From the archive, 28 September 1973: Gil Hodges dies after losing New York Mets’ first game of 1969

Gil Hodges of the Los Angeles Dodgers faced the New York Mets on Tuesday 30, 1973. The June 1975 issue of Rolling Stone magazine shows a picture of Times Square New York in the…

Gil Hodges of the Los Angeles Dodgers faced the New York Mets on Tuesday 30, 1973.

The June 1975 issue of Rolling Stone magazine shows a picture of Times Square New York in the late 1980s, when KITT was the action figure of choice.

On the field at the old Polo Grounds in New York, where the former New York Mets manager Gil Hodges presented a Mets team packed with kids fighting so hard to win their first ever major league baseball game, the ballpark was filled. But the tens of thousands watching from stands at the old stadium wouldn’t get a chance to see the fun on the field. They were not in the press box, and with the enormous scale of that stadium, those fans were cut off from watching their home team play baseball.

The crowds were scattered outside the fences, and they were not crammed in at each press box. And none were inside the press box. The press box was too small.

The only way to see any baseball game at the old Polo Grounds in New York is to watch it on TV at home. There were few surprises, just a lot of guts, lots of big league stuff, except not so much because of the stars on the field. They were what they were: tough guys, guys who ran, hit, and chased runners; guys who played with baseball heads, brains, and guts. There was also a group of politicians, the district attorney of New York, the secretary of agriculture, the attorney general, the finance commissioner, and Mayor John Lindsay all on the field or in a gallery of three or four pages in the front of the sports section. Who am I kidding? There were too many people at the stadium that day! And it was just so much fun to see people who hustled, who ran, and who hit for power and who pitched for control.

But, finally, after the Mets beat the Dodgers, 1-0, it was a most important, timely game to watch, for it was only there that I was able to really appreciate a wonderful aspect of baseball: the people who play it. That’s why I say I got the best view on that day, when not all the fans were even close to the dugout. What’s more, they weren’t squeezed into the press box; all the press boxes were about the same size as the stadium itself. That was very close to the field.

So, I don’t think the press box was really such a bad place to watch a game. It was full of people with big hearts and very intelligent and down-to-earth folks who made for a really fun time. Maybe it wasn’t the greatest stadium in the world, but it was still a pretty ball game.

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