Huntington Avenue Grounds, Boston (2)

Half of a panorama view of Huntington Avenue Grounds in Boston, in 1903.  The other half can be found here. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.


The scene in 2014:


A lot has changed at the site of the original home of the Boston Red Sox. It seems as though they have played at Fenway Park for forever, and for good reason – they just finished their 102nd season there.  However, before Fenway Park, before Babe Ruth, and even before the name Red Sox, there was Huntington Avenue Grounds.  The first photo was taken on September 22, 1903, and is one half of a panoramic photo (see this post for the other half) that was taken by the studios of Elmer E. Chickering, a Boston photography company.  See the “then” photo in this post for a very similar scene showing pitching legend Cy Young.

Thanks to the efforts of the writer of the Baseball Researcher blog, we are able to identify not only the day that the photograph was taken, but also the players who appear in it.  Boston’s pitcher is Tom Hughes, an average pitcher who was in the midst of what would be a career year for him, with a 20-7 record.  The first baseman is Candy LaChance, with second baseman Hobe Ferris visible to the left, and right fielder Buck Freeman can be seen in the distance.  Freeman would go on to lead the American League in home runs, with 13, and Ferris came in third, with nine.

Boston would end up losing this particular game, 7-0, but it probably didn’t phase the team too much – they were up 14.5 games with eight left to play, so they had already clinched the American League pennant and were just over a week away from hosting the Pittsburgh Pirates here in Boston for the first World Series, which Boston would go on to win five games to three.

Today, the site is part of the Northeastern University campus, but all is not forgotten; there is a statue of Cy Young on the left-hand side of the photo in the distance, in front of the bushes.  It was largely thanks to Young’s pitching that the Red Sox won the 1903 World Series, and the statue made in his honor is placed approximately where the pitcher’s mound once was.  There is also a home plate marker, 60 feet away from the statue, around where this photo was taken.  However, this was not the actual location of home plate – the real location was about 90 degrees to the right, under what is now a campus building.

See the Library of Congress site for the complete panorama.

Huntington Avenue Grounds, Boston (1)

Huntington Avenue Grounds in Boston, around 1903. Photo courtesy of Boston Public Library.


The same location in 2014:


The first photo shows the stands along the third base line at Hunting Avenue Grounds and its expansive outfield. The field measured 350 feet down the left field line, and at the time of the 1903 photo center field measured an almost unheard-of 530 feet, which was later expanded to 635 feet in 1908. Beyond center field is the apartment block that is visible in the photos on this post, although none of the buildings are visible from this spot today, and there is no evidence here that a ballpark ever existed. The building that dominates the foreground here is the Cabot Center, an athletic facility on the campus of Northeastern University.

Hilltop Park, New York (4)

Another scene inside Hilltop Park, during a game between the New York Highlanders and the Boston Red Sox in 1912. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Bain Collection.


A similar scene in 2014:


In 1912, the New York Highlanders played their last season at Hilltop Park, losing 102 games in the process.  In the meantime, the Boston Red Sox played their first season at Fenway Park, where they still play today, and won a franchise-record 105 games on their way to a World Series championship.  They seemed like two teams headed in totally opposite directions, but just a decade later, following the sale of Babe Ruth and other star players to the Yankees, it would end up being the Yankees winning 100+ games on a regular basis, while the Red Sox frequently lost over 100.  The runner sliding in the photo is New York outfielder Guy Zinn, who played for the Highlanders in 1911 and 1912, before spending a year with the Boston Braves and two years with the Baltimore Terrapins of the short-lived Federal League.  The Red Sox first baseman in the photo is probably player/manager Jake Stahl, although it could be Hugh Bradley, who also played first base for the Red Sox during the 1912 season.

The photos aren’t taken in the exact same spot; the actual location of the first photo would be somewhere inside Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center.  However, both photos show the one surviving landmark from scenes in Hilltop Park: the three apartment buildings across 168th Street.  These buildings were particularly helpful in figuring out the orientation of some of the historic images of Hilltop Park, as the landscape has completely changed in the past 100 years.

Hilltop Park, New York (3)

Another scene inside Hilltop Park, before the 1911 home opener against the Washington Senators. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Bain Collection.


The same scene in 2014:


Taken the same day as the photo in this post, the Highlanders played their first home game shortly after the photo was taken, losing 1-0 to the Washington Senators.  Today, the Highlanders are the Yankees, the Washington Senators are now the Minnesota Twins, and Hilltop Park is now Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center.

Hilltop Park, New York (2)

Opening Day at Hilltop Park on April 14, 1908, when the New York Highlanders took on the Philadelphia Athletics. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Bain Collection.


The same location in 2014:


Hilltop Park wasn’t much of a Major League stadium, and the 1908 Highlanders weren’t much of a Major League team.  Although they would defeat Philadelphia 1-0 in this Opening Day game, they would only win 50 more games, finishing the season with a franchise-record 103 losses that still stands today.  The park was closed following another 100-loss season in 1912, and the team, no longer located on the highlands of New York City on Washington Heights, was renamed the Yankees.  The park was demolished in 1914, and the site remained vacant until the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center was built in the late 1920s.

Hilltop Park, New York (1)

The view outside the main entrance to Hilltop Park, at the corner of Broadway and 165th Street, on April 21, 1911. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Bain Collection.


The same scene in 2014:


The New York Yankees have long called the Bronx their home, but during the first park of their existence they were in the extreme northern part of Manhattan.  The team was moved from Baltimore to New York in 1903, and Hilltop Park (officially given the more bland name of American League Park – this was in the days before corporate sponsorship) was hastily built along Broadway, between 165th and 168th Streets, on high ground overlooking the Hudson River.  It was not a particularly glamorous park, but neither was the team that played there: in ten seasons, the Highlanders lost 100 games twice.  These have been the only two 100-loss seasons in the history of the Yankees franchise.  In this particular photo, it shows fans arriving for the home opener against the Washington Senators.  New York lost the game 1-0, and went on to have a .500 season, with a 76-76 record.  After the 1912 season, the Highlanders moved into Polo Grounds, renting from the Giants until 1923, when Yankee Stadium was completed.  Today, Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center is located on the site.