When Forbes Field opened in 1909 it was the first steel and concrete ballpark in the United States- it was the Camden Yards of its day. By the mid 1950’s though it was beginning to show its age. As early as the late 1940’s there was talk of a new ballpark but nothing came of it but talk. On this day in 1956 the Pirates announced that unless a new municipal stadium was built they might have to move to another city. When Forbes Field was built back in 1909 in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh- there was a lot of room to built in the area by the 1950’s the city had built up around it. Parking spaces were limited. As a youngster I went to games there at the end – 1968-to mid 1970. I recall my father parking in people’s front yards. I loved going to games at that old ballpark. I would estimate that in those 2 1/2 years I went to probably 20 games. Walking into the ballpark you got the smell of old cigars. It was a rundown place. But it was a great place to see a ballgame- as long as you weren’t sitting behind one of the supporting posts. One of the highlights I witnessed at Forbes was Willie Stargell hitting one over the right field roof off of Tom Seaver. The first person to do it was some guy with the last name Ruth. My grandfather took me to the next to last game at the ballpark in June 1970.
As it turned out- in 1958 the University of Pittsburgh bought the ballpark- the university was a neighbor of Forbes Field and agreed to lease the ballpark to the Pirates until a new ballpark was built. Finally in April 1968 ground was broken for a new multipurpose stadium on the North Shore of Pittsburgh near where the Monongahela and Allegheny Rivers meet to form the Ohio.
At first Three Rivers Stadium was welcomed as something new usually is. It didn’t take long to see the deficiencies in the place-as far as watching a baseball game. A lot of great things happened at Three Rivers- the Pirates won 2 World Series and the Steelers won 4 Super Bowls while playing there but the place itself- I never had an emotional attachment to it. I did go to the last Pirates game there in 2000.
All that remains today of Forbes Field is part of the left field wall- the wall in which one of the most memorable moments in baseball history took place- Bill Mazeroski’s Game 7 World Series winning home run against the NY Yankees in 1960.