Yankee Stadium As You’ve Never Seen It – 1928

An Empty Yankee Stadium Was Used As A Filming Location For Buster Keaton’s “The Cameraman”

Here Are Some Views Of A “Different” Yankee Stadium In 1928

90 years ago, Buster Keaton made The Cameraman, a comedy in which he played a newsreel cameraman trying to get newsworthy footage. Many of the scenes were shot on location in New York City.

In one scene Keaton figures he’ll head up to the Bronx and film some baseball action sequences. He arrives at Yankee Stadium and hurries in with his camera ready to catch the Bronx Bombers, only to discover the Yankees are not playing that day.

That does not stop Keaton from indulging in fantasy, as the empty stadium looms as a backdrop to his antics.

In real life Keaton was a baseball fanatic. This was a time when many Hollywood studios had their own baseball teams and played against one another. In the written application to work with Keaton’s company, there were two questions on the form:  1. Are you a good actor? 2. Can you play baseball? If you answered yes to both you probably could get a job working with Keaton.

Yankee Stadium opened in 1923. Over the next ten years constant changes occurred to the dimensions, seating and field itself creating the classic Yankee Stadium that most fans are familiar with either first-hand or through old photographs.

Presented below are stills from Buster Keaton’s classic film, The Cameraman.

In the opening Yankee Stadium sequence Keaton enters through center field. Note the unfinished right field stands. As originally configured, straight away center field was over 490 feet away from home plate! The bleachers could hold over 10,000 fans. The flagpole was on the playing field and there were no plaques or monuments in Yankee Stadium yet, honoring the “greats.”

A locker room manager emerges from the dugout to tell Keaton, the Yankees are not at home. If you look at the “box seats” you can see that they  are really “boxed” off with movable chairs.

On the pitcher’s mound a perplexed Keaton with camera ready awaits the locker room man coming to give him the bad news. There is no game today. The first Yankee Stadium scoreboard is pretty much positioned where the future “modern” scoreboard would be later placed.

In this wide shot from home plate you can see the pathway from home to the pitcher’s mound that many ballparks used to have, including Yankee Stadium.  A Life buoy billboard advertisement is in the left field bleachers. The apartment buildings in the background are still there. It’s the ballpark that is not there anymore.

The tallest building in the background is the Concourse Plaza Hotel. Many visiting teams used to stay there when the neighborhood was in vogue.

Keaton imagines himself pitching in a game. Here you have a good view of the Gem Razor billboard against the left field well.

As Keaton looks to the imaginary catcher for the sign we have a great view of home plate and the stands. There is a screen to protect the people near home plate and a large exit tunnel on the first base side which was eventually altered to create more prime seating.

As Keaton gets ready to wind up, the IRT train is going south into Manhattan in the background. As long as I can remember, if you were riding the train you could always see a small part of the stadium from the train in right field.

If you were a train passenger imagine this view from left to center field. Three train cars could pass the stadium unobscured. Almost 100 feet of clear baseball viewing for train riders.

As Keaton gets his turn at the plate, you get a pretty good view of first base and the right field stands. Note the position of the foul pole. A player could hook a home run around the pole similar to today’s right field at Fenway Park.

After Keaton gets his “hit” he rounds the bases and heads for home. This affords us a clear look at the vast left field bleachers and its many advertising billboards.

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One thought on “Yankee Stadium As You’ve Never Seen It – 1928

  1. Baby Gerald

    A great film made even greater by a monkey manning a machine gun during the Chinatown tong war sequence.

    Another great film from the same year that features not only the house that Ruth built, but the man who built it, himself, is Harold Lloyd’s Speedy[http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0019412/]. An extended cameo by Babe as a passenger in Harold’s taxi on the way to the stadium is one of the highlights of this incredible silent which also takes the viewer out for a day at Coney Island’s legendary Luna Park, as well.


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