Exposition Park (1890-1915)
Exposition Park was located along the North Shore, in the City of Allegheny, across the Allegheny River from downtown Pittsburgh. It was built along the riverbank across from the Point, in approximately the same location as Three Rivers Stadium many years later.
The stadium included a roofed wooden grandstand around the infield, and open bleacher sections extending to the right and left field corners. Total seating capacity was about 10,000 spectators. The seats faced the Allegheny River and the Point.
There were actually three Exposition Parks built in the late-1800s, all located on or near the Allegheny riverfront and the Union Bridge. The first, referred as Exposition Park I, was built to host a variety of expositions, including horse racing and circuses. It was the original home of the Pittsburgh Alleghenies Baseball Club, who in 1900 became the Pittsburgh Pirates.
In 1882, the Alleghenies began play at Exposition Park I. After one season, a fire and persistent flooding forced a second park to be built. Despite its reason for construction, Exposition Park II was constructed closer to the river.
Due to the ongoing problem with flooding, the Pittsburgh Alleghenies moved to nearby Recreation Park in 1884, which at the time was the largest sports venue in the area and located several blocks north, out of the flood plain.
Exposition Park III, which opened in 1890, was originally constructed as the home field for the Pittsburgh Burghers Baseball Club of the Players League, with a seating capacity of 10,000. The Burghers folded after one season and the Alleghenies moved into the new ballpark in 1891.
The Alleghenies, and then the Pirates, remained at Exposition Park for nineteen years until 1909. The following year the team moved to Forbes Field in Oakland. Exposition Park was the hot spot in the National League at the turn of the century.
The Pittsburgh Pirates won league championships in 1901, 1902 and 1903. In October 1903, Exposition Park was the site of Games four through seven of the first World Series, featuring the Pirates and the Boston Americans. Despite taking a three games to one lead, the Pirates lost four in a row to the Americans, who claimed the first World Series title. Attendance at Game Seven in Pittsburgh was 17,038, a record for Exposition Park.
Exposition Park's location near the banks of the Allegheny River was a problem when the river flooded, which before flood controls were in place was quite often. Flooding sometimes covered the outfield with inches of standing water, forcing ground rules that gave any ball hit into the outfield an automatic single.
During a July 4, 1902 doubleheader against Brooklyn, a flood caused the water level to rise thigh high in center and right fields, and head deep in center field. Players occasionally caught a ball and dove under the water. The Pirates won both games.
The final Pirates game at Exposition Park was played on June 29, 1909, before 5,545 spectators. The Pirates beat the Chicago Cubs, 8–1.
The Western University of Pennsylvania, who changed its name to the University of Pittsburgh in 1909, also called Exposition Park home. From 1890 through 1903, the University played some of their home games there, and in 1904 began playing all home games at the North Shore venue. The 1904 W.U.P. team posted a 10–0 record in which they outscored opponents 407-5.
Prior to home games at Exposition Park, WUP students would organize parades through downtown streets prior to marching across a bridge to the game. A gong, used to announce the beginning of Pirates games, was also sounded prior to the opening kickoff of WUP football contests. Like the Pirates, the Panthers moved to Forbes Field for the 1909 season.
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