Reminiscing on older fields from my childhood in anticipation of new season

Published 9:13 pm Tuesday, January 28, 2014

With just a couple weeks remaining until pitchers and catchers report to major league baseball spring training camps in Florida and Arizona, I thought it would be a good time to talk about a couple of special ball parks I visited as a youngster with my late dad and my brother Tom who have passed away.
As a youngster growing up in Keyport, N.J., which was just 35 miles from New York City, I often went to games at the Polo Grounds, home of the New York Giants until they moved to San Francisco in 1957, and Ebbets Field, home of the Brooklyn Dodgers until they moved to Los Angeles the same year.
The Polo Grounds, which by its name was first built with another sport in mind, was located in the north Harlem section of Manhattan and was a rather unique place.
The locker rooms were not in easy walking distance from the dugout as they are in today’s modern ballparks. Instead they were way out in dead-center field.
When a manager or player was thrown out of a game for arguing or when a pitcher was taken out for a reliever, they had to walk through the outfield. Ebbets Field, which was named after former Dodgers player Charlie Ebbets, was located in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn. The field’s outfield fences were not difficult for batters to reach. It was 419 feet down the left field line, 477 feet to dead center field and 357 feet down the right field line.
Two of the greatest center fielders of all time applied their trade at the Polo Grounds and Ebbets Field. The Giants had Hall of Fame center fielder Willie Mays and the Dodgers had Hall of Fame center fielder Duke Snider.
Mays, who was from the south, always was friendly toward the people he met. He was nicknamed the “Say Hey Kid.” Snider was nicknamed the Duke of Flatbush.
With the Atlanta Braves planning to build a new stadium in Cobb County, I just thought it was a good time to talk about a couple of stadiums some super stars of the game once played.
In addition to Mays and Snider, some of those super stars were right handed pitcher Sal “the Barber” Gaglie of the Giants, Hall of Fame Dodgers first baseman Gil Hodges and Hall of Fame Dodgers catcher Roy Campanella.

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