The center field fence in Baltimore's Memorial Stadium came closer to home plate between the time SI's special baseball issue of April 9 went to press and the opening of the season. This change, in which SPORTS ILLUSTRATED figured importantly as a visual aid, was one that Manager and General Manager Paul Richards had wanted since he came to the Orioles in 1955.
As is not often the case with this kind of fence-moving, Richards' reasons involved fielding more than hitting. "I hoped to provide more interesting baseball," he told SI. "Balls hit between outfielders were stand-up triples before. Now they're sliding triples—or doubles. Long fly balls used to be caught, while short flies dropped in for singles behind the infielders, none of which added to the excitement of the game."
During his preliminary discussions with Oriole officials, as well as at the final meeting in the Oriole board room on April 14, when he asked Baltimore Park Board President James C. Anderson for permission to bring the fence in, Richards used the diagrams in SI's April 9 issue to show that his field, which SI called "a slugger's nightmare," was a little larger than others in the major leagues. "Just a little bit too large," Richards said. "The diagrams were most helpful in discussing this point."
Now that the Orioles' energetic manager has made his point and the carpenters have done their work, here is the updated diagram of Memorial Stadium:
SI shares with Paul Richards the hope that the new dimensions will provide more interesting baseball in Baltimore—just as his excellent book, Modern Baseball Strategy, which SI serialized last year, has already provided more interesting baseball everywhere to those who read it.