Felber: Tragedy at the ball yard: Philadelphia, 1903

From SABR member Bill Felber at The National Pastime Museum on August 9, 2017:

The single greatest tragedy in the history of American sports is largely forgotten.

The fatal incident occurred on an otherwise blissful Saturday afternoon on August 8, 1903, at the Huntington Grounds, later known as Baker Bowl, at 15th Street and Lehigh Avenue in north Philadelphia. In the mere seconds the disaster took to unfold, seven people died, five others sustained injuries that would prove fatal, and more than 230 were injured. The resulting litigation would take six years to resolve, with courts eventually absolving the owners of the facility of culpability. In effect the spectator-victims were judged responsible for their own injuries.

The catastrophic chain of events began early in the second game of that day’s doubleheader between the Phillies and the visiting Boston Braves. Boston won the first game, with Vic Willis defeating Tully Sparks before a crowd of 10,000. That was an unusually strong turnout for the seventh-place Phillies, who averaged just 2,500 for the season, especially given that the visitors, languishing in sixth place, hardly constituted a “draw.”

Read the full article here: https://www.thenationalpastimemuseum.com/article/tragedy-ball-yard

Originally published: August 9, 2017. Last Updated: August 9, 2017.