Fictional Fields: Parks Department Field No. 2

An often-underappreciated part of fiction is setting and set design. We focus on the characters and special effects flying around, all of that is meaningless without a sense of place. What would Captain Kirk be without the bridge of the USS Enterprise? Would The Shawshank Redemption have worked as well if we could not see the prison walls that Andy Dufresne chips his way through? What would Mario be able to do if there weren’t blocks, castles, hills, and tubes around for him to jump on and explore? The places where our fiction takes place help dictate how that fiction occurs.

The same can be said for baseball. Alone among the major sports, massive differences exist between ball fields. They can be anything from an open field with no boundaries to a gigantic stadium with walls of various heights. How that ball field is laid out affects how the game is played: what will and won’t be a home run, how deep the outfielders will play, and how likely it is that a long hit becomes a double, triple, or out.

Now, I combine the two to look at FICTIONAL FIELDS- baseball fields from the land of fiction. We begin with Parks Department Field No. 2 from the classic Backyard Baseball.

About The Field: Debuting in the classic Backyard Baseball of 1997, Parks Department Field No. 2 (PDFN2) was in some ways the most ubiquitous and least-wacky stadium in the series. Initially only available if you played in season mode, it became available for single games in later installments. Sadly, after the 2003 installment, PDFN2 disappeared from the series.

As mentioned above, it was the least-wacky stadium of the series. While other fields in the games are generally in actual backyards, back alleys, or playgrounds, this one has a more official feeling. The fact that it was what was used in season mode suggests that it was (and perhaps still is) the home facility of the local sports organization.

Great Players: The field was used by almost every team in season mode, from the Melonheads to the Taters and everyone in-between. There were also pint-sized versions of MLB teams. The only teams that couldn’t be encountered there were those that could only be found in post-season tournament play. As a result, PDFN2 saw many of the greats: Pablo Sanchez, Pete Wheeler, Stephanie Morgan, Achmed Khan, the works! Add in the kid versions of MLB stars from the sequels, and it’s possible that PDFN2 has seen the greatest assemblage of baseball talent in video game history.

Dimensions:

So, before we figure out the field’s dimensions, there is a need first to get an idea of what type of field this is. There is reason to believe it is a Little League-size field. Why? When you see the length of home runs in Backyard batting practices, you see that the balls that die at the left-center wall are only going 196 feet (note that in BB they count the rolls and bounces for distance). Dead grounders ahead of the pitcher’s mound are in the 30s as far as distance, and a ball clearly past the pitcher’s mound is 62 feet. Look below at a screenshot of Eauxps I. Fourgott’s video:

This would suggest that this is a little league field. So about 46 feet from the mound to home and 60 feet between the bases. This is not surprising, of course, given that the Backyard Baseballers are children, but it’s still important to know as we figure out the lengths.

So, looking over various videos of home run derbies, I’ve come to the conclusion that the following distances are definitely true:

Left Field: 175 ft

Left-Center: 196 ft

Right-Center: 196 ft

Right Field: 175 ft

So, we still need to figure out how long it is down the lines and to straightaway center. To do that, we’ll need to do the highly-unscientific-but-the-best-we’ve-got method of pixel measurement. In this case, we measure something on the computer in pixels and then use that to get an idea of the scale. Since it isn’t a “straight-on” view but rather at an angle and further distorted by it cartooniness, we’ll have to use the balls closest to the area we’re aiming at to set a scale.

So, for example, it appears that the hit towards center that went 180 feet was 1274.5 pixels. This suggests that 7.080555555 (repeating) pixels is equal to one foot. Since straightaway center is about 1306 pixels, that suggests that it’s about 184.4 feet to center. This means, of course, that the right-center and left-center alleys are actually deeper than straightaway center.

Now, time to figure out the lines. The ball hit closest to the line is the 136 hit to left. So to get something close to that scale, we find 1299.1 pixels equals 136 feet. That suggests that down the lines we should assume one foot is represented by just over 9.5522 pixels. It looks like the lines are 1310.5 pixels, so that equals out to about 137.19 feet down the lines. So, the final dimensions of PDFN2 are:

Left Field line: 137 ft

Left Field: 175 ft

Left-Center: 196 ft

Dead Center: 184 ft

Right-Center: 196 ft

Right Field: 175 ft

Right Field line: 137 ft

Now, this was highly unscientific, and no doubt the “real” lengths are rounded up or down. Still, it gives a “ballpark” figure. And, yes, that wordplay is intended.

Just for fun, given that Little League fields are 2/3rds the size of adult fields, we can figure out what the MLB equivalent of PDFN2 is with a little math. That comes out to…

Left Field line: 205.5 ft

Left Field: 262.5 ft

Left-Center: 294 ft

Dead Center: 276 ft

Right-Center: 294 ft

Right Field: 262.5

Right Field line: 205.5 ft

You’ll notice that this is still hilariously small (and also that the shape would become more exaggerated). Doing some work with the OOTP Parkgen website suggests it’d be the ultimate hitter’s park:

Yes, if you are reading that right, it should literally be impossible to hit a double in play on that field. So this leads to the question: why was it so small? Even going by the Little League standards (where the deepest parts are 196), the deepest parts of PDFN2 are far closer to the plate than the walls at Lamade Stadium in Williamsport. Given that Pablo Sanchez can smack it over 700 feet, it becomes even more absurd.

Alas, we have no way of knowing. Still, we now know the dimensions for PDFN2, so use this knowledge only for good.

Capacity and Amenities: By default, 16 people are seen in the stands when seen from overhead in Backyard Baseball. Based on the empty spots, it looks like another 16 probably could fit on those stands for a total capacity of 32. It’s possible that additional stands existed outside of camera view, but those were never seen, at least in the classic games. And, of course, there probably is room for blankets and other standing-room options.

As far as amenities, PDFN2 is and was top-of-the-line. Perhaps even over-the-top. It possesses a large scoreboard in dead center for replays and statistics, as well as a blimp that flew over to celebrate home runs. It also had an awesome sound system to blast out the theme songs of all the players. Some sort of broadcast facilities are/were also present since Sunny Day and Vinny the Gooch were able to cover all games.

For fans, less is known. However, given the Gooch’s chili dog, we must assume that some concession stands are/were present.

Other Notes: PDFN2 is part of a series of fields run by the Parks Department. Parks Department Field No. 3 is used for (American) football, while Parks Department Field No. 7 and Parks Department Field No. 8 are used for soccer (although PDFN8 lacks grass and is instead a sandy field).

Final Thoughts: The Parks Department Field No. 2 is a classic of Backyard Baseball, but lacks much of the charm that other fields in the series have. This is, admittedly, by design. While other playing fields are odd and quirky, PDFN2 is fair, without giving an advantage to left-handed or right-handed hitters. It also had a more professional look, like an actual youth stadium on steroids. This made it the perfect stadium for the season mode that Backyard Baseball had. It may not have been the place you’d want to play with your friends, but it was definitely the place you’d want to play against your opponents.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s