Giants Leonard Marshall levels 49ers Joe Montana in New York’s epic 15-13 upset in 1990 NFC Championship game that dashed San Francisco’s hopes for a Super Bowl three-peat.
The New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers is one of the all-time great NFL rivalries, starting with their first-ever meeting in 1952 at the Polo Grounds.
That day Charlie Conerly threw a touchdown pass and Ray Poole’s three field goals made the difference in a 23-14 Giants win. Y.A. Tittle, who would later take the Giants to three straight NFL Championship games, pitched two touchdowns for the Niners.
Here’s 10 things you need to know about Giants-49ers:
1. Even Steven: The two teams have split 28 regular season games. In those games, the 49ers outscored the Giants by just seven points, 560 to 553.
2. Playoffs…playoffs: Same in the playoffs. San Francisco holds a 4-3 edge in playoff matchups, scoring 161 points to the Giants 156.
3. Familiar foes: No two NFL teams have met in the playoffs more often than these two, with Sunday’s title game at Candlestick Park marking their league record-tying eighth postseason showdown. Only the Bears-Giants and Cowboys-Rams have as many playoff matchups.
4. 10-Year Super run: The two teams met five times in the playoffs between 1981 and 1990. In four of those five games, the winner went on to win the Super Bowl.
5. Hey Joe: Joseph Clifford Montana Jr. led the Niners to divisional round wins over the Giants in 1981 and 1984, and San Francisco went on to win its first two Super Bowls.
6. Home cooking: The Giants won their first-ever playoff game in Giants Stadium in 1985, beating the 49ers 17-3 on touchdown passes by Phil Simms to tight ends Mark Bavaro and Don Hasselback. Hasselbeck went on to father NFL quarterbacks Tim and Matt.
7. 49 vs. 49ers: In 1986, Simms threw four touchdown passes and Lawrence Taylor took an errant Montana pass to the house as the Giants romped 49-3 en route to their first Super Bowl.
8. Bahr for three: The two teams met in the NFC Championship game for the only previous time in 1990. Matt Bahr, right, kicked five field goals, the last in the final seconds, to send the Giants to more Super Bowl glory with a 15-13 victory. Bahr’s field goal was set up by a costly fumble by Roger Craig.
9. Running Watters: Ricky Watters set a playoff record with five touchdowns (all rushing) and 30 points in 1993 when the 49ers beat the Giants 44-3, the last game for both Simms and Taylor.
10. Huge comeback: In their last playoff meeting in 2002, the 49ers overcame a 24-point deficit to win 39-38 the second greatest comeback in NFL playoff history. 19-year veteran Trey Jenkin, playing in his only game for the Giants, botched a snap as they Giants attempted a potential game-winning field goal in the waning seconds.
Willie, Mickey and the Duke.
With the passing of Duke Snider, now only Willie Mays survives from the great triumvirate that patrolled center field in New York in the 1950s. And the Boys of Summer are down a man.
In his New York Times obituary, Edwin Donald Snider’s career was summed up this way: “Playing for 18 seasons, he had 407 home runs, 2,116 hits, batted at least .300 seven times, had a lifetime batting average of .295 and was generally among the league leaders in runs batted in and runs scored.” And he was renowned for his superb defensive play as well.
The Duke will always be known as a Dodger – he spent a combined 16 years in Brooklyn and Los Angeles. But Snider was purchased by the Mets for $40.000 in 1963, played one season in New York, and finished his career with the San Francisco Giants in 1964.
Through the information found on sources like baseball reference and retrosheet, the SportsLifer (in 1963 a SportsKid) was able to determine that he saw Snider play once, on a sticky, hot summer afternoon in New York.
The Duke was a Met then, batting cleanup and playing right field, when the Metropolitans hosted the St. Louis Cardinals at the old Polo Grounds in Manhattan.
Hickman’s Natural Cycle
That was the same game where Jim Hickman hit for the only natural cycle in Mets history, powering them to a 7-3 victory. Snider had a big day that afternoon as well, with three singles and a pair of RBIs in four at-bats.
The Duke spent just one season with the Mets, but collected both both his 400th homer and 2,000th hit in a Met uniform.
Clearly near the end, he hit just .243 in 1965 with 14 homers and 45 RBIs. Several other players — some famous, some not so famous — appeared in that Mets-Cards game on August 7, 1963.
Stan Musial, playing in his final season, pinch hit for Dal Maxvill in the eighth inning and grounded to first base.
Ernie Broglio started the game and was the losing pitcher for the Cardinals. The following June, he was traded to the Cubs for Lou Brock.
Broglio Traded for Brock
That trade would propel the Cards to a World Series victory over the Yankees in 1964. Bill White, Ken Boyer and Tim McCarver, mainstays on that 1964 club, all played in the Polo Grounds that day.
Broglio was relieved by Lew Burdette, who beat the Yankees three times to lead the Milwaukee Braves to a World Series win against the Yankees in 1957.
For the Mets, Tracey Stallard pitched a complete game and got the win. That’s right, the same Tracy Stallard who surrendered Roger Maris’ 61st home run on the final day of the 1961 season.
The Mets lineup featured sever originals — including catcher Clarence “Choo Choo” Coleman and Frank Thomas — along with rookie second baseman Ron Hunt. Hunt was once hit by 50 pitches in a single season and led the National League in HBPs for seven straight seasons.
You never know what you’re going to see when you go to the ballpark, right kid. The 9,977 fans who showed up at the Polo Grounds on 8/7/63 saw a lot.
The Polo Grounds: Been there, done that.
1. I went to a baseball game at the Polo Grounds
2. I saw Ted Williams, Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle homer…in the same game
3. I saw an NBA doubleheader…at the old Madison Square Garden
4. I remember when New York Football Giants games — even championship games – were blacked out at home
5. I saw Lew Alcindor play…in high school
6. I watched the Giants play at Yankee Stadium….and the Yale Bowl too
7. I saw the Rangers face off against the Bruins at the old Garden in the days of the Original Six
8. My Dad saw Babe Ruth play
9. I remember goalies without masks and canvas Cons.
10. I saw Honus Wagner play shortstop. NOT. I may be old….but not that old. Wanted to see if you were paying attention lol
Back in high school, senior year, I was caught by our English teacher, doodling on a notepad. When Mr. Naversen pinched me, I was forced to show him and my classmates my artwork — drawings of each of the fields where our football team played. My masterpiece was headlined “Where They Play.”
Last week, while enjoying the luxury of the Fox suite at the first game in the new stadium in New Jersey yet to be named — watching the Giants rally to beat Carolina 31-18 — my thoughts drifted back to those teenage days. What would a Giants “Where They Play” look like?
So I hit the history books to find out.
Throughout their long and illustrious history, the Giants have called six stadiums home — the Polo Grounds, Yankee Stadium, the Yale Bowl, Shea Stadium, Giants Stadium and the new stadium in the Meadowlands.
The team was formed in 1925 and shared the Polo Grounds, left, with the New York baseball Giants from that season until they moved across the Harlem River to the larger Yankee Stadium for the start of the 1956 season.
The Giants finished 8-4 in that inaugural 1925 season in the NFL, but lost their home opener to the Frankford Yellow Jackets 14-0. Some 30 years later, in their final game at the Polo Grounds in November of 1955, the Giants rallied to tie the Cleveland Browns 35-35 on a late touchdown pass from Charlie Conerly to Frank Gifford.
Moving to Yankee Stadium
Following three straight road games, the Giants christened their new Yankee Stadium home in 1956 with a 38-10 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Giants went on to win their third NFL championship that year when they whipped the Chicago Bears 47-7 at Yankee Stadium.
In 1973, the Giants announced plans to move to a new stadium in New Jersey for the 1976 season. At the same time, the city of New York began a two-year renovation of Yankee Stadium, below, after the 1973 baseball season. The Giants were allowed to play their first two games of the 1973 season at Yankee Stadium before moving to a new location.
The Giants tied the Eagles 23-23 in their final game at Yankee Stadium that fall, before moving into the Yale Bowl in New Haven, Conn., for the rest of the 1973 season and the full 1974 campaign. The Giants won just one game in the Yale Bowl in two years, finishing 2-11-1 in 1973 and 2-12 the following year.
In 1975 the Giants called Shea Stadium home along with the Jets, Mets and Yankees, marking the only time in history that two baseball and two football teams shared the same stadium. The Giants won two games at home en route to a 5-9 record, including a 28-14 victory against Archie Manning and the Saints in their final game at Shea in December.
After starting the 1976 season with four straight road losses, the Giants opened the new Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ, with a 24-14 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. The Giants called the Meadowlands home for 34 seasons and won three Super Bowls in that span. The Carolina Panthers beat the Giants 41-9 in the final game at Giants Stadium on December 27, 2009.
Way back a hundred or so years ago, between 1909 and 1915, no less than 13 new, state-of the-art baseball fields were opened. These classic fields had one defining characteristic — they were fireproof. Built of brick, concrete and steel, unlike their wooden predecessors, these ball fields were made to last
And last they did — in fact 10 of them lasted 50 years or more. And two – Fenway Park and Wrigley Field — stand to this day.
All 16 major league teams at the time called these parks home at one point or another. Shibe Park in Philadelphia, Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis and the Polo Grounds in New York housed both National League and American League clubs at the same time.
If these ballparks could talk, they’d have some amazing stories to tell. And some strange and unusual tales as well. To wit:
Shibe Park, Philadelphia, 1909 — On Opening Day in the new Philly digs, A’s veteran catcher Michael “Doc” Powers, who was also a medical doctor, crashed into the wall behind the plate while trying to catch a foul pop. Powers suffers a severe intestinal injury and left the game in the seventh inning. Despite three operations, Powers passed away two weeks later.
Sportsman’s Park, St. Louis, 1909 — St. Louis Browns owner Bill Veeck pulled off his most famous stunt in 1951. After jumping out of a cake between games of a doubleheader, 3-foot, 7-inch midget Eddie Gaedel, shown left, wearing number 1/8, stepped up to the plate and walked on four pitches from Detroit’s Bob Cain. Gaedel was pinch-run for, and never appeared in another major league game.
Forbes Field, Pittsburgh, 1909 — Late in the 1920 season, the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds staged the last tripleheader ever played in the majors. After dropping the first two games by scores of 13-4 and 7-3, the Pirates salvaged game three 6-0. But by then the Reds had already secured third-place money.
League Park, Cleveland, 1910 — The Indians, on the way to their first championship, routed the Brooklyn Dodgers 8-1 in Game 5 of the 1920 World Series.. But the game will be remembered for three World Series firsts by Indians players — Elmer Smith’s grand slam, pitcher Jim Bagby’s home run, and shortstop Bill Wambsganss unassisted triple play.
Comiskey Park, Chicago, 1910 — Bill Veeck’s son Mike was the mastermind of Disco Demolition Night in 1979 — a promotion that backfired. Fans were encouraged to bring disco records to be burned on the field between games of a doubleheader with the Tigers. Mayhem ensued, thousands of fans poured onto the field and refused to budge, and the umpires forfeited the second game to Detroit.
Griffith Stadium, Washington, 1911 — The new Senators ballpark, right, built in just a month following a fire that destroyed the wooden grandstands, featured some odd dimensions, such as 407 feet down the left-field line. But the strangest quirk was the indent in center, with a portion of the wall jutting inward to accommodate a tree and several houses whose owners were unwilling to sell.
Polo Grounds, New York, 1911 — In a park made famous by Bobby Thomson’s home run and Willie Mays’ catch, the strangest event at the Polo Grounds was the death of Indians shortstop Ray Chapman in 1920 .Chapman was beaned by Yankees submariner Carl Mays and died the next day, the last death on a major league ballfield.
Crosley Field, Cincinnati, 1912 — President Franklin D. Roosevelt flipped a light switch at the White House and the Reds beat the Phillies 2-1 in the first night game in major league history in 1935. Crosley Field also was the first park to place distances on the outfield fences “so the spectators may readily ascertain far drives carry” according to the Sporting News.
Fenway Park, Boston, 1912 — The Red Sox abandoned Fenway Park, left, during the 1915 and 1916 World Series to play their home games at Braves Field. In 1929 they announced they were considering vacating Fenway. Between 1929 and 1932 the Sox played their Sunday games at Braves Field due to Fenway’s proximity to a church.
Tiger Stadium, Detroit, 1912 — Tiger Stadium opened on April 20, 1912, the same day as Fenway Park and less than a week after the Titanic hit an iceberg and went down in the North Atlantic. The new ballpark was known as Navin Field at the start, and was built on the same site where the Western League Tigers played in 1886.
Ebbets Field, Brooklyn, 1913 — In one of Brooklyn’s daffiest moments, the Dodgers wound up with three men on third base — Dazzy Vance, Chick Fewster and Babe Herman. Herman, who will long be remembered for doubling into a double play, was called out for passing a runner, and Fewster wandered off the bag and is tagged out. For years Brooklyn fans would respond “Which base?” when told the Dodgers had three men on base.
Wrigley Field, Chicago, 1914 — Surprisingly, the Cubs were not the first team to call Wrigley Field home. The Chicago Whales played at the new Weeghman Park in 1914 and 1915 before the ill-fated Federal League disbanded. The Cubs moved in for the 1916 season, and the park was renamed Cubs Park; 10 years later it became Wrigley Field, right.
Braves Field, Boston, 1915 — Built on what was once a golf course, Braves Field was a long par 5 — 400 feet to left and 440 to center, with a gaping 500-foot chasm in right center. Needless to say, it was not exactly a homer haven. Only eight home runs were hit in the first year of the park, and none of them went over the fence.
Fans had a great view of the Hudson River and the Palisades from Hilltop Park.
There Used to Be a Ballpark is a song written by Joe Raposo and recorded by Frank Sinatra for Sinatra’s 1973 album, Ol’ Blue Eyes Is Back.
The song expresses sadness at the loss of a baseball team and its ballpark, which once gave its fans and players joy. The song is.typically assumed to be about Ebbets Field and the Brooklyn Dodgers, but it could by about any team and any park in any city in America where baseball is played.
There used to be a ballpark in northern Manhattan known as Hilltop Park, the home of the New York Highlanders, a team now known as the Yankees.
Hilltop Park sat on one of the highest points in Manhattan, on a site now occupied as Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, spanning between 165th and 168th streets and between Broadway and Fort Washington Avenue. The park was constructed in only six weeks and was huge by today’s standards. Left field, facing north to 168th Street, was 365 feet from home plate. Center field was 542 feet and right field 400 feet.
A roofed single deck wooden grandstand stood along Fort Washington Avenue; the center field bleachers were on the corner of 168th Street and Broadway. There were no clubhouses, so players had to dress in hotels. Capacity of Hilltop Park was 16,000.
Opening Day, 1903
Officially known as New York American League Park, the playing grounds opened on April 30, 1903. The Highlanders, who began as the Baltimore Orioles before moving to the newly-formed American League, won that first game against the Washington Senators. 6-2. It was one of the few bright spots for the Highlanders from Hilltop Park.
They finished second three times in their 10-year stay, including a heartbreaking loss by 41-game winner Jack Chesbro in 1904. to the Boston Pilgrims (now Red Sox) in a game that decided the American League pennant.
But the most part, the Highlanders played bad baseball. They were last in the American League in 1908, and in 1912 they were last again with a 50-102 record under skipper Harry Wolverton, worst record in the mostly illustrious history of this storied franchise.
Several other memorable moments occurred at Hilltop. In September of 1908, Washington’s Walter Johnson pitched three shutouts over the Highlanders in four days.
And on May 15, 1912, after being heckled for several innings, Detroit outfielder Ty Cobb leaped the fence and attacked his tormentor. He was suspended indefinitely by league president Ban Johnson, but his suspension was eventually reduced to 10 days and $50.
Move to the Polo Grounds
The New York Giants actually played at Hilltop Park for a brief spell after a fire burned the Polo Grounds to the ground in 1911. The Giants built a new, concrete and steel Polo Grounds on the same site at 155th Street and 8th Avenue. The Yankees, as they had become known, moved into the Polo Grounds as co-tenants with John McGraw’s Giants in 1913.
Hilltop Park was demolished in 1914 and replaced by the one-story tabernacle of Billy Sunday, a baseball player turned evangelist. Following the demolition of the tabernacle, groundbreaking ceremonies for Columbia Presbyterian took place in 1925. A bronze plaque, left, in the medical center garden marks the spot where home plate was located.
The armory, which still stands, was built behind the left-field fence in 1909. Three apartment buildings from the Hilltop days remain standing on 168th Street, east of the armory.
On February 21, 1965, Malcolm X was assassinated at the Audobon Ballroom, corner of 165th Street and Broadway, a spot adjacent to the old Hilltop Park.
After their move to the Polo Grounds, the Yankees eventually wore out their welcome. In 1920 they acquired Babe Ruth from the Red Sox and began to outdraw the Giants in their own park. Forced to move, the Yankees built the magnificent Yankee Stadium across the Harlem River from the Polo Grounds, at 161st Street and River Avenue in the Bronx.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
New York Beats Undefeated Bears 30-13 in ‘Sneakers Game’
The 1934 NewYork Football Giants
Nearly 74 years before ruining the undefeated dreams of the New England Patriots, the New York Giants took out another undefeated team, the Chicago Bears, for the NFL title. Here’s how it happened:
The year is 1934, and the nation is slowly coming out of the Depression. Franklin Delano Roosevelt is serving the first of his record four terms as President. Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow are ambushed by lawmen in Louisiana. John Dillinger is shot outside a Chicago movie theater. It Happened One Night,starring Clarke Gable and Claudette Colbert, sweeps the Academy Awards, winning Best Picture, Director, Actor, and Actress.
And in 1934, an unbeaten NFL team loses its grip on history with a 30-13 loss to the New York Giants in the famed “Sneakers Game.” at the Polo Grounds in Manhattan.
That year, the New York Giants faced the undefeated Chicago Bears in the penultimate game of the NFL season. In a league that featured merely 11 teams — two of which, the Cincinnati Reds and the St. Louis Gunners, failed to finish the season — the Giants won the NFL East with an 8-5 record, a game and a half ahead of the Boston Redskins.
Meanwhile the Chicago Bears dominated the West with a 13-0 record, scoring nearly twice as many points as the Giants while surrendering fewer. Included in that Chicago unblemished record were two wins against the Giants in November, 27-7 at home and 10-9 in New York.
Chicago’s powerful offense
The 1934 Bears were without a doubt the best offensive team in NFL history to that point. After being held to a tie on the last day of August in front nearly 80,000 fans in the first College All-Star game sponsored by Chicago Tribune Charities at Soldier Field, the Bears rampaged through the NFL.
They scored 37 touchdowns in 13 games, with 12 different players reaching the end zone during the year. Bronko Nagurski rushed for 586 yards on 123 carries and 8 touchdowns while blocking for a record setting performance by rookie Beattie Feathers. Feathers, who played in only 11 games due to a shoulder injury, rushed for 1,004 yards and 8 touchdowns. He was not only the NFL’s first official 1,000 yard rusher, but he performed this feat 12 years before it would be repeated (by Steve Van Buren in 1946) in an era when all players “went both ways” and many backs on a team shared rushing, receiving, and passing duties.
The Bear offense was far more, however, than Nagurski and Feathers running the ball. Red Grange, Carl Brumbaugh, Bill Hewitt, and Gene Ronzani each caught at least 2 touchdown passes, four different players passed for 3 or more each, and “Automatic” Jack Manders led the league with 10 field goals.
On the other hand, the Giants lost their first two games before rebounding to knock off the Pittsburgh Steelers. They suffered three more losses during the regular season, two to the Bears, and were shut out by the Philadelphia Eagles 6-0 in the final game of the regular season. Quarterback Harry Newman led the club in both passing and rushing. Ken Strong was the team’s second leading rusher, and Red Badgro lead in receiving. There were no gaudy statistical leaders on this Big Blue edition.
The Bears breezed into New York as heavy favorites to win their third straight NFL title. A freezing rain the night before the game froze the bathtub-shaped Polo Grounds field in Manhattan. Temperatures peaked at 25 degrees that Sunday and limited the crowd to 35,059 fans.
Before the game, captain Ray Flaherty suggested the Giants wear sneakers on the frozen field. He had played in a game under similar circumstances at Gonzaga, and the sneakers proved to be effective. Giants’ head coach Steve Owen sent equipment manager Abe Cohen to purchase as many sneakers as he could.
Due to traffic and the fact that most athletic goods stores were closed on Sunday, Cohen was unable to return before the game started and the Giants, wearing conventional footwear, trailed 10-3 at the end of the first half. Realizing time was short, Cohen went to Manhattan College — where he had a key to the equipment and locker rooms — and returned to the Polo Grounds at halftime with nine pairs of basketball sneakers, saying that “nine pairs was all I could get.”
Footnote: Giants respond
Players donned the sneakers and the Giants, after allowing the Bears another field goal late in the third period, would respond with 27 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to win their first NFL Championship game. Giants quarterback Ed Danowski threw a touchdown pass to Ike Frankian to make the score 13-10. On the Giants next drive, running back Ken Strong scored on a 42-yard touchdown run. Later an 11-yard run by Strong was turned into another touchdown for the Giants. Finally the Giants closed it out with Danowski’s 9-yard touchdown run. The game ended with the Giants ahead: 30-13.
The game would come to be known as “The Sneakers Game” and the 27 points the Giants scored in the fourth quarter set a single–quarter championship game scoring record that stood for decades. After the game offensive tackle Len Grant expressed his sincere gratitude by stating simply “God bless Abe Cohen.”
Many of the participants in the game, most notably Hall of Famers Bronko Nagurski of the Bears and Mel Hein of the Giants, attributed the Giants’ second half dominance to their selection of footwear. A mini-documentary of the game, narrated by Pat Summerall, can be seen in the 1987 video “Giants Among Men.”
Ironically, eight years later the 1942 Bears finished the season 11-0, only to lose to the Washington Redskins 14-6 in the title game.The Redskins came into the game with a 10-1 record, the only blemish on there record a 14-7 loss to the Giants in week two. And they avenged a 73-0 loss to the Bears in the 1940 championship game, still the worst loss in NFL history.
And 38 years later the 1972 Miami Dolphins capped off a perfect 17-0 season with a 14-7 win over the Redskins in Super Bowl VII. That remains the only undefeated season in NFL history.