Forbes Field (1909-1970)

Forbes Field Commemorative Postcard from 1994


Comments By Nellie King After Final Game At Forbes Field

The final game at Forbes Field was the second game of a Sunday afternoon double header with the Chicago Cubs. With Bob Prince, I was fortunate to broadcast this memorable day in the history of the City of Pittsburgh and Pirate baseball.

Forbes Field - June 28, 1970
The final game at Forbes Field was played on June 28, 1970.

This photo of the last game played at Forbes Field was a gift from Harry Cochanauer, a longtime photographer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Recently retired, eager to enjoy retirement, Harry was stricken with a terminal illness. Prior to his passing, he asked me to stop by to see him, stating he had a photo he wanted me to have. In a very kind and thoughtful gesture he handed me a photo of the final game at Forbes Field. This is a copy of that original photo. Included with the photo is a copy of the original scorecard Bob Prince and I used for the broadcast. The lineups on the scorecard were made out between games by "Radio Rich", Bob Prince's loyal statistician.

Forbes Field - 1960

Construction of Forbes Field began on March 1, 1909. It was opened four months later, June 30, 1909. A crowd of 30,338, then the largest Pittsburgh crowd ever to see a baseball game, saw the Pirates lose 3-2 to the Cubs. In a bit of irony the last game at Forbes Field played June 28, 1970, was just two days short of 61 years of the date it opened, and against the same team, the Chicago Cubs. The largest Forbes Field crowd was 44,932 for Prize Day, September 23, 1956. I was one of seven Pirate pitchers who saw action that day in an 8-2 loss to the Brooklyn Dodgers and Don Newcombe.

The Shot Heard 'Round The 'Burgh - 1960
Bill Mazeroski hits the homerun to beat the New York Yankees in the 1960 World Series.

Forbes Field was the scene of many memorable moments in Pirate history. The most dramatic was Bill Mazeroski's historic home run in the bottom of the ninth inning of the seventh and final game of the 1960 World Series. With the game tied at nine, Mazeroski homered on the second pitch from Yankee reliever Ralph Terry to give the Pirates a 10-9 win and the World Series Championship. It created the greatest spontaneous celebration ever in Pittsburgh sports history.

Pittsburgh Celebrates - 1960
Downtown Pittsburgh erupts in celebration - October 13, 1960.

Mazeroski appropriately had the last Pirate hit at Forbes Field, a double to left center in the seventh inning. Fittingly he also recorded the final out in the field. Fielding a ground ball by Don Kessinger he touched second base to retire Willie Smith, who as a pinch hitter, registered the last hit at Forbes Field. Jim Nelson was the winning pitcher. Reliever Dave Giusti, the winning pitcher in the day's first game, saved the final game for the Pirates. Al Oliver hit the last home run at Forbes Field.

Scorecard from the Final Game - June 28, 1970
Score: Pirates 4 - Cubs 1 ... Attendance 40,918

The scorecard from the final game at Forbes Field

A view from Peanut Heaven in Left Field.
The End of an Era in Western Pennsylvania. Forbes Field was home to the Pittsburgh Pirates for sixty-one years.

For More Interesting Facts on Pittsburgh Sports Stadiums (past and present),
visit
Fun Facts About Pittsburgh's Ball Parks.

Wikipedia: Forbes Field.

Images of Forbes Field over the Years

The Honus Wagner Statue outside Forbes Field - 1970.

Forbes Field construction - 1909.

Forbes Field - July 1909.

Forbes Field - 1960s.

Forbes Field - early 1920s.

Pitt Panther football game - 1915.

Forbes Field

Forbes Field entrance

Forbes Field entrance.

Forbes Field

Forbes Field

Greenburg Gardens - Forbes Field

View from right field.

Forbes Field

Forbes Field view from deep left along the third base line

Forbes Field entrance.

Forbes Field

Forbes Field

Forbes Field

Forbes Field

Replacing sod at Forbes Field - 1968.

Forbes Field - 1969.

A Brief History of Forbes Field

Forbes Field, one of the classic ballparks in the history of Major League Baseball, was home to the Pittsburgh Pirates for six decades. Prior to 1909, the Pirates played their home games at Exposition Park on the Allegheny riverfront in Pittsburgh. When Barney Dreyfuss became owner of the team in 1900, he soon began looking for a suitable location to build a new stadium.

Dreyfuss eventually purchased seven acres of land at Schenley Farms, near the University of Pittsburgh. Although three miles from the city, the land was attractive due to it's reduced price. On March 1, 1909, construction of one of the first steel and concrete ballparks began. The stadium was completed in four months and named Forbes Field, after General John Forbes, a French and Indian War hero.

Opening Day at Forbes Field - 6/30/1909
Opening Day at Forbes Field - June 30, 1909.

The Pirates played their first game at Forbes Field on June 30, 1909. Forbes Field was ahead of its time in many ways, offering amenities not seen before in Major League ballparks. A three-tier grandstand extended from behind home plate down both the first and third base lines. Forbes Field was one of the first stadiums to have luxury suites that were located in the third tier of the grandstand.

The ballpark also had ramps to guide people to their seats and elevators to the third level. Additional bleacher seating extended to both the left and right field foul poles. As for it's outer appearance, Forbes Field had one of the grandest facades ever built. It featured a buff colored terra cotta with steel painted light green and a red tinted slate roof.

Forbes Field in 1938 during the
installation of the Crows Nest.

As attendance increased in the 1920s, the stadium was expanded. In 1925 the double-decked grandstand was extended down the first base line and around to right center field, increasing capacity to 35,000. A press box, nicknamed the Crows Nest, was constructed in 1938 above the grandstand roof behind home plate.

Forbes Field featured an ivy covered wall in left and left center field and a hand operated scoreboard, complete with a large clock attached at the top. The scoreboard was part of the left field wall. Lights were added in 1940 for night games. The three cages of outfield light standards were all located in the field of play, making for some interesting ricochets and contributing to several triples and inside the park homers.

Forbes Field Scale Model

When the Pirates acquired slugger Hank Greenberg in 1947, the left field wall was moved in thirty feet and the bullpens located in the space between the wall and the scoreboard. This area became known as Greenberg Gardens. Later, when Ralph Kiner joined the team, the Gardens became known as Kiner's Korner. In 1954 the bullpens were moved back to their original locations along the first and third base lines and the scoreboard once again became the left field wall.

Forbes Field was the scene of four World Series (1909, 1925, 1927 and 1960) and two All-Star games (1944 and 1959). In addition to being the home of the Pirates, Forbes Field was also home to the Pitt Panthers from 1909 to 1924, and the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1933 to 1957. From 1958 until 1963 the Steelers played home games at both Forbes Field and Pitt Stadium. The Homestead Grays called Forbes Field home from 1922 through 1939, and up to the 1950s the stadium hosted several championship boxing matches.

Pittsburgh Steelers playing at Forbes Field
Forbes Field was home to the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1933 to 1957.

The University of Pittsburgh, in anticipation of future expansion, bought Forbes Field for $2 million in November 1958. By the early 1960s Forbes Field had begun to show signs of deterioration and plans were put in place for a replacement. Ground was broken for Three Rivers Stadium, a multi-purpose venue, in April 1968, close to the location where Exposition Park once stood on the banks of the Allegheny River across from downtown Pittsburgh. The new stadium was completed in 1970.

The Pirates played their final game at Forbes Field on June 28, 1970. After the game fans scrambled onto the field to scavenge anything they could for a souvenir. In 1971, two fires did irreparable structural damage and Forbes Field was soon razed to the ground. By 1973, demolition was complete and only a few remnants remained. The site of the old field is now the home to the University of Pittsburgh's Hillman Library and campus dormitories.

Pittsburgh Steelers playing at Forbes Field
A section of the Forbes Field outfield wall has been preserved and stands
near the Hillman Library on the University of Pittsburgh campus.

For More Interesting Facts on Pittsburgh Sports Stadiums (past and present),
visit
Fun Facts About Pittsburgh's Ball Parks.

Wikipedia: Forbes Field.

The crowd gathers outside Forbes Field before
the final game of the 1925 World Series.
The crowd gathers outside Forbes Field before the final game of the 1925 World Series.

Pirate Legend Bill Mazeroski and
The Shot Heard 'Round The 'Burgh

Bill Mazeroski becomes an instant legend!
Photo by Jim Klingensmith.

The date was October 13, 1960. The Pirates and Yankees were tied at 9-9 in the seventh and final game of the World Series. Post-Gazette photographer Jim Klingensmith was on the stadium roof trying out his new repeating camera. On nothing more than a hunch, he began snapping photos as Bill Mazeroski took the swing that launched the homer heard 'round the 'Burgh.

When the series of photos ended with Mazeroski surrounded by his teammates at home plate, not only had Maz become an instant legend, but Klingensmith had captured an award winning sequence of pictures. Those photos ended up adorning the walls of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

On June 19, 2009, on his 99th birthday, Jim Klingensmith was honored at PNC Park as part of a weekend of events paying tribute to the 1960 Pirates. Read the Post-Gazette article: "Mazeroski Photographer Honored By Pirates".

Bill Mazeroski - A Pirate Legend

On September 5, 2010, Bill Mazeroski was immortalized in a fitting tribute to the man and his many achievements as a Pirate. On that day, the Pirate organization unveiled the Bill Mazeroski statue outside PNC Park. Mazeroski joined Pirate-greats Honus Wagner, Roberto Clemente and Willie Stargell as the only players so honored.

Bill Mazeroski speaks at statue dedication.

Photos From One Of The Final Games - June 1970

Roberto Clemente - Pirate Legend - 1970

Joseph Brendel was present for one of the Pirates final homestands at Forbes Field on June 21, 1970. The Pirates were playing the Montreal Expos. The photo below with the Cathedral of Learning towering in the background is fantastic, as well as the images of Pirate legend Roberto Clemente.

Forbes Field - 1970.   Forbes Field - 1970

Joe's son Douglas shares a couple of his Forbes Field memories:

I remember my Dad taking me and my brother Chris to Forbes Field in 1972 and 1973 during the demolition process. I remember going into the scoreboard and seeing graffiti "names and dates" of people who had worked the old scoreboard over the years. But, my biggest memory of the destruction was a lone baseball shoe, just lying on the ground near the home plate area. I should of saved it. I saw four games at Forbes Field with the Cub Scouts. I have two vivid memories of Forbes Field when it was open: It smelled like stale beer and mustard, and after the games we walked on the actual field to exit at the right center field gate. The grass was so thick it was like walking on air.

Doug's passion for Forbes Field continues to this day. On September 5, 2010, he was present at the Tribute To Maz when the Mazeroski Monument was unveiled. A section of the stadium wall, preserved after forty years, has found a permanent home as part of the display. For those who experienced the majesty of the Pirates old home, the passion will never die.

Doug Brendel by the Forbes Field wall
at the Tribute To Maz - September 2010.

Forbes Field Demolition - 1971/1973

A five-alarm fire destroyed the bleachers
near Clemente Corner on December 24, 1970.

Forbes Field Demolition - 1971.

Forbes Field Demolition - 1971.

Forbes Field - 1971.

Forbes Field - 1971.

Forbes Field - 1971.

Forbes Field Demolition - 1972.

Forbes Field leaves only a footprint
after demolition in 1972.

Forbes Field - 1973.

One Family's Forbes Field Memories

The Flying Dutchman Honus Wagner
and two excited kids.

That's my mom, Patricia Burton, and her cousin Chookie Meyers getting an autographed ball from one of the greatest men to ever play the game of baseball, Honus Wagner, at Forbes Field in 1948. A year later she had another ball signed by Pirate Johnny Hopp and the rest of the Pirates team in July of 1949. That autographed ball, which included Pirate Manager Honus Wagner, second baseman Danny Murtaugh, announcer Rosey Rosewall and New York Giant manager Leo Durocher still sits on our mantelpiece. These balls are but two in a long list of my family's Forbes Field memories.

Young Pirate fan Patricia Burton gets an
autopgraph from baseball legend Johnny Hopp.

Mom had an inside track. Her father, Dan McGibbeny, a sports writer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, covered Pirate games back in the 40s and 50s. As a child she spent many days tagging along while my grandfather went about his duties with the club. He himself had a special relationship with several players, including Pirate legend, Ralph Kiner.

1960 World Series Ticket.

My father's memories of Forbes Field also run deep. A lifelong Pirate fan, he was selling newspapers during the 1960 World Series, and after Game Six had a copy signed by most members of the team. It is now framed and hanging on a wall at our family home. Dad was also present when Bill Mazeroski hit the winning home run in Game Seven. He never made it home that night, having gotten stranded by the wild celebration in downtown Pittsburgh after the game.

Members of Little League team meet
with Pirate Manager Danny Murtaugh.

In 1961, several members of the Brookline Little League's Kiwanis team had their special day at Forbes Field, meeting with several coaches and players, including legendary Pirates like Bob Skinner, Danny Murtaugh and Roberto Clemente. As for myself, I only remember going to one game at Forbes Field in the spring of 1970, but I vividly remember Willie Stargell "spreading some chicken on the hill" by hitting a homerun into the upper deck in right field. My most special Pirate memories happened a little later, at Three Rivers Stadium, where the Pirates helped transform Pittsburgh into the "City of Champions" during the 1970s. Among my most treasured items is a photo of myself with Roberto Clemente and Bill Mazeroski, taken in the summer of 1971.

Forbes Field Relics - Hallowed Ground Preserved

Home Plate now resides in Posvar Hall.

Small bits and pieces of Forbes Field still occupy a place in the Pittsburgh landscape. You can find home plate in its ceremonious location in the University of Pittsburgh's Hillman Library, located in Posvar Hall. Actually, the plate resides approximately 15 feet from it's historical location. If it was in the proper GPS location it would reside in one of the women's restroom stalls.

Regina Brendel stands at the outfield wall
near the Cathedral of Learning - 1975.

A section of the outfield wall, from right-center field, marked 436 feet, still stands near the Cathedral of Learning, ivy included. The photo above shows Mrs. Jean Brendel standing near the section of the Forbes Field right-center field wall in 1975. She was life-long Pirate fan, from 1942 until her passing in 2008. Jean grew up in Greentree, where she played catch with Frankie Gustine back in the 1940's. Major Leaguers Frank Thomas and Bob Perkey were good friends. A fine ballplayer herself, Mrs. Brendel and her husband Joseph passed on their love of the game to her three sons, Michael, Douglas and Chris. Another section of wall marked 457 feet stands nearby.

A plaque in Oakland marks the spot where Bill
Mazeroski's legendary homer sailed over the wall.

A bronze plaque in Oakland marks the spot where Bill Mazeroski's sudden-victory 1960 World Series winning homer sailed over the wall and into history.

The famous section of outfield wall where
Mazeroski's homer sailed into the record
was once located in Three Rivers Stadium.

As for the section of wall, over which Mazeroski's epic blast sailed to defeat the mighty New York Yankees, it was taken from Forbes Field in July 1970 and moved to the Allegheny Club in Three Rivers Stadium, where it stood for thirty years. Prior to the demolition of Three Rivers Stadium in February 2001, the wall was again moved, this time to the Pirates new home at PNC Park.

Bill Mazeroski sits next to the
Mazeroski Wall at PNC Park in 2009.

The hallowed section of wall sat in storage until being displayed briefly in June 2009. Then, in the Summer of 2010, the wall was put back into temporary storage with plans to relocate it as a backdrop for the Bill Mazeroski monument. This tribute to the man whose achievements have symbolized the pride and spirit of the Pittsburgh Pirates organization, was unveiled on September 5, 2010, Mazeroski's 74th birthday.

The Barney Dreyfuss Memorial

Barney Dreyfuss was the owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1900 until his death in 1932. During his period of ownership, the Pirates won six National League pennants and World Series titles in 1909 and 1925. He is often credited with the creation of the World Series. A center field Memorial was erected in 1932, in the actual field of play. The Memorial, which resembles a tombstone adorned by a bronze plaque, was moved to the Gate A entrance at Three Rivers Stadium. Today it is displayed in PNC Park.

The Honus Wagner statue at PNC Park.

Another Forbes Field artifact that has been on the move since 1970 is the statue of Pirate great Honus Wagner. Originally unveiled on April 30, 1955, the monument stood for fifteen years outside Forbes Field, then was moved to Gate C outside Three Rivers Stadium. In 2001 the statue was moved to its present location outside the main gate at PNC Park.

Forbes Field Historical Marker - 2006.

In 2006, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission erected a plaque marking the spot of Forbes Field in Oakland. The marker notes the historical significance of Forbes Field and notes a few memorable moments. One for the record books occurred in 1935 when Babe Ruth, the Sultan of Swat, hit his final three home runs in a game between the Pirates and the Boston Braves. The Babe's final homer, #714 for his career, was the first to sail over the right field roof. It was a feat accomplished by only nine other players.

These several items, along with sixty years of individual memories, are lasting monuments to the memory of one of baseball's greatest stadiums, Forbes Field.

For More Interesting Facts on Pittsburgh Sports Stadiums (past and present),
visit
Fun Facts About Pittsburgh's Ball Parks.

Wikipedia: Forbes Field.

Photos From The 1960 World Series

Buried in a box that belonged to an old sports-writer were these Associated Press photos from the 1960 World Series. These are memories that will never be forgotten. The city of Pittsburgh has witnessed many magical times in it's long history. The seven games of the 1960 World Series, culminating with the final game at Forbes Field was, arguably, Pittsburgh's finest moment.

Beat'em Bucs   New York Yankees

1960 World Series   Yankee Tony Kubek injured

Harvey Haddix   Vernon Law   Bill Mazeroski out at second

Yankee Roger Maris after homer   Third baseman Don Hoak   Yankee Whitey Ford

Bill Virdon awaits first pitch in game one.   Shortstop Dick Groat

Yankees after Bobby Richardson grand slam.   Third basemen Don Hoak

Roberto Clemente arrives at home plate
after Hal Smith's game seven homer.   Hal Smith after Game seven homer.   Casey Stengel and Danny Murtaugh

Elroy Face   1960 World Series celebration   Bob Prince

Yankee Bill Skowron after homer   Yankee Mickey Mantle after homer

Mazeroski rounds third after
Series winning homer.   Elroy Face, Bill Mazeroski, Harvey Haddix

1961 Pirates Yearbook   1961 Pirates Yearbook
reverse side with names of
1960 World Series winners.

Photos of Pirates Who Played at Forbes Field


Arky Vaughn
Arky Vaughn
(1932-1941)
 


Babe Adams
Babe Adams
(1909-1926)
 


Barney Dreyfuss
Barney Dreyfuss
(1909-1932)
 

Bob Friend
Bob Friend
(1951-1965)
 

Bob Skinner
Bob Skinner
(1954-1963)
 

Burleigh Grimes
Burleigh Grimes
(1916-17, 1928-29, 1934)
 

Claude Hendrix
Claude Hendrix
(1911-1913)
 

Cy Blanton
Cy Blanton
(1934-1939)
 

Dale Long
Dale Long
(1951-1957)
 

Deacon Phillippe
Deacon Phillippe
(1909-1911)
 

Dick Groat
Dick Groat
(1952-1962)
 

Frankie Frisch
Frankie Frisch
(1940-1946)
 

  
The Pirates celebrated Honus Wagner Day on June 1, 1933 (left) and Dick Groat, Bill Virdon and Bill Mazeroski.
 

Gus Suhr
Gus Suhr
(1930-1939)
 

Hal Smith
Hal Smith
(1960-1961)
 

Hank Greenberg
Hank Greenberg
(1947)
 

Harvey Haddix
Harvey Haddix
(1959-1963)
 

KiKi Cuyler
KiKi Cuyler
(1921-1927)
 

Lefty Leifeld
Lefty Leifeld
(1909-1911)
 

Rabbit Maranville and Bill McKechnie
Rabbit Maranville and Bill McKechnie
(1921-1924) - (1922-1926)
 

Ralph Kiner
Ralph Kiner
(1946-1953)
 

Remy Kremer
Remy Kremer
(1924-1933)
 

Smokey Burgess
Smokey Burgess
(1959-1964)
 

Vernon Law
Vernon Law
(1950-1967)
 

Wilbur Cooper
Wilbur Cooper
(1912-1924)
 

Fred Haney
Lee Handley (1953-1955)
 

Lee Handley and Honus Wagner    Ralph Kiner and Willie Stargell
Lee Handley (19371941, 19441946), Honus Wagner (1900-1917, 1933-1951);
Ralph Kiner (1946-1953) and Willie Stargell (1962-1982)
 


Other Notable Players Who Played at Forbes Field


Babe Ruth came to Forbes Field as a member of the Boston Braves in May 1935. On May 25, the Babe hit three
homers in one game, including the first ever to carry over the right field roof. He also played two
World Series games at Forbes Field with the Yankees in 1927, hitting three singles in eight at bats.
 


Lloyd Waner, Babe Ruth, Paul Waner and Lou Gehrig before Game One of the 1927 World Series at Forbes Field.
 

  
Negro League slugger Josh Gibson (left) of the Homestead Grays played several seasons at Forbes Field
and Jackie Robinson of the Brooklyn Dodgers made his first appearance in 1946.
 

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