Griffith Stadium - 1911-1965

Washington's Historic Ballpark


Griffith Stadium and the Right Field Fence/Wall

 


Griffith Stadium was used by the Washington Nationals (also known as Senators) from 1911 to 1960.  There is an interesting history concerning the RF fence/wall in this ballpark.  When the park was quickly rebuilt before the 1911 season after a fire destroyed the prior ball (American league Park II-located on the same site), the wooden RF fence was about 280 feet from home plate at the foul pole.  The height of this fence was estimated from photos to have been 11 feet.  With a RF dimension of 280 and only an 11 foot fence, there were numerous-for the Deadball Era-home runs.  The Washington newspapers referred to these as cheap home runs-most of which were hit by the visiting teams.  After the end of the 1913 season the Nationals expanded the ballpark by acquiring the land parcel located behind the 1913 RF fence.  With this acquisition the RF dimension became 320 (marked as 328 but a measurement in 1956 showed it to be and have always been 320).  The height of the new RF wall was 20 feet. 

At the same time as the RF dimension was corrected in the 1950s the height of the RF wall was found to be 31 feet not the 28 foot height that had been listed for many seasons.  If the height of the RF wall was 20 feet in 1914 and 31 feet in the 1950s, how did the RF wall "grow" 11 feet?  While researching home runs at Griffith Stadium in the 1920s the answer was uncovered.  From a game account in the New York Times (4-20-1924) it was learned that the height of the RF wall had been increased by six feet for the 1924 season.  Again in the early part of the 1925 season (Washington Post of 5-7-1925) it was discovered that the height of the RF wall had again been raised.  The first home run hit over the new higher RF wall was on 5-6-1925.  By comparison with the final height of the wall it can be concluded that the RF wall was 20 feet in 1914-23, 26 feet in 1924, and 31 feet in 1925 and later seasons.

Ron Selter

SABR

 

 

 


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