“The Old Ball Game: New York Baseball, 1887–1977” at the The Metropolitan Museum of Art
From the late 1940s to the late 1950s, New York was home to three of the best teams in professional baseball. On October 3, 1951, the New York Giants’ Bobby Thomson hit a three-run homer against the Brooklyn Dodgers’ Ralph Branca, earning the Giants a National League pennant with one of the most dramatic plays in the history of baseball. It was the bottom of the ninth inning in the final game of a tie-breaking playoff, and the Dodgers held a 4–2 lead. The game between the two longtime local rivals was televised from coast to coast and described in lively detail by Giants radio announcer Russ Hodges. With millions experiencing the play-by-play firsthand, Thomson’s historic home run came to be known as the “shot heard ’round the world.” The Giants then advanced to the World Series, where they faced another local—and seemingly invincible—team, the New York Yankees, to whom they lost in the sixth game.
New York has been the site of some of baseball’s most significant milestones since the mid-19th century, when the New York Knickerbockers was the first team to apply rules that still govern the sport today. It was here that Babe Ruth set multiple single-season home-run records as a Bronx Bomber and Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball when he started for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. This exhibition features baseball cards dating from 1887—when the Dodgers were called the Bridegrooms, the Giants were known as the Gothams, and the Yankees didn’t yet exist—to 1977, when the Mets had replaced the Dodgers and Giants as New York’s primary National League team.