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Demolition of Polo Grounds Commences

Apr. 10, 1964 - A two-ton steel ball smashed into a concrete wall, and men wearing Giants’ baseball shirts pounded the roof of the visitors’ dugout with sledgehammers. Then everyone stood around posing for photographers. Thus began the demolition of the Polo Grounds today.

In the great horseshoe stadium beneath Coogan’s Bluff, its sod now yellow and torn, the Giants of Christy Mathewson and John McGraw and Bobby Thompson and Willie Mays, played 67 seasons; Firpo knocked Dempsey through the ropes; and the Mets and Jets were born.

After demolition is completed, the site will be used for a $30 million low-rent, public housing project. In the project, 1,614 families will live in four 30-story buildings, will attend school and will use the project’s children center, play area, community center, and child welfare station. The first tenants are expected to move in early in 1966.

The Polo Grounds is being demolished by the Wrecking Corporation of America, which today fielded a team of 11 men wearing shiny steel helmets and baseball shirts. The shirts had “GIANTS” across the chest, the corporate name on the back, and numerals on the left sleeves.

No. 1 was the corporation’s manager and vice president, Harry Avirom, a Dodger fan, who remarked that “getting at the Polo Grounds is something I’ve always wanted to do.” Mr. Avirom said that “this makes up for that sad day when we went after Ebbets Field” in 1960.

Stephen McNair, also a Dodger fan, grabbed a sledgehammer as easily as Johnny Mize picked up a bat, marked off the left-field fence beneath Section 33, and vowed: “I’m going to take that part down myself.”

It was the fence over which Bobby Thompson hit the home run that kept the Dodgers out of the World Series in 1951 and put the Giants in. Some seats and the Giant bench will go to the baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown, N.Y.

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