HALL OF FAMER, TRAILBLAZER IRVIN DIES AT 96
Fourth African-American to play in big leagues helped many during game’s integration
By Richard Justice and Chris Haft / MLB.com | 3:15 PM ET
Monte Irvin was a mentor to Willie Mays and a friend to Ted Williams. He was in the Polo Grounds’ home dugout when Bobby Thomson hit the “Shot Heard ‘Round the World” and was visiting Havana when the Cubans ran out a hotshot pitching prospect named Fidel Castro.
Irvin’s long, wonderful life was the stuff of dreams, a uniquely American story and an enduring testament to talent, perseverance, grace and dignity. Perhaps it is the greatest tribute to this remarkable man, who died Monday night in Houston of natural causes at age 96, that he’ll forever be remembered as much for his decency and sense of humor as for his amazing skills.
“Monte Irvin’s affable demeanor, strong constitution and coolness under pressure helped guide baseball through desegregation and set a standard for American culture,” said Jeff Idelson, president of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. “His abilities on the field as the consummate teammate are undeniable, as evidenced by World Series titles he contributed to in both the Negro and Major leagues, and a richly deserved plaque in Cooperstown. He was on the original committee that elected Negro League stars to the Hall of Fame, something for which the Museum will always be grateful.”
• Baseball world remembers Monte Irvin
In the 1940s, Negro League owners had recommended to Branch Rickey, then the Dodgers’ president and general manager, that Irvin would be a perfect candidate to break Major League Baseball’s color line, which Jackie Robinson did in 1947. Looking back on the subject years later, Irvin simply didn’t believe he would have been ready after having just served three years in the Army.
“I don’t have any regrets,” Irvin said in 2010. “I couldn’t aspire to becoming a Major Leaguer because the door was closed. Jackie Robinson is the real hero and the real pioneer. I was just so happy he was successful, and it made it much easier for all of us who came after him.”
But Irvin played a significant role in the integration of MLB, mentoring many of the African-American players who were breaking into the big leagues in the 1950s. He was the fourth African-American to play in the big leagues, following Robinson, Larry Doby and Hank Thompson.
He made his debut with the New York Giants at age 30 in 1949, two years after Robinson debuted with the Dodgers. Along with Mays and Thompson, he was a member of the game’s first all-black outfield in 1951. Mays joined the Giants that season. Continue reading
HERE’S THE POLO GROUNDS AS YOU’VE (MAYBE) NEVER SEEN IT
By Dayn Perry | Baseball Writer
The Polo Grounds! The storied venue that once sat perched on the upper end of Manhattan played host to, among other sports spectacles, Giants home games for much of their New York history. Now, via Alex Belth, let’s enjoy a color, aerial photograph of the modern Polo Grounds (i.e., the one that was rebuilt in modern fashion after burning the ground in 1911)
Excelsior! This vista gives you a good grasp of just how sprawling the Polo Grounds was in center field. Said spawl, of course, helped make Willie Mays’ famed catch of Vic Wertz’s deep drive in Game 1 of the 1954 World Series one of the most iconic moments in sports history.
Anyhow, this photo is from the 1962-63 period, when the Giants were already in San Francisco and the Mets were just getting started. The Polo Grounds would be torn down for good and all in 1964.
Hey, Polo Grounds, we remember you.
JANUARY 8, 1944
Bill Terry announces his retirement from baseball and his plans to start a cotton business. The former Giants star and skipper will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1954. (Nationalpastime.com)
JANUARY 5, 1946
The Giants pay the largest amount ever paid for a single player when the team obtains Walker Cooper from the Cardinals for $175,000. The All-Star catcher will hit .276 during his 3+ seasons with New York. (Nationalpastime.com)
HAPPY NEW YEAR FROM THE NYGPS!!!
Wishing you all the best for 2016! Thanks for supporting our efforts to keep the New York Giants Baseball Team’s memory alive through the NYGPS. Be well!!-Gary
NYGPS 1ST MEETING OF 2016!!
Our first 2016 NYGPS Meeting will take place on Wednesday, January 20th, at 6:30PM, at the Bergino Baseball Clubhouse. Two contributors to the Team Time Won’t Forget, the 1951 New York Giants, David H Lippmann and Nicholas Diunte, will be on hand to talk about their part in this anthology by members of SABR, as well as speak on the book in general. Please RSVP as soon as possible as this will be a well-attended meeting for sure. Thanks to Jay Goldberg for always opening up his Clubhouse to the NYGPS.-Gary
November 24, 2015 by Andrew Baggarly
The Giants don’t have to win a World Series for Willie Mays to drop by the White House and say hello to President Obama. The Say Hey Kid had an especially memorable visit on Tuesday.
Mays was among 17 individuals on Tuesday who were awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, in a ceremony in the East Room. Yankees catcher Yogi Berra was a posthumous honoree. The honor has been bestowed on 11 baseball players; Ernie Banks was the last recipient, in 2013.
Mays, 84, rose from his chair and took off his Giants cap with the script G logo, and President Obama smiled as he clasped the ribbon around his neck.
The honor is presented “to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors,” according to the White House.
“We don’t have time to list all of Willie Mays’s statistics — 660 home runs, .302 lifetime batting average,” President Obama said. “The list goes on and on. I won’t describe that miracle grab at the Polo Grounds, either — because Willie says that wasn’t even his best catch. I will say this: We have never seen an all-around, five-tool player quite like Willie before — and we haven’t seen one since. He could throw and he could field, hit for contact and for power. And, of course, he was so fast, he could barely keep a hat on his head.
“On top of that, Willie also served our country, and his quiet example while excelling on one of America’s biggest stages helped carry forward the banner of civil rights.
“A few years ago, Willie rode with me on Air Force One. I told him then what I’ll tell all of you now — it’s because of giants like Willie that someone like me could even think about running for President.”
Other honorees included Steven Spielberg, Barbra Streisand, James Taylor, Stephen Sondheim, violinist Itzhak Perlman and NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson.
“This is an extraordinary group,” President Obama said. “Even by the standards of Medal of Freedom winners, this is a class act. What an incredible tapestry this country is and what a great blessing to be in a nation where individuals as diverse, (from) wildly different backgrounds, can help to shape our dreams, how we live together, help define justice and freedom and love. They represent what’s best in us and we are very, very proud to welcome them today.”
The theme from E.T. played as the President went through and greeted each winner one more time.
Mays stood and applauded when Streisand was announced. Who knew he was a fan of “Funny Girl?”
Giants CEO Larry Baer congratulated Mays on the honor after it was announced Nov. 16.
“As everyone knows, Willie is a national treasure and one of the greatest players in the history of baseball,” Baer said in a statement. “I cannot think of a more fitting tribute to recognize Willie for his endless contributions to our national pastime.”
BY: NYGPS Member Andrew Baumgarten
Recently there was another great event at the Bergino Clubhouse (a fabulous place with great baseball items and a truly good man, Jay Goldberg as its owner) as the highlight of the final 2015 meeting of The New York Giants Preservation Society, which is led by another truly good and hard working man, Gary Mintz.
The guests were creative producer, director (A Century in the Bleachers) Jon Leonoudakis and the 93 years “young,” “Babe Ruth of baseball writers,” Arnold Hano. Mr. Hano’s wife of 63 years, together for 67, (Mr. Hano quipped 4 years of “spring training” preceded the marriage), Bonnie was also a great, friendly informative presence.
The night with Mr. Hano talking about his extraordinary life, having met and talked with Babe Ruth and President John F. Kennedy, being part of a United States Supreme Court decision and of course talking about baseball could have gone on all night and remained captivating. Mr. Hano is the subject of what is an extraordinary documentary produced by Mr. Leonoudakis called “A Century in the Bleachers.” It tells the Hano story as a great writer, husband and father. One of three children, Stephen whom I also met and shared memories was also in attendance. Additionally he asked his dad about interviewing the great player, Roberto Clemente one of many greats Hano interviewed while at Sport Magazine. It was pat of a rousing question and answer session in which Hano flexed “baseball muscles” that entertained and informed in spectacular fashion. Watching some of the documentary “A Century in the Bleachers,” that night and subsequently all of it, I attest to the work as a great record of Arnold Hano, who is a treasure.
Imagine being at Don Larsen’s perfect game in the pivotal 5th game of the 1956 World Series and not only dwarfing what permeates the media today, but having a beautiful, neat scorecard to match Larsen’s perfection that day. His stories are incredible including encounters with the great Giants’ pitcher Carl Hubbell about facing Babe Ruth. Continue reading
ARNOLD HANO AND JON LEONOUDAKIS
Our final NYGPS meeting of the year took place November 12 with Arnold Hano, journalist/activist, and director Jon Leonoudakis. The evening was incredible as Mr. Hano discussed his career, both in the game, and outside the white lines. Hano’s memory for a 93 year old is better than most people my age as he rattled off specific events that occurred 75 plus years ago!! Mr. Leonoudakis spoke about directing this man’s incredible life story. We then saw a 13 minute of Hano’s story, which was followed by a 45 minute Q& A. Many thanks to both men, Arnold’s son Stephen and wife Bonnie for attending! Thanks also as always to Jay Goldberg for allowing us to use his home, the Bergino Baseball Clubhouse. Jay has some autographed copies of A Century in the Bleachers. (http://hanodoc.com/) available at http://www.bergino.com/
Jay also has great baseball gifts for all the holidays, visit his site and store!!!
NYGPS FINAL MEETING OF THE YEAR!!-NOVEMBER 12
ARNOLD HANO AND JON LEONOUDAKIS
Our final meeting of the year will take place November 12 with Arnold Hano, journalist/activist, and director Jon Leonoudakis, They will be discussing their new film, A Century in the Bleachers.
From its website: Meet Arnold Hano, 93 years young, and one of the most prolific writers of the past hundred years. He’s authored 27 books, penned over 500 magazine articles and won both the Magazine Sportswriter of the Year and The Sidney Hillman prize for journalism in 1963.
His new DVD, entitled A Century in the Bleachers will be discussed with Hano and director Jon Leonoudakis. Hano’s famous book, A Day in the Bleachers is summarized here from Amazon: “From the subway ride to the ballpark, through batting practice and warm-ups, to the game-winning home run, A Day in the Bleachers describes inning by inning the strategies, heroics, and ineluctable rhythms of the opening game of the 1954 World Series. Here are the spectacular exploits of the Indians and Giants, and of a young player named Willie Mays, who made the most-talked-about catch in baseball history.
This will be an event you want to miss. I expect this to be a packed house at the Bergino Baseball Clubhouse
RSVP as soon as possible.
As a bonus Hano/Leonoudakis will be back the next evening at Berginos for a partial screening of the movie.