MAY 24, 1940
In the first night game played at the Polo Grounds, the hometown Giants beat Boston, 8-1. The Manhattan ballpark’s $125,000 lighting system works well allowing the 22,260 patrons attending the game to follow the nocturnal contest without any difficulties.
MAY 18, 1942
Night games in New York are banned for the duration of WW II, leaving fans in the dark about the status of the All-Star game scheduled to be played at the Polo Grounds on the evening of Monday, July 6. The prohibition of nighttime tilts, announced by NYC Police Commissioner Lewis J.Valentine, will change the starting times for 28 contests involving the Dodgers and Giants. (The first night game at Yankee Stadium will be played in 1946)(Nationalpastime.com)
MAY 14, 1920
The Giants inform the Yankees, tenants since 1913, their lease to play at the Polo Grounds will not be renewed at the end of the season. There is speculation the National League team, who later will decide to continue sharing their home until the Yankees’ new stadium is completed in 1923, may have been reacting to the team’s recent acquisition of Babe Ruth.
Hall of Famers Monte irvin, Larry Doby, and Yogi Berra, will be honored with plaques recognizing their greatness as Essex County Legends in a ceremony on June 6, in Newark, NJ. This is open to the public but you need to RSVP at 973-621-4400 in order to attend. All the information is available on the invitation.
MAY 6, 1937
Dodgers and Giants fans attending afternoon ball games at both the Polo Grounds and Ebbets Field are thrilled to have the opportunity to catch a glimpse of the Hindenberg when it appears over New York nearing the end of its maiden voyage of the season from Germany. A few hours later, the majestic German zeppelin will explode on a landing strip in Lakehurst, N.J. killing 36 of its passengers.
HOW WILLIE MAYS CHANGED THE FACE OF BASEBALL:
In celebration of the baseball legend’s 85th birthday, we explore Mays’s enduring spirit and his love of the sport despite facing many obstacles.-Tim Ott May 4, 2016
Willie Mays is about to turn 85. At this stage of his life, he’s an American icon, a revered ex-athlete who transcended the boundaries of his sport to become a shining example of American exceptionalism.
He’s also at a point where it’s easy to forget the fine print of his life story, a remarkable one considering that before he came along, the American public hadn’t experienced anyone quite like Willie Mays.
The baseball great was born in 1931 in Birmingham, Alabama, which means he came of age in a segregated society reeling from the Great Depression. Life was not easy, for the obvious reasons as well as those personal to his experience. Raised with little money, Mays at times went to school without wearing shoes, and he was separated from his mom when his parents split at an early age.
But Mays was also blessed in many ways. He was gifted with superior athletic genes — his dad and grandfather both played semi-pro baseball, and his mom starred in basketball and track in high school — and he always seemed to have the proper guidance in place. There were the two aunts who helped raise him as a child, and the grown men who took him under their wing when he began tagging along to his dad’s baseball games. Later, when he joined the New York Giants as a 20-year-old rookie, the team had him live with an older couple near their stadium, the Polo Grounds, and assigned a street-savvy boxing promoter to guide him around town.
Mays was also fortunate to come along when he did. In 1947, when Jackie Robinson was making headlines as baseball’s first black player in 63 years, the 16-year-old Mays was honing his skills with the Birmingham Black Barons of the Negro American League. By 1950, following the successes of other black major leaguers like Roy Campanella, Don Newcombe and Larry Doby, Mays was ready for his turn.
Coming just three years after Robinson opened the door, the world wasn’t entirely a changed place. Mays was forced to adapt to hostile fans and separate eating and rooming facilities on minor league road trips, conditions that persisted even after he joined the Giants in May of 1951. At the time, white players were known to grumble about the increasing proliferation of blacks in the game. Even when Mays was making waves as a rookie, a cartoon in The Sporting News — a national publication — featured the young player delivering such embarrassing dialogue as “Ah gives base runners the heave ho!” Continue reading
MAY 2, 1928
With the bases loaded and two out in the ninth inning, Giants’ manager John McGraw orders that Dodger rookie Del Bissonette be intentionally walked with the bases loaded by Larry Benton, forcing home a run. The strategy works when Harry Riconda strikes out giving New York a 2-1 victory in the Polo Grounds contest.
MAY 2, 1956
During a game in which 48 players see action, Chicago’s third baseman Don Hoak strikes out a record six times against six different New York pitchers. The Giants outlast the Cubs in the 17-inning Wrigley Field marathon, 6-5.
BASEBALL CELEBRATES LIFE OF TRAILBLAZER IRVIN
HALL OF FAMER AND FORMER NEGRO LEAGUE PLAYER DIED IN JANUARY AT 96-By Mark Newman / MLB.com
Though you can’t see or touch me, I’ll be near,
And if you listen with your heart — you’ll hear,
All of my love around you soft and clear.
SOUTH ORANGE, N.J. — Monte Irvin was remembered with an inspirational “Celebration of Life” on Saturday morning at the South Orange Performing Arts Center, in the community where the Hall of Famer, Negro Leaguer, war veteran and New York Giants trailblazer grew up. Those apt verses from a poem were on the back of a program given to attendees whose lives he touched before his passing on Jan. 11 at age 96.
Giants president Larry Baer, whose club is in New York for a series against the Mets, was on hand to speak and called the celebration “a history lesson of America.” National Baseball Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson told guests that “of all the talented men who made the perilous trip from the Negro Leagues to the big leagues in the late 1940s, Monte may have been the best.” Former National League president Bill White, Irvin’s former roommate, entered quietly and said he “had to be here.”
Speakers also included 1948 Olympic medalist and friend Herb Douglas; Rutgers professor Art Berke; Essex County executive Joseph DiVincenzo, who promised a seven-foot Irvin statue coming to the area in the near future; and Irvin’s daughters, Pat and Pam. But there was one especially notable face missing from this event, and there was good reason for it. Irvin’s protege and former Giants roommate, the great Willie Mays, wrote a letter and gave it to Baer to bring and read aloud — explaining that the Say Hey Kid is simply not ready to let go.
“You’re all going to hear a lot of things about Monte Irvin today,” wrote Mays, 84. “There is much to be said. He was a good man, a good father, a good baseball player, a great friend. You might all even think that you know all of the stories about Monte and me; that he was my first roommate, that he paved my way, that we were friends, good friends, and even that we opened a liquor store together. But I am not writing these words to repeat what you already know. I am writing these words first for his family, Pat and Pam, and then for the rest of you so that you will understand why I could not join you today.
“Monte came into my life at the beginning of my professional baseball career. I was very young, but like most youngsters, I thought I knew everything! Of course, I didn’t. But I wasn’t really open to learning. You could have put the smartest man in the world in front of me when I was young, and I’d have just turned up my nose and said, ‘Yeah, but can he hit?!’
“Monte let me know that he knew the things that I didn’t want him to know; the things I tried to hide or keep to myself. He knew when I was unsure of myself. He knew when I’d made a mistake, even when no one else could tell. He knew how to stay quiet when his presence was enough and he knew how to speak his mind when I needed talking to.
“Monte was wise and generous and as tough as they come. He was all the things you’ve heard, and he was more. There will never be another Monte Irvin.
“So you see, I just couldn’t be there today. I am not ready to say goodbye. Give me some time. I want to keep Monte alive in my mind.”
Irvin’s spirit was alive in the auditorium, as the “kilowatt smile” — Pam’s words — loomed overhead.
Love around you soft and clear. Continue reading