Where They Play: Giants Homes

IMG_0059View from the Fox suite: Giants celebrate win over Carolina in first game at new stadium in the Meadowlands, a field they share with the Jets.

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.

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Destination Beaufort: SportsLifer Road Trip

The Old Sheldon Church, formerly known as the Prince William Parish Church, has had a tumultuous and eventful history since its first service in 1757.

Wow. What a whirlwind couple of weeks. Back from vacation now. As that old Mets broadcaster Bob Murphy used to say, here’s the happy recap.

Over the course of 13 days, visited 11 states, including West Virginia and nine of the original 13 colonies — New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Connecticut. Oh yes, and the District of Columbia too.

Set a new world land speed record, driving the 850 plus miles from Hopewell Junction, NY, to Beaufort, SC, in 14 hours. Do the math, that’s better than 60 miles per hour. Lots of caffeine, quick pit stops. XM Radio in the rental car kept me juiced. Kids, don’t try and do this.

Temperatures on the trip ranged from a sultry 104 in Hilton Head, SC, to the high 40s in the Blue Ridge Mountains on the Skyline Drive.

Beaufort, South Carolina is quite a town. The Big Chill, a film about a group of baby boomer friends who reunite after the death of a college friend, was filmed entirely on location in Beaufort in 1983. Kevin Costner was cast as the dead character Alex, but all of the scenes showing his face were cut.

And while in Beaufort, had the pleasure of meeting Robbie  Knievel, right, the daredevil son of daredevil dad Evil Knievel. In a bar, of course. There I learned that Robbie has completed over 250 jumps, setting 20 world records. These include the Caesars Palace Fountain jump, the building to building jump and the Grand Canyon jump. He made his first jump at the age of 8 at Madison Square Garden.

Beautiful Wedding
My nephew’s wedding was a highlight, set in the ruins of the Old Sheldon Church outside of Beaufort. The church had been burned down twice, by the British in the Revolutionary War and later by General Sherman’s men in the Civil War.

The service featured a Marine traditional crossing of the swords. The newlyweds, Patrick and Trisha, spent their honeymoon in the California wine country, where they received a royal tour of the Benziger family winery from old friend Mike. Nice Marine touch there too; Mike’s late father Bruno, served with the Marine Corps in World War II.

Following the wedding, proceeded west across South Carolina, past the capital city of Columbia, for a reunion with another old friend, Max. Boating and golfing and drinking beers. Bingo, like Woodstock for middle-aged men.

Determined to see some scenery on the way back, made a slight detour to take in the Skyline Drive in Virginia. The Skyline Drive runs 105 miles north and south along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Shenandoah National Park and offers stunning views of  theIMG_0075 Shenandoah Valley to the west or the rolling Piedmont to the east. Was on the lookout for bears eating acorns in the large oak trees along the drive, but didn’t see any.

But wait, there’s more. Yet another old friend (that’s what you call friends when you   get  old) came up with ticket in the Fox luxury suite for the first game ever at the new stadium in the Meadowlands, yet to be named. Seated near midfield, we watched as the Giants rallied with a strong second half to defeat the Carolina Panthers.

On the final day of vacation, this intrepid traveler climbed Brace Mountain, the highest point in Dutchess County. And from there, after a walk in the woods, came upon the granite tri-state marker, left, that denotes the spot where New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts meet.

After this vacation, I think I need another one.