1950: Griffith Moves the Fences Back

Sunday May 7, 1950

Griffith Stadium had always played as a pitcher’s park. Clark Griffith, in hopes that some new acquisitions might supply his team with some more power- something the Nats had historically lacked, had temporary bleachers installed in the outfield of Griffith Stadium. The bleachers covered left and left-center field and made home run distances an average of 19 feet closer to home plate. Perhaps as important, the addition allowed 854 more paying customers into the ballpark.

The temporary seats didn’t quite work out as planned. First, not a single person occupied the seats in their first ten games of existence. This couldn’t have been surprising to Griffith, who had been having trouble selling tickets for a long time in Washington. What was likely more disturbing to Griffith and the Nats’ office was the way the opposition was taking advantage of the shorter porch in left field. The Sporting News reported that, of the nine home runs hit into the temporary seats,  eight had been hit by the opposition, meaning that essentially Griffith’s new dimensions were helping the Nats to lose. The final straw might have been Gil Coan’s grand slam on May 7 that helped the Indians to a 10-5 win.

Griffith got rid of the temporary stands by the next day.


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