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Willie Mays

January 24, 2011

The Times had a nice article about Willie Mays visiting the elementary school that sits on the site of the former Polo Grounds, home of the New York Giants. The article mentions his noted prickliness and my impression of him was always that he was kind of an ass, but he comes off as a very nice man here, genuinely interested in the kids. It’s my sense that Willie Mays’ place among the all time greats has declined in recent years, at least among the smarty pants set— though 660 homers is kind of hard to ignore.

As I’ve stated here many times before, it’s my general stance that everything was better in the past, even though I know it’s mostly not true. So, I hate that grand old places like the Polo Grounds are no longer with us, even though it couldn’t have been that great a place with its odd horseshoe shape and its short distances down the lines, the right field fence was only 257′ at the foul line. Mel Ott feasted on that short porch hitting 323 home runs at home. It’s why he is, along with Eddie Matthews, the most unknown 500 home run player in MLB history.

I never got to see the Polo Grounds, it was torn down before I was born, in 1964 I believe. Actually, there were four different baseball stadiums named the Polo Grounds, the final one opened in 1911. It was torn down when the City eminent domained the place and built the Polo Ground Towers public Housing project. The Towers, which are about as attractive as you might expect a NYC housing project opened in 1968 to be, are still there with not one trace of the Polo Grounds still remaining. Well, that is not entirely true, there is a staircase that leads from Coogan’s bluff down to the flat land where the stadium stood. The staircase is a tottering ruin which has been fenced off, but it still stands. And on one of the landings is the inscription you can see in the photo below. I took this a few years ago while out riding around. I’m not a particularly good photographer so I was not able to get the whole landing in the shot. The staircase was not, in fact, resented by the Giants but presented by the Giants.

And here is a good shot of the Polo Grounds which I cadged from the site baseballengineer

Definitely a weird looking place.

It’s probably not good that if I could time travel it is more likely that I would take in a 1920s ballgame than go kill Hitler, but there you go.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Fat Al permalink*
    January 24, 2011 2:49 pm

    483 to dead center. Got to love that.

  2. jco permalink
    January 24, 2011 5:31 pm

    The staircase may have been resented by the Giants. Nice post.

  3. January 24, 2011 6:55 pm

    “It’s probably not good that if I could time travel it is more likely that I would take in a 1920s ballgame than go kill Hitler, but there you go.”

    Ha ha ha! Great line!

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