Patricia J. Rogers, historic exhibits coordinator at the Carnegie Science Center, adjusts some of the baseball fans that fill the seats of her hand-built Forbes Field scale model that is now part of the center's miniature railroad.
By Kevin Kirkland Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
It took Barney Dreyfuss and Nicole Construction crews four months to build Forbes Field in Oakland, putting on the finishing touches on opening day, June 30, 1909.
It took Patty Rogers an entire year to build a 1:64 scale model of the old Pirates ballpark as part of Carnegie Science Center's miniature railroad. But she did it all by herself.
"For the last six months, I've worked on it daily. It's consumed my life," said Ms. Rogers, the science center's historic exhibits coordinator.
At a media preview Monday, the field had no outfield wall. But a 5-inch-tall brick version will be installed in time for the exhibit's opening on Nov. 23.
Ms. Rogers, 53, said the brick wall is the only major historical inaccuracy in the exhibit, which depicts the park's first game, between the Pirates and the Chicago Cubs. Part of the ivy-covered brick wall, which replaced wood in the 1940s, was all that was left standing when Forbes was demolished in 1972. Ms. Rogers said she included it to help modern viewers make the connection to the past.
Some other details will come as a surprise, however: Pirates players wear red and white uniforms, the roof over the grandstand is dark red and the trim around the arches is white, not green.
"People won't recognize it, especially ones who went in the 1960s," said Ms. Rogers, who saw a game at Forbes only once, as a Canon-McMillan High School student in the late 1960s.
"When I began working on the model, I was surprised how elegant Forbes was. It really was a working man's palace."
A few fans, dressed in their best clothes, cluster near the arched entrance gate as a trolley goes by. Fans already in their seats -- 23,000 in all -- are a little less formal. They're painted cotton swabs. But from a distance, they become a sea of faces.
Ms. Rogers said using real human figures for the crowd would have been too expensive and not as lifelike. She got the idea from a moviemaking exhibit at the science center several years ago. Special-effects technicians had used swabs to fill a scale model of the Coliseum for the film "Gladiator." Next year, Ms. Rogers hopes to install a fan beneath the left-field bleachers to make the crowd move, just like in the movie.
The Forbes Field model, which replaced a generic ballfield in one corner of the miniature railroad, will become a permanent part of the layout, along with a steel mill, rock quarry, train roundhouse and Luna Park.
"It's not going anywhere as long as I'm here," said the 16-year veteran, laughing. "It's too much work."
An observer yesterday complimented her attention to detail, including the odd heart-shaped infield that Forbes had on opening day.
"Thank you," she said. "It was a labor of love."
The miniature railroad opens on Nov. 23 at the Carnegie Science Center, 1 Allegheny Ave., North Side. Information: www.CarnegieScienceCenter.org or 412-237-3400.