19 Fun Facts About New York City’s Famous Polo Grounds

The Polo Grounds was one of New York City’s famous sports complexes. There had actually been four different stadiums, all in Manhattan, that had gone by that name since the first one was built in 1876. When most people refer to the Polo Grounds though, they are referring to the last one which was built in 1890. Many people saw many of the greatest sporting events in the Northeast there as it was home to a number of different events and contests, including baseball, professional football, college football, and even boxing. Here is a look at some fun facts surrounding New York City’s historic Polo Grounds.

    -The original purpose of the facility was in fact as a place to play the sport of polo.

    -Of the four different stadiums built and carrying the name of Polo Grounds, it was only the first one that ever saw a game of polo played inside it.

    -The tenants that played their regularly over the years included the New York Giants, Yankees, and Mets of Major League Baseball, as well as the Giants, Jets, and Bulldogs of professional football.

    -In 1951, one of the most famous events that ever happened there took place when Bobby Thomson of the New York Giants hit a home run that would become known as “The Shot Heard ‘Round The World”.

    -The great Babe Ruth hit his first home run as a New York Yankee in the second incarnation of the Polo Grounds.

    -When the third version of the Polo Grounds opened in 1890, right next to the second one, it was briefly known as Brotherhood Park.

    -A fire destroyed much of the stadium in April of 1911, and the rebuilt stadium is the one that has lived on in the memories of most New York City sports fans.

    -The Giants briefly tried to rename the stadium Brush Stadium after their owner John T. Brush, but the name never caught on with fans or the media.

    -One of the more famous features of the Polo Grounds was the “leftfield porch”. This second floor overhang stuck out over left field and many times what would have been a catchable deep fly ball in other stadiums was a home run at the Polo Grounds.

    -The outfield at the Polo Grounds sloped downhill away from home plate. This made it unusual in that when sitting in the dugout at ground level, players could usually only see the top half of the outfielders.

    -The first night baseball game played at the Polo Grounds took place on May 24th, 1940.

    -The New York Giants football team hosted the 1934, 1938, 1944, and 1946 NFL Championship Games at the Polo Grounds.

    -The only time that the championship game of Ireland’s All-Ireland Senior Gaelic Football league has been played outside the nation of Ireland was in 1947. The game was played in New York City’s Polo Grounds as a way of appealing to the city’s large population of Irish immigrants and commemorating the 100 year anniversary of the 1847 Irish Potato Famine.

    -The famous catch made by Willie Mays and replayed millions of times even today was made in deep centerfield in the Polo Grounds in 1954.

    -The New York Giants baseball team moved to San Francisco following the 1957 season and the Polo Grounds would go unoccupied for the first time in its history until 1960 when baseball’s New York Mets and the American Football League’s New York Titans would call it home for a few seasons while Shea Stadium was being built.

    -The Polo Grounds were demolished in 1964 in a project that took four months.

    -The wrecking ball used to demolish the Polo Grounds was painted to look like a baseball and had been used a few years earlier on the demolition of Ebbets Field.

    -In 1968, on the grounds of the old stadium, a public housing project named Polo Grounds Towers opened to its first tenants.

    -The seating capacity of the Polo Grounds was 34,000 until the 1923 remodeling which included the upper deck in the outfield which increased capacity to 56,000.

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