All eyes in the baseball world this week turn to Flushing, NY where the New York Mets play their final seven games at Shea Stadium. The historic ballpark has been New York’s home for baseball memories since it opened in 1883 as home of the New York Giants. Originally named the Polo Grounds, the old ballpark has been home for the Giants of baseball and football, the Mets, the Jets, and even the Yankees from 1912-22 and again in the mid-1970’s. The Mets arrived in 1962, and after rehabilitation and minor relocation of the playing field in 1964, the Polo Grounds was renamed Shea Stadium after lawyer William Shea who brought National League baseball to New York.
Fans fondly look back on 125 years of Shea Stadium history from the Merkle Boner to the Shot Heard Around the World, from Willie’s basket catch to the Beatles, and from the Miracle Mets of 1969 to Mookie’s dribbler past Buckner. Mets ownership have been credited with great judgement for keeping this historic landmark functional for so many years, especially after their crosstown rival Yankees demolished their historic Stadium in 1973. The new Yankee Stadium which opened in 1976 has been described by an architecural critic as “a monstrosity of 70’s-era cookie cutter design.”
Still, the time for the old ballpark has come and the Mets prepare to move to their “new” home, Citifield in 2009. Citifield, originally known as Ebbets Field was built in 1913 and was home to the Brooklyn Dodgers until 1957 and has remained vacant since then except for some local stickball league games. Not only is Citifield 30-years younger than the Mets soon-to-be former home, but has been fully renovated with a reoriented playing field for the Mets and their fans. Mets management look forward to making more history at the same ballpark where Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier.