Ballpark Roadtrip: Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium
On April 8, 1974, Hank Aaron became baseball's all-time career home run leader by hitting his 715th home run off the Los Angeles Dodgers' Al Downing. (Photo: Gordon Donovan)
Braves Field was home of the Boston Braves of the National League from 1915 to 1952, prior to the Braves' move to Milwaukee in 1953. Today the site is home to Nickerson Field on the campus of Boston University. Located on Commonwealth Avenue at Babcock Street, the baseball field was aligned northeast, much as Fenway Park has been since it opened in April 1912.
Before the Braves became the first modern-era franchise to relocate, in 1952, the Boston Braves franchise had been in Boston since 1871. Before Braves Field, the franchise had played at South End Grounds, with play at Congress Street Grounds in 1894 while South End Grounds was rebuilt following the May 15, 1894 Roxbury Fire.
Shortly after the Boston Red Sox opened Fenway Park, Braves owner James Gaffney purchased the former Allston Golf Club, one mile west of Fenway Park to build a new park for the Braves. Construction of the $600,000 Braves Field began on March 20, 1915 and was completed before the end of the 1915 season.
The park was constructed entirely of steel (approx 750 tons) and an estimated 8 million pounds (3,600,000 kg) of concrete. Braves Field officially opened on August 18, 1915 with 46,000 in attendance to see the Braves defeat the St. Louis Cardinals 3-1. Braves Park was the largest stadium built in that era, with 40,000 capacity and a trolley system leading to the park.
From 1929 to 1932, the Boston Red Sox played select regular season games periodically at Braves Field. On May 1, 1920, Braves Field hosted the longest major league baseball game in history – 26 innings, which eventually ended in a 1–1 tie.
The stadium hosted the 1936 Major League Baseball All-Star Game and Braves home games during the 1948 World Series. The Boston Red Sox used Braves Field for their home games in the 1915 and 1916 World Series since the stadium had a larger seating capacity than Fenway Park. Braves Field was the site of Babe Ruth's final season, playing for the Braves in 1935.
After purchasing the Braves from Bob Quinn in 1945, owner Lou Perini, citing low attendance, moved the Braves to Milwaukee just prior to the 1953 season, leaving Braves Field vacant. The Braves had drawn fewer than 300,000 fans in 1952, after drawing over 1 million in 1947, 1948, and 1949. Milwaukee had been the site of the Braves' Minor League team, the Milwaukee Brewers, and the Braves had earlier blocked an attempt by the St. Louis Browns to move to Milwaukee.
After the Braves moved to Milwaukee in 1953, the Braves Field site was sold to Boston University and reconstructed. It has become home to many Boston University teams. Most of the stadium was demolished in 1955, but significant portions of the original structure still stand and make up part of the Nickerson Field sports complex on the campus of Boston University.
Ballpark Facts and History
The stadium boasted the highest elevation in baseball when it opened, at 1,050 feet (320 m) above sea level. It retained this distinction for 27 seasons, until the expansion Colorado Rockies in 1993. The high elevation and the summer heat made it favorable to home run hitters, resulting in the nickname "The Launching Pad."
In 1961, future Atlanta mayor Ivan Allen Jr. attempted to lure a MLB team to Atlanta. He and Furman Bisher, sports editor of the Atlanta Journal, showed the site to Charlie Finley, owner of the Kansas City Athletics. Impressed with the location, Finley discussed stadium designs with Allen that day.
Allen learned in July 1963 that the American League would not allow the Athletics to move to Atlanta. He and the Stadium Authority, a group of the city's leading businessmen, bankers, and lawyers whom Lane had recommended to Allen, decided to pursue the Milwaukee Braves. In February 1964 the Braves agreed to move to Atlanta.
The stadium hosted the World Series for the first time in 1991 when the Braves played the Minnesota Twins in what ESPN judged to be the best World Series ever played.The Braves won all three games played in Atlanta, two in their final at-bat, but lost the series in seven games.
The first batter at Atlanta Stadium was the Pittsburgh Pirates Matty Alou on April 12, 1966. The last batter at the stadium was the Montreal Expos Moises Alou on Sept. 23, 1996. The Nephew of Matty Alou.
The stadium was relatively nondescript, one of the many multi-purpose stadiums built during the 1960s and 1970s, similar to Veterans Stadium, RFK Stadium, the Astrodome, Three Rivers Stadium, Busch Memorial Stadium, Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum and Riverfront Stadium.
Photos taken June 15, 2011 using a Canon EOS-1D Mark IV Digital SLR with a EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Standard Zoom Lens, EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM Telephoto Zoom Lens.