LaRue: The homogenization of ballparks

From SABR member John LaRue at The Hardball Times on February 13, 2017:

That’s a lot of lip service to creating ballparks that play fair, all specifically in reference to ballparks built in the last 20 years. You surely could find similar quotes about most ballparks built in that time frame. Implicit in those statements is that ballparks that came before possessed different dimensions that didn’t play fair, at least not fair to any sort of league-wide standard. There’s a lot of truth to that notion. Ballparks today have become more and more homogenized, while ballparks of yore possessed wild fluctuations in dimensions.

No ballpark better encapsulated these fluctuations than the Polo Grounds. For the last 41 years in which baseball was played at the Polo Grounds, the distance to straight-away center ranged from 475 to 505 feet away from home plate. By contrast, the distance to the foul pole in left field was a mere 280 feet, and right field was a miniscule 256 feet. It was a horseshoe.

Those distances are eye-popping because nothing like that exists today. The Polo Grounds were not alone in their oddity. These types of idiosyncrasies have disappeared from the game.

Let’s take a deeper look. We’ll look at distances to the outfield fence, the area behind home plate, ballpark capacity, the height of the fence, and discuss the way the two biggest ballpark booms in the history of the game have shifted the story.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: February 16, 2017. Last Updated: February 16, 2017.