The Giants of the Polo Grounds

From BR Bullpen

Giants Polo Grounds.jpg

The Giants of the Polo Grounds is a comprehensive history of the New York Giants written by Noel Hynd. It was originally published in 1988, and reissued in a vastly expanded edition in 2018.

The book is written from the perspective of a fan, as the author is a novelist and sometimes sportswriter. It recreates the times when the Giants were the most prominent team in baseball and made the game the "National Pastime", inserting the team into its social context. Thus, there are long interludes about the history of corruption in New York City politics, about various Broadway stars and starlets who hovered around the team, about the criminal underworld of the early decades of the century, about the history of racial segregation in the sport, and about great boxing fights of the times. Not all of this is closely related to the history of the Giants, but the author is a great storyteller, with an ear for a good quote, so they make for pleasant reading.

Obviously, Hynd focuses on key characters who defined the team, such as old-timer Tim Keefe and Mickey Welch, John McGraw and Christy Mathewson, Rube Marquard, Bill Terry, Mel Ott, Leo Durocher and Willie Mays. But he also digs up lesser-known lights, such as Victory Faust, Moonlight Graham or Ruben Gómez. He has also managed to find a number of Giants fans who are still alive and provide short interludes between sections by detailing personal anecdotes of their fandom. All of this is much needed, because the Giants seem to have disappeared from America's collective consciousness, in contrast with the Brooklyn Dodgers, around which a veritable industry of sepia-tinted nostalgia for the olden days of New York has grown. Yet Hynd makes it clear that the Giants were not only the more successful team, but more culturally significant - at least until the late 1940s.

The book is copiously illustrated, although most of the pictures are small and by necessity taken from the public domain (the author did not benefit from the backing of a major publisher). There are wonderful quotes dispersed throughout, and while the author is not sabermetrically-minded and is not interested in a deep analysis of the various teams, he does make sure to quote the right numbers.

Further Reading[edit]

  • Noel Hynd: The Giants of the Polo Grounds: The Glorious Times of Baseball's New York Giants, Revised and Expanded Edition, Red Cat Tales Publishing LLC, Los Angeles, CA, 2018. ISBN 9781727040975 (original edition published in 1988)