Original Document
Original Document
35,000 fans help dedicate Forbes Field, Pittsburgh, PA, June 30, 1909

"35,000 Fans Help to Dedicate Ball Park: Largest Assemblage Ever Gathered in Any Ball Park Anywhere Enjoys Ideal Weather Conditions,"

Forbes Field, the new home of the Pittsburg Baseball Club on Bellefield, and the largest and finest amusement stadium in the world, was dedicated this afternoon with appropriate and impressive ceremonies.

Father Pitt took a day off for the occasion, and the ceremonies were witnessed by the largest throng that ever attended an event of this kind in this or any other city in the country. It was difficult to estimate the attendance, for Forbes Field is so immense–so far beyond anything else in America in the way of a baseball park–that old experts, accustomed to judging crowds at a glance, were at a loss for reasonable figures.

However, it seemed certain that the official attendance would show the figures to be near 35,000. The spacious grandstand has a seating capacity of about 20,000, and every seat was occupied long before the dedicatory ceremonies were started at 2:30 o'clock. The big concrete bleacher back of third base along the left field foul line, with a seating capacity of close to 6,000, was also packed at an early hour, and the bleachers in center field–temporary seats in the only wooden structure in the big park–also were filled.

Extra seats were being put on the field at 2 p.m.

The gates were thrown open promptly at noon. Long before that hour hundreds of eager fans, who had not been able to purchase reserved seats, owing to the fact that the supply was exhausted long before the demand was set, gathered outside the gates, waiting for a chance to enter. Long lines formed down the streets, and from appearances some of the faithful had been there since early morning. Enthusiasm was at a high pitch, and everybody was in a good humor.

Eight Ticket Booths Used

When the gates were opened, the ticket sellers and takers were kept busy right up to the moment the game started between the Pirates and the Cubs at 3:30, and even after that time hundreds of late arrivals crowded inside the park.

Eight ticket booths at the main entrance to Forbes Field were in operation this afternoon, and every one of the ticket sellers did a land office business. Just inside the main entrance are the 10 turnstiles leading to the grandstand. Eight were used this afternoon for holders of reserved and box seat tickets and grandstand admission tickets. The two press gates were used by the invited guests, holders of season coupon books, and by season boxholders. The turnstiles clicked merrily and rapidly as the fans wended their way through, and up into the stands.

After going through the stiles, the fans came upon a broad promenade in the rear of the seats. In the center of this were located the club offices, and in the rear are the elevators, which were used for the first time today to carry the people to the upper tier of the stand and the boxes.

Forbes Field was in gala array this afternoon. The decorators, a whole army of them, worked last night until midnight before they completed their task, but their efforts were well worth while, for the appearance of the park and stands was the subject of much favorable comment today. Over the grandstand rise almost two-score of flagpoles, from each of which floated either the stars and stripes or a banner of the Pittsburg Baseball Club.

Cheers at Band Concerts

Promptly at 1:30 o'clock two bands appeared upon the field in full dress uniform, and started the concerts, which were to entertain the fans until the start of the real ceremonies, an hour later. The bands played popular and patriotic airs, and the fans cheered themselves hoarse in the exuberance of their enthusiasm.

Everybody was happy. The weather man had provided an ideal afternoon for the occasion. Old Sol was out in all his glory, beaming down on President Dreyfuss and his host of guests and friends. Old Sol has seen some wonderful and novel sights before; but he evidently smiled benignly today, for he was looking down upon the greatest throng that ever assembled at a ball game, and on the largest and finest amusement palace in the world.

At 2:30 o'clock the dedication took place. One band started from its position at the right wing of the grandstand and the other from the left wing, both under the leadership of Daniel Nirella. When the bands reached the players' benches, the members of the Pittsburg and Chicago teams fell into line, marching to the home plate. There the bands combined, and turned out across the diamond toward center field. The two teams separating, Manager Fred Clarke leading his Pirate top-notchers to the west, and Manager Frank Chance leading his Chicago world's champions to the east. When the bands reached second base they halted, and the Pittsburg and Chicago players faced each other, with caps removed, forming lines through which marched the heroes of days gone by on the diamond.

Acting as escort to the guests of honor were President Harry C. Pulliam, of the National League; Secretary-Treasurer John Arnold Heydler; August Herrmann, of Cincinnati, chairman of the National Commission; President Charles W. Murphy, of the Chicago club and President Barney Dreyfuss, of the Pittsburg club, the man who conceived Forbes Field, and provided for Pittsburg the best amusement stadium in the world….

Mayor Throws First Ball

Mayor William A. Magee was seated in box No. 137, near the center of the big stand and on the second tier. A brand new National league baseball was handed to the city's chief executive, and he with true aim, hurled the bright sphere to John M. Morin, director of the department of public safety, who was on the field below.

He made a fair catch, then walked to the pitcher's position in the center of the diamond, and hurled the ball across the plate to George Gibson, the Pirates' star receiver, who had taken his position.

Umpires Robert Emsile and Henry O'Day, the veterans of the National staff, and two of the best arbitrators in the business, took their places, one behind the bat and the other near first base.

The cry, "Play ball!" was heard.

Johnny Evers stepped to the plate.

The game was on.

The scene for the next two or three minutes was simply indescribable. The thousands of fans "let loose" with one accord, and cheer after cheer made the welkin ring.

It was interesting to note some of the expressions heard by the people as they gazed about them after entering Forbes Field. Many of them had never seen the park before, and to say that they were amazed at its size, completeness and beauty does not half express it. President Barney Dreyfuss, when he first planned the plant, called to his side [experts] in work of this kind, and told them just what he wanted. He asked them to outdo themselves to make everything exactly correct and proper. His wishes were carried out, and today for the first time the people of Pittsburg witnessed his triumph.

There was no happier man in the world today than the well-known and popular president of the Pittsburg baseball club. President Dreyfuss is not usually talkative, but he could not restrain an expression of the feelings which showed in his countenance.

Barney Dreyfuss Was Happy

"This is indeed the happiest day of my life," said he, as he shook hands with hundreds of friends who crowded about him to congratulate him, as he stood in the promenade in the rear of the grandstand. "I used to dream of such things as I see here today, but it was not until a comparatively [short] time ago that I ever thought to see them as realities. I thank the people of Pittsburg and Western Pennsylvania from the bottom of my heart for the appreciation shown here [this] afternoon."

Manager Fred Clarke said:

"Pittsburg can now boast of the world's finest baseball park. It is a marvel of which people in other cities can have no adequate conception until they come here and see it. But it is none too good for Pittsburg, as is evidenced by the turnout here today. Father Pitt needs only one thing more. Instead of that flag inscribed "Forbes Field," up there, he should have a banner inscribed, 'Pittsburgh, Champions of the National League and of the World.' Sounds like a dream, oh? So did Forbes Field, when Barney first told of it. But it may come true."

Credit: The Pittsburg Press, June 30, 1909. Courtesy of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
Back to Top