MUSIC - A New York state of mind by Billy Joel
Photographed in 1991, 1994, 1995, 1996 and 2005 using film.
Shea Stadium update - On February 18th, 2009 at 11:22 AM (EST), the final piece of Shea Stadium fell to the wreckers ball. RIP Shea Stadium 1964-2009.
Shea Stadium - Opened in 1964, closed in 2008 and demolished in 2009. Site is now a parking lot for the new Citi Field. Official name was William A. Shea Municipal Stadium.
Location - 123-01 Roosevelt Ave. Flushing, New York.
The erector set. Shea Stadium is (soon will be was) a multi purpose stadium located in Flushing, New York, in the borough of Queens. It was named after William A. Shea, a lawyer who helped bring National league baseball back to the big apple. Built on Roosevelt Avenue, it is located just north of where the 1964 worlds fair was held. Now, the US open national tennis center occupies most of the worlds fair site. Basically about 10 miles east of midtown Manhattan. It has been the home of the New York Mets since it opened on April 17, 1964. Shea replaced the old Polo Grounds as the home for the Mets. The Polo Grounds was located in upper Harlem in a place called Coogan's Bluff. After the Mets moved into Shea, the Polo Grounds were demolished. A bit of trivia. The same wrecking ball that took down the Polo Grounds was the same one used to dismantle the much beloved Ebbets Field in Brooklyn.
The Mets were born in 1962, basically replacing both the New York Giants and the Brooklyn Dodgers as the National League team in New York. This can be seen in the Mets uniform. They use the blue that the Dodgers used and the orange that the Giants used as their logo. The Mets also have a very similar NY on their caps as the Giants had.
1962 did not start off well for the Metropolitans. They lost a record 120 games and were by far the most hapless team to ever play baseball. They rivaled even some of the bad St. Louis Browns teams for ineptness. They played 2 years in the old, decaying and antiquated Polo Grounds before they had their own home in Flushing.
The first ever game at Shea started off as many other games had gone for the Mets. A 4-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Willie Stargell had the honor of hitting the first home run in the history of Shea. The first Mets home run wasn't hit till April 23rd against the Chicago Cubs. Ron Hunt did the duty for the Mets. Al Jackson had the first victory for the Mets at Shea. A 6-0 shutout of the Pirates on April 19, 1964. Shea also hosted its only all-star game that same year of 1964. Johnny Callison of the Philadelphia Phillies gave the National league a 7-4 win with a 3 run home run in the bottom of the 9th inning.
Even the ol perfessor, Casey Stengel, couldn't change the Mets losing ways. It wasn't till 1969 under former Brooklyn Dodger hero Gil Hodges, that the Mets finally hit pay dirt. The "Miracle" Mets went from a 10th place finish in 1967 (dead last) to world champions in 1969. Future hall of famer Tom Seaver, Tommie Agee, Cleon Jones, Jerry Koosman, and a young Texan named Nolan Ryan helped the Mets turn New York upside down. Ryan wouldn't last in Mets pinstripes. In probably the worst trade in Mets history, Ryan, along with Lee Stanton, Francisco Estrada and Don Rose were sent to the California Angels for Jim Fregosi. Fregosi was a bust in New York, and Ryan went on to dominate pitching for 21 more years. The Mets have retired 3 numbers. The number 14 for the late manager Gil Hodges, number 37 for Casey Stengel, and 41 for the greatest player the Mets have ever had, Tom Seaver. The Mets were also the last stop for one of the greatest players ever, legendary Willie Mays. He was traded from the San Francisco Giants to the Mets in 1972, and played thru the 1973 season. That last season saw Mays help the Mets get to their second world series. They eventually lost to the Oakland A's.
Shea also was home for 2 years to the New York Yankees. From 1973 thru the 1975 season, they used the stadium while renovations were going on at the big ballpark in the Bronx.
The New York Jets and Broadway Joe Namath used Shea as its home field from 1964 thru 1983. Like the Mets, the Jets also used the Polo Grounds as their home from their inception in 1960 thru the 1963 season. The Jets started out as the New York Titans from 1960 - 1962. In 1963, they changed their name, logo and colors. The first Jets game took place on September 12, 1964 against the Denver Broncos. The Jets won the game 30 - 6. Gene Heeter of the Jets scored the first touchdown on a pass from Dick Wood. After the 1983 season, they moved across the Hudson River to East Rutherford New Jersey to share Giants stadium with the New York Giants. The final Jets game at Shea was on December 10 1983 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Unfortunately, the Jets lost 34-7. Calvin Sweeney of the Steelers scored the last touchdown at Shea on a pass from Cliff Stoudt. The final Jets touchdown was scored by Lam Jones on a pass from Pat Ryan. September 2007 saw ground breaking in the meadowlands parking lot for a new stadium that both the Jets and Giants will share. The price tag??? Try a cool 1.4 BILLION dollars.
Shea has seen it's share of concerts, with the likes of the Who, Bruce Springsteen, the Police, the Rolling Stones, and the Beatles. It looks like the last concert ever at Shea will be by Hicksville New York's own Billy Joel. The concerts are being talked about for next September (2008).
The final curtain will ring down on Shea stadium after the 2008 baseball season. A new park, Citi field, is being built right in back of centerfield. The grass where Mets greats roamed for 44 years will be reduced to rubble, and an eventual parking lot for Citi field. They may knock it down, but they can't take away all the thrills that the amazin's have given their fans over the years.
As you can guess, Shea Stadium is the destination. Sept. 1991
The back of Shea, from the parking lot. This is where Chase field is being built. 4/95
This parking lot in back of centerfield is from 1991. In 2007, the parking lot is gone, and Citi field is emerging from this very spot. Sept 91
The right field area, and the visiting team bus. On this night, the bus was being used by the Montreal Expos. Sept. 91
A twinight doubleheader at Shea, WHEN they had two games for the price of one. Sept 91
The reason for the sparse crowd was two fold. It's mid September, and the Mets and Expos are both out of it. This game was supposed to be played in Montreal, but a huge piece of the Olympic stadium fell, causing the Expos to play the remainder of the schedule on the road. That roadtrip must have SUCKED. So, the Expos and Mets played a twin bill. Sept 91
At the top of the right field scoreboard, above the budweiser sign (YUK that beer sucks), you can see the skyline of New York City. After 9-11, the Mets covered up the outline of the World Trade Center. Now a ribbon is where the outline of the trade center was. Sept 91
As you can see, there weren't too many New Yorker's who watched this twin bill. Sept 91
The front of Shea 3 years later. Not much has changed. July 94
The Mets decided to paint the back of the scoreboard. You can also see the city outline at the top of it. July 94
One of the ticket windows behind home plate. July 94
The visitors dugout at Shea. This time the dugout is occupied by the San Diego Padres. July 94
"Mr. Padre" and hall of famer, Tony Gwynn. I had a media pass for this game. Actually, as luck would have it, it was another doubleheader. July 94
Bip Roberts of the Padres signs for the kids. I wish more players would do this. July 94
Tony Gwynn again. I tried to get him to smile, but he wouldn't. UNTIL after I snapped the photo. Actually, Tony is one of the nicest guys ever to play baseball. He is genuine. And one of the best pure hitters I have ever seen. July 94
Brett Saberhagen behind the cage. July 94
A panorama from the upper deck. You can see the parking lot in centerfield, that in about 12 years, will begin to take shape as Citi field. July 94
This is the area in left field where Tommie Agee hit the longest home run in the history of Shea. He is the only guy to hit a ball in the 3rd deck.
Here is a great view of the scoreboard. You can clearly see the skyline and the World Trade Center right above the B on the budweiser sign. July 94
Shea stadiums main entrance a year later. October 1995
The ticket booths in left field. Oct. 95
Inside Shea, with its ramps, girders and pipes. Oct. 95
The Mets dugout in October of 1995. The season is over, and the grounds crew is getting Shea ready for winter.
A view of the New York skyline. You can see the Empire State building to the left.
The concourse in the upper deck.