10
Aug
06

457 FT

As I mentioned in previous posts, I spent the last week and half in Pittsburgh. One evening while we were there, my wife and I wandered around Oakland, which is east of downtown and home to Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh. It is also used to be the site of Forbes Field, which was the home of the Pirates from 1909 to 1970. It was here that Bill Mazeroski hit his famous walk-off home run in game 7 of the 1960 World Series to claim victory from the Yankees, in what remains the only World Series clinched by a game 7 walk-off home run.

Our primary intent in going to Oakland was to walk around CMU’s campus, where we had met and each spent 4 (adjective intentionally omitted) years. However, since we were in the area, I suggested we check out the remnants of Forbes Field. We found what has come to be known as Maz’s wall – a section of the outfield left intact after the rest of Forbes Field was demolished and replaced by University of Pittsburgh buildings. We also found home plate, which is now inside a building. According to reports I had heard many years ago, home plate is actually not in the correct location inside the building. Apparently, if it had been correctly placed, it would have been in the ground floor women’s bathroom. The Wikipedia article on Forbes Field corroborates this report. We looked for the other bases, but they do not appear to have been marked.

Forbes Field Historic Landmark Plaque
Home Plate from Forbes Field

While it was a fun little scavenger hunt to try to locate various parts of the ballpark, there was one thing that we found that really surprised me: a marking on the outfield wall, reading “457 FT”. Looking up Forbes Field on Wikipedia confirmed it: the distance from home plate to the wall in deep left center field was 457 ft. That is an outrageous distance! From what I can gather, the longest home plate to fence distance in any currently used major league ballpark is straight away center field at Minute Maid Park in Houston at 435 ft. Most other parks top out at 400 or 410 ft. So, the fence at Forbes Field was more than 20 feet deeper than even the deepest current ballpark! This may explain why no pitcher ever managed to pitch a no-hitter during the 60+ years the Pirates played at Forbes Field.

Outfield Wall in Left Center at Forbes Field
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