Yesterday’s Baseball Is Tomorrow’s Safeway
The world renowned Telstar Logistics Surveyor Unit recently highlighted the Google Earth historical image layer, specifically the San Francisco 1946 images. While many parts of town have stayed the same over the last 64 years, some of the changes are sobering.
A great loss was the Seals Stadium on 16th between Bryant and Potrero.
Facing the Bay, it was home to the Seals from 1931 until the Giants moved from NY in 1958. Seals Stadium hosted the Giants for two glorious seasons. This view from the northwest, looking southeast shows the rather magnificent curve of the entrance.
The joint geocoding prowess of Telstar Logistics and Burrito Justice was put to the test as we struggled to determine the location of the four bases. The Google Earth overlay proved to have quite a bit of wiggle — 100 feet E/W and 30 feet N/S, to be precise — and we turned to our old standby, Sanborn maps.
Using the all-powerful Google Earth overlay feature, we see how the ghosts of yesterday’s Seals haunt the Safeway and Office Depot of today:
(Click image for a wider view of the neighborhood, including the Rainier brewery, the Wonder Bread Bakery, Hostess Cake Kitchen and International Harvester showroom…)
Here we see a packed stadium San Francisco’s very first major league game against the LA Dodgers on April 16, 1958 where 22,000 fans watched the Giants ‘clobber’ the Dodgers. This view faces south, with 16th on the top and Bryant on the right.
Home plate is in deep within Office Depot, while first base is at the front of the store at a cashiers check-out station. Second base is in Safeway near the Starbucks, while third is between the tortillas and the frozen pizza. Telstar Logistics: turning yesterday into today with the magic of blue tape.
More pictures, because they are cool:
These hardy, flannel-clad folk are standing in line on 16th (behind the scoreboard) to buy tickets for the Giants’ opening day.
Here we see Willie Mays standing in front of the marquee in 1957, shortly after the Giants announced they were moving west.
Tragically, after just one and a half two seasons, the Giants moved to the monstrosity that is Candlestick, and Seals Stadium was doomed. Here is the groundskeeper tearing out home plate after the close of the Giants’ time at Seals Stadium.
“An era of 29 years was ended in 30 seconds today when Groundskeeper Harvey Spargo ripped up home plate at Seals Stadium. And he wasn’t happy… he’s been at the doomed ball park since 1930. Shorty Schurr propels the wheelbarrow on the sad circuit of basepaths trod by many baseball greats.”
And early in 1960, Seals Stadium was torn down.
Baseball would suffer for another 40 years until Pac Bell park came to be.
Deep within Office Depot, Telstar Logistics marks home plate and many other bases.
Here is a highly unorthodox attempt to align present photos with past baselines.
As previously mentioned on Mission Mission, the Seals were not the only team to play at 16th and Potrero. Notice from the Sanborn map that there are three dressing rooms. One was for the Seals, one for the visitors, and last was for the Mission Reds!
The Reds shared Seals Stadium until 1938 when they moved to Hollywood. The magic that is the SF public library gives us this 1943 shot of the Hollywood Stars playing the Seals in 1943. Note that the Mission Reds, er, Stars beat the Seals 6-4…
Baseball stadiums come and go. Where did the Seals and Reds play before 1931? In the Mission, of course — 14th and Valencia at Recreation Park. (The Reds (aka The Missions) moved up from LA in 1926. The San Francisco Missions played there for a single season in 1914.)
The magic that is Sanborn shows us the park and its environs in 1914.
Note the four armed “Mary’s Help” hospital behind the Levi Strauss building. (A multitude of saloons are included for TK’s benefit.)
Recreation Park was built in 1907 after the earthquake destroyed the Seals’ home on 8th and Harrison. Prior to the stadium, RP was occupied by “Chinese vegetable gardens”. Afterward it was the site of Valencia Gardens, originally built in 1943, torn down in 2004 and reopened in 2006.
MM Reader Jonathan notes the FoundSF article on Rec Park:
1906–After the Great Earthquake a new ball park, Recreation Park was built in the Mission on Valencia between 14th and 15th streets. A section of the bleachers, roped off with chicken wire became known as the “booze cage.” Admission price entitled the patron to a choice of either a sandwich or a shot of whiskey. Spectators who frequented the “cage” were said to be knowledgeable, loud and abusive. The team name was changed to the San Francisco Seals. The Seals featured a “reversed battery” of Nick Williams and Orval Overall–one would pitch, the other catch, then the roles would reverse for the following game. Overall eventually became a 20-game winner in the National League.
(I do believe someone needs to open a bar called the Booze Cage. I also want a chicken AND whiskey special.)
UPDATE: Reader Jon Voss is master of the epic LookBackMaps site, provider of geotagged historical imagery. He points us to more views of Recreation Park in 1923 from the Bancroft Library, (looking north on Valencia at 15th – click to zoom):
Anyway, the next time you ride your fixie down Valencia, think of Rec Park (and more importantly, the whiskey/chicken dilemma you faced a century ago).
Telstar Logistics has much more on locking down the actual base locations in Safeway and Office Depot over at Laughing Squid.