Thursday, October 9, 2008

Braves Field

If you wander around Nickerson Field on the campus of Boston University, you'll come upon a plaque in the middle of a courtyard. The plaque will tell you that the spot on which you were standing was once part of Braves Field, the home field for the Boston Braves, who would later move to Milwaukee before settling in Atlanta.  

The home of the Braves was the largest baseball stadium in the country when it opened, and the Red Sox actually played their home games in the 1915 and 1916 World Series at Braves Field because the stadium had a larger crowd capacity than Fenway Park. (The Red Sox also played Sunday games at Braves Field between 1929 and 1932 as the blue laws prevented them from using Fenway Park because of its proximity to a church.) Babe Ruth spun a 14-inning gem at Braves Field during the 1916 World Series in a Game 2 victory for the Red Sox, and Ruth would return to the stadium in 1935 for a handful of games as a member of the Braves before retiring.

Unfortunately for the Braves and their fans, they would play in one fewer World Series in their home ballpark than the Red Sox did before they suddenly slinked out of town and moved to Milwaukee on March 13, 1953, right before the start of a new season. The high point for the Braves during their tenure in Allston was in 1948 when they captured the National League pennant before falling to Cleveland in the World Series.

Today, the site of Braves Field has been converted into Boston University’s Nickerson Field, but some vestiges remain. The right-field bleachers were incorporated into the grandstand of Nickerson Field. The stucco ticket office down the right-field line is now a child-care center and campus security office located on Harry Agganis Way off of Commonwealth Avenue. A portion of the exterior right-field wall still stands along Harry Agganis Way.

The Boston Braves Historical Association, a band of die-hard fans, keeps the memories of the defunct franchise alive today. They conduct periodic tours of Braves Field and have an annual dinner and reunion, which often includes a former Boston Braves player. Their 2008 dinner/reunion is taking place at 1 PM this Sunday, October 12, at the Holiday Inn in Brookline (1200 Beacon Street). There is a tour of Braves Field beforehand. Click here for more information. If you can't make it, check out this new book: Spahn, Sain and Teddy Ballgame: Boston's (almost) Perfect Baseball Summer of 1948. It's filled with essays about both the Braves and the Red Sox, which were both in the pennant race throughout 1948.

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