Major league rule 1.04 regarding the layout of ballparks gives an “East-Northeast” factor that is directly related to the movement of the sun. The best ballpark location allows for the sun to set behind third base. In that configuration, the late afternoon sun would shine on right field.
The answer is simple: there are more right handed batters; therefore, right field is where fly balls are less frequent (I know; I played there often for obvious reasons). The fewer balls hit to right, the fewer fielders battling the glare of the sun.
There are considerations in ballpark placement that pay no attention to rule 1.04: the ballpark designer’s privilege, the wind, and the quirkiness of the grounds (remember the 1927 Sulphur Dell?) are just a few. All are factors that could certainly override the rule.
In those cases, rule 1.04 is then a suggestion.
It would be a major task to view the east-north-west-south configuration of over 200 minor league ballparks nationwide. It is easier to view the American and National League ballparks, and all are available online at baseball-almanac.com (keyword search: ballpark configurations).
None are placed in the nearly south-facing direction of the most commonly shown direction of the new Nashville Sounds ballpark.
Four major league stadiums are just the opposite, or nearly so. In the American League batters face to the north at Cleveland’s Progressive Field and Toronto’s Rogers Centre. In the National League Coors Field in Denver is a north-facing ballpark, and Houston’s Minute Maid Park is similar but tilting more in a north-westerly direction
One should take into account that Rogers Centre and Minute Maid Park are domed stadiums.
In today’s baseball world there is no owner, ballpark designer, or contractor who would overlook reasons that jeopardize the well-being of one of the ball club’s players. The setting sun in the batter’s eye could alter a player’s opportunity to play at the best of his ability and the suggestion of rule 1:04 regarding the playing field should be given more weight in the configuration of the new Nashville ballpark.
© 2014 by Skip Nipper. All Rights Reserved.