The Search for Home Plate at Seals Stadium

Seal Stadium, San Francisco, 1957

Former Site of Seals Stadium, 2001

While playing around with Google Earth’s new historical views feature earlier this week, I spent some time looking at the former Seals Stadium, one of my favorite San Francisco Buildings That No Longer Exists.

Home to the San Francisco Seals from the Pacific Coast League, Seals Stadium was a baseball field located at the corner of 16th and Bryant Streets in the Mission/Potrero neighborhood. For two years, after the Giants defected from New York, Seal Stadium was home to the majors. Ballparks.com offers a thumbnail history:

Seals Stadium was built in 1931 for the Seals and Missions of the Pacific Coast League. The Seals became the stadium’s sole tenant in 1938, when the Missons moved to Hollywood and became the Stars. The Seals continued to play here until the Giants relocated to San Francisco from the Polo Grounds in New York in 1958. The Giants played in Seals Stadium for two seasons until they moved into Candlestick Park in 1960.

1958 1st major league practice

SF GIants opening day (1958)

The Seals won the Pacific Coast League pennant at Seal Stadium in 1931 and 1935. Lefty O’ Doul coached there. Joe DiMaggio honed his hitting there before signing with the Yankees:

Joe DiMaggio at Seals Stadium
Willie Mays played there when the Giants relocated. Seal Stadium had history, but just a few weeks after the Giants finished the 1959 season, the stadium was quickly demolished. A photographer was on hand that sad day when home plate was removed:

1959: Seals home plate being removed

This is what the site of the former ballpark looked like in 1964, after it was gone, with an arrow pointing to where home plate used to be:

The Ruins of Seals Stadium, 1964

Today, of course, the parcel is home to the Potrero Safeway shopping complex. Yet as I tinkered with Google Earth this week, I started to wonder: In the context of the current building, where did home plate at Seals Stadium once sit? Fortunately, modern technology makes it relatively easy to mark where home had been (after making adjustments for some Google image misalignment):

Home Plate, Then and Now

So where exactly is that sacred spot now?

I headed to the Safeway plaza to find out. GPS doesn’t work indoors, so I had to improvise, using the bands of brown pavement in front of the store to get alignment, and then pacing out the steps inside the building to pinpoint the location — give-or-take a few feet.

And so, some 40 years after Seals Stadium was torn down, let us mark the hallowed spot where home plate once sat:

Then: Home Plate (View Toward Home Team Dugout)

Yup, that’s right. Home plate was situated right by Aisle 6, the PC department in the Office Depot store. Here’s the view looking south, toward the former first base:

Home Plate (View Toward First Base)

With home plate found, the rest of the old Seals Stadium diamond was straightforward to identify: First base is now the entryway just inside the door of Office Depot. Second base is now by the first table in the seating area next to the Starbucks kiosk at Safeway. Third base is a food aisle — right between the refrigerated tortillas and the frozen pizzas — deeper in the supermarket.

My co-conspirator Burrito Justice has more photos the long-gone ballpark, as well as a superb then-and-now map overlay that clearly shows where the bases once were.

Next up, in collaboation with Burrito Justice, we may try to convince the managers of the Office Depot and Safeway stores to place permanent markers for each of the bases on their respective floors. Stay tuned.

See Also: Yesterday’s Baseball Is Tomorrow’s Safeway (Burrito Justice)

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