Braves Field, Boston

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Braves Field

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Aerial view. Railroad tracks in the foreground are still there, but the Mass Pike was built over them in the 1960’s.

Braves Field Pavilion A 1915

 

Pavillion B in right field in 1915.

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Pavillion B seen in the aerial shots above is still there today.

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This plaque is inside the old entrance, which is still standing. It’s there to let BU students from all over the world know that this used to be a Major League ballpark.

 

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Looking up Gaffney Street toward the Pavillion B seats and main entrance. The back of the scoreboard is in the foreground. When the Braves moved to Milwaukee in 1953 they took the scoreboard with them.

 

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The office building and entrance and part of the outfield wall are still standing 100 years later. The field is also still there, but with no diamond.

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Photo of the offices and entrance to Braves Field on Opening Day 1915 looking from the corner of Comm Ave and Gaffney Street.

1-Braves Field 7Same shot taken by me in 2002.

This was the home park of the National League Braves from 1915-1952.   The longest-running franchise in all of major league baseball began as the Boston Red Stockings of the National Association of Base Ball Teams in 1871. They were the only team to last through the five years of this first league. When the National League as we know it today began play in 1876 they were a charter team.  The nickname changed several times, to the Red Caps, Beaneaters, Rustlers, Doves, and finally the Braves.  They played at the South End Grounds from 1871 until 1914, when they surprised everyone by going from last place on the 4th of July to 1st place at season’s end and won the World Series.

Interesting tidbit: the 1914 World Series between Boston and Philadelphia was played at Fenway Park, just six blocks down Comm Ave.  The 1915 World Series between Boston and Philadelphia was played here at Braves Field.  Both resulted in Boston wins.  The interesting tidbit is that the 1914 Series at Fenway was between the NL’s Boston Braves and the AL’s Philadelphia Athletics. The reason was that the Braves old field, the South End Grounds, only held about 9000 and the World Series would attract a much larger crowd.  Fenway was only two years old and much bigger, so the Red Sox let the Braves play the series there.  (The Red Sox may well have kept the concession money as part of the deal.) The following year the Red Sox played the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series, and the Braves returned the favor and let the Red Sox play in the brand-new, bigger-than-Fenway Braves Field.

In the long run the Braves didn’t need a park that was bigger than Fenway, because year after year the Red Sox outdrew the Braves by a huge margin…even in 1948 when the Braves went back to the World Series.  Late in March 1953, toward the end of spring training, owner Lou Perini decided that he was sick of the Braves being outdrawn something like 5-1 by the Red Sox and moved the team to Milwaukee, where his AAA affiliate played.  That was good for a while, as the Milwaukee Braves beat the Yankees in the World Series in 1957, just their fifth year there.  By year thirteen, however, the luck had run out and the Braves moved again, this time to Atlanta, where they still play.

I never got to a baseball game here because I was only four years old when the Braves left.  Dad drove me by and pointed it out sometime around 1957, then took me and my brother Hugh to a Patriots game there in the early 60’s. We sat in the former right field bleachers shown above.  My father-in-law, Joe Tierney, was taken there by his father, Ray, back in 1934 when Babe Ruth was a Boston Brave. Ruth hit a home run (very possibly it was a foul ball, considering the angle of the Pavillion seats, but never the let the truth get in the way of a good story) that Ray caught on the bounce.  He was on the ramp that heads under the stands and held the ball out to Joe and said, “Always keep this baseball. It was hit by the greatest player of all time, Babe Ruth.”  Just then some guy came running down the ramp, grabbed the ball from Ray and ran toward the beer concession. Ray ran after the guy, tackled him and went back to give Joe the ball. “As I was saying, always keep this …” A couple of weeks later Joe supposedly lost the ball playing catch with a friend.

The field is now owned by Boston University and known as Nickerson Field. It’s the home field for BU soccer and lacrosse.  The Boston Breakers USFL team played there in the early 80’s, then the folded.  In the late 90’s the Boston Breakers Women’s soccer team played there prior to that league folding.

 

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