Special To / The Advocate
Baseball parks are notorious for having oddly shaped dimensions.
In general, the only rules that apply to a baseball field are that the bases have to be 90 feet apart from each other and the mound must be 60.6 feet from home plate.
Outfields, however, do not have any rules regarding the size or shape of the walls and fences or how far those barriers are from home plate.
These loosely regulated recommendations have led to creative and sometimes outrageous designs that have become trademarks of baseball’s history.
The best example of this in Major League Baseball is the Green Monster at Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox.
In a strange twist of fate, the gargantuan wall in left field that looms over the Contra Costa College Baseball Field stands 31 feet high and 234 feet long, eerily similar to the Green Monster.
The reason the CCC fence is so tall is because when the John and Jean Knox Center for the Performing Arts was completed in 1980, construction crews erected it to protect the building from flying balls.
“The field was there before the Knox Center was built, so when the construction started, they added some height to the fence to protect the building,” Building and Grounds Manager Bruce King said.
The Comet left field fence is only 6 feet shorter than the Green Monster, but is 3 feet longer, which comes with advantages and disadvantages.
“You try to contour your team to the park you play in,” CCC baseball coach Brian Guinn said. “If it were a shorter fence, we would have to recruit a different kind of player. Because it is a big park, we try to get fast players to play the gaps more,”
Despite the fact that the field’s left-field line is 10 feet shorter than the left-field foul line that meets Boston’s Green Monster, the Comet field has more terrain to cover due to how deep the walls are in right-center field (411 feet) and down the right-field foul line (327 feet).
Comet catcher Rito Gomez said, “This field is definitely more like a four-year college or Division I field. You’re not going to see junior college kids hit the ball over that fence (in left field) too often.”
He said the field has to be one of the largest at any junior college in California and the fence always plays a role during Comet home games.
“It gives our pitchers a huge advantage,” Gomez said. “There have been instances when a ball has hit the top of the fence (and bounced back onto the field) with runners on (base) and it saved us.”
Also, the sheer size and dimensions of the ballpark makes the Comet Baseball Field unique.
Apart from the 411 foot depth in right-center field, left-center is 400 feet (at the end of the left field wall near center field) and straight-away center field is 400 feet as well.
That is deeper than many MLB ballparks.
“This is the only field I have ever seen at a junior college that has a Green Monster in its left field,” Guinn said. “It looks small right there, but you have to get the ball pretty high up for a home run.”
Guinn and Gomez agree that just this year the wall prevented at least 10 home runs from heading out toward the Knox Center.
“We’re going to have to try and get that fence painted green so we can give it some personality and have our own Green Monster,” Guinn said.