Baseball has never suffered any shortage of popularity on Long Island. And, with the amazing performance by the “Miracle Mets” in 1969, millions of fans flocked to Shea Stadium in the 70s to watch their National League heroes, as well as football games and a number of concerts. And though Shea has since met its demise, memories of this stadium remain strong.
When the Brooklyn Dodgers left in 1957, then the New York Giants the following year, New Yorker suddenly found themselves without a National League team for the first time in the century, They would have to wait until 1962, when the Mets began playing at the Polo Grounds.
Meanwhile, their new home was being constructed on the site that was originally considered as a new home for the Dodgers in Flushing. So happy were New Yorkers that they named the new stadium after the man that returned National League baseball to their city, William A. Shea.
In 1969, against amazing odds, the always-cellar-dwelling Mets did the seemingly impossible, they beat the Orioles in five games, earning themselves the title of “Miracle Mets”. During the 70s, the team would enjoy a return to the fall classic in 1973, but lose to the Athletics in seven.
New York fans would have to wait well into the 80s before their team won the series again, thanks in part to a first baseman named Bill Buckner who kept the Boston curse alive for the remainder of the century.
Here’s a great look at Shea, circa 1977:
Besides being the home of the New York Mets, Shea Stadium has served a variety of other functions over the years. The New York Jets played here all through the 70s (with the exception of 1977), until conflicts between baseball and football season led them to move to Giants Stadium all the way in New Jersey.
The stadium also has a rich history of hosting music concerts, starting with the record crowd that showed up to watch The Beatles perform in 1965. More great events would follow in the 70s.
In 1971, Shea Stadium hosted the Festival For Peace, which featured such acts as Creedence Clearwater Revival, Janis Joplin and Miles Davis. Grand Funk Railroad played to a record-breaking crowd at the stadium that same year.
Numerous acts appeared there through the remainder of the decade and, in 1979, the stadium hosted its biggest name ever, Pope John Paul II, whose entrance into the stadium seemed to somehow halt a torrential downpour that had plagued the stadium all day. Just another miracle at Shea Stadium.
Unfortunately, Shea started to really show her age in later years, and like many other stadiums of the 70s, it would soon belong to the ages. In 2009, after hosting almost five decades of baseball games and other events, She was demolished, replaced by Citi Field just across the way.
But memories aren’t so easy to demolish, and there is many a former 70s kid who can fondly remember sitting with their dad at Shea and rooting for those Mets to pull off another miracle. Those memories will last a lifetime.
What are your own personal memories of Shea Stadium? I’d love to hear them in our comments section at the bottom of the page.