Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Day 35: West Field

Before going to the Pittsburgh Pirates game on June 23, 2009, we did some driving around the area to locate some of the old professional ballparks. One of them is West Field. It is located in Munhall, Pennsylvania, off of West St between 19th Avenue and Orchard Street. It is not exactly obvious to find since it is back behind buildings and street signs are rather pathetic in the Pittsburgh area as we discovered a lot. The best way to spot it is to be looking up and find it by seeing the stadium lights.

West Field was used by the Homestead Grays, a Negro Leagues team. Great players such as Cool Papa Bell and Josh Gibson were among those that once played at West Field. I am not exactly sure the years it was used, but I think somewhere from the 1930s to 1940s. I think it was mostly used for weekday games, as I know they also played at Forbes Field, which I will post more on in its own post later.

Seeing West Field reminded me of going to Ancient Greek and Roman ruins in Turkey. The stadium is pretty much all still there, but it has been very neglected over the decades. The stands are still in decent condition, although a few areas are fixed up with wooden boards and many of the hand rails in the aisles are rusted to the point that pieces are missing from some. You can walk up a ramp to the concourse on top of the stands or walk up the steps from the bottom aisle. The field itself is in very sorry shape and the infield is converted to a sad dirt softball field. The dugouts are in okay condition and you can sit in them, but there is some grafitti in them. You can also walk down the tunnels under the stands until you get to a locked door that I assume leads to at least what used to be locker rooms.

Overall this was an interesting old ballpark to visit even though it was not actually a former MLB ballpark. It has just as much historical significance and perhaps even more than some of the actual former MLB parks since some of the greatest players of that era, such as Josh Gibson, never lived to be able to play in the MLB after the color barrier was broken. It is kind of sad to see it in such a sorry state, but at least it has not been demolished and replaced with some sort of building. Also, nice is that it remains a public park and you can actually walk on the field unlike League Park in Cleveland, where the infield was all fenced off. Lastly, at least West Field is in way better shape than that park.

Kj’s Baseball Collection: Louisville Slugger

The Louisville Slugger Factory & Museum is pretty much all about bats, so I really should not have expected much of anything for my baseball collection. However, I kind of expected to find a cool ball if I found any in the gift shop. Thus I was kind of disappointed and almost did not even get the one they did have. It is just a simple one that has a white strip and a blue strip. On the white strip is a Louisville Slugger logo that says Since 1884. At least it was less disappointing than finding their cool 125 anniversary logo t-shirts only to learn they were out of my size. It was not entirely disappointing, though, since I did get a nice 125th anniversary baseball cap.

Day 36: Jumping Pillow and Basketball

This morning we are getting a slow start. Dad said he wanted to aim for 9am, but I have it scheduled for 11am. So he is behind what he said as usual, but it is not a big deal. Waiting on him to be ready I went and tried out the jumping pillow they have at this KOA. Later I had Dad take some pictures of me on it.

While Dad was taking a shower I played with Mik. We started by just playing catch with the basketball and him trying to shoot at the hoop they have here, but he cannot even make it half way up to it. Then he decided to play defense against me, as long as I went easy on him. He got pretty good at stealing the ball in mid dribble without even touching me. Every time he got a clean steal I would try a lay up for him. He ended up winning 6 to 5. After 30 minutes and Dad getting back from his shower I was tired out, but he kept wanting to play. He is hoping the next KOA has a basketball court, too.