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tv   Baseball American Cities  CSPAN  August 6, 2021 3:03pm-4:03pm EDT

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who has been the final editor of all of robert carroll's books, wrote an essay in the "new york times." the focus was on john gunther, and the 900-page he wrote 75 years ago called "inside u.s.a." in gottlieb's opinion, gunther was, quote, probably the best reporter america ever had, unquote. we wanted to find out more about this publishing success story. so we called canadian freelance writer ken cuthbertson to talk with him about his 1992 book called "inside :the biography of john gunther". >> listen at or wherever you get your podcasts. >> next, paul goldberger discusses his book "ballpark,
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baseball in the american city" exploring baseball and the changing architecture of ballparks over the years. the kansas city library of -- hosted this discussion and provided the video. >> thanks. i want to thank the library for putting on this event, the library board, jonathan kemper and the staff who worked with us. the library is a fantastic institution. we are lucky to have it. look at this awesome auditorium. speaking of great public spaces. >> yes, yes. >> this is one. all right. paul. >> libraries and ballparks, two most important things in a city, right? >> you have had this incredibly distinguished career as an architecture critic which maybe not everybody -- i mean people are here to hear you talk about kaufman stadium in the ends.
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>> right. >> do you want to talk to the audience about who you are, what you have done prior to write being ballparks which is a long story. >> long story. i have spent most of my life write being what interests me. so have you. >> or what pisses me off. >> it still interests you, whether it misses you off or you like it. i always loved architecture, i always loved journalism. i am not good at making choices so i found a place where they intersect. >> did you study architecture? >> architectualal history. i went to yale, which those of you who went to princeton don't acknowledge. it is a little school little bit to the north in a place called connecticut. >> connecticut, right, right. >> and studied architectural
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history, art and architectural history. and then began a career as a journalist. i toyed with going to architecture school. i thought the world had enough second-rate architects, didn't need another necessarily. and i did think i was a decent writer. so i went that route. >> what was it like working at "the new yorker," for instance? >> that was the second chapter in my career. i started at the "new york times" and then went to the new yorker. >> talk about either one. what's the difference between working at the times or "the new yorker"? those are two great jobs. >> incredibly, two great institutions in many ways. >> yeah. >> the difference is kind of -- the "new york times" is like a huge university. it does everything, and has amazing people, and a huge range. but not everybody is necessarily, you know -- >> there are some stoners and some -- >> right, exact light.
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-- exactly. it's sort of a mixed bag. everybody is at a certain level, but not the most amazing. "the new yorker" was like a small liberal arts college where everybody was as good as the best people in the university. that's sort of how it felt for me when i went from one to the other. and i had a great time there for a while. >> did you office in the old new yorker building before they moved out? >> i moved over there in the late '90s, yeah, when they were still on 43rd street. >> and the murals were -- >> they actually -- i was in the second old building. but they had moved the murals there. >> tell everyone about that. >> james thusher, the cartoonist famously started drawing on the walls. and they were kept as this kind of almost sacred object. and then when "the new yorker" moved across the street they managed to cut out a piece of the wall, take it across the street to the new office.
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>> architecture. >> right. and then "the new yorker" was bought by the knew house family, which owned connede nast magazine company. for several years, they allowed it to operate as a separate entity. and then gradually they started folding it into the rest of the magazine company to save money on, you know, back office stuff, and accounting, and all the other stuff. and then it moved into the headquarters of connede nast and became not quite just another magazine but not quite as special and different. >> yeah, yeah. i have been to the offices that are down in the replacement of the world trade center. >> where they have now been a few years. >> one of the things i loved about ballpark was the research you did into the earliest ballparks and how emphatic you are that baseball is an urban game, not a game played in iowa
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corn fields. >> despite field of dreams, which is a tearjerker, but it's not an accurate statement what baseball has been about. >> i am an urban midwesterner, so i am fine with that. >> great. >> in a way, also the beginnings of can it, maybe even specifically a new york game. you talk about this that according to some historians, they were nearly 100 baseball teams in brooklyn and new york by 1858. >> new york was a huge center of baseball. not the only one, but a huge one. it was game that was in the early years, that really grew big in a lot of the both northeastern and mid western industrial cities. >> yeah. >> it was played a lot by working-class immigrants. >> yeah. >> and brooklyn had all these teams. they were sometimes made up of men from within a few block residential area or sometimes they were connected with a factory or something like that.
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and they all played each other. >> these early chapters in the book, which to me were totally new information, stuff i really didn't know at all that i love and i think people will love when they read the book, and that its rise was connected with the population growth of brooklyn specifically and half of -- you talk about brooklyn was 25,000 people in 1835, there were 200,000 by 1855. half of them were immigrants. we're in an immigrant-phobic time and it's interesting the way you talk about the connection between immigrants and this american pasttime that's so important to us now. >> absolutely. it's one of the things that was fascinating to me when i read it because i hadn't known as much about it as i do now. in fact, so much of the game was built on -- to say built on immigrant labor makes it -- >> players. >> immigrant players. exactly. yeah, yeah. and in the early years it was also, it transitioned into being a spectator sport, but it didn't start out that way.
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it started out as a thing people played. and then it got more and more organized, and people started going to see it. and a lot of the early games the new york teams played in -- across the hudson river in hoboken in a field that was called illusion field. >> yeah. >> but then -- >> and you mentioned -- there's one part in the book you talk, they played a lot of games in madison square because it's an open space, and i was like, that's where madison square garden is now. >> no. >> am i wrong? >> the first madison square garden was at madison square. >> there's just an open field. >> the one that's there now is the third. >> it was just an open field you could play in. >> right. but they moved away because in fact development was coming up all around it. >> right. >> and it was too hard. you know, while i talk a lot in the book, and the theme of the
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book is how baseball is more of a city game. >> yeah. >> nevertheless, it was -- it tended to be played kind of on the outskirts because even in 19th century years even when land was cheap, cities were growing and developing really fast in this country and you didn't put a ball field right in the very central center of the central business district next to the bank. >> right. >> even then you needed more land and it was too expensive. they would be kind of on the edge, but the cities were growing so fast, that those parcels of land were often then surrounded by development and became in the center of a neighborhood. >> so speaking of -- >> fenway park is a good example of that. >> and we're going to get to that. i've never been there, but you're going to tell me all about it. speaking of immigrants, you have interesting passages where you talk about bifurcated world of baseball spectators, just a little later than the period we're talking about now. >> yes, yes. >> in your book, one-half of this world is represented by a german immigrant who bought the st. louis browns in the 1880s.
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could you sort of introduce people to him, and talk about the ballpark. >> sure. it is a great story and it's a missouri story, even though it's the other side of the state. chris vanderuy was a german immigrant, a tavern owner -- >> who -- i'm sorry. i'm going to get to this later. i interrupted you. he had a beer station in the outfield of a baseball park. >> he bought the st. louis browns because he thought it would be a good way to sell more beer. >> yeah. >> and he opened up a branch of his tavern. >> the balls would roll in among the chairs. >> like a beer garden in the outfield that was a branch of his tavern from down the street. he was good at cross-marketing because he also had the waiters in the actual tavern dressed up in browns uniforms. so he was pushing both directions. >> talk to the new royals ownership about putting a bar in there n the outfield. >> he had a lot of things to entertain people, and he billed
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sportsman park, the old st. louis ballpark, as the coney island of the west. and it was all about entertainment. so, you know, if we think that there's too much distraction in ballparks today, it has a long history. >> but he was like a working class -- he wanted a working-class audience. >> yes. >> he kept ticket prices down to a quarter. he served beer. he did all this other stuff to sort of draw in -- >> it was all about entertaining the working class. >> that was american league sort of -- >> it was something -- he was part of a group of teams that were officially called the american association. >> right. >> it was colloquially known as the beer and whiskey league. >> that's the league i wanted to be in. >> the beer and whiskey league was the coolest thing, clearly. and it was their opposite number was the national league. >> yeah. >> talk about those guys. >> the american association is not the root of today's american
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league. but the national league is the root of today's national league. and it started out trying to make -- push baseball in the opposite direction. it was all about making it -- >> presbyterian. >> presbyterian is a good word. exclusive. virtuous. they had rules about there was no baseball played on sunday. there was no alcohol served in any of the ballparks. and it was all about how baseball represents virtue and uprightness and every noble thing in the american character. but a lot of those things were actually code words for a certain kind of elitism. >> and keeping out the working class. >> and keeping out the riffraff. >> who would fight and get drunk. >> they would allow the riffraf in where they could make money from them. but, in fact, in many of the ballparks then, particularly the national league ones, there was a very rigid economic segregation. the bleachers were completely
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separate from the rest of the ballpark. you couldn't walk from a cheap seat into the grandstand area. you had a separate entrance, separate bathrooms, so forth. >> oh, really? >> yeah. it was a very rigid economic segregation. but some of that, you know, to be fair, was kind of the weird way people did things in those days. the old metropolitan opera house in new york, which was built in 1883 around the time that baseball was getting bigger and bigger and a lot of the various stuff that we're talking about was happening, the upper balcony the cheapest seats were called the family circle and you entered them from a separate door on the street through their own lobby and their own staircase, and it never connected to the main lobby so that the fancy people didn't have to mix with the poor people upstairs. so there was a kind of
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expectation of economic segregation in those days that was considered strangely normal by both sides of the equation, for a while. >> your avatars for that -- we know in kansas city that chicago -- nothing good comes from chicago. william holbert, who owned the chicago white sox -- >> he was the founder of the national league. >> and spaulding. who everyone will recognize because of spalding. >> spalding sporting goods. >> they were the great, you know, advocates of the national league and virtue and this whole -- and the kind of mythology that led to, ultimately, "field of dreams" and stuff like that. >> you have some of spaulding's writing in the book. >> spalding was wildly over the top about american character and nobility and manhood. >> yeah, yeah, all that stuff. >> all this virtuous stuff.
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but it also led to what was later revealed to be an entirely and completely fake history of the origins of baseball, the national league commissioned a sort of study -- all of major league baseball, a study commission on the history of baseball that determined that it was invented by this man named doubleday on a field in rural cooperstown, new york, which is why the baseball hall of fame is in cooperstown. baseball historians discovered that was basically a fiction created to further this myth of a kind of rural virtue because cities were considered dirty and messy and full of immigrants and all that, this noble game could not possibly have really had its roots there.
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so they devised this history, and it carried the day enough to get the hall of fame built in cooperstown, but, in fact, now even the hall of fame itself has acknowledged that it was pretty much made up. >> what is thought to be the actual origins? do you know? i don't know. >> yeah, there's a wonderful guy named john thorn who is a fantastic writer, who is the official historian of major league baseball who wrote a book called "baseball in the garden of eden" and it traces the early years of how the game itself developed. and, in fact, it developed from many games, some of which are english games like not only cricket, but rounders. and there were different versions played in different areas. a lot of it was in new england. >> no james naismith moment -- >> no single moment like james
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naismith in basketball, no. and they tried to pretend doubleday was that, but it apparently wasn't. and it all gradually came together. and as it became more popular, and intercity games began to be played, there was a kind of big summit meeting and they actually brought together representatives of teams from various cities into new york and they agreed on codifying a set of rules. if i remember correctly, the number of innings was not nine everywhere, and things like that. and certain other very key things were actually -- different versions were played differently. beginning in the mid-19th century on ward, those things were more codified. >> all right. so there's a section in your book after the part we're talking about which you call the
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golden age. >> right. >> and i want to talk a little bit about that. why -- when did the golden age of american ballparks arrive and why was it golden in your view? what makes it? >> well, the golden age -- i guess i should say first, there was an age before the golden age, which as things were getting bigger and bigger, and baseball was becoming more and more popular and becoming more of a spectator sport, the fields with the few seats became more and more elaborate. and the constructions become bigger and more elaborate. >> built of wood. >> they were all built of wood. >> and started building down. >> and started building down. and the most elaborate of all was this amazing thing in boston called south m grounds that had these huge, victorian towers. >> beautiful picture of that in the book. >> it only lasted eight or nine years and it burned down. and turned out the owners had underinsured it so they couldn't afford to rebuild it.
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but then, as fireproof construction became possible, steel, concrete, and so forth, they began to be built that way. and baseball was becoming still bigger. remember, it was -- other than a little bit of boxing, it was essentially our only professional sport in this country. and another thing, let me digress for half a second to say that another thing that contributed to its growth, by the way, and this is another wonderful reminder of how baseball connects to everything, was the development of inner city train service. >> oh. >> it was when there were train connections between various cities that the leagues actually really developed and professional baseball got bigger. >> they could travel to play somebody else, right? you wouldn't be riding your horse down there or -- >> exactly. i mean, a team in brooklyn could really only play another team in
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brooklyn or maybe across the river in new york. you couldn't play a team in boston or chicago or whatever if it was going to take three or four days to get there and back each time. and you certainly couldn't have a reliable schedule. but once there was inner city train service, then suddenly everything began to fall into place and real modern baseball developed. sort of by the same token, just to jump ahead, it was only at the moment of jet travel permitting fast coast-to-coast travel in this country that major league baseball expanded to california. it wasn't there until -- it is not an accident those two things coincided. >> these classic stadiums, most of these will be familiar, but not all of them. abbotts field, wrigley in chicago, shy park? >> it's great.
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i wish i brought pictures. it was incredible. >> there are beautiful pictures in the book. >> these people will have access to that book by the way. >> it was 1909. it was really one of the earliest of the golden age. one of the most ornate, actually. it was like an elaborate bows arts -- bose arts building on the outside. but then you go in through this huge rotunda and then you're in the field. if you saw it from the other side it was just a field. but if you saw it from the home plate side it looked like a monumental building. you could have thought it was an opera house or something like that. that was an incredibly important moment in the evolution of this. then, of course, came forbes field in pittsburgh. >> right. >> and then fenway, tiger stadium, ebbetts, wrigley. >> which of those is the greatest? by what are your standards of judgment? you develop a clear standard way
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of thinking about ballparks in the book, and maybe you could explain that to people what you think is good? >> it's a combination of things. first, on the exterior, is it a nice piece of civic architecture that feels at home in a city, belongs in a city, enriches a city. because a ballpark among other things is an important part of public space. it's part of a thesis of the book is to say that, you know, along with parks that we were beginning to develop in the mid-19th century and even cemeteries, strangely enough, but the ball park was one of the ways in which working class immigrants or working class people in general could experience some bit of of the countryside. if you worked in a factory, you probably worked six days a week, had nothing but sundays off.
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you had no way to go to the country. you know, going to the ballpark was one of the experiences you could have. that's another reason the national league's ban on sunday games had a whole other agenda. i was about keeping immigrants out in part because it was the only day they could go for many of them. anyway, there is of course the field itself, and the seating, and how close you felt to the action and the way the whole thing worked together as a communal space. >> one of the things that is remarkable to me of these fields, i haven't been to fenway -- i have never seen a game at wrigley, but i jogged around wrigley and stayed near it, amazing how much it fits into the neighborhood that it's in. >> yes. >> it doesn't feel over imposing. >> right. >> it's right there. i expected it to be a big deal. but no, no, it is right here and it is just buildings. >> exactly. exactly. you have this enormous thing
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that will seat 40,000 people and it fits there with all these houses around it and it all seems absolutely normal. you put it very well by saying that. probably although i never saw it, i think that ebbets field was the best of all. >> it's so legendary because it was lost in essence, right. >> partly. and, of course, a lot of important history happened there. >> does everybody know what ebbetts field is? >> where the dodgers played and where baseball was integrated, major league baseball was integrated because jackie robinson was actually, let the record show, seen by the dodgers when he played for the negro league team in kansas city, and he was signed in kansas city to come to brooklyn and play for the dodgers in the '40s. kansas city plays an important role in that history. but i think it was probably the very best, actually, both
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because of its history and just its physical qualities. >> is that the one where you said, though -- there were also funny things where they screw things up in these parks which i find amusing. >> yes, yes, yes. >> is that the one they had only one entrance and you couldn't get everyone in the ballpark at the time? there was a rotunda? >> there was a rotunda and it was designed too small. >> you could never get in. >> it would never pass the fire laws today in terms of people getting out. they did make some tweaks. >> to fix that. >> to fix that over time. they also forget a press box which is sort of interesting. but all that eventually got taken care of. but, you know, the early ballparks, while they were kind of grand beautiful buildings, also were creatures of circumstance. and they -- you know, their shapes were often determined by the streets of the neighborhood or by how much land the owners could buy. griffith in washington, d.c., had an amazing notch cut out of
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right field because there were two houses that would not sell and so they kind of shaped it around. i mean, it was far enough out -- >> like the bugs bunny cartoon. where he refuses to sell his house, and they build the -- >> right. >> okay. >> and so -- and, of course, the most famous example is the green monster at fenway which has to do with the way a street is cut right close to the edge of the site and could not allow the field as much space in left field as in right field. but that kind of asymmetry and difference and idiosyncrasy is a key part of baseball and baseball history. unlike a hockey rink or a basketball -- >> yeah. i mean, that's like your thesis here. >> or a football gridiron, every ball field is a little bit different. the diamond is exact and
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precise, the outfield varies, and there are kind of no rules about the outfield and theoretically it can be infinite and go on forever. >> like the polar grounds. >> polar grounds, right, it was so far. but, you know, there are no absolute rules. >> right. lmpltd so -- all right. so, speaking of -- all those parks had their idiosyncrasies and were weird and strange as you mentioned. then we enter this sort of what i call "empire strikes back" period of baseball stadiums which you call the era of concrete donuts beginning in the '50s. >> right. >> could you sort of set that up for us a little bit? >> you said all that needs to be said about it, i think, too. but another part of the thesis of the book is that baseball reflects our whole cultural attitude about cities over the years, and as we were everywhere
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in this country pretty much rejecting cities and moving out wherever the automobile would take us, in the post-war era we started moving baseball out, too. >> this is like cleveland's mistake by the lake. is that part of that? >> cleveland's mistake by the lake is almost in a category by itself, i would say, because it was built in the late '30s when nothing else was being built at all, and what it actually did was it's actually the beginning of very pernicious trend which was municipal financing of stadiums, which nobody else was doing then, and cleveland just decided to do it. it opened a lot of bad doors, i would say, and it was actually not a good stadium because it was far too big. it was 80,000 seats. and it was bad on so many levels. and cleveland -- >> but it led to one great movie. >> yes. >> which i just recently watched
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with my son. major league holds up with what you guys are familiar with. that's all set there. >> true. >> what are other concrete donuts that were the most egregious offenders? >> the most egregious offenders were probably rfk in washington, veterans stadium in philadelphia -- >> i went to a pink floyd concert there. terrible. >> -- in pittsburgh. oh, candlestick in san francisco, a truly horrible place. and there were plenty of others. and then actually even worse was the later part of that generation when they foolishly thought that the way to solve the problems of those things was to put roofs on them, so we got things like the king dome in seattle, which is truly the worst place in which i have ever seen a baseball game in my life, >> went there.
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>> and -- you know, and many others. so that was a grim time because -- and it was also based on a myth. i'm talking a lot about myths tonight. i didn't mean to, but -- >> baseball is about myths. >> yeah. that's true. there's good myths and there's bad myths. maybe i should have said fallacy, the fallacy that you can have football and baseball in the same ballpark. >> and here's -- >> you can't -- you can't, without compromising both of them a lot. >> and here's where we come off looking semi decent or even better, we didn't do this. >> kansas city was the only smart city in america in the 1970s, actually, in that it is the only place, other than l.a., where the dodgers stadium was built for baseball only. but between -- in the post-war era or several decades, only dodger stadium and
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arrowhead and kauffman were built as baseball only places. everybody else thought you could do it all in the same stadium, and we got this whole generation of truly horrible places. >> you're very complimentary about the architecture of that, although you point out one of the things it does not do is be irregular because it's set in open space. what are the things you think are good about kaufman? what makes it work as a stadium? >> what makes it work, i'm mixed about it, but the first thing that has to be said about it, that's really good is that it was built as a baseball park, and not a multi purpose stadium. kansas city deserves credit for making that decision. and then there's a beautiful kind of flow to the way the walls kind of curve down. >> it is pretty. >> toward the outside.
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>> i spent a lot of time in that stadium. >> it's quite lovely really. if you see it from the home plate side, it looks a little more like a lot of other big concrete stadiums. >> outside of it. >> not so much when you're walking to it, it's not so beautiful. >> right. they've done a lot of work on it in the last generation when the team decided to stay there, and i think it's actually better and more comfortable in some ways than it was before. but the nicest thing is that kind of lyrical thing in the outfield, the way the sides go down. and the waterfall and the scoreboard and all that stuff which is kind of a cool relic of a certain mid-century style that i like a lot. but even though i like it, i don't like it so much that i would argue against the downtown stadium. >> oh, we're getting there. i would love there to be a downtown stadium. i have a couple steps i want to lead you through before we get to that part. >> take your time.
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>> the other thing that happened after the bad era was camden yards. you spent a lot of time talking about camden yards. >> camden yards was transformational. i think it is actually the only time -- >> in case not everybody is familiar, this is in baltimore. how many people have been to camden yards? a lot. wow. >> the baltimore orioles completely changed baseball in 1992 with the opening of that ballpark. >> too bad we kicked their -- in the playoffs. >> unfortunately, good architecture is not a guarantee of good baseball. that's a whole other discussion. but it is the only -- every building type evolved a certain amount. i mean, libraries, hospitals, schools, houses, everything evolves and changes over time. baseball parks are the only example i can think of where one single building completely turned around the way of building things 180 degrees.
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>> and everybody started building downtown after that? >> everybody started building -- well most built downtown, not all, but everybody started building baseball only, and fairly traditional in layout, often more eccentric and idiosyncratic. which it very much is. >> like pac bell park, my wife is from san francisco, i go to that park, and being able to hit a home run into the ocean is awesome. >> fantastic. san francisco went from having one of the worst ballparks in the major leagues to one of the best, actually, leaping over everyone else in one fell swoop. but camden yards was transformational. really was. >> that was -- is that an hok stadium? >> it was an hok stadium designed out of kansas city. >> yeah. so we have this amazing design from here and this long tradition. and you're very emphatic in the book about how important that has been. in fact, i'm going to quote you.
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by happenstance, kansas city became, for all intents and purposes, the nation's center of sports architecture from the last quarter century of the 20th century onward. many of the architectural designs for sports facilities all over the world would emerge from this medium-sized midwestern city that otherwise had no claim as an architectural center. elaborate. how did this happen? >> it happened -- >> was this good? why did they get all that business? >> well, it kind of goes back to the arrowhead/kauffman complex. when that was originally done, it was -- the basic idea was done by an architect named charles deton, who came up with this notion of a rolling roof -- >> we talk about it all the time. >> -- that would sit between the
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two stadiums and could roll in one direction or the other, depending on which one was in use. and when it was not in use on either one, it would be in the center and would kind of create a covered plaza. that was the early '70s, when nobody was doing anything remotely like that. it was quite visionary. everybody said, this is really cool, and they started building it, and then discovered that it was -- not only was the technology not fully there to do it smoothly and easily but it was going to be quite a bit more expensive than the county had anticipated, and so it was value engineered out. but by then they had already begun to build the two separate stadiums so they just kept going. charles deton ended up working for a local firm called kevot and meyers. they merged with another firm,
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but it got so much attention that they started to get other jobs to do other ball parks and other athletic facilities. and then they attracted the attention of hok which is an enormous international firm which happens to be st. louis based that happened to be not strong in sports architecture. and they said, hey, guys, why don't you let us buy you and become part of us, and then we'll be sports architects, but you guys can keep doing it? so several of their architects said okay. they became the sports division of hok but set the condition that they would not move to st. louis, they would remain in kansas city. and that -- they were smart, aggressive, got an enormous amount of work and just kept growing. remember it's not -- there weren't all that many ball parks and arenas and football
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stadiums that get built, and it's not as though -- unlike houses or office buildings or schools, what have you, it's not like we need 100 different architecture firms doing them, because if we had 100 different architecture firms doing them, 90 of them would be out of work most of the time. it's small and specialized, and they were able to say to clients we know how all this stuff works, and indeed they do. that firm over the years eventually broke away from the parent firm hok, and then changed its name to populist and they're still across the street. >> does this mean we should -- >> their success had made kansas city as i said, yeah, the world capital. sports architecture is one of the major exports of kansas city. >> we're going to open this up to questions in just one second. i'm going to try to end this at 7:30 so you can come up and sign and have paul sign books for you.
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but now is the time when i want you to talk about the downtown stadium in kansas city which we should have built, obviously, with the architecture from -- firm populist. >> i think it would be awfully hard for kansas city to not have -- >> let's get that firm from denver. >> exactly. there are a couple other people doing stuff. in fact, bjork engles, a very interesting and talented new york architect, is now doing the new ballpark for oakland, which is actually one of the most interesting and promising projects around. but populist has done some wonderful stuff, including the ballpark that i think is my very favorite among relatively recent ones, which is pnc in pittsburgh as well as camden yard in san francisco which is fantastic and quite a number of others.
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so it would be hard to imagine that the team would not select the local architect given that the local architect happens to also be the most famous sports architecture firm in the world. so it's not like they would say, eh, these are just local guys, we better go to some big guy from new york or chicago when the biggest people in that industry happen to be the local people. i think the big question is not who the architect would be, but precisely where the site should be for a downtown ballpark. and how it would be paid for. but for me there is no question that it's the right thing for kansas city to do. i mean, the thing that is least appealing about kauffman is the location. >> yeah, and the fact -- >> there never was any economic development around the stadium. if you drive out there --
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>> right, in kind of a nowhere place. you have to drive to it and from it. it's surrounded by a sea of asphalt parking spaces. it's not connected to anything. and what we've seen in the years since baltimore is how beautifully baseball integrates into a whole urban fabric. people want that, they like it, they love being able to walk or take a street car to a game. they love being able to have something to eat, drink, go to other places, combine it with other things and so forth. >> all of those things were available, which you write about quite a bit, at the old metropolitan stadium, which i never saw but was at 18th -- >> municipal. >> sorry. municipal stadium. >> 22nd and brooklyn. yeah. yeah. >> that was the site of baseball stadiums in kansas city up until the '70s. >> right. >> the chiefs played there in fact, i think they were playing there last time they won the super bowl.
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speaking of which. >> the chiefs played there, but underscoring the point that a good ballpark is not going to work for football because municipal stadium was so much a baseball park, so completely and so good a baseball park in its layout and everything else, to make it work for football, they had to put huge rows of temporary seating into the outfield on one whole side, and as a result of that, the chiefs could not play any home games for the first month of the season. >> that seems bad. >> it overlapped with the baseball season, so they had to wait for the baseball season to end before they could actually convert it to football use because it was so naturally a baseball park. >> this is part of what your book is about, too. if you have a question step up to the mic. no, no, walk right up here. my dad remembers and has told me stories about going to that
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stadium when the a's were leaving and it was known, and nobody was there, and getting a whole pile of foul balls because he would just run around and pick them up. that was his memory. >> right, right, right. >> here we have our questioners. >> okay. >> thanks. i'm from chicago, but i've been here ten years so i'm fully behind the local teams. how much would you say the longevity of wrigley field and fenway park has to do with their locations? i know that all drama over the lights, and when comiskey park closed. even though that place had a lot of blocked views or no view.
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that was traumatic for a lot of white sox fans. but how much their locations are so much into the neighborhood? >> completely. i think it's a lot of different historical circumstances that led those two great ballparks from the golden age to be retained. we almost lost fenway. the red sox, under the previous ownership, were working on plans to replace it, and then the team in the end was -- there is no certainty it would have happened, but they were serious about doing it, but then ultimately they sold the team. the subsequent ownership decided that was crazy and that they had a sort of -- a great asset that if they could only upgrade and modernize gently a little bit, which turned out to be exactly the case -- chicago -- yeah, it is beautifully integrated into the neighborhood, and it remains
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one of the most beloved places there is. on the other hand, so are other places that we were not lucky enough to keep. it's ironic that ebbets field in brooklyn was lost because it could be spectacular today, and now -- it went in the '50s probably because nobody cared about brooklyn, and the fan base had moved to the suburbs and so forth and so on. today everybody wants to be in brooklyn, and if it had a ballpark that actually in some ways was better than wrigley and fenway in its heart, it would probably be the nicest place of all. there is always many, many factors. but yes, location is a big part of it. absolutely. >> so now in the cities with multi-purpose teams, like pittsburgh, philadelphia, cincinnati, they knocked those down and built separate baseball and football stadiums. while here we already have separate baseball and football stadiums. so if they were to build the ballpark downtown, would they
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necessarily follow suit with football as well, or would they just leave arrowhead where it is? >> i'm quite sure they would leave arrow head where it is for a couple of reasons. one is my understanding that the chiefs would actually want to acare kaufman as a practice field. >> turn the baseball field into a football field? >> not with seating but they would use it as a practice field. so that's one reason. the other is football doesn't fit downtown as well as baseball does. >> football you want a huge parking lot because of tailgating. >> there are several reasons. and tailgating is an important one of those reasons. it is part of the cultures of football.
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people do tailgate. you need a parking lot and so forth. also, a football stadium is invariably bigger and, therefore, i think a little more intrusive in a city. a baseball park, while it's hardly small, is just enough smaller so it kind of fits into a city nicely. and well. and then the final reason that is maybe the most important is a football stadium is used eight times a year. >> right. >> a baseball park at the minimum is used 81 times a year, and so it is ten times as often. and the thing that kills a city is dead things that are not operating. >> right.
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>> there are the inevitable negative facebook comments, however -- what will people do for parking? how have they been trying to address that? >> they will figure it out. i mean, they figured it out -- you know, san francisco has minimal parking, and it seems to work. most of them do. you know, you can have -- first, there are more and more people living downtown. and more and more people will walk or park in outlying areas and have a shuttle. it will work. what has worked so well in a dozen or many cities, including houston which is one of the more automobile centric cities in the world. and they moved from the aastrodome into downtown, and it has worked. so it would work here, too.
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yes, sir? >> in your book you argue that hok's original design for camden was going to be another concrete dome. >> right. >> without the pushback of smith and geeiano, would she just have a proliferation of concrete domes? >> well, that's an interesting question. it's definitely true that the first scheme that hok presented to the # orioles, it wasn't a dome but a more traditional concrete open stadium. in fact the owner of the orioles then once said to me, i think what they did then was run to chicago and give to that the white sox. the new comiskey park looked a lot like what they tried to sell. indeed, it opened the year before, so it's possible, given that it did take longer to build the baltimore one.
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anyway. but then they -- you know, they got it and they produced something quite wonderful. i think if that hadn't happened somewhere, something else would have happened because we were beginning to experience a huge resurgence of downtown living, downtown working, downtown entertainment, and so forth. it might not have happened in baltimore in 1992. it could have happened in another city, five years later, ten years later, but some other team would have said at some point, we don't want a concrete donut that looks like a freeway overpass. we want a real baseball park. and architects would have ultimately, i think responded. that's my -- we will never know 100% because what happened happened. >> right. because of customer pushback. customer didn't want to product.
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>> yes. and ultimately, in all of our architecture what clients want, matters. they serve their clients and do what their clients wanted. happily here, they had a very, very enlightened client who wanted something important. another -- but to the point about downtown, revivals were happening any way and made its way into baseball somewhere for the first time. it's one of the reasons i feel for kansas city that maybe it's just as well that it didn't happen 15 years ago when there was a minor push to move the royals downtown. >> yeah. >> because i don't know that downtown kansas city was truly ready for it, yet. we might have expected too much from a ballpark.
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it can't alone turn around from downtown. what it can do is be a fantastic reenforcement of a larger revival and make it even stronger and push it forward even more and connect to all the other things happening. today, as opposed to 15 years ago, there are so many more people living in downtown kansas city. there are more people working. there is more entertainment. there are whole new neighborhoods that are developing. the whole momentum of the city is more folked downtown than it used to be. now it wouldn't be on the shoulders of a ballpark to turn around to downtown. which it wouldn't have succeeded at doing anyway. >> we have time for two more questions. >> i'm that white sox guy. i'm curious your impression of
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the old cumiskey and the monstrosity of the new cumiskey? >> i agree with you. >> horrible. >> it is the last of the concrete donuts. it opened one year before camden yards and baltimore changed everything. it was out of date the minute it opened. and it's the a sort of sad story. i gather, though i haven't visited in a while, they did some changes that people say made it a little bit better. i think people say it made it a little less awful. the best comment was from a perspective writer, another architectural writer who loves baseball who calculated that the front row of the upper deck at
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the new cumiskey park is further from the field than the last row in the old upper deck of the old one. so much of baseball is about intimacy and how can you maneuver things so that the greatest number of people are the closest to the field and the most connected to field which is another important thing in camden yard and baltimore did there. answer were circles, this abstract shape of a big circle, pause you could put a diamond in it, you could put a football grid in it, all clumped into a big circle. it doesn't work that well for baseball. >> very briefly, the good and the bad of the old kiminsky. >> the old kiminsky. the old was funky and nice. it didn't have quite the truly
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beautiful appeal of wrigley, uptown. it was a wonderful ballpark. the best of those early generation of ballparks were among the only buildings ever built that sort of combined funkiness and monumentally. it was something kind of grand and funky about it at the same time. i found it very likable but not lovable as wrigley was always lovable. it was still 100 times better than the new one. >> you get last word. >> lucky me. i was going to say i agree with you on everything, actually.
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>> even my wife doesn't agree with me on everything. >> i'm better than she is. i would love to -- i'm all for downtown development. i lived in kansas city and watched it grow. would love to have a stadium downtown. we have this one cultural part of our city that is maybe not like other towns because we're from the midwest and we are cattle and we are into barbecue. you talk about football being a tailgating sport and baseball not. >> right, right. >> but here, tailgating is a really big part of baseball. i wonder how the general public that goes to the games and tailgates maybe spend hours setting up their tail gates for the royals baseball games. it may not be as big as it is for the chiefs. would they be able to do that anymore? >> it's an interesting question. i don't have an answer to that. >> i would say the tailgates at royal stadium -- i have been a ticket holder for 20 years, are
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pathetic and just go away. >> i thought that's what he was going to say. >> i am going to defer to the local on this. >> i am not a tailgater. i prefer to go to a restaurant. but i know there is a lot of people who tailgate. you were kind. >> i defer to the local. i said any city that's big enough to contain both arthur bryant and the nelson atkins museum has to be more interesting than most cities in america. >> thank you for that comment. >> i still believe that. and you know, just do your barbecue some other time. >> thank you. can we give a round of applaud. -- a round of applause for paul. >> thank you. sunday night, helen andrews
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the american conservative magazine's senior editor talks about her book boomers. >> the one liner about boomers that i didn't come up with but which i think is brilliant is that they are the generation that sold out but would never admit that they sold out. it is a combination of on the one hand a great deal of idealism and a sense of themselves as very morally noble, noble idealists liberating humanity. but on the other hand, a great deal of selfishness and narcissism, and kind of a blindness to the ways that their liberationist agenda knocked down a lot of functioning institutions and left a lot of people worse off. >> helen andrews and her wok boomers sunday night at 8:00 eastern on c-span's q and a. you can also listen to q and a as a podcast wherever you get your podcasts.
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in june, robert gottlieb, the man who has been the final editor of all of robert carroll's books, wrote an he is satisfy in the "new york times." the focus was on john gunther, and the 900-page book he wrote 75 years ago called "inside u.s.a." in gottlieb's opinion, gunther was, quote, probably the best reporter america ever had, unquote. we wanted to find out more about this publishing success story, so we called canadian freelance writer ken cuthbertson to talk with him about his 1992 book called" inside:the biography of john gunther". >> ken cuthbertson on book notes. listen wherever you get your podcasts. up next,


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