An era sadly comes to an end, an era that few could rival – the New York Giants last game at the great Polo Grounds.
Here in this photo we see New York’s Dusty Rhodes grounding out for the final out in a miserable 9-1 defeat to the Pittsburgh Pirates and closing the book on the Giants long and glorious tenure in New York, the next time they would play a regular season game it would be in the tight confines of Seals Stadium in San Francisco.
Giants played in three different versions of the Polo Grounds starting in 1880 and the final version, considered by many as the ugly duckling of ballparks, had become more than inadequate to suit Giants owner Horace Stoneham needs who had grown weary of meager ticket sales and followed Walter O’Malley and the Dodgers to the West Coast.
Following the Giants departure, the Polo Grounds would sit dormant for three years until New York City would be awarded a new franchise called the Metropolitans, or as we known today, the Mets. Led by the always colorful Casey Stengel, the Mets would play two season of mostly horrid baseball, but not unforgettable either, before moving to the newly minted Shea Stadium in Queens for the 1964 season.
From there that was all she wrote for the historic cathedral as it would be razed to the ground in April of 1964 and would become home to the Polo Grounds Towers, a public housing project.
As for the game itself, the Pirated belted out 17 hits with Roberto Clemente, John Powers and pitcher Bob Friend getting three hits each in the 9-1 win. Friend would be aided by home runs from Frank Thomas and Powers. And Thomas ironically would be a member of the expansion Mets in 1962 leading the team in home runs with 34.
Only 11,606 fans would bear witness to the Giants final game at the old Polo Grounds, with many of them chasing the players of both teams to their clubhouses in what can only be described as uncontrolled chaos, perhaps a fitting ending for all.
-Ron A. Bolton
A hat tip to my friend Tom on twitter for finding this gem – > https://twitter.com/sigg20