Monday, January 5, 2009

A Ghost Stadium

Two days ago I wrote about Topps using a dead player's picture on a card. Today, let me show you a stadium ghost - New York's Polo Grounds.

For many years the Polo Grounds was the home of the New York Giants. When the Giants left for San Francisco, the stadium was without a tenant until the birth of the Mets. The Mets spent two years at the old park, and then moved into a brand new Shea Stadium for the 1964 season.

Many of the Topps cards from 1963-64 featured pictures taken at the Polo Grounds. It made sense that Topps took pictures while teams were in New York since Topps was based in the Big Apple and they could catch both leagues in town. Polo Ground photos are fairly easy to spot because the standard location the photographers used was along the third base side and you can see the neighboring tall apartment building through the grandstands between the lower and upper deck.

Topps 1963 Cuno Barragan (I'll have more about him in a future post)

Topps 1964 Paul Toth

Cards from 1965 featured many shots taken at shiny new Shea in 1964 along with some older Polo Grounds pictures from 62-63.

Topps 1965 Ron Santo - taken at Shea

Fast forward to 1969. The Polo Grounds have long since been demolished and on the site stands several apartment buildings. But for some unknown reason, in the 1969 set Topps brings out two cards that had photos taken in the Polo Grounds. Why they would use five or six year old pictures is beyond me. But see for yourself...these cards of Chris Cannizzaro (Cubs connection - he played for the team in 1971, hitting a robust .213 in 71 games while filling in for an injured Randy Hundley) and Sammy Ellis have the apartments through the grandstands. These were taken in the Polo Grounds.

Topps 1969 Chris Cannizzaro

Topps 1969 Sammy Ellis

I hope no one in the Polo Grounds family collected baseball cards in 1969 or else they might have thought they saw a ghost.


  1. The 1969 set is filled with old photos. Check out Bo Belinsky's card, in which he's with the Cardinals (a team he never played a regular-season game for). You can plainly see that he's wearing an Angels uniform. Belinsky last played for the Angels in 1964.

  2. Nice eye! I always seem to miss those background details.

  3. Excellent finding. And these cards are, well, haunting. Great compilation of images.