Wahconah Park
Pittsfield, Mass.
From Baseball's Canadian-American League by
David Pietrusza:

Talk about Wahconah Park, and everyone says one thing: It's
built backwards. Since it was designed before night ball
came to pass, no provision was made to take into account
the setting sun.

Surprisingly, this flaw was never really corrected. Only in 1989
did management finally install a mesh screen in center field to
help shield batters' eyes from sunset's blinding rays.
Nonetheless, somewhat unique "sun delays" are still common
at the scene.

Wahconah Park has been the scene of ball games since at
least 1892.

Two seasons later it hosted the city's first pro entry, a New
York State League team. That experiment ended in just a

The year 1919 saw significant changes for old Wahconah.
First, the 50-acre site was donated to the city. Secondly, the
Eastern League's "Hillies" took up occupancy, remaining until
the circuit folded in mid-1930.

The park has undergone renovation after renovation. In 1927,
the even-then badly deteriorated grandstand was repaired. A
dyke was installed on the nearby Housatonic River in an
attempt to prevent recurrent flooding. In 1931, to provide jobs
for the unemployed, 1,300 men were hired to regrade the
field. They were given work in three day stints, at a cost of

But that was long before the Can-Am League arrived, and
actually the Electrics never meant to use Wahconah, instead
planning on a new park on Dalton Avenue. While construction
was still going on, owner William Connely petitioned the
Pittsfield Parks Commission for use of the Common,

Despite idle threats from the league that it would pull up
stakes if permission wasn't granted, the Parks Commission
just said "No." Instead they provided rather primitive Dorothy
Deming Field on Elm Street. Aside from its generally poor
facilities and lack of lighting, that "park" was plagued by
massive dust swirls a la Candlestick Park.

"They had no place to play," rues John Pollard. "They played
in an open field with just one of those wire fences."

The Electrics arrived at Wahconah late in 1942. Night
baseball followed in 1946, as eight 80-foot light towers were
shipped in by train from Boston. Erected too was a new
$1,800 scoreboard, courtesy of the Sports Service
Corporation, a concessionaire. That year's rental agreement
with the city was one cent per admission with a maximum
season payment of $500.

It still needed work. "It was just a lousy ballpark," recalls
Spencer Fitzgerald, "it was old, run down." In the fall of 1949
work began on major renovations. Heavy pilings were driven
into the soggy soil to provide a firm foundation for the new
grandstand. Recurrent rumors held that Wahconah was built
over a city dump, but excavations revealed nothing of the sort.
New fences, toilets, concession areas, and lockers were
among the improvements. The field was again re-graded.
Total cost was $114,000.

The dimensions were uniform, in fact a bit too uniform: 352 to
left, 362 to center, and 333 to right.

From 1965 to 1988 the Eastern League located franchises
several times in the park, and in 1989 the New York Mets
relocated the Little Falls team of the New York-Penn League
there. In 1976 it was again renovated, this time with $700,000
in federal funds. Once more, the major emphasis was on
halting floods from the Housatonic.

You might ask why in 1949 or 1976, with massive renovations
afoot, the field was never reversed to properly align with the
sun. So have a lot of other people over the years.

That point aside, though, Wahconah is a good place to watch
a ball game from, cozy, comfortable and with excellent
sightlines. It's no pillar of luxury and still looks Class C in a
domed stadium world, but maybe that's part of its charm.