This iconic ballpark was built in 1931 and hosted two minor league teams in the San Francisco Seals and Mission Reds of the Pacific Coast League. But in 1938, the Reds, having trouble building a fan base, moved to southern California to become the Hollywood Stars, leaving San Francisco to the Seals.
One of the reasons the Seals were dominating the city baseball scene was of some good fortune, in just their second season one of baseball’s best rising stars in 18-year-old Joe DiMaggio, a San Francisco native, joined the Seals in 1932. DiMaggio played for the Seals for four years during which time he hit 74 home runs, batted .361 and over a two year period hit in 61 consecutive games. I his final year DiMaggio hit .398 and knocked in 154 runs.
The Seals were the only tenant at the bay city ballpark until the summer of 1957 when it was announced that the Giants were moving from New York to San Francisco. The move was met with mixed feelings, for as much as the Bay Area baseball fans were excited about the arrival of Major League baseball, there was a measurable sadness about the end of the Seals, who had by now left a rich and cherished legacy.
The Seals franchise would move to Phoenix, where they became the Giants AAA team.
When it first opened on April 7, 1931 at the cost of $1,250,000 and with Ty Cobb traveling all the way from Georgia to be in attendance, the ballpark capacity was only 16,000. More seats were added in 1946 (18,500) and once again in 1958 (22,900) when the Giants moved to San Francisco.
But despite the added seats Seals Stadium was by far the smallest ballpark in the Majors. Nevertheless it didn’t stop the Giants from having the fifth best home attendance in their inaugural season averaging 16,528 fans a game.
After just two seasons at Seals Stadium, the Giants moved into their newly built Candlestick Park in 1960. Seals Stadium was shortly after unceremoniously demolished.
-Ron A. Bolton