Big Pic

About Site


October 2003:  Exposition Park

Here stood Honus Wagner, one hundred years ago this month, facing Cy Young in the very first World Series.

This parking lot on Pittsburgh's North Shore (on the southwest corner of West General Robinson Street and Tony Dorsett Drive) was once the site of Exposition Park, the home field of the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1891 until 1909.  This summer, I took the panoramic photo above, adding the baselines from home to third and from home to first so that you can visualize the diamond.

Then, as now, in the background were the three rivers, and beyond the rivers was Mount Washington with its wooded slopes and inclined railways.

In 1903, Honus Wagner was the star shortstop for Pittsburg (as it was spelled then).  Cy Young was the veteran pitcher for the Boston team in the upstart American League (then known as the "Boston Americans" or Pilgrims, now called the Red Sox).  Young was the winning pitcher in Games 5 and 7 of the inaugural World Series, played here on October 7 and 10.  The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has more details; click here.

In 1909, explaining that "patrons were no longer willing to put up with 19th century conditions" in a wooden ballpark, the Pirates left this area for the new Forbes Field in the city's Oakland section.  But the move was temporary, lasting only 61 years.  The team returned to the North Shore to play in Three Rivers Stadium from 1970 to 2000.  Three Rivers used to be located on the right edge of this panorama, next to the new football stadium, Heinz Field.

On the left edge of the panorama, roughly in the location of Exposition Park's third-base grandstand, we now see the ramps leading to the Fort Duquesne Bridge.  Another block to the left lies the Pirates' present field, PNC Park.

Local members of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) have surveyed the old site, marking the position of home plate and the other bases.

The ground here is higher than it was a century ago.  It used to be only a few feet above river level, and the outfield sometimes was flooded.


Update, July 2007

Construction is going on all around the Exposition Park site, and the inscription on home plate has worn away.  However, the parking lot hasn't been torn up yet, and the markings are still there.

When Google Earth surveyed the scene from space in 2005, the plate (at the lower left) and the bases were visible as the four white dots you see here.

From ground level, we can see that the new construction includes an office building along the Allegheny River.

The Del Monte Center (another view here) occupies the area where Exposition Park's left field fence used to be.

The distance down the left field line was 400 feet.  Stepping it off from home plate, we find that the foul pole was located inside the part of the building that is now FSN Pittsburgh's studio!

Below is a Google Earth overview of the area, with the old playing field superimposed.

July 3, 2007 photo

On the left is PNC Park beside the Roberto Clemente Bridge.  On the right is Heinz Field.  And between them, beside the Fort Duquesne Bridge, is the site of the old ballpark.

Incidentally, I'm told that Pitt (the University of Pittsburgh, then known as Western University of Pennsylvania) played its first football game ever at Exposition Park on October 11, 1890.


Here are some historical views of Exposition Park.

To expand the capacity of the grandstands, additional rows of seats were installed on top of the roof.

Note the similarities to PNC Park:  the Allegheny River is not far beyond the outfield, and the fans have a view of the Downtown skyline.

The huge industrial building in the background below has been torn down, and the site is now part of Point State Park.

And no, those are not palm trees in the foreground above.  Below is a 1905 view
from across the river.




Back to Top
More College
More SportsMore Sports