Basic baseball question

I’m under the impression that MLB baseball fields have different dimensions from each other. In some, the left wall is close, while it’s far in other parks, for example. Is this true? If so, why is that allowed?

Yes, they are. The bases are all 90 feet from the next one, and the mound is a uniform distance from the plate (that I always get wrong by a few inches), but the walls are up to the stadium builders.
Why? Because it always has been thus, and trying to convince baseball it needs to change its rules is about as difficult as convincing an Orthodox Jew that he doesn’t need to keep kosher because of advances in food storage.

Yes, it is true.

In baseball, the infield must have set dimensions and the outfield walls must be a minimum of 325 feet from home plate and 400 feet to centerfield (for any park built after 1958). The exact distances to the outfield walls, as well as foul territory, etc. are left up to each ballclub to decide.

Why? Probably because it gives each ballpark it’s own distinctive “flavor.”

Zev Steinhardt

It’s true, and it’s allowed because both teams will still get the same advantages/disadvantages when playing each other in any stadium. You have pitcher’s parks, and hitter’s parks, but both teams have the same obstacles to deal with.

Stadium dimensions aren’t the only factor involved in changing the dynamic of a ballpark. The Colorado Rockies’ Mile High Stadium has thinner air than any other stadium in the ML, so a ball hit there will travel farther than other places. More home runs, yay. Pitchers love it.

Triple simulpost! Sweet love!

Ah, but you’re making the false assumption that the reason we keep kosher is because we’re afraid of disease…

Zev Steinhardt

Tradition. When ballparks were first built, they had to be designed to fit into the land where they were built. The distance and location of the fences didn’t matter all that much, since no one was hitting the ball hard enough to reach them. So there were no rules as to how the parks were to be set up.

For instance, Fenway Park has The Green Monster – a very short left field fence. The reason why it’s so close to home plate is because a street runs directly behind it.

Since there were no rules, old-time parks were often built to match the strengths of a team. Thus, Yankee Stadium has a short right field fence so Babe Ruth could hit more home runs (Ruth was a lefty).

At a certain point, minimums were set (the Polo Grounds had only 254 feet down the foul lines). There also was a rule that the fences be uniform (though I think this may be relaxed).

Here’s a link to Rule 1 of the rules which describe the layout of the field and the required dimensions.

Zev Steinhardt

Thanks for the info, everyone.

Nitpick: The Rockies no longer play in Mile High Stadium. they play in Coors Field, which has the same altitude problem.

Nitpick #2: Maybe they built Yankee Stadium to benefit Babe Ruth, but it should be noted he hit more homers on the road than at home.

As Realitychuck points out, stadia were originally designed to fit into the surrounding area. Early stadiums tended to be built within the city, so the size of the stadium was often subject to the size of the city block it rested on. You also had baseball stadiums that were built out of other stadiums, such as the Los Angeles Coliseum and Toronto’s bizarre Exhibition Stadium, which was actually a football field with a right field fence sitting along what was usually the north thirty yard line.

But starting in the 1960s, suburban stadiums built on planned locations led to the creation of a lot of uniform, cookie-cutter ballparks. If you have all the room in the world, there’s no reason not to have uniform fence distances.

The recently asymmetrical ballparks are built that way TODAY is just because the designers thought it looked cool. Its starting to get a little silly, IMHO.

Dimensions of baseball parks past and present

IMHO, the idiosyncracies of individual baseball parks is one of the charms of the game. Aside from dimensions, they also differ with regard to whether they use grass or artificial turf, and in features such as Wrigley’s ivy-covered wall. Before its renovation, Yankee stadium’s monuments were actually on the playing field.

Despite the theoretical advantage a home team might have in being able to tailor the team to the park and in knowing how to deal with a park’s idiosyncracies, the home field advantage in baseball is smaller than in any other major sport. It’s only around 5% (home teams on average win 55% of all games played), as opposed to a good 20% in basketball (home teams win 70% of games) in which every court is identical.

Two of today’s newer parks, Astros Field and Pac Bell Park, have outfield fences that are shorter than allowed by the rules. Houston’s is in LF and San Francisco’s is in RF. The teams had to ask the Commissioner for a waiver, which apparently isn’t too hard to get.

The Reds are playing in a weird version of Cinergy (ne Riverfront) while their new park is being constructed and the Commissioner insisted that a higher fence be constructed in CF to make it easier for the batter to see the ball and to prevent too many cheap homers to CF.

And while you might think the Giants built a stadium with a short RF in order to help out Barry Bonds (who is lefthanded), it was actually because that was the way the stadium was situated in order to cut down on wind blowing into the park.

Regardless, Pac Bell is a very hard stadium to hit a homer in as it has very deep alleys and it’s a long way to CF.

Unless you are named Barry Bonds.

Ah, but you’re making the false assumption that I made that false assumption. I used that analogy precisely because, while there may have once been an hygienic reason behind the kosher rules, that it is now done primarily for the sake of tradition/Biblical law. Much as, while there may have been particular reasons that baseball fields were of varying sizes, it is now done primarily for the sake of tradition/baseballical law.

Ah, but now you’re making the false assumption that I made a false assumption that you made a false assumption. For Orthodox Jews have always kept kosher only because God said so. Any side health benefits (real or imagined) are only a side benefit. Othodox Jews never kept kosher only because of a health benefit.

In any event, this is getting off topic. If you want to discuss this further in another thread, I’ll be more than happy to continue this there.

Zev Steinhardt

But your link states otherwise.

Nitpick. The dimensions at the Polo grounds were 280(left)-475-258(right). Still, a pop-up down the right field line often became a homerun.

Not a contradiction. Any park built (or renovated) after June 1, 1958 must be 325/400 minimum to the wals. Parks built before then must be 250 ft.

Zev Steinhardt

Am I the only one amused by the fact that a post mentioning orthodox Judaism was followed by one that began “Tradition”?

Gotta go. There’s somebody on my roof.

The rule clearly states that those measurements are preferable, not mandatory. Only 250 ft is mandatory.

NOTE (a) Any Playing Field constructed by a professional club after June 1, 1958, shall provide a minimum distance of 325 feet from home base to the nearest fence, stand or other obstruction on the right and left field foul lines, and a minimum distance of 400 feet to the center field fence.

That sounds pretty mandatory. The “preferable” only went until 1958; you have to read the whole rule.

Part of the joy of baseball is its differences from park to park. There are plenty of balls hit for singles in Fenway Park that would be homers elsewhere, plenty of homers hit there that would be outs elsewhere, and plenty of wall-scraping doubles as well. The differences in dimensions are unique to baseball–when’s the last time you heard of anyone admiring football stadiums or basketball arenas for their various qualities?

Soccer fields (or if you prefer football pitches) can vary in size, although they are all rectangular. Ice hockey rinks vary in size also, but not as much as in the past.

Very few basketball courts have any variation. In some old high school gyms, there may be some funky dimensions.

I’ve covered a couple high school football games (American sort of football) where the field wasn’t quite 120 yards long. The end zones were shortened a bit in one case and in the other, a few feet were shaved out between the 40-yard lines.