ED LUCAS: MLB PLAYOFFS ARE FULL OF MAGICAL MOMENTS, JUST ASK BOBBY THOMSON
The NYGPS final meeting of the calendar year took place October 1st with our keynote speaker Ed Lucas. It was truly an unbelievable and awe inspiring night hearing Ed talk about how baseball robbed him of his eyesight and ultimately gave him a a rich and rewarding life. This event happened 63 years ago to the date right after Bobby Thomson’s Shot Heard Round the World!! We thank the entire Lucas Family and Jay Goldberg, owner of the Bergino Baseball Clubhouse http://www.bergino.com/ for making it such a wonderful night. BTW 15 hearty fans stayed as Madbum threw a complete game shutout of the Bucs. GO GIANTS!!
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On Oct. 3, 1951, one of baseball’s greatest moments occurred, just a few miles from Hudson County. No, it did not happen, like so many other fall sports milestones, at Yankee Stadium. Instead, it took place at a ballpark that was demolished 50 years ago, directly across the Harlem River from The House that Ruth Built.
The Polo Grounds, on 155th Street in Harlem, was home to baseball’s New York Giants. In mid-August 1951, the Giants were 13 1/2 games behind their rivals, the Brooklyn Dodgers. They came back, tying the Dodgers on the last day of the season.
The teams split the first two games of a three-game playoff and then headed to the Polo Grounds for the deciding match. In the bottom of the ninth, with the Giants down by two runs and two men on base, Bobby Thomson stepped to the plate at 3:58 p.m. and hit a walk-off home run to send his team to the World Series. “The Shot Heard ’Round the World” was a fitting conclusion to a miracle season.
The day has special significance to me, not just because I was a rabid Giants fan. I was 12 years old at the time, living in Lafayette Gardens. After Thomson’s homer, I ran out to celebrate with my friends by pitching in a sandlot game. As I threw the ball it was hit back to me at tremendous speed, smashing me right between the eyes.
That scuffed-up white ball with the red stitches spinning in the gloam of a fading Jersey City October sunset, 63 years ago, was the last thing I ever saw.
The Giants lost the 1951 World Series to the Yankees but enjoyed success after that. Thanks to their young superstar, Willie Mays, they won the 1954 World Series. Sadly, three years later they followed the Dodgers to the West Coast, setting up shop in San Francisco. Their old ballpark was completely torn down in 1964.
The San Francisco Giants have advanced to the NLDS this year and will have many passionate fans cheering them on. One group will be following its favorite team picturing an orange “NY” on the cap instead of “SF.”
The New York Giants Preservation Society was founded by Gary Mintz in 2012. For a team that doesn’t exist, the group is quite active. They even have their own website and Facebook page, with fans all over the world sharing memories.
I was invited to speak to a gathering of their club Wednesday night, at the Bergino Baseball Clubhouse on East 11th Street in New York City, a great spot for baseball fans to visit, just around the corner from Union Square. It was interesting to hear sounds of recognition from audience members as I talked about my days watching the Giants old farm team in Jersey City and how visits to the Polo Grounds helped me get through the depression after I went blind. Some of these guys have been Giants fans longer than I’ve been alive.