By: Paul Post
NEW YORK — John Thorn’s memory is quite sharp, especially when it comes to recalling his first big league ballgame, a 1956 contest between the Giants and Dodgers at the Polo Grounds.
That’s why Major League Baseball’s official historian is so pleased by the restoration and reopening of the John T. Brush Stairway, near the once-hallowed ballpark site.
The steps, which begin atop fabled Coogan’s Bluff, above the site where the Polo Grounds stood, are among the last visible reminders of the Giants’ proud legacy in New York, which includes their 1954 World Series championship, 60 years ago this fall, best remembered for Willie Mays’ dramatic Game 1 play known simply as “The Catch.”
“The symbolic value of this project is enormous,” Thorn said. “It connects the fan to a great deal of baseball history even beyond the New York Giants. That ballpark was the palace for fans in New York in the early 20th century. Remember, Yankee Stadium didn’t open until 1923. Ballparks are repositories of memories. That’s where we congregated. Ballparks do it better than any other structure.”
Brush was an early Giants owner who died in 1912. Harry N. Hempstead, Brush’s son-in-law who followed as Giants owner, had the stairway built and presented it to the city during a ceremony on July 9, 1913.
For the next half-century, the stairs carried countless fans from Edgecombe Avenue down to ticket windows behind home plate. However, the Polo Grounds was razed in 1964, one year after the Mets left upper Manhattan for Shea Stadium, their new home in Queens. Continue reading