Friday, February 20, 2009

Baseball place No. 14: Doubleday Field

I choose to live in a very happy little world where George Washington never did tell any lies, where Kiss Alive was really recorded live and where no Mets player has ever taken steroids.

And I also believe that Abner Doubleday invented baseball in 1839 in Elihu Phinney’s cow pasture in beautiful Cooperstown, N.Y.

Deep down I know that the first George W. was a politician like the second, and Gene Simmons has confessed in recent years that there were in fact some studio touch-ups on the classic live album.

But no Met has ever taken steroids -- Guillermo Mota was just confused when he confessed in 2006, thinking he was on the other New York team.

But I absolutely, positively cannot accept that baseball was invented in Hoboken, N.J., as Congress resolved in 1953.

That’s because Cooperstown and Doubleday Field are just too perfect. We’re not going to let the facts get in the way of a good story.

Josh Pahigian names Doubleday Field Place No. 14 in the 101 Baseball Places to See Before You Strike Out.

The brick ballpark sits just a block away from the Hall of Fame, and, personally, I would have included them as one entry. But it’s not my book.

The cow pasture was christened Doubleday Field in 1920, with a wooden grandstand erected in 1924 and the present brick and concrete structure built in the 1930s as Works Progress Administration projects.

Major League teams played an annual exhibition on the field starting in 1940. The final game was supposed to be last season, but the Cubs and Padres were rained out. That would make the Orioles and Blue Jays to be the final big-leaguers to play on this slice of heaven, with the Orioles winning the 2007 contest.

The Mets have played in four Hall of Fame games, losing to the Senators in 1964 and the Brewers in 1975. They played to a 4-4 rain-shortened tie against the White Sox in 1982, and beat them 3-0 in 1992. Note, two Tom Seaver teams playing in the year he was inducted!

There are reports of an illegal Wiffle Ball game on or about the field late one afternoon in 1992.

Friend and colleague John Munson, wearing a jersey of his hero, Thurman, and a guy in a 1969 flannel Tom Seaver replica allegedly played catch and hit some balls where the Phinney cows once walked – and where Abner Doubleday most likely did not.
This appears to be photographic evidence if intent to play Wiffle Ball. Note the sign advertising the game between the Mets and White Sox.

We had to play on that picturesque spot in that lovely little ballpark. Because we sure as heck are not going to play in Hoboken.

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