Archive for the ‘Polo Grouinds’ Category

The Polo Grounds and the Autonomy of a Baseball Snapshot

June 4th, 2017

A baseball snapshot is a souvenir of a day at the ballpark.  Taken not by a professional photographer, but by a fan capturing a moment in time. The name of the fan who took this snapshot is unknown, lost now to time. That fan’s memory of the game, however, as captured in the photo, remains.

A Fan’s Souvenir Of A Day At The Ballpark

It is evident the fan was sitting in box seats along the third base side of the playing field. The photo captures a play at second base. If you know your old time ballparks, perhaps the arched windows and the GEM BLADES sign on the outfield wall is all you need to know to identify the ballpark.

If not, there are other clues as well. A section of the scoreboard announces: “Cinni Here Tues May 14 Night Game 8:15 PM.”

Cinni Here Tues May 14 Night Game 8:15 PM.

To solve the riddle, all that needs to be done, it would seem, is search online for a mid-century Tuesday May 14th Cincinnati Reds road game that started at 8:15 pm. However, a search of both and turned up empty. No such game was listed on either website.

I emailed the photo to a friend of mine, Bernard McKenna, a professor at the University of Delaware and a man who knows both baseball and historical research. Professor McKenna started with an informed guess that the ballpark was the Polo Grounds. Other known photos of that ballpark featured both the arched windows and the outfield signage.

But what about the game being played? The photo could not have been taken prior to 1940 because the first night game at the Polo Grounds was played May 25, 1940. The photo could not have been taken after 1952 because, according to the scoreboard, Boston is playing Philadelphia that day, and the Braves moved to Milwaukee in 1953 (unless of course the scoreboard was referencing the Red Sox playing the A’s).

Detail of Scoreboard

Baseballreference listed road games played by Cincinnati against the New York Giants on May 14th during the 1942 and 1952 seasons. However, the games and scores identified on the scoreboard did not match any of the games those years played prior to May 14, 1942, or May 14, 1952.

Searching the New York Times database, Professor McKenna discovered that a game scheduled between Cincinnati and the Giants at the Polo Grounds for May 14, 1946, was rained out and played the following day. Assuming the eventual rainout game is the one noted on the scoreboard, 1946 was the year the snapshot was taken. Checking the Giant’s game results for 1946, there was an April 28, 1946, game between the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants played at the Polo Grounds. Here is the box score:

The Brooklyn Dodgers lineup, as identified on the scoreboard (listed under the moniker “VIS”) matches up with the box score for that game: Whitman (15), Stanky (12), Reiser (27), Walker (11), Stevens (36), Furillo (5), Anderson (14), Reese (1), and Behrman (29). The other games listed on the scoreboard match up as well, Cleveland and New York, the Cubs and St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati.

Giant Buddy Blattner Sliding Into Second Base While Dodger Pee Wee Reese Awaits The Throw

As for the action in the photo, this is what Professor McKenna determined from the scoreboard and the box score:

From the scoreboard, we know that it is the bottom of the second. The box score states that Giant Bill Rigney, hit a home run in the 2nd inning with two runners on base and one out. No other runs scored that inning. But who were the runners on base when Rigney hit his home run? The scoreboard identifies the player at bat as number 10, which, for the Giants, was Buddy Kerr. The box score indicates that both Kerr and teammate Bob Joyce sacrificed to advance runners that inning (the box score reads “SH” (sacrifice hit)). The box score suggests that Joyce reached base successfully in that inning with his SH and not Kerr, because Joyce only reached base once that game, scoring a run. As such, he had to have been on base when Rigney hit the homer.

Willard Marshall and Buddy Blattner also batted that inning in front of Kerr and Joyce. Marshall did not reach base that inning because, according to the box score, he never scored a run. He reached base one time that game on a walk. Had he been caught stealing that inning, it would have been reflected in the box score, and if Kerr or Joyce bunted into a force play with Marshall on base, the box score would have read FC (fielders choice) not SH. Blattner, on the other hand, reached base three times that game, with two hits and one hit by pitch. He also scored three runs. As such, it would appear that Blattner, along with Joyce, was on base when Rigney homered.

In the photo, a runner is sliding into second base. That runner must be Buddy Blattner, the first Giant to successfully reach base that inning, because the snapshot shows no runner going to third. As such, Kerr’s SH has advanced Blattner to second. Kerr was put out at first base and the throw to second was was either late or there was no there was no throw.

Thus, our fan’s snapshot has captured Buddy Blattner, the Giants second baseman sliding successfully into second, while the Dodgers shortstop Pee Wee Reese awaits the throw from first after Buddy Kerr’s successful sacrifice. Joyce subsequently would advance Blattner to third while reaching base as well on a SH. Both eventually would score on Rigney’s home run.

Although the identity of the fan who took this photo is unknown, the snapshot captured the fan’s memory of that game. We now know that the game was played on April 28, 1946. The memory of the unknown fan has come back to life, with just a little bit of research (and an assist from websites such as and If anyone reading this knows of someone who attended the Giants/Dodgers game at the Polo Grounds on April 28, 1946, let me know.

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The Polo Grounds, Coogan’s Bluff, and the Brush Memorial Stairway

January 9th, 2013

The Polo Grounds was located in Harlem, New York, at 157th Street and 8th Avenue. Various incarnations of ballparks at that location were home to three different major league teams: the National League New York Giants from 1891 to 1957, the New York Yankees from 1913 to 1922, and the New York Mets in 1962 and 1963, as well as a team from the Players’ League in 1890 also known as the Giants) .   Prior to 1890, a sports venue known as the Polo Grounds was located in Manhattan near Central Park, and a second venue, also known as the Polo Grounds, was located at 155th Street and 8th Avenue on a plot adjacent to the Polo Grounds at 157th Street.

Postcard of the Polo Grounds Postcard Showing Newly Rebuilt Ballpark After Fire Destroyed the Original Ballpark (Success Postal Card Co., photo New York Times)

The original wooden ballpark at 157th Street was destroyed by fire in 1911 and a new concrete and steel ballpark was constructed on the site.

Postcard of the Polo Grounds (H. Pinkelstein & Sons, American Art Publishing)

The new Polo Grounds were the third concrete and steel ballpark in the country.

Polo Ground’s Concrete and Steel Construction (Library of Congress  Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.)

Coogan’s Bluff  (not to be confused with the movie of the same name starring Clint Eastwood) was located northwest of the Polo Grounds just beyond home plate at 155th Street and Edgecombe Avenue. The playing field of the Polo Grounds sat in Coogan’s Hollow

New York City Park Sign Advertising Coogan’s Bluff

Rock outcroppings just northwest of the ballpark at Harlem River Driveway (which dissects Coogan’s Bluff) provided an excellent vantage point for free viewing of at least portions of the ball field.

View of Polo Grounds From Coogan’s Bluff at Harlem River Driveway (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.)

Those rock outcroppings remain to this day along Harlem River Driveway, providing an excellent view now of Polo Grounds Towers.

Looking Southeast Toward Polo Grounds Tower No. 4 from Coogan’s Bluff and Harlem River Driveway

In 1913 a stairway at 157th Street and Edgecomb Avenue in Harlem was constructed to allow subway riders who departed the 155th Street station more direct access to the ballpark at Harlem River Driveway. That stairway remains, a lasting baseball relic of the Polo Grounds at its former site.

Stairway at 157th Street and Edgecomb Avenue.

The stairs, whose inscription states  “The John T. Brush Stairway Presented by the New York Giants,” was dedicated in 1913 to the former Giants’ owner.

“The John T. Brush Stairway Presented by the New York Giants”

The Brush Memorial Stairway emptied onto the sidewalk at Harlem River Driveway, allowing fans direct access into the Polo Grounds from Harlem River Driveway.

Polo Grounds and the Harlem River Driveway (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.)

A second stairway that would have taken fans north of the ballpark at ground level still exists alongside Harlem River Driveway.

Looking Northeast Down Harlem River Driveway and Stairway to Former Site of Polo Grounds

Old Yankee Stadium was located southeast of the Polo Grounds, just across the Harlem River.

Aerial View of Yankee Stadium and Polo Grounds (photo from

Aerial View of Old Yankee Stadium and the Polo Ground Towers

Aerial View of Old Yankee Stadium and the Polo Ground Towers

In 1923, Yankee Stadium was visible from inside the Polo Grounds, across the Harlem River.

Polo Grounds, Opening Day 1923, with Yankee Stadium Visible Beyond Center Field (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.)

Prior to its demise in 2009, Old Yankee Stadium was still visible from Coogan’s Bluff at Harlem River Driveway looking southeast past the Polo Grounds Towers.

View of Old Yankee Stadium Looking Beyond Former Site of Polo Grounds, Circa 2001

The Polo Grounds Towers, which were built on the ballpark’s former site and completed in 1968, consist of four high rise apartments with a total of over 1600 units.

Entrance to Polo Grounds Towers on 8th Avenue

A plaque marking the approximate location of home plate is located on a column of Tower No. 4.

Plaque Honoring Polo Grounds and Former Location of Home Plate

The apartment building located at 155 Edgecombe Avenue is visible from the former location of home plate looking back toward Coogan’s Bluff.

Plaque Marking Location of Home Pate, with Apartment Building at 555 Edgecombe Avenue in Background

A sliver of that same apartment building is visible in top right corner of the postcard below.

Postcard of the Polo Grounds Showing Buildings Lining Edgecombe Avenue on Coogan’s Bluff (Alfred Mainzer, NY, NY, Curteich-Chicago)

The New York Giants abandoned the Polo Grounds in 1957, moving to San Francisco and Seal Stadium in 1958 and then Candlestick Park in 1960. Subsequent to the Mets move to Shea Stadium in 1964, the Polo Grounds was demolished.

Polo Grounds During the 1912 World Series (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division)

Although nothing remains at the actual ballpark site, the Brush Memorial Stairway does provide a link to the past. The stairway has sat in obscurity and disrepair for years, however an effort is now underway to restore the stairway and, with it, a piece of New York’s baseball past and baseball glory. See article about restoration of John T. Brush Stairway [Editor’s Note: The Brush Memorial Stairway has been restored and is open for use. Woods surrounding the stairway have been turned into a small park with lighting, making the stairway quite accessible. A sign has been placed on Edgecombe Avenue at the entrance to the stairway.]

Polo Grounds During the 1913 World Series (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division)


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