Springtime means baseball season is in full swing (among other things), so fans can settle in for another summer of hardball action in all corners of New York City. Whether at Yankee Stadium, Citi Field, or one of the hundreds of sandlots and park diamonds around the five boroughs, New Yorkers can’t get enough of America’s Pastime. With a rich history spanning the very earliest recorded games to the present day, New York has been the site of some of the most thrilling and memorable happenings in the major leagues. Read on for our list of the 5 biggest baseball moments in NYC history.
The Shot Heard ‘Round the World
Before they packed up for the West Coast, the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants continually gave National League fans all the entertainment they could hope for–without having to trek to Broadway (or the Bronx). The Polo Grounds in Harlem, the Giants’ home turf, was the site of this rivalry’s most unforgettable moment. With the 1951 League Pennant (the big prize in those days) on the line, this final game of the season came down to the most famous home run in history, as Bobby Thomson crushed Ralph Branca’s pitch down the short left field line, cementing the Giants’ snatching victory away from the then-dominant Dodgers.
Bums No More
Brooklyn’s Dodgers may have been perennial National League champs, but when it came to the subsequent World Series against the American League’s number one, the Yankees had their number. The Bronx Bombers beat out Brooklyn’s “Bums” in 1941, ‘47, ‘49, ‘52 and ‘53, leading many an Ebbets Field regular to wonder if they’d ever bring the trophy home to 55 Sullivan Place in the neighborhood of Flatbush. Appropriately enough, it was 1955 when manager Walter Alston, star second baseman Jackie Robinson, and the rest of the Dodger squad finally toppled the Yanks in 7 hard-fought games to attain the crowning achievement: a World Series championship for Brooklyn.
A Miracle in Flushing
Once the Giants and Dodgers fled for California, National League fans didn’t have to wait too long before a new squad popped up to rival the AL’s Yankees. Unfortunately, what they got (initially) was a series of disappointments. The expansion-team Mets set a new standard for hopelessness, losing an MLB record 120 games in their 1962 debut season. By 1969, the Flushing, Queens-based team had shockingly turned things around, culminating in a thrilling Fall Classic showdown with the Baltimore Orioles. Led by Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Seaver, the newly nicknamed “Miracle Mets” pulled off one of the greatest upsets in World Series history over the previously dominant Orioles, winning the Series in 5 unforgettable games.
Mr. October Goes Deep
After a (relatively) long championship drought, the Bronx was itching for a winner. Fiery manager Billy Martin and star outfielder Reggie Jackson had brought plenty of drama to NYC’s tabloid back pages, but it was in 1977 that this pairing finally paid off with a championship win for the pinstriped Yankees. The Los Angeles Dodgers gave them all they had, but it wasn’t enough to overcome Jackson’s legendary Game 6 breakout. His three home runs in the game are still a World Series record and an undeniable feat in baseball history that has yet to be matched.
Two New Cathedrals
In a city that sees new and spectacular structures built on a seemingly daily basis, it may have been a little surprising that no major sports facility had gone up in New York since the current Madison Square Garden opened in 1968. By 2009, it was time for NYC to get a double dose of modernity, as the new Yankee Stadium and the Mets’ Citi Field both opened their doors for the first time. Replacing the House that Ruth Built and lovable Shea Stadium in fan’s hearts would take some time, but if any group can handle change, it’s the loyal baseball fans of New York City. Less than a decade later, each building is solidly home for each franchise, having hosted a World Series apiece with many more sure to come.