The Last Time

 

Babe Ruth’s farewell to Yankee Stadium, June, 1948.

Well this could be the last time
This could be the last time
Maybe the last time
I don’t know. Oh no. Oh no.

– The Rolling Stones

The final game in the original Yankee Stadium took place on the final day of September in 1973. The Detroit Tigers used a six-run eighth inning to beat the Yankees that day, 8-5. Some 32,238 saw back-up Yankee catcher Duke Sims hit the final home run the old Stadium, a solo shot in the seventh inning.

The Yankees moved to Shea Stadium the following year for two years, moving back into the current, refurbished Yankee Stadium in 1976.

The Mets had opened Shea in 1964, following two seasons at the Polo Grounds, shown right,  in upper Manhattan. The Mets lost many games at the Polo Grounds in those two years, including the last one, a 5-1 setback to the Phillies. The Mets did have the consolation of having outfielder Jim Hickman his the last home run in the old ballpark, though few remember it. Only 1,752 fans showed up that Wednesday afternoon in September.

Moving to California

The New York Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers both abandoned New York following the 1957 season to move to the West Coast. The Dodgers shut out the Pirates, 2-0, in the final game at Brooklyn’s Ebbets Field , below, that year behind the shutout pitching of Danny McDevitt, before a mere 6,702 fans.

A day earlier, Hall of Fame Dodger outfielder Duke Snider hit the final two home runs in the historic park in Flatbush, a pair of two-run shots to reach 40 on the year.

A week or so later, the Pirates beat the New York Giants, 9-1, to bring down the curtain on the Polo Grounds as far as the Giants were concerned. An obscure Pirates outfielder named John Powers hit the last home run at the Polo Grounds that day. Only 11,606 were there to see it.

Several early 20th Century New York ballpark closings also resulted in losses for the home team. On October 5, 1912, the Brooklyn Superbas dropped the final game in Brooklyn’s Washington Park, 1-0, to the Giants.

One year later, the New York Highlanders (soon to become the Yankees) dropped a doubleheader to the Boston Red Sox, 3-2 and 3-0 to close the doors on New York’s Hilltop Park. The Yankees would share the Polo Grounds with the Giants through 1922, before moving across the Harlem River to Yankee Stadium.

In 1948, a dying Babe Ruth made his final appearance in The House That Ruth Built, on the 25th anniversary of Yankee Stadium. His voice ravaged with cancer, Ruth said, “I’m very proud to have hit the first home run in Yankee Stadium. God knows who’ll hit the last one.”

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4 Comments on “The Last Time”

  1. jim peyton says:

    Jim Hickman, who hit the last home run at the famed Polo Grounds, is now 72 years old and still lives in his old hometown of Henning, Tennessee. I am a close friend of his son, Jim Hickman, Jr. and played high school baseball with him. Jim, Sr. is a very humble man, Gentleman Jim was a perfect name for him when he played pro ball. Around Christmas 2009 I visited with Jim Hickman and heard his exciting stories of playing in the old Polo Grounds. I asked about his famous feats of being the first New York Met to hit for the cycle, to hit 3 home runs in one game and to hit the last homerun in the Polo Grounds. I took notes on his comments. He has always been my baseball hero and his character of humility is a rare human trait. I was thrilled to present him with a copy of the book “Tales from the 1962 New York Mets” which has his photo on the cover sitting in the clubhouse by Gil Hodges. I live just 5 miles from Jim Hickman and it is an honor to know him. He is our hometown hero- his name is written on our water tower and he was voted into the Tennessee Athletic Hall of Fame a few years ago in Nashville. He is often a forgotten hero since he is quiet and humble. Everyone remembers the 1970 All Star game with Pete Rose running over Ray Fosse at home plate to score the winning run in the bottom of the 12th inning. What is often left out of that memory is that it was Jim HIckman who got the game winning hit that allowed Pete to score.

  2. BG says:

    From a sportswriters weblog: A week or so later, the Pirates beat the New York Giants, 9-1, to bring down the curtain on the Polo Grounds as far as the Giants were concerned. An obscure Pirates outfielder named John Powers hit the last home run at the Polo Grounds that day. Only 11,606 were there to see it.

    JC Powers from my hometown of Birmingham Alabama was the last person to hit the final home run at the Polo Grounds.

    • SportsLifer says:

      Thanks for your feedback, did not know that. I saw the Mets play in the Polo Grounds in 1963. They moved to Shea Stadium the following year.


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