The old stadiums had a lot of charm

Published 7:47 pm Friday, December 19, 2014

As a youngster growing up in Keyport, New Jersey, located just 35 miles from New York City, in the 1950s I attended a large number of baseball games at a couple of New York stadiums that no longer exist.

I am talking about Ebbets Field, home of the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Polo Grounds home of the New York Giants.

Ebbets Field, located in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn, and the Polo Grounds, located in the Harlem section of Manhattan, both had some very unique features.

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Ebbets Field, named for Dodgers owner Charlie Ebbets, opened April 9, 1913, with a seating capacity of 25,000. It had a covered, double-decked grandstand that curved around home plate and on the first base side continued all the way down to the foul pole.

I remember following the Dodgers when they won the National League pennant in 1953 and 1955 and when they won the World Championship in 1956. Two of the stars off that World Championship team that defeated the New York Yankees were the late, great Hall of Fame third baseman Jackie Robinson and the late, great Hall of Fame shortstop Harold “Pee Wee” Reese. Former Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda was a relief pitcher for that 1956 Brooklyn Dodgers World Championship team.

The Polo Grounds, by its name, was originally built for a different sport. It was located in the Harlem section of Manhattan and was home of the New York Giants from April 22, 1891 until September 29, 1957.

I was a big New York Giants fan growing up, and going with my dear late dad to see the Giants play at the Polo Grounds provided many of my great youth sports memories.

The Polo Grounds was on the west side of Eighth Avenue between 157th and 159th Streets, and home plate was directly beneath a speedway where the Harlem River now flows.

In 1951, Giants outfielder Bobby Thompson hit the home run to beat the Brooklyn Dodgers for the National League pennant. That blast is known as the miracle of Coogan’s Bluff and the shot heard around the world.