Saturday, August 31, 2013

Shea Stadium History Part One- The House That Shea Built:1964-1980

Page Under Construction. 
[Updated August 30th, 2015-still incomplete]
I will be adding text and stuff to this page as I find material.

Early drawings of Shea in its planning phase:
Many years before the New York Metroplitans were born the site where Shea Stadium would be built (& Citi Field today)was the setting for the "Valley of the Ashes" in F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic book The Great Gatsby.
____________________Some aerial views.
_________Notable places from the book The Great Gatsby^
This information was shared by Strawman at Baseball

In 1960, the National League agreed to grant an expansion franchise to the owners of the New York franchise in the aborted Continental League, provided that a new stadium be built. Mayor Robert Wagner, Jr. had to personally wire all National League owners and assure them that the city would build a park.

On October 6, 1961, the Mets signed a 30-year stadium lease, with an option for a 10-year renewal. Rent for what was originally budgeted as a $9 million facility was set at $450,000 annually, with a reduction of $20,000 each year until it reached $300,000 annually.

The Mets' inaugural season was played in the Polo Grounds, with original plans calling for the team to move to a new stadium in 1963. Construction began in '62. In October, Mets official Tom Meany said, "Only a series of blizzards or some other unforeseen trouble might hamper construction." That unforeseen trouble surfaced in a number of ways: the severe winter of 1962–1963, along with the bankruptcies of two subcontractors and labor issues. The end result was that both the Mets and Jets played at the Polo Grounds for one more year.

It was originally to be called "Flushing Meadow Park Municipal Stadium" – the name of the public park on which it was built – but a movement was launched to name it in honor of William A. Shea, the man who brought National League baseball back to New York.


The Shea scoreboard was an ambitious undertaking that never really worked out as planned. Quite a bit ahead of its time, the slide show on the screen above the board only worked for a short period and intermittently. The novel concept was soon discontinued. It was replaced by a giant Met logo, which was pretty damn cool. When I first saw the scoreboard the logo was up there. I figured it was built that way, with a big box on top for the logo. I didn't find out until a few years later that they tried to project images up there on that thing. Amazin'.
[I've been up in that scoreboard and I hope to add that story here as this page is constructed.]

After 29 months and $28.5 million, Shea Stadium opened on April 17, 1964, with the Pittsburgh Pirates beating the Mets 4–3 before a crowd of 50,312. The stadium opened five days before the 1964-65 New York World's Fair across Roosevelt Avenue from the stadium. Although not officially part of the Fairgrounds, the stadium sported steel panels on its exterior in the blue-and-orange colors of the Fair. The panels were removed in 1980 when the stadium was refurbished.
This is a film provided by Steven Lambias of Shea Stadium during the 1964 season. Notice that the slideshow above the scoring area was working as intended. At least for one player, Willie Mays.

______________Frank Robinson fields a ball in the
______________1969 World Series as Nolan Ryan looks
______________on from the Mets plexi-glass bullpen.
______^This is how Shea looked when I first saw her. ^
          I envy the person that owns this model of Shea.


Much of the text for this post can be found at wikipedia.