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Shide Park

Connie Mack Stadium, known for the first two-thirds of its existence as Shibe Park, was a Major League Baseball park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was on the block bounded by Lehigh Avenue, 20th Street, Somerset Street and 21st Street.

The stadium was thus just five blocks west, corner-to-corner, from Baker Bowl, the home of the Philadelphia Phillies starting in 1887. It was the first concrete and steel stadium in the Major Leagues.

 

The stadium hosted two Major League Baseball All-Star Games, the first in 1943, marking the first time the game had been played at night, and in 1952, with that game holding the distinction of being the only All-Star contest shortened by rain (in this case, to five innings).

 

The Philadelphia Athletics of the American League opened the ballpark in 1909 after abandoning Columbia Park. The park was first called Shibe Park, named for Benjamin Shibe, who was one of the initial owners along with Connie Mack. Mr. Mack eventually acquired full ownership, but kept the name the same. The park was finally renamed Connie Mack Stadium in 1953 in honor of the gentlemanly and modest Mr. Mack, who by then was known as "The Grand Old Man of Baseball". A statue was erected in 1957 across the street in a park, was moved to Veterans Stadium in 1971, and ultimately to Citizens Bank Park in 2004.

 

Because the Athletics were popular at the time, sellout crowds made house owners on 20th Street erect bleachers similar to those now at Wrigley Field in Chicago, and charging admission to watch the game. This infuriated Mr. Mack so much, because he was known as a tight owner when it came to finances, that in the winter of 1933, after losing a lawsuit that was filed by the club against the 20th Street house owners from his office in the cupola of the French Renaissance-designed ballpark, he raised the fence to a height of 33 feet (10 meters), a fence quickly dubbed by writers as "spite fence". But when the fence went up, the team's fortunes went down, never getting into pennant contention after that. The Athletics played in the stadium until the 1954 season before relocating to Kansas City in 1955.

 

The National League's Philadelphia Phillies had abandoned Baker Bowl in mid-season 1938, and played at the stadium as co-tenants, playing a doubleheader on July 4th that year, ultimately purchasing the park in the winter of 1954 when the Athletics left Philadelphia, until the stadium was closed after the 1970 season when the team moved to the then-new Veterans Stadium. The final game played there, on October 1 with the Phillies defeating the Montreal Expos 2-1 in 10 innings, was marred by people literally wrecking the stadium before the game ended. In all, a special post-game ceremony — including a helecopter delivery to The Vet of home plate — was cancelled. The National Football League's Philadelphia Eagles also played at the stadium during most of the 1940s and 50s, including the 1948 NFL Championship game, played in a blizzard where the home team defeated the Chicago Cardinals 7-0 with the only score by a Steve Van Buren touchdown, before moving to Franklin Field in 1958, which made Connie Mack a baseball-only facility, and eventually to The Vet.

 

Connie Mack Stadium sat empty and unwanted for the better part of six years, suffering fire on August 20, 1971 — the same day the Connie Mack statue was re-dedicated at Veterans' Stadium — along with vandalism and jungle-like growth of weeds. It was finally razed in 1976, ironically while Philadelphia was the central point of American Bicentennial celebrations including the Major League Baseball All-Star Game at Veterans' Stadium.

 

Many of the seats from this stadium were reused in War Memorial Stadium in Greensboro, North Carolina, and in Duncan Park in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

 

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Tagged:
1910 World Series, 1911 World Series, 1913 World Series, 1914 World Series, 1929 World Series, 1930 World Series, 1931 World Series, 1950 World Series, Ball Parks of Yesterday, Baseball History, Connie Mack, Connie Mack Stadium, Philadelphia Athletics, Shide Park

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