9. Polo Grounds
- Year Opened: 1890, Renovated in 1911
- Year Demolished: 1964
- Defining Features: 483 feet to center field, distinct bathtub shape, in-play clubhouse
Located on Coogan’s Bluff in Upper Manhattan, the Polo Grounds were one of the most uniquely-shaped ballparks of all time. Center field was a distant 483 feet away, but right field was only 258 feet. The Polo Grounds combined one of the deepest dimensions in MLB history with one of the smallest, and the park had a unique oval shape — almost like a bathtub when viewed from the sky. Mel Ott, who hit over 500 home runs in his career, took great advantage of the short porch in right field, though he bristled at the notion that many of his home runs were cheapies.
The ballpark’s clubhouses were located in straight-away center field, and were in play. The windows to the clubhouse were frequently left open, and any ball flying through a window would be a ground-rule double, not a home run. This rule was never tested. After the Polo Grounds went through a major renovation in 1923, only four players hit a home run into the deepest part of the center field bleachers.
One of the most iconic catches in baseball history was made possible by the deep center field. Willie Mays made “The Catch” in the 1954 World Series, a miraculous over-the-shoulder basket catch in the deepest part of the diamond.
Unfortunately, the Polo Grounds did not age gracefully. By the time the Giants fled town for San Francisco in 1957, the stadium was obsolete and dilapidated. The surrounding neighborhoods were becoming increasingly run down, and ticket sales were way down. The New York Mets would eventually play their first two seasons at the Polo Grounds. Today, the only remaining piece of the stadium is a staircase that runs down from the top of Coogan’s Bluff to Harlem River Drive.