It may not look like much from a distance, but there’s plenty to see here, if you zoom in — into Pittsburgh’s past.
Go ahead. You are a spy satellite from the future. Click on the photo twice and when you come back, I’ll tell you what I see.
What I See
We are on Monument Hill looking out over Exposition Park toward downtown Pittsburgh. According to my watch, it’s a little before 1910.
I immediately notice that in those days wild sumac trees crowded undeveloped slopes. Wait a minute. They still do that now.
Something else hasn’t changed much. A lot of space is dedicated to baseball.
PNC Park today sits a little to the left of its predecessor. Exposition Park hosted the first World Series in 1903 between the Pittsburgh Pirates and Boston Americans. PNC Park still awaits its first World Series game.
The Pirates played their last game at Exposition Park on June 24, 1909, in front of 5,545 people. That may be what we are watching here. The stadium could seat 10,000. The next day, they moved to Forbes Field newly built in Oakland. It could hold twice as many fans.
That was good because a thousand or more fans were relegated to standing in the outfield during big games. They formed a gallery similar to those at golf tournaments. Ball into the crowd? No problem. Automatic double.
It was also good because the Allegheny River tended to stand in the outfield, as well. There are accounts of players in knee-deep water, of them making diving catches that were . . . well, rather splashy.
Semi-professional teams used the field after the Pirates left. The players at the well-attended game outside the stadium do not appear to be children, but the small outfield makes one wonder.