I am now a PhD student at the University of Texas at Austin. An older colleague, upon learning of my love of baseball, told me about the craziest thing I have ever learned about the sport. Until 1974, the University of Texas played in this ballpark:
Take a look at center field. First, you'll see a 12 foot cliff that looks a lot like a (rather close) outfield fence. But, a closer look reveals that there is a green space above that 9 foot cliff. That space? In Play! The left fielder would have to run up the small path, called the "Billy Goat Trail" in order to catch the ball:
Unfortunately, I can't find a lot of information on old Clark Field: I've found a few grainy black and white photos, one amazing article from Texas Monthly, and zero video. When I'm a little less busy, I may go on an archival search for more information. For now, we have these great anecdotes from that article:
"The cliff has contributed to some unusual baseball moments. Two years ago a Texas pitcher was working on a no-hitter late in the game when an opposing batter lofted a deep fly to left field. The Texas left fielder scurried up the slope, tapped his glove confidently, and watched helplessly from his perch as the ball fell just short of the incline on level ground.
Last year the cliff helped a Texas batter attain the dubious distinction of doubling into a double play. With men on first and second, he drove the ball to deep center. The runners stayed close to their bases, not knowing whether the ball would be caught. The enemy center fielder judged the rebound off the limestone perfectly, and the runners tried to make up for lost time. When the confusion ended, Texas had too many men on third base, and two of them were out.
The cliff produced a rare type of home run several years ago. A ball hit over the center fielder’s head appeared destined for higher ground. The left fielder charged up the path to the plateau, intent on holding the batter to a triple. The center fielder went back to the base of the cliff and leaped for the ball. The shortstop raced into center awaiting a relay, and the third baseman covered his base hopefully. They all guessed wrong. The ball hit the top of the bluff, evading the desperate leap of the center fielder, and ricocheted into left field. The closest person to the ball was the runner as he rounded second."
(The entire article is a must-read for any hardcore baseball fan.)
I want to see video! Internet, can you help me turn up some amazing video of this stadium? It was inhabited by a top-end college baseball team until 1974. Lou Gehrig once hit a 500-foot home run there in an exhibition game. How can there be no video of the craziest ballpark in baseball history?
One more photo: