of fair territory: 129,000
of foul territory: Humongous
LF-CF: 16.8 ft to 8.5 ft
CF background: 30.5 ft.
RCF: 12 ft.
RF: 10.64 ft.
Elevation: 55 feet
bullpen: 447 feet
bullpen: 440 feet
Who Played Here:
New York Giants (NL) 1911-1957;
New York Yankees (AL) 1913-1922; New York Mets (NL) 1962-1963
First opened: June 28, 1911
First night game: May 24, 1940
Last game: September 18, 1963
Capacity: 34,000 (1911); 55,000 (1923)
Demolished: April 10, 1964
Henry B. Herts and Osborn Engineering (1912)
Owner: New York Giants
to purchase from the Danbury Mint Collection
Legend has it that the original notion to play baseball at the Polo
Grounds came from a bootblack. John B. Day, who owned the
Metropolitans in 1880, was frustrated about having to play at the ill-kept
Capitoline Grounds in Brooklyn - at that time, Brooklyn was not a borough
of New York City, and the Brooklyn Bridge had not yet been built, so Mets
fans had to cross the East River by ferry to see their team play.
His shoe shine boy heard him complaining and suggested a site in Manhattan
where polo was played - after checking it out, Day leased the property
from its owner, James Gordon Bennett, Jr.
Day's Mets were invited to join the American Association in 1883, and he
created a new franchise - the New Yorks, later called the Giants - to join
its competitor, the National League, in the same year. Both teams
played at the Polo Grounds.
There have been four versions of the Polo Grounds. The first opened
in 1883, on a site just north of Central Park bound by 5th & 6th
Avenues and 110th & 112th Streets where polo was played in the 1870s.
The city of New York evicted Day's teams in 1889, and the Giants moved
uptown to a ballpark between 155th and 157th streets, on the southern
parcel of Coogan's Hollow. Although that park had previously been
known as Manhattan Field, it was now called the New Polo Grounds (Polo
The Players League built Brotherhood Park on the northern parcel of
Coogan's Hollow for the 1890 season; after the league collapsed in 1891,
the Giants moved into Brotherhood Park and changed the name to the Polo
Grounds (Polo Grounds III). This third incarnation of the Polo
Grounds burned down on April 14, 1911 and a fourth version was built on
the same site with temporary stands for 1911. During this period, it
was actually known as The infield stands were rebuilt with concrete for
1912, and the outfield concrete double deck was finished in 1922.
John McGraw, who had been suspended as a player from the American League
in 1902 for fighting with a Detroit Tiger outfielder named Dick Harley and
for arguing with an umpire, was made for the more rough and tumble
National League. He became the manager of the Giants, and managed
them to the World Championship in 1905, 1921 and 1922; he also took them
to the big dance in 1911, 1912, 1913, 1923 only to lose each time.
The Giants didn't have much success after McGraw left - two trips to the
Series in 1936 ad 1937, and then the magical trip in 1951, where they
finished 37-7 down the stretch to catch the Dodgers and then best them in
a best-of-three playoff. Of course, the
winning shot was struck by Bobby Thomson on October 3, 1951 - a ball
that traveled just 314 feet, but was good enough for the Polo Grounds.
The park was a curious shape, with very short lines to the foul poles (279
feet to left and 258 feet to right) and a long 505-foot shot to
straightaway center during the early 1950s. The
left-field second-deck overhang meant that a homer to left was actually
easier than a homer to right, even though the wall in left was 19 feet
further away - the overhang was 21 feet, effectively shortening the
distance required for a pop-fly homer to the second deck in left to 249
feet because of the angle involved. Although it's hard to judge the
impact of the overhang, there is no doubt that it helped hitters -
according to some baseball scholars, the
overhangs here, at Detroit’s Tiger Stadium and at Philadelphia’s Shibe
Park were more significant than previously thought.
The power alleys were deep, and even
the bullpens in fair territory in left-center and right-center couldn't
bring them into a reasonably reachable distance. The ball did tend
to fly out, but hitters had to shoot for the foul poles to have success.
The result was that hitters like pull hitters like Mel Ott
- he hit hit 323 homers here between 1926 and 1947 and just 188 on
the road. Another player who really benefited from this park was Hank Thompson, a
left-handed pull hitter who hit 88 home runs here between 1950 and 1956,
compared to 47 home runs on the road.
The park's unquestioned king was Willie
Mays, who patrolled the massive
center field masterfully; playing shallow here entailed a great risk, but
Mays had enough range that he could get away with it. Interestingly,
from 1954 to 1957, Mays hit 79 HR at home and 84 HR on the road - his
tendency to hit with alley power hampered his ability to take advantage of
his park's monstrous home run-boosting potential. Other Giants who
didn't benefit greatly from this park include Monte Irvin, Bill Terry,
Bobby thomson and George Kelly.
Of course, many pitchers also thrived at the Polo Grounds - Christy
Mathewson and Carl Hubbell
in particular, but also Art Nehf; finesse pitchers and those prone to fly
balls often struggled here, but power pitchers and ground ball pitchers
NY: Center field (SE), Eighth Avenue, then IRT elevated tracks, Harlem
River, and Harlem River Drive; third base (NE), West 159th Street and IRT
Rail Yards; home plate (NW), Bridge Park, then Harlem River Speedway,
Coogan’s Bluff, and Croton Aqueduct; first base (SW), West 157th Street
trace; same site as Polo Grounds (III); in the norther half of Coogan’s
Hollow, 115 feet below Coogan’s Bluff.
Left to center: 10 (concrete); center: 20 (tarp); right-center: 10
(concrete); right field: 12 sloping to 11 at pole (concrete).
field: 16.81 (concrete)
LCF wall ended at bleachers: 12 (concrete)
bleachers wall: 8.5 (4.25 wire on top of 4.25 concrete) on both sides
of clubhouse runway
hitters’ background: 16.5 on both sides of clubhouse runway
clubhouse: 60 high and 60 wide - 50 high in 1963
field, top of Longines Clock: 80
field, top of right side of scoreboard: 71
top of left side of scoreboard: 68
top of middle of scoreboard: 64
top of five right scoreboard windows: 57
top of four left scoreboard windows: 55
bottom of five right scoreboard windows: 53
bottom of four left scoreboard windows: 48
bottom of clubhouse scoreboard: 31
top of rear clubhouse wall: 28
top of front clubhouse wall: 19
top of 14 lower clubhouse windows: 16
bottom of 14 lower clubhouse windows: 11
clubhouse floor overhang: 8
top of Eddie Grant Memorial: 5
width of little office on top of lower clubhouse: 10;
field: 10.64 (concrete).
field: 277 (1911), 286.67 (1921), 279.67 (1923), 279 (1930), 280
(1943), 279 (1955) Left field, second deck: 250 ft.
center, left of bullpen: 447 ft
center, right of bullpen: 455 ft
of clubhouse steps: 460 ft
field: 433 (1911), 483 (1923), 484.75 (1927), 505 (1930), 430 (1931),
480 (1934), 430 (1938), 505 (1940), 490 (1943), 505 (1944), 448 (1945),
490 (1946), 484 (1947), 505 (1949), 483 (1952), 480 (1953), 483 (1954),
480 (1955), 475 (1962), 483 (1963)
corners: 425 when center field was 475;
center, left of bullpen: 449;
center, right of bullpen: 440;
field: 256.25 (1921), 257.67 (1923), 257.5 (1931), 257.67 (1942), 259
(1943), 257.67 (1944) ft.
field, second deck photographers' perch: 249 ft.
65 (1942), 70 (1943), 65 (1944), 70 (1946), 74 (1949), 65 (1954), 74
(1955), 65 (1962)
territory: Very large.
- The second deck in right had 9-foot
photographer’s perch overhang, 60 feet from the foul pole out into
- The Polo Grounds Towers (four 30-story
apartment buildings) now stand where the field used to be.
Willie Mays Field (an asphalt playground with 6 basketball backboards)
is where center field used to be; a brass historical marker notes the
- The outfield was slightly sunken, so
that a manager standing in his dugout, could see only above his
outfielders' waists. At the wall, the field was 8 feet below the
- In 1962 and 1963 the Howard Clothes
sign on the outfield wall promised a suit to any player hitting it.