Ebbets Field snagging analysis

Welcome to Ebbets Field, home of the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1913 through 1957:

From the outside, it looks an awful lot like Citi Field, huh? More on that in a bit, but in the meantime, let’s head inside so I can show you what an awesome ballpark this was:
Is that glorious or what?
Here’s the view from the second deck in dead center:
In the photo above, did you notice the right field wall? Here’s another look at it:
Do you know how tall it was? I’m talking about the ads combined with the screen up above. It was 38 feet, which means it stood a foot taller than the Green Monster. (By the way, whenever a batter got a hit, the “H” would light up on the “Schaefer” ad, and when a fielder made an error, the same thing would happen to the “E.”)
Do you know what was behind the right field wall? Have a look at this aerial view:
That’s right, nothing but a wide-open street — and it was only 297 feet down the right field line. You think Waveland Avenue is good for snagging home runs? Man, I can only imagine how many balls cleared the right field wall at Ebbets. Here’s what it looked like back there:
Okay, so it’s official: the park was great on the outside.
How about the inside, you ask?
Have a look at the photo below. Turns out there was a cross-aisle. Connect the two red dots I’ve drawn and you’ll see it:
Why is this a big deal? Because the ability to move laterally is key; without an aisle (or a standing-room only section), it’s impossible.
But wait, it gets better…
I managed to find an old photo of Ebbets Field that was taken during batting practice…meaning the stands weren’t crowded…meaning you can see the configuration of the seats. Check it out. There were TWO cross-aisles:
(Did you notice the puny protective screen in front of the first baseman? Also, that red railing looks nice and low — great for the fans sitting right behind it.)
lower deck on the 3rd base side had a double cross-aisle as well, and it doesn’t look like the ushers were quick to kick people out:
Here’s another look at the stands on the 3rd base side. You can see the inner cross-aisle, and I’ve drawn a red arrow pointing to the corner spot:
This would’ve been a good place for scooping up grounders during BP and maybe even convincing the occasional player to toss up an old ball.
Guess what? It gets even better. It was hard to tell in previous photos (when the stands were packed), but the seats in straight-away left field had a cross-aisle as well:
You can see it better in the following photo. It’s another aerial view, taken when the ballpark was empty, and I’ve drawn two more red dots to point it out:
It looks like the aisles were fairly narrow — that’s just how old ballparks were designed — so it might’ve been tough to run great distances for baseballs when the place was sold out, but still, there was at least a chance to run.
The next photo is pretty random. It looks like there’s a group of kids walking toward home plate — and is that the tarp covering the field? Whatever. I’ve included this photo to give you a look at the seating situation behind the plate. There doesn’t appear to be a cross-aisle in the second deck, but at least there were tunnels, where fans probably could’ve gotten away with standing:
Even better than the chance to catch balls in the second deck was the fact that the fans were right on top of the action. That deck wasn’t too high, and it was stacked right on top of the lower deck — not set back an extra 100 feet like the upper decks in new stadiums.
One more thing: protective netting.
The picture below shows that the netting completely blocked the seats on the lower level behind the plate:
But what about the seats behind the plate in the second deck? Based on the picture above, it doesn’t look like those seats were protected, but in the photo below (which was taken from the second deck)…
…it’s clear that there was netting. (That’s a good thing for that pennant-waving kid. Without the netting, he’d be in the perfect spot to get drilled by a foul ball from a right-handed batter. Where are his parents, anyway? DOWN IN FRONT!!! That is a boy, right? Wait a minute…) Still, there were lots of other places to snag:
1) behind the right field wall
2) cross aisles all over the place
3) low railings along the foul lines
4) tunnels to stand in
5) corner spot down the left field line
There also a good chance that foul balls flew completely out of the stadium behind first and third base.
My analysis: Ebbets Field was about as good as it gets.
And now I’ll leave you with more photos. The first is a side-by-side comparison of Citi Field and Ebbets Field. Does this make anyone (else) sick?

This next/last photo makes me wish I were born two generations earlier. It was taken in 1947. You can see Ebbets Field off in the distance behind the trolley car:
In case you want to check out more defunct ballparks, I’ve done three other entries like this on Forbes Field, The Polo Grounds, and Exhibition Stadium. I’m not sure when I’ll do another — probably within the next few weeks, and of course I’ll be blogging about other stuff in the meantime…


  1. driyeff@hotmail.com

    Hey, Zack….thanks so much for this. For me,Ebbetts Field is, well, I’m not sure of the right words. I’m 55, grew up in Queens, (live in the midwest now) and have been to the Stadium, Shea, and the Polo Grounds(Mets). Never got to Ebbetts Field. It makes me ache when I think about it. Both my folks were from Brooklyn, and I was schooled in baseball by New Yorkers who had experienced decades of great players, the Series over and over, and when I came along, Willie, Mickey, and the Duke were in their prime. Forget snagging for a minute….seeing a game at Ebbetts Field would be sublime. Giants-Dodgers anytime….Yankees Dodgers in October….oh, man. Now, getting a ball in Brooklyn would be the best, and you’ve showed us we’d have a good chance. Now, figure out the time travel thing, give me a call, and I’ll buy the tickets !! -Dave

  2. puckcollector@optonline.net

    Wait why does the side by side comparison of Ebbets and Citi make you sick? Is it cuz you hate that the Mets copied Ebbets’ design, or is it because you wish you could have seen Ebbets for yourself? Or is it a good sick (like how people say “Wow! Sick shot there!!)

  3. Txbaseballfan

    Great analysis buddy! The letters on the sign lighting up happens at RBiA too. There’s an Ozarka water sign that the “K” lights up for a visiting team strikeout, and a Southwest airlines sign that the “H” lights up for a Rangers’ hit ( & on occasion the “E” lights up for a visitor’s error). I’ve always been enamored by Ebbets Field. All of that history, it’s just to good to imagine. Thanks for the entry.

  4. philsrock5

    If Ebbets Field was still here I would go. The street outside right field would be the best. I was angry that Citi Field looked alot like Ebbets. Oh well can’t do anything now. Great Post!

  5. bradfordbatboy@gmail.com

    Zeeeeeeeeeeee —

    The Abe Stark sign in the 4th picture down — right under the Schaefer Beer scoreboard — was famous at Ebbets. Stark had a men?s clothing store on Pitkin Avenue in Brooklyn, and the copy beside his name read, ?Hit sign, win suit.? Any player who hit the sign with a fly ball got a suit — free. Legend has it that Stark was pee-oh?d that the first player to do it was Mel Ott — of the Dodgers’ crosstown rival, the Giants. Another part of the legend is that The New Yorker ran a cartoon showing Abe standing in the outfield in front of the sign wearing a large glove to minimize the giveways. Wish we had laughs like that today.

  6. cookandsonbats

    Both the J.R.R. and the design of Citi Field would make a lot more sense if it was in Brooklyn. Nevertheless, I think Citi Field is one of the best looking stadiums around from the outside. And after seeing these pictures, it seems like a cool modern day tribute to an important stadium of the past. Therefore, no, the side-by-side doesn’t make me sick. In fact, maybe it makes me like Citi Field a little more. That said, I have no ties to, or strong feelings one way or the other about, the Mets, so it is probably natural for someone in my position to have a different feeling looking at the side-by-side shots that someone in your position.

  7. bigappleblogger

    dont get me wrong… I love citi field, and I love the mets, but they should have saved the design for the dodgers, it would be more appropriate if they used it. This entry raised my level of likeness for the dodgers a little, but I’m still not a huge fan of them.

  8. wlarusso

    Hi Zack,
    I’m taking a trip to Chicago this summer to see the Cubs and White Sox. I looked through your blogs during months of MLB games and wasn’t able to find anything on Wrigley or U.S. Cellular. So I’m posting because I was wondering if there were any specific locations in each stadium that is particularly good for snagging balls. Can’t wait for Opening Day and I assume you feel the same. Good luck with the book.

  9. gmeyer0208@gmail.com

    What an excellent analysis! I love ’em!
    It’s very interesting to see these old parks, especially because i’m pretty young.

    I can’t wait for this week. Sunday I am going to a Royals’ open workout/BP at Kauffman (which is an excellent opportunity to break in my new glove and practice for the season). Then Monday is Opening Day vs. Detroit! I’m also going Thursday and fri/sat/sun vs. Boston. I hope there won’t be TOO many Red Sox fans.

    I’m looking forward to your blog entry of your first game of the new decade!

  10. zackhample

    You’re welcome. Glad you enjoyed it. It makes *me* ache that I wasn’t even alive then.

    Because Citi Field is an ill-conceived abomination.

    Cool. I don’t remember the Ozarka sign from my recent trip there. I’ll have to go back through my pics…

    I’m just really bothered by the inside of Citi Field. It’s all wrong.

    Thanks for the insight. If you find a link to that old cartoon, please share it.

    Citi Field wants to be something that it’s not, and in fact, it’s the complete opposite.

    As my dad said when he visited Citi Field for the first time, “The Mets don’t have any history so they had to steal someone else’s.” (I’m paraphrasing, but that’s the gist.)

    You can find my recent Chicago entries on this page:


    Just click the dates on the left and you’ll get the blog entries.

    Have a great time at the K. Wish I could be there, too. Maybe I’ll make it out there for a few games in the second half of the season. If not, then I’ll almost definitely be back in 2011.

  11. Txbaseballfan

    There’s one in your 5/1/09 entry, third pic in the entry. The Southwest airlines sign would be to the left of the Ozarka sign, facing the 3B side of the stadium.

  12. gjk2212

    lots of changes to citi field, not much to do with ballparks but alot to do concerning history, mets memorabilia, and whatnot.

    anyway, i thought the nyc area ballhawks would find this interesting

    For each regularly-scheduled Saturday and Sunday game*, Citi Field will open a half-hour early (three hours before scheduled game time) exclusively for Season Ticket holders. Simply present your regular Season Ticket for the game at the far right turnstiles at the Jackie Robinson Rotunda – nearest the Team Store and Mets Hall of Fame and Museum – then be the first to catch a ball during batting practice (on occasion, batting practice may be held indoors), or beat the lines at Shake Shack and 2K Sports FanFest! (*For make-up games, early opening times, if any, will be determined on a case-by-case basis.)

  13. gjk2212

    and fyi, idk why that comment posted at 5:02 pm, its not even that time right now yet

  14. zackhample

    Thanks for pointing that out. I just took a look…and I really miss that stadium.

    I’ve found that when a stadium opens three hours early, it actually sucks. BP usually doesn’t start that early, so you run in, and there’s no action, and then the place fills up before the first pitch is thrown. As for the weird time-stamping, I’ve noticed that. I don’t know what’s up with it. MLBlogs is screwy sometimes.

    Thanks and good luck to you, too.

  15. John Vacek

    Snuck into Ebbets a few times by way of right field. O’Malley didn’t seem to mind, and didn’t try to keep the kids out.

  16. Larry Walcheck

    Mickey Mantle claimed that a tunnel went under Bedford avenue to a bar cross the street from Ebbets Field. He said he went there with Whitey Ford. A customer was at the bar and yelled”Hey Mantle, you’re a bum.

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