New York Mets and the History of Shea Stadium

by Aurel Radulescu

In the 1950s, New York lost both the Giants and the Dodgers and rumors stated that the teams left, in part, due to the fact that they wanted a new stadium. This left New York with only one remaining baseball team. By 1960, National League owners were ready to award new baseball franchise teams to New York with one of the requirements being the construction of a new stadium.

True to their word, on October 28, 1961, the city of New York began construction on a new facility that would accommodate future Major League Baseball games. Originally called Flushing Meadow Park, the facility was later named Shea Stadium and is now home to the New York Mets. It's name change was inspired by William A. Shea, an attorney who was instrumental in the efforts to bring National League baseball back to New York. When construction was complete, the stadium had cost $25 million and was ready to open it's doors on April 17, 1964. In front of a crowd of more than 48,000 spectators, the New York Mets suffered a 4-3 defeat at the hands of the Pirates.

Through the years, few cosmetic changes have occurred at Shea Stadium. New seats were installed simply because the aging ones needed replacing but, otherwise, the facility is much the same as it appeared on opening day more than four decades ago. Technological advancements made it possible for modern scoreboards and luxury suites, along with the New York Mets Magic Top Hat attraction, which is designed to honor home run hits by one of the New York Mets players. In celebration of each home run, spectators will see a large red apple rise from the hat.

The New York Mets and Shea Stadium have witnessed a number of great moments over the years, including the stadium's first home run, which was belted by Willie Stargell in 1964. That same year, Jim Bunning pitched the only perfect game to ever be thrown in Shea Stadium's history. Additionally, fans watched in 1984 as Dwight Gooden set a Major League rookie record with 276 strikeouts. Another memorable moment, which occurred in 1996, was observed as Todd Hundley defeated Roy Campanella's 43 year Major League record, which honored the most home runs by a catcher in a single season.

To this day, discussions often resurface about renovating the home of the New York Mets. Although rich in history and in charm, thoughts of replacing Shea Stadium to build a new home for the New York Mets have been expressed. At this point, nothing has been decided and fans will continue to enjoy the facility that they have come to know for more than 40 years.

Collectors who wish to request an autograph from any one of the players on the New York Mets roster should send their letter and a SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope) to:

Player's Name c/o New York Mets Shea Stadium 123-01 Roosevelt Avenue Flushing, NY 11368

Fans requesting an autograph should limit their request to two items per letter. Popular items to have signed include photos, index or trading cards, baseballs, etc. Patience is key when requesting autographs through the mail, but the best time to reach an athlete is often during the off-season.

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