June 21st saw Robert Garratt visiting the Bergino Baseball Clubhouse (www.bergino.com ) to discuss his fabulous new book, Home Team: The Turbulent History of the San Francisco Giants, in front of 2 dozen members of the New York Giants Preservation Society. Garratt spoke about the ownership of the team in particular, the Horace Stoneham era. This era, especially the latter part of his Stoneham’s tenure in both NY and SF, has much to do with the title of the book. Garratt then added wonderful tales about the Bob Lurie era and spoke of Peter Magowan’s era as well. The night ended with a Q/A session before Mr. Garratt signed books for those who purchased them. I want to thank Robert Garratt and of course Jay Goldberg (owner of the Bergino Baseball Clubhouse) for making this a wonderful event!!
Now a housing complex, the stadium that once stood on 155th Street was home to the New York Giants baseball team — and an MLB legend.
By Nikki M. Mascali
Published : June 02, 2017 | Updated : June 02, 2017
The history of Harlem is so vast, it could be the city’s sixth borough, but sadly over time, many of its once-notable areas have disappeared, replaced by endless skyscrapers or long forgotten altogether.
Such is the case of the former Polo Grounds, a stadium that was on 155th Street in Harlem and was home to MLB’s New York Giants from 1883 to 1957, before the team moved to San Francisco in 1958.
In what was known as “The Bathtub” for its unique shape, Bobby Thomson made his game-winning “shot heard ’round the world” against the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1951, and Willie Mays made “the catch” in Game 1 of the 1954 World Series.
In an effort to remind New Yorkers of that storied MLB lore while also revitalizing portions of the landscape that was demolished in 1964 to make way for the Polo Grounds Towers and Rangel Houses complexes, hundreds gathered Thursday under the 155th Street Viaduct to take part in Pernod Ricard’s annual Responsib’all Day.
For the second year in a row, the global beverage company partnered with environmental nonprofit EarthShare and the New York Restoration Project to revitalize several acres of land for the more than 7,000 residents living in nearby public housing.
“I live about 10 blocks from here, and it’s kind of isolated from the rest of Harlem,” state Sen. Marisol Alcantara said. “One in seven kids has asthma in this area, and there is not a lot of green space. What you’re doing today is going to make a difference in many kids’ lives.”
Among the work included in the daylong project was clearing vegetation on the complex property, planting wildflowers, assisting with a neighborhood garden and working in nearby Highbridge Park, where Responsib’all Day took place last year.
“This has been a dumping ground for 30 years. I hope this is the beginning of a destination,” Barbara Williams, president of the resident association at the Polo Grounds Towers, added.
For many diehard Giants fans, like those in the New York Giants Preservation Society, the site has always been a destination.
“I’m a San Francisco Giants baseball fan, but I live in New York. Willie Mays was my idol, and Willie’s origins are here,” member Paul Ellis-Graham said.
“It’s a storied history, a storied franchise, and we want people to not forget that there was a team here,” added Gary Mintz, the society’s president, who began the organization in 2011 to honor his father, a longtime Giants fan.
Though the main portion of The Bathtub is long gone, little reminders do exist, like the John T. Brush Stairway. Built in 1913 and named after the man who owned the Giants from 1890 until his death in 1912, the stairway still leads down into the Polo Grounds Towers property from Coogan’s Bluff. It was restored in 2014 using donations from the NFL’s New York Giants and Jets and the MLB, Yankees, Mets and San Francisco Giants.
On one of the Polo Ground Towers buildings is a faded sign that reads, “This development was built on the location that Willie Mays and the Giants made famous.” A little further into the complex on another building is a weathered bronze plaque that commemorates where home plate used to be — and serves as a reminder that the Giants shared the field with the Mets and Yankees for several years as well.
“New York doesn’t really celebrate the history of this city enough, but this needs to be preserved,” Mintz said. “But today is not about baseball, it’s about restoring neighborhood pride.”
To watch a video about the Pernod Ricard’s and NYRP’s work at the Polo Grounds site as part of its Responsib’all Day, click here.
NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — On the corner of 155th Street and Frederick Douglass Boulevard in Harlem there’s now a big housing development, but it used to be a ballpark.
The Polo Grounds were home of the New York Giants baseball team.
“The Giants left town September 29, 1957. It’s embedded in my heard. I was at that game,” Carmine Magazine remembers.
He is now 76 years old. You have to be an older American to remember.
“In 1954, I started to go to the Polo Grounds,” says Larry Hans. “I was 11 years old. I always thought they’d just come back.”
They are members of the New York Giants Preservation Society. It’s run by Gary Mintz, who never made it to the Polo Grounds.
He was born four years after the Giants moved to San Francisco. But he has remained a New York Giants fan, because his dad was one and it helps keep the memory of their relationship alive. He says his dad was his best friend.
Members of the group helped in a cleanup effort around the area of the Polo Grounds, which hasn’t been kept up as well as it might have.
The Pernod Richard liquor group allowed 300 of their employees to take a day off of work on June 1 to come to the area around 155th Street and Frederick Douglass Boulevard to take part in the day, which was also sponsored by the New York Restoration Project (NYRP) and the nonprofit ground Earthshare.
It’s hoped that some day there might be a mural near the site to commemorate the Giants’ ballpark, the Polo Grounds. There are already some plaques and a restored stairwell that had been used to get fans down to the park from Coogan’s Bluff.
The park, and the team, mean a lot to the history of New York and fans are hoping their memory won’t die.
Our next NYGPS meeting will be on June 21 at the Bergino Baseball Clubhouse at 6:30PM, with author Robert Garratt, who will be talking about his new book entitled: HOME TEAM: THE TURBULENT HISTORY OF THE SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS, a great new book on the Giants that NY fans will very much enjoy if they have kept their fandom when the team moved westward.
Here is the synopsis:
In 1957 Horace Stoneham took his Giants of New York baseball team and headed west, starting a gold rush with bats and balls rather than pans and mines. But San Francisco already had a team, the Seals of the Pacific Coast League, and West Coast fans did not immediately embrace the newcomers.
Starting with the franchise’s earliest days and following the team up to recent World Series glory, Home Team chronicles the story of the Giants and their often topsy-turvy relationship with the city of San Francisco. Robert F. Garratt shines light on those who worked behind the scenes in the story of West Coast baseball: the politicians, businessmen, and owners who were instrumental in the club’s history.
Home Team presents Stoneham, often left in the shadow of Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley, as a true baseball pioneer in his willingness to sign black and Latino players and his recruitment of the first Japanese player in the Major Leagues, making the Giants one of the most integrated teams in baseball in the early 1960s. Garratt also records the turbulent times, poor results, declining attendance, two near-moves away from California, and the role of post-Stoneham owners Bob Lurie and Peter Magowan in the Giants’ eventual reemergence as a baseball powerhouse. Garratt’s superb history of this great ball club makes the Giants’ story one of the most compelling of all Major League franchises.
This should be a terrific meeting following the ones with Dan Taylor, Jerry Liebowitz & Hal Bock, and our impromptu session at the Polo Grounds with Mark Melacon. Please RSVP ASAP as we expect a full house. Books can be purchased for $26 that night. (Hard-covered)
MAY 29, 1916
The Giants beat the Braves in Boston, 3-0, for their 17th consecutive road win. Christy Mathewson gets the victory. (Nationalpastime.com)
MAY 29, 1928
At Ebbets Field, Bill Terry hits for the cycle to pace the Giants to a 12-5 victory over the Robins (Dodgers). The New York first baseman is the first player in major league history to include a grand slam as part of the cycle. (Nationalpastime.com)