Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
The Happy Re-Cap
2008-09-04 14:09
by Alex Belth
 Matty.  The Great One.


I know I threw a ton of stuff at you today, so here's a quick linkorama to a feast of New York Giant goodies:

Giants for a Day: Dreaming of the old Penn Station and the Polo Grounds:

Lookit Here: A video piece with accompanying article on the New York Giants Nostalgia Society for SNY.TV.

So Long, Farewell: Arnold Hano and Roger Angell bid farewell to the Polo Grounds.

Bronx Banter Video Bites:

Number One: An Introduction.

Number Two: The Truth Hurts.  Tales from the dugout in the '54 World Serious.

Giants Fan in my Soul: A guest article by Greg Prince.

Bronx Banter Bite Number Three: The Candy Man Can (aka, The Del Crandel Story).

Number Four: Spahnie, How I Luv Ya.

Number Five: The Lady is...An Ump. 

Number Six: Showtime.

And finally, here's one last morsel, a New York Giants reading list from Greg Prince:

A Reading List Deep as Center Field

By Greg W. Prince

Since the best way to see the New York Giants or the Polo Grounds today is through the printed word and picture, the following books are a better bet than the IND or Harlem Speedway to get you there.

The granddaddy of them all for my purposes is The Giants of the Polo Grounds by Noel Hynd, which tells the whole story of the franchise, with an emphasis on its 19th-century roots and early 20th-cenutry rise to prominence. The description of the thrall in which the 1885 pennant race held old New York is alone worth the price of admission.

No Giants story is more glorious or oft-told than that of 1951 and it's covered heroically by Joshua Prager in The Echoing Green, which traces the lives of protagonists Bobby Thomson and Ralph Branca, from way before to long after The Shot Hit 'Round the World. Pafko at the Wall, set entirely within the events of 10/3/51, is the brilliant novella from which Don Delillo grew the historical novel Underworld.

Speaking of this date in New York Giants History, almost nothing can beat September 29, 1954 — Game One of the World Series sweep over the favored Indians, Willie Mays' amazing catch, Dusty Rhodes' incredible pinch-hitting — and that's the province of Arnold Hano in A Day in the Bleachers. Less thrilling from a Giants perspective was the season of exactly a century ago, given the fallout from Merkle's Boner, but that most intense campaign percolates and resonates throughout Crazy '08 by Cait Murphy. Giants fans were much happier three years earlier when Christy Mathewson was dominating the Philadelphia A's to win the Jints' first World Series; the exploits of Matty, John McGraw and the dynastic Giants of those days are captured by Frank Deford in The Old Ball Game.

Biographies abound where the key actors in Giants lore are concerned. Among the worthiest: Mel Ott by Fred Stein; John McGraw by Charles Alexander; Willie's Time by Charles Einstein; Stengel by Robert Creamer; and The Giants Win The Pennant! The Giants Win the Pennant! by Bobby Thomson with Lee Heiman and Bill Gutman. Lawrence Ritter's landmark oral history The Glory of Their Times features the indispensable testimonies of Rube Marquard and Fred Snodgrass. And although Horace Stoneham deserves at least a little O'Malleyan condemnation for leading the Giants westward, he comes off as a sympathetic sort when Roger Angell visits with him at Candlestick Park in 1975 as part of his stirring Five Seasons collection.

The all-time greatest rivalry sports has ever known gets its due from Andrew Goldblatt in The Giants and the Dodgers. The most romanticized decade in baseball annals, 1947-1957 in New York, is polished to a glossy shine by Vic Ziegel's Summer in the City, replete with photos from the Daily News archives. The Glory Days, edited by John Thorn, is a terrific keepsake from the Museum of the City of New York exhibition of the same name and a worthwhile substitute in case you missed that 2007 tribute to Big Apple baseball in the '50s.

If it's the Polo Grounds in depth you seek, you will find it in Stew Thornley's Land of the Giants. Finally, though they are not Giants-oriented, the PG is an essential character in Jimmy Breslin's early Mets account Can't Anybody Here Play This Game? and Crash of the Titans, William Ryczek's examination of the proto-Jets.



2008-09-04 15:36:03
1.   Biscuit Pants
Great, just great Alex. This made my day. The Giants were once the kings of NY baseball and though I was never old enough to see them, like Greg, I discovered them when I first started following the game in the early 70's.

As a exiled New Yorker, these pieces brought back memories of sifting through my (much) older brother's Yankee yearbook collection, and a pair of Who's Who in Baseball from the early 40's.

I love how you can convey the sheer joy of the game in your writing, and now, in your videos.


2008-09-05 15:21:04
2.   SD Charlie
Well, first, I wanted to say how much I liked the aforementioned history lesson, and trip down memory lane. I don't have any NY Giants memories, seeing as I'm only 28. However, my dad (lifelong Yankees fan) used to talk about all of the NY baseball teams and I'm pretty sure he's seen games at Ebbet's Field, The Polo Grounds, Yankee Stadium (pre- and post- renovation), and Shea.

Anyway, I also wanted to chime in on Christy Matthewson. Being an alumnus of Bucknell University, we know his name all-too-well. He is often referred to as our most famous non-graduate, as he left for professional sports as a Junior. From what I hear, there is a new tradition that was not in place during my years at Bucknell, where entering freshmen walk through The "Christy Matthewson Memorial Gateway" and then walk through it again, 4(ish) years later as a part of the graduation ceremony. A little ironic, now that I think about it. At any rate, I just thought I'd throw that tidbit out there.


Comment status: comments have been closed. Baseball Toaster is now out of business.