The Last Summer at the Polo Grounds

A while back I had found some great fan photos of the old park in Cincinnati, in its last season, and posted them as The Last Summer at Crosley Field. Well, here’s some newly discovered photos from YashicaD on Flickr of the Amazin’ 1963 season, with Casey, Duke Snider, and even Miss Rheingold on hand (click on photos for larger versions). So pop open that Rheingold, light up a Viceroy, and follow me…

First, I’ll double check my calendar…

Yep, the day looks to be Friday, July 5, 1963, vs the Pirates. And yes, the Mets lost, 3-1, thanks to a 2-run HR by Clemente off Tracy Stallard in the 8th inning, which would be their 8th straight loss. They would go on to lose 15 straight before halting the streak, and lose 111 that year (3rd worse Mets total ever).

Below, Casey and likely Ernie White chatting with what appears to be the new Miss Rheingold for 1964 (or at least a candidate)! Solly Hemus is at home plate hitting fungoes.

Duke Snider comes to the the plate in the bottom of the 2nd inning, with Frank Thomas on deck. Don Cardwell pitching, Jim Pagliaroni the catcher, Bob Bailey at third, Johnny Logan at short. Snider would strike out.

Bottom of the 5th inning. “Duke Snider, an All-Star Game outfielder currently batting .221, tapped the ball down to the Pirate first baseman, Donn Clendenon, and Clendenon decided upon a foot race. Snider won it. Clendenon stabbed the bag with his long left leg, but the Duke beat him by a foot.”, as the Mets fans rejoice. Tim Harkness then doubled him in for the early lead, but it would be Mets’ only run of the afternoon.

Three more months at the old Polo Grounds, and it was over. Duke would go on to the Giants, the Mets would go on to Queens, and the Polo Grounds would fade into memory, but hardly forgotten.

The Last Weekend at the Polo Grounds – but the first Mets Banner Day!

Earlier I posted some great fan photos from the last summer of baseball at old Crosley Field in Cincinnati, but how about the last weekend (specifically the last Sunday) of baseball at the late, great Polo Grounds (Mets would move into brand new Shea Stadium in 1964)? And what better way to send off the old park, but to have the very first Mets’ Banner Day!

Sunday, September 15, 1963, a doubleheader against the Houston Colt .45’s (wouldn’t be the Astros until ’65). Between games, the Mets elected to have fans come out on the field and parade banners for all to see. Photos are mainly banners taken in the stands afterward. Notice the one banner hoping for a Mets championship in the 1970’s (they wouldn’t have to wait that long!), others don’t particularly care for the Mets’ catcher Choo-Choo Coleman, and the Mets’ own banners, spelling out TO THE METS FANS! WE LOVE YOU TOO! Also, the last one is poignant, a nice tribute to the two years the Mets spent there. Photos are a little deteriorated but still great; from a cool Mets blog. As always, click on the photos for larger versions. So pop open a Rheingold, light up a Viceroy, and enjoy.

Incidentally, the Mets lost the doubleheader, 5-4 and 5-0, and were already firmly in last place (they wouldn’t escape the cellar until 1966). And sadly, there would be only two more baseball games at the Polo Grounds, with the final game that Wednesday, when only 1,752 fans saw the Mets lose to the Phillies, 5-1. And in March 1964, the wrecking ball came.

Burns-Eye Views of Big Time Parks, #3 – the Polo Grounds

In 1937, Ed Burns, a sportswriter for the Chicago Tribune, penned a series of articles on every major league park at the time (15 articles in all, of 16 parks for 16 teams; the Cardinals and Browns shared Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis, while the Indians played in both League Park and Cleveland Municipal Stadium that year, with one article for both), which were also published in the Sporting News that year.

A very interesting series, especially from the perspective of 1937, and the hand-drawn diagrams of interesting plays and quirks of each park are wonderful. I’ll post them in order of when they were originally published, and one at a time to make things interesting. Click the Burns-Eye Views of Big Time Parks category link to the right to see all the articles together.

Third in the series, the Polo Grounds, home of the New York Giants from 1911-1957, the Yankees from 1913-1922, and the Mets in 1962 and 1963. It is one of the most classic of all ballparks, but Mr. Burns isn’t pleased with the dimensions at all. Also, Mel Ott’s HOF career has a lot to do with the amount of “Chinese” (!) home runs he hit there. Also, “there has never been a game of polo at the Polo Grounds”.