Thursday, April 11, 2019

A Neighborhood Ballpark

This aerial photo of Borchert Field gives us our best sense yet of how the ballpark was integrated into its neighborhood.

There were taverns on the corners, but look at all those houses surrounding it. Block after residential block in every direction. With those short fences to either side, you can bet front windows were broken on 7th and 8th Streets.

I don't know when this photo was taken, except that it was before permanent lights were installed in 1935.

I'm also intrigued by the dirt foul area between the baselines and the grandstand. That's another element that was changed at some point during the ballpark's life.

By the late 1930s there was grass planted there, the vast space filled with bullpens, pitching mounds and catching areas where pitchers would warm up.

Even after the full pitching lanes had been added, there was still plenty of dirt on the warning track between the bullpens and the first row of seats. A huge space where pop flies could go to die. When all that was dirt, I wonder how much was kicked up by an August wind off the lake.

Comparing this photo with a recent Google Maps satellite image, you can see that many of the nearby houses are still standing, even though the site of the ballpark itself was scooped out to make room for the sunken Interstate 43.

Another reminder of how our Brewers were integrated into the community.

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