Forbes Field to rise again, sort of

July 7 festivities salute restoration of what's left

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Tony Tye, Post-Gazette

REBUILDING A MEMORY: Anthony Furtivo, working for Franco & Associates, examines part of the old Forbes Field wall in Oakland as part of a restoration project. A state historical marker will be dedicated next to the wall July 7.

By Bob Hoover, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Forbes Field will rise from the past -- at least for a day -- when baseball fans celebrate the restoration of its outfield wall and flagpole July 7 in Oakland.

The historic ballpark, built in 1909, was demolished in 1971, but the brick fence from left-center field to right-center field was spared along with the flagpole as a monument to the city's baseball history.

Dedicated as Center Field Plaza in 1976, the wall and pole fell into disrepair, but have been repaired this year with a $25,000 state grant and donations. The wall, built in 1947, has been pointed, capped and painted and the rusting flagpole repaired and painted.

Mayor O'Connor and state Sen. James Ferlo will be hosts of the ceremony at 3 p.m. to unveil the restoration, which includes a new historic state marker.

It will be followed by a youth baseball game on nearby Mazeroski Field with players wearing uniforms modeled after those used by the Homestead Grays and the Pirates of 1936. The Grays played some of their home games at Forbes Field.

The jerseys will bear numbers of well-known Pirates and Grays, including Honus Wagner, Pie Traynor, Paul and Lloyd Waner, Josh Gibson, Smokey Joe Williams and Buck Leonard.

The players will be drawn from the baseball leagues in Lawrenceville and Greenfield as well as teams from the Josh Gibson Foundation and Reviving Baseball in the Inner City, a program of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania.

A replica of Forbes Field's entrance gate and ticket window built by members of Carpenters District Council will be installed on the site. Other activities include autographs by retired Pirates players, music by Jim Sapienza and 5 Guys Named Moe, free carousel rides in Schenley Plaza and ballpark-style food and drink.

Sponsors are The Pittsburgh Pirates, the Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center, National City Bank, the state Historical and Museum Commission, Lamar Outdoor Advertising, Valley Signs and Design and the Post-Gazette.

Tony Tye, Post-Gazette
Chuck Belfield of Tarentum, an apprentice works on a scale replica of the three arches from Forbes Field in anticipation of the day next month when the old ballfield will live again ... at least for one day.

Post-Gazette Book Editor Bob Hoover can be reached at or 412-263-1634.


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