Two weeks ago, on a warm, sunny Saturday morning, a lovely day for a ball game, Horace Stoneham, the chubby, graying but surprisingly youthful looking president of the New York Giants, sat at his plain wooden desk high in the ancient clubhouse in deep center field in the Polo Grounds. Outside on the playing field the ballplayers were taking batting practice. There was a knock on the door, the door opened and a 10-gallon hat came in, closely followed by Dizzy Dean.
"Harya, Mr. Stoneham?" bellowed Dizzy, who was in New York to telecast the Game of the Week.
Stoneham was genuinely delighted to see Dean. They shook hands, exchanged pleasantries and talked over old times for a while, the treasured days of the '30s when Dean and the St. Louis Cardinals did battle with Carl Hubbell and the Giants. Dizzy stomped around the office talking and finally ended by a window, his hands on the sill, peering out at the great green expanse of the Polo Grounds' playing field.
He looked around at the grandstands and bleachers. The total capacity of the Polo Grounds is over 50,000, but there were less than 100 people sitting scattered here and there, like the last stray tufts of hair on a very mangy dog. It was only 11:30 in the morning and the game wasn't to start until 2 in the afternoon, but Dean made a face.
"Looka thet," he said in disgust. "When we played here back in the '30s, they'd be half full by now. Lines up the street waiting to get in even before the gates opened."
Stoneham stood next to him and looked out at the field. He nodded, perhaps just a bit wistfully.
"Times have changed, Diz," he said.
Times have changed. In the '30s you worried about the team you would put on the field next year. Now you worry about the field you'll put your team on.
Less than a week after Dean stopped in, another man came to New York to see Horace Stoneham. He was the mayor of San Francisco. His mission was obvious: Walter O'Malley of the Brooklyn Dodgers had already agreed (according to insiders) to move his Dodgers to Los Angeles next season. Wouldn't it be nice if the Giants moved to California, too, and kept the ancient rivalry humming to the tune of fresh new gold? San Francisco was ready. The mayor and Stoneham talked. Later they held a press conference at which they announced they had nothing to say, by order of Ford Frick, Commissioner of Baseball. Sly questions brought only coy response.
AN EXPENSIVE LUNCH