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The Legend of 412: The Deepest Centerfield in New York City

Surely the roller coasters, Parachute Jump, and kaleidoscopic colors of Coney Island draw your eyes in thousands of different directions when walking into Maimonides Park. But once the game begins and sights are set again on the baseball field and its dimensions, onlookers may notice that it’s hard — some would say impossible — to hit the ball over the center field wall.

The distance is 412 feet.

That’s father than Citi Field (408) and Yankee Stadium (408). It’s also father than 25 other ballparks. Only Comerica Park in Detroit (420), Coors Field in Denver (415), and Chase Field in Arizona (413) boast beefier center fields.

So why? Why build a centerfield distance so colossally far away? Especially in a park built for Short Season Class A minor league baseball players who are no where near as strong as full season players let alone big leaguers.

Well, we’re glad you asked.

The legends of Coney Island have dominated the boardwalk since the late 1800s.

These are the Legends of 412.

The Right Recipe
Maimonides Park was originally built in 2001 on a lot that belonged to George Tilyou and his Steeplechase Park which ran as an amusement park in old Coney Island from 1897–1964. During the heyday of Steeplechase Park, Tilyou’s father Peter used to offer bowls of clam chowder to anyone who bought a 25-cent ticket to his bath house. According to legend, it took 412 tries before Peter Tilyou’s recipe for clam chowder was complete.

Go The Distance
The Cyclone roller coaster was erected in 1927 where it remains today, operating as one of the oldest roller coasters in the country. During the completion of construction, legend has it that mules were used as a method of testing the weight of the cars on the tracks. For weeks differently sized mules would walk the tracks to determine the perfect size with heavier mules snapping the wooden grates and bending the iron tracks. Finally, a mule that weighed 412 pounds made its way from start to finish over the Cyclone tracks, giving designers their final piece of the puzzle to build their cars and open the attraction.

Sandy the Seagull
In 1955, legendary pitcher Sandy Koufax and the Brooklyn Dodgers won the World Series, defeating the New York Yankees in seven games. That year also marked Koufax’s rookie season in which he threw 41.2 innings. Koufax continued his career with the Dodgers and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1976. Thus the stadium was built with a 412-foot center field where builders hoped baseball in Coney Island would return again with the same legendary status that Koufax brought in a short 41.2 innings.

**Note: none of these stories are accurate**




Providing in-depth coverage of the Brooklyn Cyclones, the Advanced-A affiliate of the New York Mets.

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Keith Raad

Keith Raad

Play-by-play broadcaster for @BKCyclones (Class A - @Mets). University of Dayton '15. Notorious for Irish goodbyes.

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