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Baseball fans are drawn to NYC housing project built over fabled sports palace the Polo Grounds

The ghost of the Polo Grounds still haunts old-time baseball fans today. 

The sprawling New York City sports arena occupied a nook of Manhattan along the Harlem River called Coogan’s Hollow.

It still occupies a giant part of baseball lore. 

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The footprint of the Polo Grounds, now a housing project, has become a pilgrimage site for baseball fans searching for the glory days of the game.

“Baseball began in New York City and it gave the sport a populist place to start and to grow and to spread around the rest of the country,” baseball historian Eric Miklich of New York told Fox News Digital. 

Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb

Babe Ruth, left, and Ty Cobb, two of the American League’s heaviest hitters, stand together during pregame exercises at the Polo Grounds. (Getty Images)

“The Polo Grounds was absolutely central to the sport’s growth.”

The New York Giants called the vast arena home from 1891 until they left for San Francisco after the 1957 season.

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“The Giants won the pennant! The Giants won the pennant!” — one of the most memorable calls in sports history — with Bobby Thomson’s home run at the Polo Grounds in 1951. 

Wilie Mays made his miraculous over-the-shoulder catch near the “483 feet” marker of centerfield at the Polo Grounds in the 1954 World Series. 

Polo Grounds

Aerial of the Polo Grounds taken during the second playoff game between the New York Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers. Date unlisted.  (Gordon Rynders/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

When Babe Ruth put on pinstripes for the first time in 1920, the New York Yankees played their home games at the Polo Grounds, too. 

Spurred by sudden success, they moved into their own arena across the river in the Bronx in 1923. 

Yankee Stadium was dubbed “the House that Ruth Built.”

“The Polo Grounds was absolutely central to the sport’s growth.”

New York City was the center of the baseball world for the next three decades: the Giants in Manhattan, the Yankees in the Bronx and the Dodgers in Brooklyn.

“This was the golden age of New York baseball,” Luke Spencer wrote for Atlas Obscura on a tour of the site of the former Polo Grounds.

Polo Grounds marker

A plaque at Polo Grounds Towers, a New York City public housing project in Manhattan, marks the site of the Polo Grounds. The landmark baseball arena is still revered by fans today.  (Kerry J. Byrne/Fox News Digital )

The New York Mets also played at the Polo Grounds. So, too, did the New York Cubans and New York Black Yankees of the Negro Leagues. 

The NFL’s Giants and Jets also called the Polo Grounds home at one point. 

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The Dodgers headed west with the Giants in 1957. New York City lost its status as center of the baseball world. The Polo Grounds hosted its last sports event in 1963. 

New York City knocked down the baseball temple in 1964. 

Willie Mays catch

Willie Mays’ famous catch in the 1954 World Series on Sept. 29. The catch was made in the Polo Grounds, against Vic Wertz of the Cleveland Indians. Mays caught the baseball going away from home plate — and New York Giants swept the series.  (NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

“Workmen clad in Giants jerseys tipping their hardhats as a wrecking ball — painted like a baseball — slammed into the famed stadium,” Sports Illustrated reported last year of the sad moment in sports history.

A public housing project, Polo Grounds Towers, rose over the footprint of the arena and opened in 1968. 

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The site is easily accessible by taking the B or D trains of the NYC subway to 155th Street Station. 

A plaque mounted on the side of one of the housing project high-rises marks the location of home plate. 

Polo Grounds Towers

Polo Grounds Towers is a New York City public housing project built on the footprint of the Polo Grounds, one of the most important arenas in American sports. (Kerry J. Byrne/Fox News Digital)

The presence of the Polo Grounds is still felt. 

Two residents quickly pointed a Fox News Digital reporter to the site of the home plate plaque, as if asked countless times. 

“John T. Brush Stairway Presented by the New York Giants,” reads the inscription on a staircase up the bluff of Coogan’s Hollow. 

The stairwell was dedicated in 1913 to the team owner who died the previous year.

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“Fans may no longer throng down the old staircase making their way to watch their beloved New York Giants play,” Spencer wrote on Atlas Obscura. 

“But it is all that remains from the sad day they tore down the old Polo Grounds.” 

For more Lifestyle articles, visit www.foxnews.com/lifestyle.

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