Here’s an engaging romp through the history of baseball stadia in a piece by Los Angeles Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne. “Battle of the ballparks: Cubs vs. Dodgers and the lost history of L.A.’s own Wrigley Field.”
About that, let me just say this: I don’t follow baseball much these days. Last time I saw the Boston Red Sox play at Fenway was 1984, during my trip to Providence for my first interview for a job with the Journal. In those days I lived in Washington, where the Senators had played in one of history’s worst ballparks, RFK Stadium, home also, until recently, to the hapless Washington Redskins. The baseball Senators were equally hapless, but still beloved. It is often assumed that Richard Nixon is the most hated man in Washington history. No, it is Bob Short, who moved his Senators to Texas in 1971. That was the second theft of the Washington team, the first being Calvin Griffith’s relocation of the team to Minnesota in 1960. A new franchise was created, again the Senators, and they played in (Clark) Griffith Stadium for one year before moving to D.C. Stadium, which was renamed RFK Stadium.
I am straying far afield, and hope readers will enjoy Hawthorne’s description of the architectural one-upmanship between Chicago and L.A., who are in a playoff bout for the National League pennant. I was born in Chicago so I am rooting for the Cubs and for Wrigley Field. The Sox are out of it, and so am I as far as baseball is concerned. I did go see the Washington Nationals play a few years ago in old RFK, before they moved to a new stadium (of traditional design, in an actual city neighborhood, near the Navy Yard in Southeast), but I haven’t rooted for a team with my heart since the Senators’ ignominious absquatulation. (Look it up!) Years ago, I saw a guy sitting at a table in Union Station Brewery (here in Providence) wearing a No. 44 Senators baseball jersey. “Hey, hey!” I said. “Frank Howard!” The guy looked at me like I had two heads. Hey! Frank Howard, man! I’m outta here.*
(Tip o’ the baseball cap to Kristen Richards and her indispensable (and free) ArchNewsNow.com for putting Hawthorne’s article on her site.)
* Can it be that I’ve had Howard’s number wrong in my head for decades? I thought he wore the No. 44 jersey for the Senators. Now, doublechecking, I find that it was 33. Did I trade 33 for 44 because he twice hit 44 homers in a season? No wonder that guy looked at me like I had two heads. I’ve been telling that story for years. Good grief!