The Polo Grounds in Manhattan was originally a polo stadium, but became a popular baseball field for notable teams such as the New York Giants, Yankees, and Mets. The odd size of the field, with shallow left and right fields and a deep center field, made it unique. Babe Ruth hit many home runs there, and the stadium had other quirks such as a sloping outfield and in-play bullpens. It was eventually closed and demolished in 1963 and 1964.
Baseball has long been a staple form of entertainment in Manhattan, and several notable teams have called the island home. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, however, the sport had not yet gained the popularity it was to receive, and so early teams rented space in the Polo Grounds, a polo stadium between West 155th Street and Eighth Avenue. The Polo Grounds was, of course, originally intended for use as a polo field, but not long after baseball games began taking place there, polo was no longer played on the field. The name, however, stuck and the stadium, through its many reincarnations, became known as the Polo Grounds.
The notable baseball teams that played at the Polo Grounds were the New York Giants (later relocated to San Francisco), the New York Metropolitans, the New York Yankees and the New York Mets. The Mets were the last team to play in the Polo Grounds shortly before their stadium, Shea Stadium, was completed. The Polo Grounds was a field notable for its odd size. The latest version of the stadium – by far the most popular – took the form of a top-down bathtub and featured the vast space in the outfield. Left and right field were unusually shallow, which allowed for a good amount of home runs, but center field was extremely deep, measuring approximately 480 feet (147 m). No player has ever hit a home run in that section of the ballpark, though many have come close.
Because left and right field were so shallow, Babe Ruth – a hitter by nature – hit many home runs from the Polo Grounds. When Yankee Stadium was built, many people assumed that the dimensions of right field, which were equally short, were designed to accommodate the power of Babe Ruth’s home run. The Polo Grounds also had other quirks: The outfield sloped downward away from the infield, meaning that an outfielder chasing a fly ball was actually running downhill. The left field upper deck towered over the field, sometimes turning catchable fly balls into home runs. And the bullpens, which sat in the empty spaces of left and right field, were in play. The Polo Grounds was eventually closed in 1963 and demolished in 1964 when the stadium fell beyond repair.