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.