We were big baseball fans in apartment 9E; the NY Giants to be precise. My hero was Willie Mays (centerfielder), my sister if I recall correctly liked Whitey Lockman (first baseman). We all thought the world of Alvin Dark (shortstop). These were exciting times. New York City had three baseball teams, our beloved Giants, the National League enemy Brooklyn Dodgers and the American League enemy the New York Yankees.
One of the saddest days in my life before the age of ten was learning that the Giants would be taking Willie Mays to San Francisco. The owners voted in May 1957 and the team moved from the POLO Grounds in 1958.
Willie Mays was an amazing athlete, famous for his basket catch among other things. I knew him not only for his stardom but for the season he played with a fracture of the glove hand. (Today, a twisted pinky puts a player on the disabled list). I also remember reading about the gold hardware supposedly to be found in his bathroom in California.
I only saw the amazing Willie play live one more time after the NY departure. In 1958 or 1959 they came east to play the Philadelphia Phillies in a weekend doubleheader (either Saturday or Sunday). We went on the train. I don’t remember if it was all of us or some of us, but dad and I were there at the Connie Mack Stadium.*
Baseball was by far the favorite sport in our apartment but not the only one followed. The NY Giants was also the name of our professional football team. I say professional because we rooted for Navy every year; big fans of Joe Bellino, 1960 Heisman Trophy winner, an extraordinary halfback.
The football Giants gave our family Y.A.Tittle who was also a star in the early 60’s leading the Giants to three NFL titles.
It was the loss of the baseball Giants that resulted in my loss of interest in professional baseball and eventually other professional sports as well. Years later I would follow the NY Apples Tennis Team and eventually World Cup Soccer.
* Cornelius McGillicuddy, better known as Connie Mack, was an American professional baseball catcher, manager, and team owner. The longest-serving manager in Major League Baseball history, he holds records for wins, losses, and games managed, with his victory total being almost 1,000 more than any other manager.