Tag Archives: New York Giants

When Ballplayers Spent Time With The Fans

Bobby Thomson and A Young Fan

Sure it’s just a posed publicity photo, but there was a time when ballplayers actually did interact with fans.  At the New York Giants’ spring training home in Phoenix, Arizona,  Bobby Thomson demonstrates to a little cowboy, Dennis Filan age five, the proper way to grip a baseball bat on March 6, 1953.

Thomson, who will forever occupy a spot in every Giants fans heart for hitting the most famous homerun in baseball history the  “shot heard ’round the world” in 1951, was typical of  many ballplayers before astronomical salaries became the norm for baseball.  These players spent time among the fans.

Not only that, most players worked other jobs in the off-season to make ends meet. They lived among regular people, who went to the ballgames and had daily interactions with them. In New York and many other major league cities, most players took public transportation or walked to the ballpark from their homes. The players were an integral part of the community they played in.

It’s one of the reasons baseball is so screwed up today. Continue reading

Jackie Robinson Packs Up And Retires

A Classy Man Calls It A Career – January 7, 1957

55 Years Later- Remembering The December 13, 1956 Trade That Shocked New York

In this January 7, 1957 photograph Jackie Robinson packs up the contents of his locker from Ebbets Field, his home for his entire ten year major league career.

After the 1956 season Jackie Robinson’s legs were gone. He was no longer the player he once was and he knew it. He batted a respectable .275 with ten homers.  But rather than continue playing with eroding skills, Robinson would retire at the age of 37.

One problem: except for his family and future non-baseball employer, Robinson didn’t tell anyone of his decision.

The Dodgers shocked everyone including Robinson, with a December 13, 1956 trade to the New York Giants for Dick Littlefield and $35,000 for the Dodger legend.  After the trade announcement, fans of the Dodgers were outraged. Brooklynites believed that Robinson would retire rather than play for the hated crosstown rival Giants, but they did not know Robinson had already decided before the trade that he was retiring.

All Robinson would publicly say was he would “inform the Giants by January 14, if he would play in 1957.”

The reason Robinson couldn’t announce his retirement was because he had signed a contract to write an exclusive article for Look magazine, about his retirement in December which would not hit the newsstands until January 8.

When he announced his retirement on January 7, many Dodger fans were happy he would not be playing for the Giants.  Robinson said he had decided to take a position with Chock full O’Nuts as Vice President of personnel rather than play baseball.

Whether Robinson would have played for the Giants had he not retired is open to speculation.

click to read Robinson's letter

Robinson’s January 14, 1957 letter to Giants owner Horace Stoneham takes the high road. Robinson says he appreciates being offered the chance to play for the Giants, but he has “decided to devote his full time to business opportunities.”

The Agony of Defeat

The Day After The Yankees Were Swept in a Late Season Doubleheader – 1954

The day of September 13, 1954 was not a happy one for Yankees fans as can be seen in the photo above. Reality sank in for eleven-year-old Walter Golle as he sat in front of Yankee Stadium. The dejection shown in Walter’s face reflected the fact that the Yankees would not be in the World Series for the first time since 1948 when Walter was five-years-old. The Yankees had won five consecutive World Series from 1949-1953.

The day before, on September 12, the Cleveland Indians had swept the Yankees in a doubleheader in Cleveland. The games were witnessed by 86,563 fans, the largest crowd to ever see a baseball game in the cavernous Municipal Stadium.

September 12, 1954 Municipal Stadium Filled

Bob Lemon won the first game 4-1 for his twenty-second win of the year and Early Wynn triumphed 3-2 in the second game for his twenty-first victory. The Yankees ended the day being 8 and a half games behind the Indians, reducing Cleveland’s magic number for clinching the pennant to three games.

The Indians would go on to win an American League record 111 games, and finish the season eight games ahead of the Yankees.  Miraculously the New York Giants defeated the heavily favored Indians four games to none in the World Series.

Walter eventually got over the Yankees 1954 failure. Here is what he looked like 46 years later in 2000 from The Norwood News Inquiring Photographer.

Vintage Photos – Stealing Home

or Jackie Robinson Makes Stealing Home Look Easy

One of the most famous film highlights of a baseball game is from September 28, Game 1 of the 1955 World Series where the Brooklyn Dodgers star Jackie Robinson stole home against the New York Yankees. The photograph above captures the bang-bang action. The play was incredibly close and you could look at the film 100 times and still not be sure of the outcome. Robinson was called safe by umpire Bill Summers. To this day, Yankees catcher Yogi Berra vehemently Continue reading