I recently saw this photo, taken in 1970, for the first time. It shows artist Oscar Torres painting a cannon on a seat in the Astrodome after Astros outfielder Jimmy Wynn — whose nickname, of course, was the Toy Cannon — hit the first home run ever to reach the stadium’s upper deck during a regular season game.
The seatback, complete with Torres’s painting, was later exhibited in the Astros Hall of Fame. Here’s a shot of Wynn posing next to it:
I was not aware of this little chapter in ’Stros history, and it ended up leading me down a fun rabbit hole. For starters, I learned that Wynn’s teammate Doug Rader, whose nickname was the Red Rooster, had hit a home run to the same section of the Astrodome a week earlier, in an exhibition game. The seat where his homer landed got a similar treatment:
Twenty years later, on May 17, 1990, Astros outfielder Eric Anthony became the third Houston player to hit a home run into that section, and the seat that marked the feat was once again given a commemorative paint job:
Nearly 30 years after that — by which time, of course, the Astros had left the Dome and moved to their current ballpark — Houston outfielder Yordan Álvarez became the first Astro to hit a home run into the stadium’s third deck in right field. This time the team took a more reserved approach, simply wrapping the seat in orange vinyl:
So that’s Houston. But what about commemorative home run seats in other ballparks? I immediately thought of Fenway Park, where one seat in the right field grandstand is painted red to mark the spot where a titanic Ted Williams home run landed on June 9, 1946 (additional info here):
And there’s more. In Chicago, the White Sox have two light-blue seats that have been left in place while all the other seats around them have been replaced during stadium renovations. Those seats mark the spots of key home runs hit by Paul Konerko and Scott Podsednik during the 2005 World Series:
Washington Senators slugger Frank Howard hit lots of mammoth home runs at RFK Stadium from 1965 through 1971, and several of them were marked with white seats. Here are two examples:
The Senators are no longer in DC, of course, but Washington’s current MLB team, the Nationals, decided in 2015 to start commemorating monumental and/or significant home runs with red seats (additional info here). Here’s one for a 2017 shot hit by Bryce Harper:
Are there any other examples of seats that have been painted or singled out in some way to mark home runs?
Now, there are also several examples of home run spots that were marked in various stadiums. For example, Shea Stadium used to have a marker where Mets outfielder Tommie Agee hit the only fair ball ever to land in the upper deck (that’s Uni Watch membership card designer Scott M.X. Turner posing at marker):
Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia had a similar marker where Pirates slugger Willie Stargell hit a home run in 1971:
It’s interesting that they used the “Stargell Star” design, which didn’t yet exist when Stargell hit that home run in 1971. Did they initially use a different design for the marker and then change it to the star motif later on? Or did the home run initially go unmarked for several years and then they added it during the “Stargell Star era,” so to speak? Anyone know more?
(According to 1970s newspaper reports, the Vet also had seats painted with bullseyes to mark the spots of upper-deck homers hit by Greg “The Bull” Luzinski. Photos have proven elusive, though. Anyone..?)
And Memorial Stadium in Baltimore had a “Here” flag, marking where a Frank Robinson home run flew out of the ballpark:
Those last three examples are interesting, but they’re not as satisfying as the commemorative seats, at least from my perspective, I guess because it’s fun to think you can actually sit in the special seat during a game. Similarly, I know there are assorted home run markers outside of various ballparks (there are several of them outside of Camden Yards, for example), and those are fun too — but again, they don’t seem as special as the commemorative seats.
Fun topic! I’d like to keep the discussion focused as much as possible on seats, but you can bring up other home run markers if you like.
(My thanks to reader Trevor Williams, who sent me down this rabbit hole by bringing the photo at the top of this post to my attention.)
Willie Stargell also had a seat at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium to commemorate a mammoth homer.
Here’s a story and a tweet with pictures of the seat:
Nice! Thanks for that.
Casey Candaele of the Expos got a seat at Olympic Stadium for the *shortest* HR ever hit there. The story: link
I remember the homer being measured as “one Candaele-power” as a play on words for the unit for the intensity of light being candlepower.
Harmon killebrews longest Homer at Met Stadium is commemorated at the Mall of America along with home Plate location.
Harmon Killebrew’s 522 ft. Home Run:
Inside of the Mall of America in Bloomington, MN a chair approximately marks the spot where the longest home run in the history of Metropolitan Stadium at 522 feet — came to rest in the left-field upper deck.
The Mall was built on the site of the former Metropolitan Stadium.
The Harmon Killebrew tribute inside the Mall of America where the Met once stood is impressive.
Beat me to it, was about to post the same!
It’s pretty lame, but the Mall of America in Minneapolis has a seat bolted to the wall to mark where Harmon Killebrew hit Metropolitan Stadiums longest home run.
Heh heh. Guess I’m late to the party. Sounds like EVERYONE knows about the Killebrew seat.
There are also two orange seats at Camden Yards. One is for Eddie Murray’s 500th home run and the other is for Cal Ripken’s 278th home run that put him past Ernie Banks for most HR by a shortstop all time.
The Twins replaced the seat where Kirby Puckett’s game 6 home run landed with a gold replica when they were still in the Dome, and now the original seat is on display in Target Field.
There was a chair in Olympic Stadium where Stargell hit a monster home run back in 1978.
I thought there were marked seats at Three Rivers but I can’t find any evidence on a quick search this morning.
I was surprised you referenced Camden’s HR markers on Eutaw Street, but not the two orange seats, one in right-center marking Eddie Murray’s 500th HR and one in left marking Cal Ripken Jr’s SS HR record (that one being tragically removed as the O’s moved the LF wall back).
Didn’t know about them!
There’s a plaque at Camden Yards where Ken Griffey Jr. hit the warehouse during the ASG HR Derby.
Sorry to nitpick, but the Eutaw St. pavilion where the home run markers are, is technically inside the stadium.
Furthermore, I believe Cal’s seat got removed with the recent stadium modifications. I’d love to know where it is now and would’ve loved to see a spot on the new outfield wall or some chalk on the warning track or something to still honor the achievement.
There’s an in ground plaque in the parking lot of AmFam Field in Milwaukee where Hank Aaron’s final home run landed. I don’t think there was anything in place at County Stadium, but I’ll do some more digging and see.
Regarding the Killebrew seat. I have always questioned this since he hit the home run into the left field upper deck bleachers which were all bench seats. So how do they claim that’s the “seat”?
Kirby Puckett ‘s 11th inning, walk-off home run in game 6 of the 1991 World Series was marked with golden seat and his jersey number, 34 located in left field of the HHH Metrodome.
This article really makes me want to repaint an old wooden lawn chair that’s been in my family for years, and make it commemorative: “EP – T-Ball – Foul Ball – 34 Feet – May 22nd, 1985”
And the shortest home run in Olympic Stadium history…
“The white seats are for the homers I hit up there. The yellow ones are for all the times I struck out”
– Frank Howard
My Dad’s Steeler season tickets were in the upper deck of Three Rivers to the right of the scoreboard. There was a star painted on the ledge of the upper deck where Frank Thomas hit a ‘Home Run Derby’ 519 ft shot in 1994 (I think). There was also an “8” painted on the ledge or on a first/second row seat where Willie Stargell hit the first ball into the upper deck. Haven’t been able to find photos of the ‘markers’ but there is video of Thomas’ blast on youtube.
There were numbered markers for all of the upper deck home runs; most were on the facade, but I remember a few painted seats. Unfortunately, like you, I’m not finding any photos on line.
Thomas’ home run was marked with a star because it was in the 1994 home run derby. There were no markers for Ken Griffey Jr.’s four upper deck shots that afternoon.
The spot in the Right Field Pavilion where Kirk Gibson’s walkoff HR in Game 1 of the ’88 World Series landed was painted blue and signed by Gibson. Also, Dodger Stadium has various plaques with player names, team colors, dates, and distance of those who have hit it out of Dodger Stadium and in the locations they landed
I don’t know whether the Dodgers still do it, but those seats are sold at a premium.
Gibson’s HR is by far the most overrated, overhyped event in World Series history. It was Game 1, fer cryin’ out loud. There have been hundreds of bigger and better WS moments.
BTW, there’s an alleyway that runs behind left and center field in Cleveland. There’s a marker embedded in the pavement denoting the landing spot of a Jim Thome homer. It was measured at 511 feet. Pretty cool.
Willie Mays’s catch was in Game 1 too, but like Gibson’s HR, it’s rightfully lauded for setting the tone of what was to come. (Of course, it’s also true that had subsequent games gone differently, neither would be remembered the same way.)
Not a seat, but the Cubs encased a Kyle Schwarber divisional series home run ball from 2015 that hit their scoreboard in plexiglass. link
At the Red Sox spring training ballpark there is a red seat 502′ from home plate on a walkway behind right field.
Don’t forget the Kirk Gibson seat at Dodger Stadium, where his famous WS home run landed.
The Rays painted a seat in right field for Dan Johnson’s game-tying HR, and named a seating section for Evan Longoria’s game-winning HR in game 162 in 2011. That’s the night the Rays won the wild card by rallying from a 6-0 deficit against the Yankees while the Red Sox were collapsing against the Orioles at the exact same time.
Don’t forget the yellow seat beyond right field to mark the spot where Wade Boggs hit the first homer in Devil Rays history, March 31, 1998.
I thought that the seat in RF at the Trop was for Boggs 3000th hit in 1999.
For years the Braves had a banner commemorating where Hank Aaron’s 715th homer landed in old Fulton County stadium.
Originally, there was just a simple white square painted on the back of the bullpen wall denoting the spot where the ball was caught by pitcher Tom House. I remember seeing it during Braves games on TV. House was on the Dan Patrick show yesterday and he was asked about it. He said that the bullpen pitchers drew lots before the game and were positioned in different spots when Aaron came up. He drew the lucky spot.
Was the simple white square (actually a rectangle) not for one of Hank’s earlier home runs? I believe it was his 500th, and was located in the middle of the scoreboard located beyond the outfield fence, in front of the bleacher seats. Aaron’s 600th home run was marked with a “600” with HANK” in slammer letters above it. I know of no special markers in Turner Field or Truist Park. There used to be a plaque at the base of the old Spiller Magnolia tree, which stood in centerfield of old Ponce de Leon Park, now next to the Eastside Beltline behind the Home Depot, across from Ponce City Market. The plaque is gone, but the local SABR chapter is working to erect a historical marker in its place.
In the iconic photo of Aaron hitting 715, taken from behind the plate looking out on the outfield wall and bleachers, the white rectangle is there just over Dodger shortstop Bill Russell’s head. Not sure where the HANK 600 marker was.
That was the first thing that came to mind for me. The sign for the spot the home run was hit remained in the stadium until the move to Turner Field, if I remember correctly. Once Atlanta Fulton County Stadium came down, it was still marked in the parking lot after the stadium was torn down.
Before demolition: link
The Red Sox put up a big yellow pole up to commemorate Carlton Fisk’s home run that ended Game 6 of the 1975 World Series. The fact they did it decades before it happened is kind of amazing!
I was at the game when they, with great ceremony, pomp and circumstance, named the left-field pole the Fisk pole. Supposed to be the left-field version of the Pesky pole. Since that day, I don’t think anybody around here ever has referred to it as the Fisk pole.
The Florida Suncoast Dome has a yellow seat for legendary Devil Ray Wade Boggs’ 3000th hit, the first (and IIRC only) player to get #3000 on a home run.
Jeter’s 3,000th was also a HR.
I knew he wasn’t the only one, but was too lazy to research.
What a fun/cool topic today, thanks Paul.
A seat in Memphis: link
Markers for Stargell’s home runs out of Dodger Stadium: link
One of my favorite uni watch posts of all time, thanks Paul!
There is a red seat in Anaheim in right field to mark a home run hit by Angels 1st baseman Scot (yes,one T) Spezio in game 6 of the 2002 World Series.
So, slight topic change, what seat would you nominate to be painted that is not currently marked?
From what I can tell, Joe Carter’s walk off is not marked anywhere in SkyDome, although with early 90’s TV resolution I don’t know if it actually made it into the temporary press seats in left field.
The ball didn’t clear the fence by much and went into the dead zone below the seats.
Both Carter’s and Bautista’s should have a commemorative star or seat or something. I still believe that Alomar’s HR in 1992 was the biggest in franchise history, but that was on the road.
There should be a star for where Bautista’s bat landed as well. :)
The ball from the 504 foot homer that C.J. Cron hit at Coors Field last week actually left a mark on the brick wall next the concourse where it hit.
Hoping they’ll let him sign the wall, or maybe trace around that mark that the ball left.
I believe Three Rivers had a few chairs painted signifying upper deck shots, several from Pops Stargell. I was there when Bobby Bonilla hit a HR into the upper deck, as well as Jeff Bagwell’s upper decker. Not sure if Bagwell’s HR was commemorated with a painted seat though.
There used to be a Cubs sticker on the seat where Bartman was sitting in Wrigley for his infamous moment. Not sure if they got of rid of it during the renovation.
Great stuff today! I love the dive into commemorative seats initiated by Paul and supplemented by various uni-watchers. An excellent collaborative effort by the comm-uni-ty, operating at its finest!
Kaufmann Stadium has the “Buck O’Neil Legacy Seat”, painted red because that’s where Buck would sit for scouting. The only red seat in Kaufmann Stadium.
The Mall of America (former site of Metropolitan Stadium), the chair Harmon Killebrew hit when launching the longest Met Stadium homerun is still available to view. Per Wikipedia, “The seat is painted red and bolted to a wall to mark the exact height and position at which the ball landed in the upper-deck seats.”
Nice to see a Doug Rader artifact! I made his coffee every morning for years during my bagel shop days. Fun guy to talk to.
The Memphis Redbirds have a single red chair in right field berm where Albert Pujols hit a walkoff HR that won Memphis the PCL Championship in 2000.
Memphis had a Red Chair giveaway at the game on Saturday night
Here’s a follow up on the red chair and how it looked before the stadium renovation
I attended countless events of all sorts at at The Vet in the color-by-section era…can’t say I recall ever seeing a seat marking a HR by Luzinski, or any other player for that matter.
Then again, I wasn’t exactly looking for one when I was there either.
There’s a marker near my hometown in Pennsylvania for a 650-foot Babe Ruth homerun, hit during an exhibition game in 1926, a few days after the end of the World Series. It went way over whatever seats were there at the time.
Not quite the same, but the section of Forbes Field’s left field wall over which Bill Mazeroski’s 1960 Series-winning homer flew is preserved at PNC park.
At Fenway Park, there is a spot in the ramp between grandstand sections 1 and 2 (right field corner) that marks where David Ortiz hit his Red Sox franchise record 54th home run. A circular baseball plaque reads “David Ortiz, Boston Red Sox, September 26, 2006”, and a rectangular plaque next to it reads “David Ortiz’s 54th home run, which set a single-season franchise record”. You can see it at 10:41 of this clip: link
After 1998, the Cardinals put up a small marker where McGwire’s 62 HR landed just above the wall. Later, they made a neon sign and re-named a suite in the area where his 70th HR landed.
The SkyDome in Toronto has a yellow painted seat in the upper deck (aka 500 level) where Mark McGwire hit the longest hr in the stadiums history.
I’d always thought that was painted for Jose Canseco’s home run, which was the first to hit the 500 level.
The section of fence (although just a line of bricks in the sidewalk) and a plaque is in the sidewalk where Bill Mazeroski hit his walkoff home run to end the 1960 World Series for the Pirates over the Yankees on the Pitt campus. It is the exact spot where the left field wall of old Forbes Field stood. Also, the section of fence and back-up fence still stand in the parking lot of the Georgia State Football Stadium where Hank Aaron hit home run number 715 in old Fulton County Stadium. I went to see it, I got goosebumps.
Fun article – thanks. As the special seats usually sat high and unoccupied in the upper decks, they became a staple of TV broadcasts….no game televised from the Dome was complete with a camera shot of the Cannon and Rooster seats, and the TV announcer wondering in awe how anyone could hit a ball that far….in particular the 5-9 175 Jimmy Wynn.