JANUARY 28, 1949
Monte Irvin becomes the first African-American player, along with hurler Ford Smith, to sign with the Giants. Although the 29-year old outfielder will play only five full seasons in the major leagues, the former Newark Eagles standout will be elected to the Hall of Fame in 1973, primarily for his outstanding play in the Negro Leagues. (Nationalpastime.com)
BY GREG PRINCE
From NYGPS Member and Mets Blogger (FAITH & FEAR IN FLUSHING) extraordinaire Greg Prince
A GREAT REVIEW OF THE EVENT!
Is there any better antidote to chilly days than Willie Mays? Is there any doubt that No. 24 could melt the 24 inches of snow projected to blanket our Metropolitan Area if you gave him a bat, a glove and another go with 24-year-old legs? Is there a sunnier thought 24 days in advance of Pitchers & Catchers than that which results when one considers the greatest center fielder there ever was?
Say no to all of the above because, Say Hey, Willie Mays was in town over the weekend, reminding all of us lucky enough to spend a few minutes in his presence that greatness doesn’t grow old. It just gets better with age.
The Willie Mays I saw on Saturday was the Willie Mays who acts as ambassador for the game he made his own a scant 64 years ago. There are many Willie Mayses. Willie the phenom from 1951. Willie the megastar by 1954. Willie the idol of millions forever after. Willie from Uptown, when he lived around the corner from where he worked and played ball at both addresses (stickball on St. Nicholas Place, baseball on Eighth Avenue between 155th and 157th Streets). Willie of the West Coast after he was transferred on business. Willie who left his heart in New York and came back to find it well cared for in 1972. Willie who Said Goodbye to America two weeks before helping bid the Big Red Machine au revoir in the fall of 1973. Willie the living legend, in and out of uniform for decades since.
Yes, there are many Willie Mayses. But when you get right down to it, there’s only one Willie Mays.
The Giants — currently of San Francisco, ancestrally of Manhattan — keep coming up with good excuses to give Willie Mays a ride back to his baseball hometown. They keep winning the World Series. Not every year, which would be gauche, but every other year. Then they take a few days out of their busy California schedule and visit New York with a trophy and an icon in tow. The trophy’s a lovely keepsake, but it’s somebody else’s. When the Giants come around, I don’t greet them in order to relish their spoils of victory.
I come to be near Willie Mays. Success hasn’t spoiled that sensation.
To offer a little background to those of you who haven’t heard it before, I’ll tell you that at the age of nine, when I was already deeply and eternally bound to the fortunes of our Metsies, I became fully aware that they were preceded as “N.Y. (N.L.)” by another outfit, one that even wore the same NY on their caps. This was 1972. I was in third grade and had begun to soak up the history of those larger-than-life New York Giants. There was an article in Baseball Digest that introduced me to John McGraw and Christy Mathewson. There was a biography in the East School library that profiled Mel Ott. Suddenly, there was a trade made by the New York Mets that netted them the greatest of New York Giants. Continue reading
By; Chris Haft
NEW YORK — About 75 men, all old enough to remember John F. Kennedy’s assassination or even Sputnik, gathered on Saturday in the ballroom of a midtown Manhattan hotel and lined up in two parallel rows to form a path between them. They stared expectantly at the ballroom’s double doors as if they awaited a bride’s entry.
All they really wanted to see was the best man.
Willie Mays slowly entered the room, walking between the columns of admirers. They and others greeted Mays with noisy yet respectful applause, sounding like both houses of Congress at a presidential State of the Union address.
“This is the greatest ballplayer of all time,” a man seated at a table told a grade-school-aged boy.
Mays’ appearance highlighted one of several events that the Giants scheduled last week to share the glory of the 2014 World Series triumph with fans in the franchise’s original home. Mays, who began advancing toward legendary status as a rookie center fielder with the New York Giants in 1951, joined current San Francisco Giants second baseman Joe Panik at this event for a question-and-answer session. Members of the New York Giants Preservation Society and the New York Giants’ Baseball Nostalgia Society formed the lucky crowd, which also received an opportunity to pose with the World Series trophy.
Most of the audience remembered seeing Mays perform at New York’s Polo Grounds between 1951-57, when he blossomed into baseball’s most exciting player — a distinction he maintained after the Giants moved to San Francisco in 1958.
“A few guys said their lives are complete now that they shook hands with the great Willie Mays,” said Michael Weinberg, who grew up in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of New York. “How many players can say they make people feel that way 42 years after they stopped playing?” Continue reading
Just as after their 2010 and 2012 World Series victories, the San Francisco Giants honored their New York supporters by bringing the 2014 championship trophy to New York and among the events was a great breakfast at the Palace Hotel.
I was fortunate to attend, circumventing the early day foul weather and transportation issues and thank The New York Giants Preservation Society and its dedicated, accomplished president Gary Mintz profusely for this event and all that he and the organization does to enrich and remember the great New York Giants baseball history.
Kudos as well to the San Francisco Giants organization which recognizes the New York days and people, proudly adding the 5 New York Giant’s titles to the incredible 3 “S.F.” titles in the past 5 seasons, giving the Giants 8.
That ties them with the somewhat historically similar, Boston Red Sox for fourth place, trailing only the New York Yankees, St. Louis Cardinals and Philadelphia/Oakland Athletics in World Series triumphs.
Special praise to Staci Slaughter, Shana Daum and Albert Jaimes within the San Francisco organization. The man at the top, CEO Larry Baer, is beyond gracious and was in attendance.
Members of the society had a special viewing breakfast with Giants officials this morning, January 24, as the World Series Trophy came to NYC. Special thanks to Staci Slaughter, Shana Daum, and Albert Jaimes, among many, who made this an unforgettable day for all those in attendance. Willie Mays, Joe Panik, and Larry Baer, held a Q/A session to a captive audience. The NYGPS donated $ to the Jr. Giants Fund and the Say Hey Foundation. The SF Giants Organization continue their amazing tradition of remembering and embracing their past. For this we are most THANKFUL!!
THE LAST REMNANT OF THE POLO GROUNDS DESERVES A REDEDICATION CEREMONY WORTHY OF THE BALLPARK’S HISTORY
The San Francisco Giants, including legend Willie Mays, are in town now to celebrate their latest championship with fans of old.
Say hey — then insist that the city give the Giants’ old home, the Polo Grounds, the hallowed place in history that it has earned.
Before they headed West, the Giants won five World Series there. The Yankees, football Giants, Mets and Titans/Jets also once called it home.
Yet for years, the stadium’s only remnant, a 80-step stairway, sat rusty and broken. In 2008, this page adopted the stairs and enlisted the five ex-Polo Grounds teams to help fund repairs. They came through with half a million dollars. Major League Baseball chipped in another $50,000. The National Football League didn’t give a penny.
The fixes have been made and all that’s needed is a nice ceremony to rededicate the stairs, honor the five teams and fête the incomparable Mays. Have it in June, when the Mets host the Giants.
JANUARY 22, 1913
The Giants agree to share the Polo Grounds with the Highlanders. The American League club, which will become known as the Yankees, had been playing their home games at Hilltop Park, located at 168th Street and Broadway, since 1903, when the franchise shifted from Baltimore to New York. (Nationalpastime.com)
JANUARY 20, 1906
Henry Mathewson signs with the Giants, but the right-hander’s performance will not remind anyone of his more talented brother, Christy. The 19 year-old will appear in just two major league games over the next two seasons compiling a 0-1 record along a 4.91 ERA. (Nationalpastime.com)
JANUARY 17, 1922
Benny Kauff’s appeal to be reinstated as a major league player is denied by an appellate court. The former Giant outfielder believed his banishment from the game by Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis is unjust due to his acquittal of the auto theft charges brought against him. (Nationalpastime.com)
JANUARY 15, 1936
Horace Stoneham becomes president of the New York Giants succeeding his dad, Charles, who died nine days ago. The 32-year old will hold the position for the next 40 years before selling the team to Bob Lurie and Bud Herseth in 1976. (Nationalpastime.com)