (foreground), and Baker Bowl
(background upper right corner)