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  • Writer's pictureRich Honiball

Today in Brand History: The Polo Grounds

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In 1880, the 1st pro baseball game was held at the Polo Grounds, NY Metropolitans beat Washington Nationals 4-2 in 5 innings and in 1957, the NFL NY Giants played their last game at Polo Grounds, 9-1 loss to Pittsburgh.

A big day in history for the Polo Grounds...

The original Polo Grounds was located at 110th Street between Fifth Avenue and Sixth Avenue, at the northeast corner of Central Park. The venue was actually built for polo and the name was not a "formal name" at first.

The NY Metropolitans, an independent baseball team at the time, became the first to play there. In 1882, they had the chance to join the National League but instead chose to join the American Association. Then, they formed a new team made up of some of the former Metropolitan players as well as players from the defunct Troy Trojans, called the team the NY Gothams (eventually the NY Giants) and joined the National League. A second diamond and grandstand were built at the Polo Grounds. This didn't work so the Metropolitans and the Gothams played alternatively on the main field until 1886 when the Metropolitans moved to the St. George Cricket Grounds on Staten Island.

The original Polo Grounds (I and II) were torn down in 1889 to make room for new streets, so the Giants opened the season in Jersey City, then moved to the St. George Grounds before eventually landing in the new Polo Grounds (I think referred to as III), constructed 155th Street and 9th Avenue. The new site was overlooked to the north and west by a steep promontory known as Coogan's Bluff. Because of its elevation, fans frequently watched games from the Bluff without buying tickets.

In 1911, a fire swept through the stadium's horseshoe-shaped grandstand, consuming wood and leaving only steel uprights in place. The decision was made to rebuild with concrete and steel and in three months, Polo Grounds IV was completed. The NY Yankees (originally the NY Highlanders) sublet the Polo Grounds from the Giants during 1913–1922 after their lease on Hilltop Park expired (Babe Ruth's first home run as a Yankee was here, on May 1, 1920).

The NY Football Giants, called that so as to not confuse them with the baseball team played at the Polo Grounds from 1925 to 1955. They left for...Yankee Stadium in 1955 and the NY Giants baseball team left for San Francisco in 1957. The stadium sat empty for three years until the NY Titans (now the NY Jets) started playing there in 1960, then the newly formed NY Mets started to play at the Polo Grounds until their new home, Shea Stadium was complete.

The final sporting event played at the Polo Grounds was on Dec 14, 1963 when the now renamed AFL team New York Jets lost to the Buffalo Bills 19-10, and the stadium was then demolished to make way for high rise buildings.


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