Thursday, June 7, 2012

Early 1900 Fields in San Francisco

In a book, The Golden Game (The Story of California Baseball) by Kevin Nelson, he made mention of a couple of stadiums before Seal Stadium that captured my interest.

Big Rec at 15th and Valencia and Ewing Field near Masonic and Geary.  I did some research, beginning on the website

After the Great Earthquake a new ball park, Recreation Park was built in the Mission on Valencia between 14th and 15th streets. 

Big Rec was also referred to as Old Rec.  Behind home plate was a field-level section known as the Booze cage.  A bleacher seat in the park cost a quarter, but it took 40 cents to gain admittance to the Cage.  For the extra money you got a shot of whiskey or a beer or a ham and cheese sandwich.

Wanting to move the Seals out of Old Rec, Cal Ewing and his business partner, Frank Ish, decided to build a new ballpark.

Ewing and Ish found some land they liked off Geary Boulevard near Golden Gate Park, and the project broke ground in the fall of 1913.  The ground unveiling of Ewing Field came in the middle of May 1914.  The Chronicle prophesized it would be "the home of the Seals for the next 20 years."

Ewing Park became the new home of the San Francisco Seals, intended to be the finest minor league park to date, located one block south of Geary at Masonic. The San Francisco Chronicle said, "The only possible drawback is the possibility of meeting bad weather conditions."

Fans in the grandstands said on some days the fog was so thick they could not see the outfielders.  Wet, fog-bearing winds from the Pacific Ocean whipped across the park almost daily. 

Cal Ewing could not save himself from this mistake.  After only one season the Seals abandoned Ewing Field and returned to splintery Old Rec, which was at least in a sunnier part of town.

I was unable to locate any pictures of Ewing Park. At least not one with a view of the park being obscured.  The only picture was behind a Sand Hill being quarried near Masonic and Geary, 1914.

(much credit goes to the aforementioned website and Kevin Nelson's book, The Golden Game.)

Kevin J. Marquez