Center field is an iconic spot on a baseball field, a position played by legends such as Ty Cobb, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays. Additionally, some of baseball's iconic stadiums have featured distant center field fences, forcing the great centerfielders to cover plenty of ground while giving the old ballparks their own special flavors.
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Center field is almost always the deepest part of a Major League baseball stadium. Outfield dimensions are usually shortest down the right field and left field foul lines, and they get longer toward the center of the field. There have been exceptions in some irregularly shaped stadiums, but hitting a ball over the fence in center field takes strength and timing.
The Polo Grounds was the home of the New York Giants before they moved out of New York City and headed west to San Francisco after the 1957 season. The Giants played in the Polo Grounds from 1891 through 1957, and when the horseshoe-shaped stadium opened, it had a distance of 500 feet from home plate to the center field fence. Eventually, that distance was reduced to 483 feet, which was the longest distance of any Major League Baseball stadium.
Yankee Stadium was baseball's first super stadium. After the Yankees acquired Babe Ruth from the Red Sox, the team decided to build its own stadium instead of sharing the Polo Grounds with the Giants. When Yankee Stadium opened in 1923, it had a gargantuan distance of 490 feet to center field. That distance was soon reduced to 461 feet and it remained at that distance through 1973, when the distance to the center field fence was drastically reduced to 408 feet during the stadium renovation project. When the Yankees built a new stadium that opened in 2009, its center field fence was also 408 feet from home plate.
Tiger Stadium opened in 1912 and served as the home of the Detroit Tigers through 1999. When the stadium opened, the distance from home plate to the center field fence was 467 feet. The Tigers ultimately reduced the distance to 440 feet. Nevertheless, it was still one of the deepest center fields in the Major Leagues. The Tigers moved into Comerica Park in 2000. That ballpark has a distance of 422 feet to dead center field.
Longest Center Field Home Runs
Four players hit the ball over the fence in dead center field at the Polo Grounds. According to Baseball Almanac, Negro League slugger Luke Easter did it in 1948, Joe Adcock of the Milwaukee Braves accomplished the feat in 1953, Lou Brock of the Chicago Cubs did it in 1962 and Hank Aaron of the Braves also blasted the ball out in center field in 1962.