This Day in Baseball History: March 16th, 1961

That’s pretty sweet in the outfield. I really want to know how they do it.

On March 16, 1961:

The bonds for Shea Stadium are approved.

During the Great Depression, a group of New York City policemen tried to lift the spirits of the city, and they thought an international exhibition would do the trick. In 1935, they created the New York World’s Fair Corporation. Over the next four years, they built and organized the event, which became the largest exhibit in world history. The Brooklyn Dodgers, New York Giants, and New York Yankees did their part in advertising the event. By the end of the fair, over 44 million people had attended, and the event. Where was this held? Flushing Meadows.

In 1960, Major League Baseball agreed to expand to 10 teams with one playing in New York, but by 1962, the Mets would have to play their games at the Polo Grounds. The construction on the stadium should have started in 1961 after the bonds were approved, but because the city had trouble actually coming up with the money, construction took three years. Now in the National League, the Mets would play the Pirates in their opener on April 17, 1964.

Before the Mets were asked to play in the stadium, New York tried to offer Flushing Meadows as a site for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Owner Walter O’Malley originally liked the idea, but in a change from modern baseball, he wanted to own the stadium outright and front all of the construction costs. The city, however, wanted to lease the stadium and rake in some money. As the debate raged, O’Malley then decided he’d rather keep the team in Brooklyn, but the city was unwilling to build the stadium elsewhere. Los Angeles stepped in to give O’Malley what he wanted, and the team left, leaving Shea Stadium for the Mets.

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