Forbes Field began construction around 1903 in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and was officially opened on June 30th, 1909 by owner Barney Dreyfus. Barney Dreyfus purchased the land with the help of Andrew Carnegie an industrialist in the Pittsburgh region. This park hosted numerous sports teams. It was the home of the Pittsburgh Pirates, Steelers, Panthers, and the Homestead Grays. The park was named after John Forbes, a British general during the French and Indian War. Forbes is known for capturing Fort Duquesne which was held by the French, and named the city "Pittsburgh". With its large size and elaborate detail, Forbes Field was one of the first concrete and steel ballparks in America. The park closed June 28th, 1970 and the team relocated to Three Rivers Stadium. Forbes Field was demolished the following year, but parts of the park are still around Schenley Park and the University of Pittsburgh campus.
Backstory and Context
Prior to Forbes Field the Pirates played their games at Exposition Park, a 16,000 seat park that sat along the Allegheny River. When Barney Dreyfuss purchased the Pirates in 1900, he began to look for a new place to play baseball, away from the smog that covered Pittsburgh. He found and purchased seven acres of the Mary Schenley estate with the help of Andrew Carnegie. The park began construction in 1903 on a park that would be known for its unique architectural design. Forbes Field featured a three tier grand stand along with luxury suites. The park went through many expansions because of the amount of people who came to see the games. The park featured a very deep center field at 462 feet, while left field was 360 feet, and right field was 376 feet. This was rumored to be deep due to Dreyfuss' dislike of "cheap homeruns". 2
Barney Dreyfuss opened the ballpark June 30th, 1909 for a season matchup between the Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs. The park opened as Forbes Field, named after the French and Indian war hero John Forbes. John Forbes was best known for capturing Fort Duquesne from the French, and naming the city "Pittsburgh". A crowd of about 38,000 came to the newly made Forbes Field to watch the first ever game played at the park. Most people had to stand and watch because at that time, the park only sat about 25,000 people. The Pirates were defeated 3-2 on that Summer day, but that did not stop them from being crowned World Champions the same year. 3
Forbes Field witnessed events and players that would go down as some of the greatest in Pittsburgh history. Players such as Roberto Clemente, Ralph Kiner, and Honus Wagner helped bring success to the Pirates in their playing time. The Pirates won the 1909 World Series against the Detroit Tigers with the help from future Hall of Famer Honus Wagner. Forbes Field also witnessed Babe Ruth's last homeruns of his career. It hosted two Allstar games and the first World Series night game. Along with that, the Pirates won three more World Series' ,but one will forever go down as the best moment of Pittsburgh Pirates history. When the 1960 World Series came around, the Pirates found themselves up against a very powerful Yankee's team. It was the bottom of the ninth, game seven, when one Pirate stepped up to the plate and forever changed Pittsburgh sports history. Bill Mazeroski, the second basemen hit a ball deep to left-center field to walk off the ballgame and crown the Pittsburgh Pirates World Series champions. 1
Even though the park was torn down in 1971, remnants of Forbes Field can still be found around Pittsburgh today. You can find two of the spots on the University of Pittsburgh campus.
"The first is a portion of Forbes Field’s center field wall. This can be found off of Roberto Clemente Drive, which runs between Schenley Drive and South Bouquet Street near Schenley Plaza and the Cathedral of Learning" 4Along with this, walking into Wesley W. Posvar Hall, you would be able to see the original location of home plate. 4 PNC park, the Pirates home field today, holds the wall that the famous game 7 homerun ball was hit over. It was moved from Three Rivers Stadium to PNC park. 5
2. Forbes Field. Ballparks of Baseball. Accessed July 17, 2018. https://www.ballparksofbaseball.com/ballparks/forbes-field/.
3. Spedden, Zach. Ballparks that Live On: Forbes Field. Ballpark Digest. December 22, 2017. Accessed July 17, 2018. https://ballparkdigest.com/2017/12/22/ballparks-that-live-on-forbes-field/.
4. Uncovering the Remnants of Forbes Field in Pittsburgh. Uncovering PA. March 28, 2018. Accessed July 17, 2018. uncoveringpa.com/forbes-field-pittsburgh.
5. Forbes Field Wall. Atlas Obscura. Accessed July 17, 2018. https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/forbes-field-wall.