Last call for baseball: A Polo Grounds postscript

From SABR member Frank Jackson at The Hardball Times on December 7, 2011:

If you want to separate the players from the pretenders in New York baseball trivia, just bring up the subject of the final game played at the Polo Grounds.

Now, it would be a rare New York sports fan who is not aware that there used to be a ballpark at 155th Street in Harlem and that it was the longtime home of the New York Giants. Since the Giants moved to San Francisco after the 1957 season, one might suspect that the final game of that season was the final game played there.

For the record, that was Sept. 29, 1957. The Giants were trounced by the Pirates by a 9-1 score before 11,606 fans. The Giants had endured a lackluster (69-85) season, and their move to California was a done deal, so the fans’ lack of enthusiasm is understandable.

As it turned out, those who assumed they were present for the last game at the Polo Grounds were premature, for on Oct. 17, 1960, the National League awarded an expansion franchise to the City of New York for the 1962 season. The Polo Grounds was chosen as the Mets’ initial home while Shea Stadium in Queens was under construction. So we might be tempted to conclude that the last game played at the Polo Grounds was the Mets’ last game there in 1963.

Judging by the attendance, Mets fans were not sorry to see the old ballpark go. A mere 1,752 witnessed that Sept. 18th contest, a 5-1 loss to the Phillies. Since that gave the Mets a 49-104 record, it could safely be assumed that there would be no postseason baseball at the Polo Grounds, and that those present that day had indeed witnessed the last contest at that venue.

But even this Sept. 18th tilt was not the last game played there.

So what’s the answer? Admittedly, it is a bit of a trick question.

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Originally published: December 8, 2011. Last Updated: December 8, 2011.