Goodbye, Big Apple

Goodbye, Big Apple

September 29, 1957

September 29th marks a bleak anniversary for Big Apple baseball. On this date in 1957, the Brooklyn Dodgers played their last game and the New York Giants played their final game in New York, leaving the Yankees as the city’s only major-league team.

Five days earlier, the Dodgers had defeated the Pirates 5-0 in the last game ever played in Ebbets Field, the venerable home of the club since 1913. Now, in the club’s last game under the Brooklyn banner, Roger Craig dropped a 2-1 decision in Philadelphia. (In 1962, Craig would return to New York as the de facto ace of the lowly Mets.) Sandy Koufax made a brief cameo in relief. Jim Gilliam scored the last Brooklyn Dodger run on the East Coast.

In Manhattan, another legendary field was playing host to its last game — at least for its original tenants. The New York Giants had called this version of the Polo Grounds home since the original stadium burned down in 1911. It would not see another major-league ballgame until the expansion Mets moved in for a two-season stay in 1962.

In their last home game in New York, the Giants were shelled by the Pittsburgh Pirates, 9-1, as Jack Doyle — the team’s manager in 1895 — looked on. Pirates’ pitcher Bob Friend notched the win and Johnny Antonelli picked up the Giants’ final Polo Grounds decision.

Ebbets Field was demolished in 1960. In its place, developers built a housing development and a junior high school. The Polo Grounds was also replaced by housing — four thirty-story apartment towers. Centerfield was paved over, and is now an asphalt playground named Willie Mays Field. Basketball hoops stand where the outfield wall once stood. Where the two legendary teams once played, only plaques remain.

The Giants’ and the Dodgers’ departures left much of the city with no one to root for until expansion brought National League baseball back to New York in 1962. In a nod to disenfranchised fans, the Mets donned a combination of Dodger blue and Giants orange. It was a bittersweet salve for the scars of 1957.