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Seals Stadium

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Seals Stadium

Seals Stadium
Location Bryant & 16th Streets
(right field corner)
Mission District
San Francisco, California
Coordinates
Owner San Francisco Seals
Paul I. Fagan [1]
Capacity 16,000 (1931)
18,500 (1946)
22,900 (1958)
Field size Left Field - 340 ft (1931), 365 ft (1958), 361 ft (1959)
Left-Center - 375 ft (1958), 364 ft (1959)
Center Field - 400 ft (1931), 410 ft (1958), 400 ft (1959)
Right-Center - 397 ft (1958)
Right Field - 385 ft (1931), 365 ft (1940), 355 ft (1958), 350 ft (1959)
Surface Grass
Construction
Opened April 7, 1931
Closed September 20, 1959
Demolished November 1959
Construction cost $600,000
Tenants
San Francisco Seals (PCL) (1931-1957)
Mission Reds (PCL) (1931-1937)
San Francisco Giants (MLB) (1958-1959)

Seals Stadium was a minor league baseball stadium in San Francisco, California. Opened in the Mission District in 1931, it was the home of the major league San Francisco Giants for their first two seasons in the city. Less than three decades old, the stadium was demolished in late 1959.[2]

Built during the Depression, Seals Stadium opened on April 7, 1931. It cost $600,000 to construct, and Seals President "Doc" Strub described how laborers would leap onto the running boards of his automobile and beg for the opportunity to work on the project for $3 a day. The stadium was unusual in that it was built with three dressing rooms - one for the visiting team, and one for each of the minor league home teams, the San Francisco Seals and the Mission Reds, a.k.a. the San Francisco Missions. It was built for night games, with six tower banks which were described as the best in minor league baseball at the time. With a capacity of 18,600, the stadium had no roof over the grandstands because of San Francisco's lack of rainfall during the summertime and the fans' preference to sit in the sun.[3] The Missions vacated the stadium in 1938 and moved to the Los Angeles area to become the Hollywood Stars.

The stadium initially consisted of an uncovered grandstand stretching from foul pole to foul pole and an uncovered bleacher section in right field. In some years during its minor league days, a live seal was kept in a water tank underneath the grandstand. The field was oriented southeast, with the right field bleachers bounded by 16th Street.[4]

Shopping center at the site of Seals Stadium, 2011.

A separate uncovered bleacher section was added in left field when the New York Giants moved to the city in 1958. The Giants played at Seals Stadium for two years while Candlestick Park was under construction. Given the temporary nature of their stay at the old park, they declined to rename the stadium. Throughout the ballpark's MLB tenure, it lacked a warning track.[5] The original plan was to play just the first year at Seals Stadium.[1]

Prevailing winds to left field aided right-handed hitters; of the 45 home runs hit in its first 19 major league games in 1958, 36 were to left field.[6] A brewery was just north of the venue.[2][7] At the time, its weather was thought to be considerably less favorable than at the site of the park under construction at Candlestick Point.[1]

With the new ballpark safely nearing completion, Seals Stadium was demolished in November 1959. Many of the seats and the light stanchions were reused at Cheney Stadium in Tacoma, Washington.[2][8] From the late 1960s to the mid-1970s, the site was a White Front discount department store. For many years afterward, the site (bounded by Bryant Street, 16th Street, Potrero Avenue and Alameda Street) housed several San Francisco automobile dealerships after the demise of Van Ness Avenue's famed auto row in 1982. In the late 1990s, it was converted to a shopping center.[2][9]

Hall of famer Joe DiMaggio grew up in San Francisco and played for the Seals at the stadium for over three seasons; October 1932 through 1935.

On February 22, 1933 boxer Young Corbett III defeated Jackie Fields at the stadium, earning the title of World Welterweight Champion. Corbett also won the Middleweight Championship here, beating Fred Apostoli on February 22, 1938.

References

  1. ^ a b c "San Francisco park smallest in majors". Victoria (TX) Advocate. Associated Press. February 20, 1958. p. 13. 
  2. ^ a b c d Sullivan, T.R. (April 21, 2006). "There used to be a ballpark here". Major League Baseball. Retrieved December 1, 2013. 
  3. ^ The Sporting News "Take Me Out To The Ball Park", 2nd Edition, 1987 by Lowell Reidenbaugh - p 230
  4. ^ Malinowski, Erik (February 12, 2010). "Seals Stadium home plate found after 50 years". Wired. Retrieved December 1, 2013. 
  5. ^ Lowry, Philip (2006). Green Cathedrals. Walker & Company. p. 212.  
  6. ^ "45 home runs hit at Seals Stadium". Eugene Register-Guard. Associated Press. May 9, 1958. p. 4B. 
  7. ^ Price, Warren C. (July 26, 1959). "Seals Stadium tough? It's just a neat cozy park". Eugene Register-Guard. p. 2B. 
  8. ^ Sherwin, Bob (July 28, 2004). "Cheney Stadium the focal point for Tacoma's link to M's". Seattle Times. Retrieved December 1, 2013. 
  9. ^ Branch, John (October 24, 2012). "Shoppers roam where Giants once did". New York Times. Retrieved December 1, 2013. 

External links

  • 1931 Aerial View showing Seals Stadium (toward lower right) and the Seals' prior home Recreation Park (toward upper left)
  • Found SF – 16th and Potrero - Seals Stadium
  • SF Gate.com – first major league baseball game in California – April 15, 1958
  • Ballparks of Baseball – Seals Stadium
  • Ballparks.phanfare.com – Seals Stadium
  • Ballparks.com – Seals Stadium
  • SF Gate.com – Seals Stadium: Tribute to an epic ballpark
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