GIANTS’ LAST STAND

brush
Share on Twitter

Other than a plaque in the Polo Grounds Houses commemorating Bobby Thomson’s Shot Heard Round the World in 1951, there’s absolutely no indication in Upper Manhattan that the San Francisco Giants once played in NYC from the 19th Century until 1957.

Or… is there?

As it says in the holy texts ForgottenBook:

The New York Giants played in a number of stadiums named the “Polo Grounds” through much of the 20th Century; the first in the series actually did play host to polo matches. When Horace Stoneham pulled up stakes and moved the team to San Francisco in 1958, the latest Polo Grounds, located on Frederick Douglass Boulevard (formerly 8th Avenue) and West 155th Street, stood empty for four years, but was then employed for a couple of years by the fledgling New York Mets. It was torn down after the 1964 season.

In Edgecombe Park, along Edgecombe Avenue north of 155th Street on Coogan’s Bluff, a fly ball’s distance away from where the Polo Grounds used to stand, you’ll find a rusted, abandoned staircase. If you dare to climb down on it to a landing, you’ll find a plaque on which is inscribed:

“The John T. Brush Staircase, presented by the New York Giants…” The rest has been rubbed off by time. The staircase allowed fans exiting after a game access up the high hill to the trolleys.

John Tomlinson Brush bought the New York Giants in 1902. When the Giants won the National League pennant in 1904, he agreed with manager John McGraw that the Giants shouldn’t play the “junior circuit” American League champion Boston Pilgrims (later, the Red Sox) because of an ongoing disagreement with AL president Ban Johnson. The World Series would be played every year thereafter until 1994 (when it wasn’t held due to a strike). Brush was on a train bound for California in 1912 when he suddenly passed away; he had suffered from ill health for some time. The staircase was likely dedicated by the Giants shortly after Brush’s death. [It was opened in 1913.]

When I wrote that in 2006, the Brush Staircase was deserted and rusting, awaiting its eventual collapse. Nearly  miraculously, though, the city began rebuilding it in 2011, as funds were found in the budget and the Yankees, Mets, SF Giants as well as the NY football Giants and Jets –all of which played at the Polo Grounds at one time or another, however temporarily — contributed ‘monies,’ to use Mayor Bloomberg’s term, to the restoration.

Sometime in 2012, a new Brush Staircase will lead down Coogan’s Bluff on its centennial.





Share on Twitter

Categorized in: One Shots

13 Responses to GIANTS’ LAST STAND

  1. Eric says:

    I am a Giants fan because my older brother, my father, and his parents were Giants fans. I was told a relative before my grandparents played semi-pro for the Giants.
    It is good to see that though they are gone, they are not forgotten.

    • Hank says:

      The stairway is the lingering curse on the San Francisco Giants. Tear the damn thing down.

      • Jim Sullivan says:

        My uncle Jimmy, a catcher, had a try out with the Giants. He attended a open try out where hundreds of kids came out for the occasion. My son Jimmy one day tried catching on his sand lot team and I had an instant connection to my Uncle Jimmy catching. My dad, one of New York’s Finest, was from 106th and Columbus and would go to a lot of Giant games via the 9th Ave. elevated subway. My son Jimmy now lives in San Francisco; small world.

        • Jim Sullivan says:

          My dad and I walked on the Brush staircase back in the 1970′s, it was totally neglected. I am happy to see they restored the staircase, which kind of leads to nowhere.

  2. KevinJWalsh says:

    I was incorrect that the Polo Grounds was empty from 1958-1962. The NY Titans played there from 1960-1963 (the last year, they changed their name to the Jets.)

    The NY football Giants, so identified with Yankee Stadium, played at the Polo Grounds from 1925-1955.

  3. JOEL NORMAN says:

    THE METS PLAYED IN THE POLO GROUNDS AFEW SEASONS AS WELL…..THE LESS SAID IN BROOKLYN ABOUT THE 1951 SEASON THE BETTER,THE GIANTS WERE STEALING SIGNALS AND THE “”"LIP””’ WAS IN RARE FORM,AND THE COPS HAD ALL TO DO TO KEEP JACKIE FROM KILLING THE LIP{EVEN THEN NYCPD WERENT WORTH CRAP!!!!!!!}..
    O WELL WAS A SEASON LESS TALKED ABOUT……

  4. Les Le Gear says:

    I saw a demolition derby or stunt show there in the evening in 1959 or 60.

  5. Interesting story about an almost “forgotten” stair case.

    However, I’m a Brooklyn boy from a family of Brooklyn Dodger fans !

  6. Andy Sparberg says:

    Some additional details. The Mets played at the Polo Grounds in the 1962 and 1963 seasons. The first Mets game I witnessed there was in June 1962, vs. the San Francisco (nee N.Y.) Giants. Willie Mays was once again patrolling its vast center field, but in the visitor’s gray uniform. Saw a few more Met games there in 62 and 63 (even though I was and still am a Yankee fan, and married a Bronx girl to prove it!) because I felt it was good to have both leagues playing here in the big apple.

    The Polo Ground was demolished beginning April 1964, with the work starting the same week that Shea Stadium, itself now gone, was opened for business. By August of that summer all that was left was the old clubhouse with the Rheingold Beer sign facing the field.

  7. Helene Plotkin says:

    I worked as a reporter for The Riverdale Press. I used to get mail from the New York Giants fan club about their meetings. I wonder if the club still exists. My father was a NY Giants fan. I remember driving past the Polo Grounds before it was demolished, to make way for the present housing projects.

  8. John Gutch says:

    I’m trying to get information on the plaques affixed to the clubhouse walls (not the Eddie Grant monument). They are clearly visible in a wide-angle picture of “The Catch”. Two are under the clubhouse windows on the right side, and two more right behind and above the 483 ft, marker, behind Grant’s monument…anybody know the who’s, when’s and whys? I’ve been unable to find anything about them…thanks for any help…John

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>