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Forbes Field reborn at Carnegie Science Center

| Monday, Nov. 12, 2007

It took four months to build Forbes Field in 1909.

Almost a century later, it took the Carnegie Science Center more than a year to reconstruct it -- one-64th the size of the original.

The famous Oakland baseball park, home to the Pirates until 1970, has been re-created as a hand-built model in the North Shore Science Center's Miniature Railroad & Village. The exhibit reopens for the year on Nov. 23 and is free with museum admission.

"Forbes Field has been the most requested thing that our visitors want to see," said Patty Rogers, historic exhibits coordinator for the science museum. "It just became evident that we had to do it."

Every year the railroad exhibit reopens with a new feature or historic building from Western Pennsylvania.

"Everything that we do is a reproduction of the architecture, the culture and the history of our area," Rogers said.

The Forbes Field reproduction -- which replaces a generic baseball diamond -- weighs in at almost 50 pounds and is the biggest addition in the exhibit's 87-year history.

The details are modeled after the ballfield's Opening Day appearance and not the subsequent additions and changes -- except for one. Instead of putting a wooden fence in the outfield, Rogers incorporates the brick wall added in 1946, some of which still stands today. She is making it out of a crushed brick from the actual 12-foot wall.

Beyond the outfield, horse-drawn carriages mingle with automobiles in a reproduction of Schenley Park -- modeled after a photograph from Opening Day.

"It's really pretty fascinating how accurate this is," said Stephen "Slugger" Shiring, 19, of Ford City in Armstrong County. He volunteers once a week to help with the exhibit and painted all the players. "It's such an important piece of our past."

On the field, the Pirates play the Chicago Cubs -- just as they did on June 30, 1909. An animated batter swings and the crowd -- simulated with 23,000 painted Q-tips -- cheers.

"The score from that game was 3-2," Rogers said with a sigh. "We lost."

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Forbes Field

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