Saturday, March 31, 2007

Fenway Park

Here is how the new illustration of Fenway Park is looking. Bob DeCoteau is a Fenway Park tour guide and student of the early history of Fenway. He's been helping me with this. I still have a couple questions. The illustration is supposed to represent the park in it's first few years. Does anyone know if Duffy's Cliff ran all the way along the wall? Was the flag pole there yet? Also the Bromley map of that era indicates a small building that I've circled. Does anyone know what that looked like? Thanks for any help. These three images are all from the Sports Temples of Boston site.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Huntington Avenue and South End Grounds

Here's two photos of Huntington Avenue Grounds (pieced together in the computer) with South End Grounds (a single decked version, not the famous double decked version) visible in the background. The year is 1911 and the photos were taken from an "aeroplane". Tom Shieber of the Baseball Hall of Fame tipped me off to this. The photos are from the aforementioned Sports Temples of Boston website.

Sanborn Maps

It's been requested that I include the Sanborn map that includes Huntington Avenue Grounds on the blog. Here it is. It's not a Sanborn map though, it's a Bromley map. From 1908. For those who are confused, much old building research is conducting by browsing through old Fire Insurance maps. These maps had most of the information that insurance companies needed to assess the risk of the building being destroyed by fire (access to water mains and running water, number of floors of building, window location, construction materials, etc.). Sanborn was the leader in this field, so they are generically called Sanborn maps. Bromley was a lesser known insurance map maker of the time (maybe someone else has more details on this issue). There are some online resources (Proquest comes to mind) that are "pay to play" to access these maps. That makes Marc Okkonen's research all the more remarkable, for I'm pretty sure he traveled to all of the different cities to study their newspaper and map collections.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Marc Okkonen

The man who I think deserves the most credit for spreading the knowledge of early 20th century ballparks is Marc Okkonen. He wrote a series of Baseball Memories books in the early 1990's. His "Baseball Memories 1900-1909" had unique aerial view drawings/maps of whatever ballparks the major league teams played in during that time period. He drew these using the old fashioned method of plotting out perspective vanishing points and then laying out old fire insurance maps into that perspective grid. He then drew the buildings up from that base. For the purpose of the book, he was sure to include the angle of the midday and setting sun, knowing that was information any baseball fan would need to imagine themselves at those games. Take a look at this remarkable view of the two Boston ballparks of the day, South End Grounds and Huntington Avenue Grounds.

His books also help put things into the perspective of their time. Included are all of the newspapers of the era and the sportswriters who contributed to them. Also in each book are a couple pages describing the popular culture of the time and a mention of the peculiarities and customs of the game of that era. Oh, and they also have player, manager and owner photos galore. You know that Marc spent a LOT of time poring over all the newspapers of the era.

The only complaint one would have is a biggie, in that most of the reproductions are from photocopies, not photos of the original newspaper clippings. I would assume most of that is from the weak microfilm sources. I curse the day microfilm was adopted. Why couldn't libraries have waited 40 years until true digital technology came about before tossing their bound copies of newspapers away?

I urge anyone with an interest in these old wooden parks to pick up this book through a used bookseller. I've seen a bunch on Amazon through various used book dealers.

That is One Big Wall

Take a look at this image from the Sports Temples of Boston site of the outside of the Huntington Avenue Grounds outfield wall. How did that guy get up there? A grappling hook?

Those are some mighty big advertisements.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Google Sketchup

Here's a different view of the simple 3d model of the Huntington Avenue Grounds that was created for this new ballpark poster project. It was created in Google Sketchup. It's nice because you can set the time of day and year and the shadows adjust accordingly. The model was created on top of an old Sanborn fire insurance map.

The Huntington Avenue Grounds

Hi all, welcome to a new blog featuring ballparks past.

This is an image of the Huntington Avenue Grounds in Boston, circa 1903-04. It will be included in my next poster featuring Boston ballparks. I'm still working on it, so if anyone has any comments please feel free to criticize.