SHIBE PARK

Former names Shibe Park (1909-1953)
Connie Mack Stadium (1953-1976)
Location Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Broke ground 1908
Opened April 12, 1909
Closed October 1, 1970
Demolished 1976

Owner Philadelphia Athletics (1909-1954)
Philadelphia Phillies (1955-1970)
Operator Athletic Grounds Co.

Surface Grass
Construction cost US$457,167
Architect William Steele and Sons
Capacity 23,000 (1909)
33,608 (1970)

Field dimensions (1909)
Left Field - 360 ft (Opening day), 378 ft (Late 1909)
Center Field Corner - 515 ft
Right Field - 340 ft
(1925)
Left Field - 334 ft
Center Field Corner - 468 ft
Right Field - 331 ft

(1950)
Left Field - 334 ft
Deep Left Center - 420 ft
Center Field - 447 ft
Deep Right Center - 405 ft
Right Field - 329 ft

(1968)
Left Field - 334 ft
Deep Left Center - 387 ft
Center Field - 410 ft
Deep Right Center - 390 ft
Right Field - 329 ft

Tenants
Philadelphia Athletics (MLB) (1909-1954)
Philadelphia Phillies (MLB) (1938-1970)
Philadelphia Eagles (NFL) (1940, 1942-1957)

The park was the site of some special home run feats. Babe Ruth hit one to deep left-center on September 9, 1921, that cleared the then-single bleacher stand, went across the street, and hit a tree over 500 feet away. On May 22, 1930, Ruth hit one to right field over the then-lower wall which landed in an alley behind the second row of houses, again over 500 feet distant. On June 3, 1932, Lou Gehrig hit 4 in one game here.

Fans in Shibe Park watching the inaugural game in 1909.

The Negro League Philadelphia Stars played home games at Shibe Park in the 1940s. The team's usual home field, at 44th and Parkside seated approximately 6,000 fans; the Stars were able to draw between 10,000 and 12,000 to Shibe Park. They often played double-headers on Monday nights which was a travel day for the major league clubs. Former Stars player Gene Benson would later recall the team playing about twenty games per season at Shibe Park. The Stars would dress in the A's locker room.[10] The Stars drew their largest crowd on June 21, 1943 when they beat the Kansas City Monarchs in front of 24,165

In October 1948, the US national soccer team played three international friendlies against the Israel national team. The first game was played at the Polo Grounds and the last at Ebbets Field. On October 17, the US beat Israel at Shibe Park, shutting them out 4-0 before 30,000 fans

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

 

The Philadelphia Athletics of the American League opened the ballpark in 1909 after abandoning Columbia Park. Shibe Park was originally named for Benjamin Shibe, who was one of the initial owners along with Connie Mack. Mr. Mack eventually acquired full ownership, but kept the Shibe name. The park was renamed Connie Mack Stadium in 1953, three years after Mack's retirement, and long after he'd become known as "The Grand Old Man of Baseball".

Shibe Park - Grand Stand Entrance - ca 1913

Because the Athletics were popular at the time, sellout crowds encouraged house owners on 20th Street to erect bleachers similar to those now atop the flats at Wrigley Field in Chicago, and charging admission to watch the game. This infuriated Mr. Mack (much as it would raise the ire of Cubs management), who was known as a tight owner when it came to finances. Rather than negotiate with the neighbors (as the Cubs later did), Mack filed a lawsuit against the 20th Street house owners. After losing that suit, during the winter of 1933 he ordered the extension of the fence to a height of 33 feet (10 m), blocking the view of the neighbors, a fence quickly dubbed by writers as the "spite fence".

The National League's Philadelphia Phillies abandoned Baker Bowl in mid-season 1938, seeing an opportunity to reduce expenses by sharing stadium upkeep with the A's. Their tenure at Shibe Park began with a doubleheader on July 4 that year. They played at Shibe Park as co-tenants until 1954, when the Athletics left Philadelphia. The Phillies then purchased the park, which had been renamed Connie Mack Stadium. They played there until 1971, when the team moved to Veterans Stadium. For the 1955 season, the Phillies purchased the Ballantine Beer electronic scoreboard from Yankee Stadium. This scoreboard was used through the final year at the ballpark. The final game was played there, on October 1, 1970, with the Phillies defeating the Montreal Expos 2-1 in 10 innings. The occasion was marred by people literally dismantling the stadium while the game was still in progress. A special post-game ceremony including a helicopter delivery to The Vet of home plate was cancelled.

The Athletics participated in seven World Series during their tenure at the stadium: 1910, 1911, 1913, 1914, 1929, 1930 and 1931. The hometown fans witnessed A's Series championship wins at Shibe Park in 1911, 1929 and 1930.

The Phillies participated in one World Series during their tenure at the stadium, the 1950 World Series.

Shibe Park hosted the Frankford Yellow Jackets against the Chicago Bears on December 5, 1925 and the Yellow Jackets against the Bears on December 4, 1926. It also served as the site of two AFL games in 1926, the Philadelphia Quakers against the Los Angeles Wildcats on November 20, 1926 and the Quakers against the New York Yankees on November 27, 1926. The stadium hosted the December 12, 1925, Pottsville Maroons-Notre Dame All-Stars game. The Maroons' NFL franchise was suspended as a result of the team's participation in that contest, costing Pottsville the 1925 NFL championship.

The National Football League's Philadelphia Eagles moved to Shibe Park in 1940 and played their home games at the stadium through 1957.

To accommodate football at Shibe Park during the winter, management set up stands in right field, parallel to Twentieth Street. Some twenty feet high, these "east stands" had twenty-two rows of seats. The goalposts stood along the first base line and in left field. The uncovered east stands enlarged capacity of Shibe Park to over thirty-nine thousand, but the Eagles rarely drew more than twenty-five to thirty thousand.

The Eagles played the 1948 NFL Championship game in a blizzard; the home team defeated the Chicago Cardinals 7-0 with the only score by a Steve Van Buren touchdown.

In March 1971, Louis Graboyes and S. Solis Tollin agreed to purchase the Shibe Park property from Jerry Wolman who had purchased the stadium in 1964 for $757,500. The sale was not completed and Wolman eventually sold the ballpark to the city of Philadelphia for 50-cents. On August 20, 1971, a five-alarm fire burned through the left-field stands and collapsed one of the walls. It was the same day the Connie Mack statue was re-dedicated at Veterans' Stadium. In October 1975, Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Ned Hirsh ordered the stadium razed. The ballpark site is now the site of the Deliverance Evangelistic Church