“Old New York Giants and Brooklyn Dodger fans don’t die, they just become Mets fans.”
-my grandfather in conversation.
The San Francisco Giants won the World Series in Texas last night, fifty-six years since they did so as the New York Giants playing in the Polo Grounds. It has been a long time coming for old New York Giants fans, who like their cross river National League cousins the Brooklyn Dodgers, see this as a victory for them as well as those cheering people in the city by the bay.
There was no logic or reason in being a Giant or Dodger fan back in those days, except as a defiant and perhaps illogical stand against those damned Yankees from the Bronx. I asked my grandfather if he ever thought about becoming a Yankee fan after the Dodgers left in 1957, and he shook his head sadly. “Not a chance.”
Old Fred and my uncles Matty and Charlie were under the assumption that the Yankees and their fans had made a pact with the devil, and something like the play Damn Yankees could only confirm that for them.
My grandfather said of 1957 that “I cried me a river of blue” when the Dodgers left, and my uncle “cried him a river of orange” for the Giants. This eventually “washed out to sea” as he saw it, but somehow or other came back in 1962, swirling around the waters of Flushing Bay, and a nascent team crawled out of those waters in blue and orange and called itself the Mets. Fred and his brothers were back in business, having a team to root for that was not the Yankees.
Now all this time has passed, and the San Francisco Giants were dancing around with the World Series Trophy in Texas. They are a spunky team, with no big guns like the great Willie Mays, but they have great pitching and lots of heart, and sometimes that stops the big guns dead in their tracks.
So this was a win for those Giants fans who have long passed on, but were no doubt watching in the celestial place they call home. All that noise we heard last night over New York wasn’t thunder, but the sound of champagne corks popping in paradise.
At one time the gods of baseball deemed New York City as its own Mount Olympus. Can you imagine having three center fielders like Duke Snider, Willie Mays, and Mickey Mantle all playing in the same city at the same time? There is simply no comparison today in all of sports. It was too overwhelming to be real but it was real nonetheless.
Many years later, I had asked my grandfather about rumors I heard regarding a “big trade” that involved Mickey Mantle for either the Duke of Flatbush or the Say Hey Kid. My grandfather shook his head as he would do. “Mickey Mantle could have never played for Brooklyn or the Giants, and the Duke and Willie could have never been Yankees. It wasn’t in their blood.”
Well, all these years later, I think my grandfather was right. He is no doubt raising an ethereal glass of the bubbly with my uncles. Besides that one time when Bobby Thomson’s homer caused a spat between them, they basically always rooted for each other’s teams because they hoped they would win and beat the Yankees. I am so happy for them up there, and all those people out in San Francisco too. As a Met fan, born from Dodger blue and Giant orange, I could never see it any other way.