A football field has exactly 100 yards between to "end zones" of a specified size, and a specific width. Likewise, the dimensions of a soccer field, hockey rink, tennis or basketball courts are highly specific.

Why are baseball fields different to the point where there are "pitchers'" parks, and "hitters' parks" because of the home run distance and other factors? And, in fact, the "infields" of baseball are basically the same size and shape. So what caused outfields, and hence the parks overall, to be so different?

  • If a stadium in low-humidity, high altitude Denver had the same dimensions as one in any other city, it wouldn't be fair. Ironically, different stadium looks are what makes the game fair. – Bruce James Jul 28 '14 at 14:12
  • @BruceJames so the size of every park is precicely calibrated against the altitude and prevailing humidity? – Rawling Jul 30 '14 at 11:44
  • @Rawling -- no but having every stadium be different allows teams to build their stadiums to complement the atmospherics. Dodger Stadium, built in a valley with thick air, has always favored pitchers and was designed with Sandy Koufax in mind. The Rockies have a huge outfield to help keep the ball in the park, but pitchers suffer because there are more singles. It all works out in the end. – Bruce James Jul 30 '14 at 12:26

A couple of articles on Forbes (actually a Quora answer) and NPR provide the answer to this question.

Basically, baseball started out as a game without any outfield fences (and no such thing as an "out of the park" home run). Then as the game became more popular and professional leagues formed, team owners realized that having a fence to contain the crowd would be better for business. As more ballparks were built, their dimensions were sometimes limited by the surrounding streets. For example, the close proximity of Lansdowne Street to the left field area of Fenway Park in Boston is why Fenway has such a short left field. Physical limitations such as this prevented the ballparks from being able to exactly match the dimensions and shapes of other ballparks. MLB realized they wouldn't be able to standardize on any one set of dimensions, so they allowed the differences in the ballparks to remain.

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  • That is a really interesting answer. I really learned something from that. Minus "close proximity" which is redundant. Check out old photo's at Wrigley. The playoffs had the outfield roped off so the detentions were different for World Series Also "In the early 1900’s, most famously in the 1903 World Series between Boston and Pittsburgh, there was such an overflow of the crowd that officials put a rope around the deepest part of the outfield and allowed fans to stand behind the rope. Any ball that bounced in play and then into the crowd, was ruled a triple." – Mark Monforti Aug 15 '14 at 18:14

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