New York, NY was home to the infamous Polo Grounds. The three different stadiums were home to the New York Giants, New York Mets, New York Metropolitans, and the New York Yankees. The Polo Grounds were built in 1876 and since has carved out a piece of history for us to admire. The Polo Grounds were a hitter’s paradise with the exception of centerfield. A pop fly down either line could easily become a home run. Polo Grounds home to the term “the shot heard ‘round the world” was given to the game winning home run by New York Giants Outfielder Bobby Thomson off Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher Ralph Branca on October 3, 1951.
Polo Grounds I was the original built between Fifth and Sixth Avenue. The Metropolitans were the first professional baseball team to play there in September 1880. The first Major League Baseball games played in 1883 as the home to The American Association Metropolitans and The National League Gotham’s who soon became known as the Giants. Roger Connor’s home run over right field and into 112th street was an impressive home run for its time. Connor eventually held the record for career home runs that Ruth would break in 1920.
A steep cliff known as Coogan’s Bluff overlooked Polo Grounds II. This allowed fans to watch games without buying tickets. The grandstand had a conventional curve around the infield but the shape of the property left the center field area closer than left center or right center. In the dead ball era this was not an issue. The Brooklyn Dodgers played a pair of home series at this ballpark in July to early August in 1890. In 1891 the Polo Grounds II was referred to as Manhattan Field. Babe Ruth’s first home run as a Yankee on May 1, 1920 was characterized as a sockdolager and traveled over the right field grandstand into Manhattan field. In 1921 Ruth hit his longest home run over the right center upper deck, estimated at over 550 ft.
The most famous, Polo Grounds III built in 1890 was known for its bathtub shape, very short distances to the left and right field walls, and an unusually deep center field. On April 14, 1911 a fire swept through the stadium leaving only steel uprights in place. Giants owner John T. Brush decided to rebuild the Polo Grounds with concrete and steel. The stadium reopened three months later on June 28, 1911. The Giants won the National League Pennant that year. The Giants won five World Series championships in the Polo Grounds.
After $250,000 in renovations the New York Mets moved to the Polo Grounds for the 1962 and 1963 seasons while Shea Stadium was being built. The last and final game ever played at Polo Grounds was on September 18, 1963 and was later demolished on April 10, 1964. The only remains that still stand are the John T. Brush Stairway.
Memorable Moment: “The Catch” a defensive play by ballplayer Willie Mays on Sept 29, 1954 during game 1 of the 1954 World Series between the New York Giants and the Cleveland Indians. Mays made an on-the-run-over the-shoulder catch on a hit over 420 feet in deep center field!