Friday, April 3, 2009

The Polo Grounds, Part 2

The Giants rented some land way uptown, at 155th and 8th, in an area beneath Coogan's Bluff, at the end of the line of the 8th Ave Elevated Train.

This is where it all happened.

The 30 years of legendary leadership from John McGraw.
The unbelievable brilliance of Christy Mathewson.
Merkle's Boner.
The Shot Heard Round the World.
Willie Mays' legendary catch in the "54 World Series.

I want to focus on the years 1921 through 1924. The Giants won the pennant each of those years. Every game of the World Series in both '21 and '22 was played in the Polo Grounds, because Ruth had not yet built his new house a mile east, on the other side of the Harlem River, and the Yankees still were sharing the Polo Grounds with the Giants.
The Giants took the '21 Series 5-3.
Then they took the '22 Series 4-0-1.
You could look it up.

I digress- My father was born in 1922, about 100 miles east of the Polo Grounds as the crow flies. He was a lifelong Giants fan. He mostly talked about the '30s teams with Bill Terry, Mel Ott, and Carl Hubbell. But he wasn't much of a story teller, truth be told.
I want to go to a field of dreams and have a catch with the ghost of my youthful dad, and ask him what it was like to go to the Polo Grounds. Did he go with his dad? Did they drive or take the train? Where did they usually sit? What were the crowds like? What did they eat? Did they go into town after games? Shit.

By the 1950s the Polo Grounds was pretty much a dump. It was always a weird ballpark. Yankee Stadium was way better.
Of course the Giants moved to SF in '58. The Mets played their first two seasons at the Polo Grounds. That must have been something else- to watch a horrible expansion team in a nasty old relic of a ballpark.

I guess I'll end my magical history tour here. It's been fun.
Play ball!


JC Parsons said...

Bravo! One thing I liked about this topic was how YOUNG it made me feel. BTW I don't recall EVER having a conversation with Dad about his youth in NY.

Another interesting old Giant tidbit about the 54 Series would be Dusty Rhodes. Check out the clutch pinch hits that dude got in the series. ( That must have been amazing.

Bob said...

Supplemental facts about the Polo Grounds:
1) That was never actually its official name. There was no large sign there that said "Polo Grounds" until the Mets put one up in '62.
2) There were overhangs and stuff in deep center field, but what the ground rules were concerning them is unknown because NO BALL WAS EVER HIT THAT FAR.
3) The bullpens were in the corner of the outfield, and they were IN PLAY.

Bob said...

Correction, bullpens not in corners.

M.C. O'Connor said...

How about Carl Hubbell? He was the ace of his day. Lots of people think he invented the screwball--supposedly a variant of Christy Mathewson's "fadeaway."