JERSEY CITY’S HORACE STONEHAM BELONGS IN BASEBALL HALL OF FAME

STOEHAM LUCAS

JERSEY CITY’S HORACE STONEHAM BELONGS IN BASEBALL HALL OF FAME by Ed Lucas

In a tranquil, sunny corner of Jersey City’s Holy Name Cemetery, on West Side Avenue, you’ll find a memorial with the name “Stoneham.” Not many visitors stop by these days, but for local baseball fans, it’s a name that should ring out through the decades.
Charles Stoneham, who grew up in Newark and served as an altar boy at several Hudson County parishes, owned the New York Giants baseball club from 1919 until his death in 1936. He is buried in his family’s Jersey City plot. Under Stoneham’s watch, the NY Giants became a premiere team in the National League, winning the World Series in 1921, 1922 and 1933.
After Charles Stoneham’s death, his son, Horace, inherited the club. At just 32 years old in 1937, Horace became the youngest owner of a Major League baseball team.
One of the first things he did was to establish a successful minor league Giants franchise in Jersey City, at Roosevelt Stadium, keeping the family’s connections to Hudson County strong. This also ensured generations of Giants fans in Jersey City, many of whom still root for them.
Both versions of the Giants were winners under Horace, who worked in several capacities, including as de facto general manager. He kept them at or near the top of the league.
Unfortunately, attendance at the Polo Grounds and in Jersey City was declining by the 1950s. Fans just stopped showing up, even though both clubs actually won titles in the 40’s and 50’s.
For other owners, this wouldn’t be a major crisis, but for Stoneham it was a disaster. The Giants were his primary business. They were the sole income stream for his family. Fewer tickets sold meant a dip in personal fortunes.
In 1951, the Jersey City club relocated to Ottawa, Canada. The city of New York wasn’t offering assistance in updating the Polo Grounds, either, so Stoneham began looking for a new home for the big club.
Realizing the potential for western expansion in baseball, Horace first explored a move to Minnesota. When that fell through, he was courted by the mayor of San Francisco. He signed the deal to move the Giants to California in 1957, even before the Dodgers signed theirs. Continue reading

THIS DATE IN NY GIANTS HISTORY: APRIL 25, 1937

APRIL 25, 1937
Cliff Melton becomes to first rookie to fan at least 10 batters in his major league debut, finishing with 13 strikeouts in a complete-game loss to the Braves at the Polo Grounds. The 25-year old southpaw, who loses the contest due to the Giants poor defense in the ninth inning, will hold the rookie record for K’s in his debut until Dodger freshman Karl Spooner whiffs 15 batters in his first major league start in 1954.(Nationalpastime.com)
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THIS DATE IN NY GIANTS HISTORY: APRIL 18, 1952 & 1955

APRIL 18, 1952
On Opening Day in Brooklyn, Willie Mays is knocked unconscious when he smashes into the Ebbets Field wall after chasing pinch hitter Bob Morgan’s seventh-inning, two-out base-loaded line drive into the gap in left field. All three Dodgers base runners cross the plate, but do not score when the motionless Giants center fielder comes to his feet and jogs into the dugout, apparently unhurt, having held onto the ball after making an amazing catch for the third out to end the inning.(Nationalpastime.com)

APRIL 18, 1955
In his first major league appearance, 25-year old Pirates reliever Al Grunwald, getting just one batter out, gives up a single to Don Mueller‚ a double to Monte Irvin‚ a triple to Willie Mays‚ and a homer to Whitey Lockman. The Giants fourth- inning ‘cycle’ contributes to an eight-run frame in the eventual 12-3 victory over Pittsburgh at the Polo Grounds.(Nationalpastime.com)
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THIS DATE IN NY GIANTS HISTORY: APRIL 17, 1912

APRIL 17, 1912
In front of a larger than usual crowd at the Polo Grounds of over 14,000 patrons that includes Broadway legend George M. Cohan, the Giants beat the new-look Yankees, now sporting pinstripes, in an unscheduled exhibition game, 11-2, to raise money for the survivors of the HMS Titanic. The charity contest, the first Sunday game ever played between major league teams at the Coogan’s Bluff ballpark, raises over $9,000 when each individual fan donates the price of an admission ticket to purchase a special program for the event.
(Nationalpastime.com)
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THIS DATE IN NY GIANTS HISTORY: APRIL 14, 1911

APRIL 14, 1911
Shortly after midnight, a tremendous fire breaks out destroying much of the Polo Grounds leaving the Giants without a place to play. The Highlanders invite the McGraw men to share Hilltop Park, an offer the displaced National League team accepts for six weeks until temporary stands are completed at their damaged ballpark.
(Nationalpastime.com)
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NIKE RUNNING CLUB (THE LOCAL) AND MEMBERS OF THE NYGPS MEET AT THE BRUSH STAIRS

NIKE 1NIKE 2

Last night (April 10), the Nike Running Club (Some 150 plus runners using the name The Local) led by Coach Knox Robinson and organizer/tour-guide/historian/writer Kevin Fitzpatrick had their weekly run around NYC. Every Friday night Nike organizes a run in one of the five boroughs. 3 to 5 miles to see different neighborhoods and learn about them.This run ended at the John Brush Stairway in Upper Manhattan, the last piece of the Polo Grounds that remain. Kevin informed me that they open up “The Local” online registration each Sunday night for that week. The run filled up in 2 minutes, and had no spots open, only a waiting list to get on. He told me that this was the first time that’s ever happened! Kevin asked some members of the NYGPS to be on hand at the “finish line” to share some history and memories about the NY Giants, the Brush Stairs, and the Polo Grounds. A wonderful time was had by all. We want to thank Kevin, Knox, and Nike for asking us to attend their festivities. Nike provided the NYGPS members with sneakers, jackets and tickets to the Red Sox/Yankee Game that ended at 2:14AM April 11th!! Members were thrilled to be attending and sharing stories with the Nike Running Club. For those who don’t know, the Polo Grounds were about a mile from Yankee Stadium. Some members of both organizations walked to the game, others took a shuttle! I would bet this is the most people at this hallowed locale in decades!

THIS DATE IN NY GIANTS HISTORY: APRIL 11, 1907 & 1912

APRIL 11, 1907
The Giants lose their home opener to the Phillies when some of the Polo Grounds fans, growing tired of the team’s lackadaisical performance, begin throwing snowballs onto the playing field disrupting the game. After he is hit by a frozen sphere, Bill Klem, the home plate umpire, decides enough is enough and forfeits the game to Philadelphia. (Nationalpastime.com)

APRIL 11, 1912
Rube Marquard begins a nineteen-game consecutive winning streak by beating the Dodgers, 18-3. The streak will end in July when the Giants lose to Chicago at the West Side Grounds, 7-2.(Nationalpastime.com)
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