Few remember that Shea Stadium—and indeed the Mets baseball club itself—arose out of a dispute between two oversized egos: New York City official Robert Moses and Brooklyn Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley. While O’Malley wanted complete control over a new stadium and all of its concessions in Brooklyn, Moses insisted that the stadium be built by the city in Queens and leased to the Dodgers. The impasse led to the Dodgers following the Giants out to the West Coast, where The City of Los Angeles granted O’Malley all of the concessions he had sought in New York. With now no National League team in the New York area, the National League office awarded a new franchise to the city in 1960 on conditional that it fund and build a new stadium, which the Mets (and later the AFL Jets) would lease. The stadium was named in honor of William Shea, the person most responsible for returning National League baseball to New York.
Over its forty-four year existence Shea Stadium witnessed a colorful cavalcade of sporting and entertainment events, all detailed in this lively, skimable tribute to a memorable New York landmark.
It’s all here: the memorable games; the unforgettable characters such as Tom Seaver, Joe “Willie” Namath, and Seinfeld buddy Keith Hernandez; and even the solemn moments such as when Shea was used as a staging area for first responders after 9/11. By the time of its demolition in 2008, the Mets had played more games at Shea than the Dodgers had ever played at Ebbets Field, and the stadium had hosted seven National League Championship Series, four World Series, three Jets playoff games, and the American Football League Championship game in 1968.
Since 2007 Matthew Silverman has written Mets Essential, 100 Things Mets Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die (hardcover 2008, paperback 2010), Shea Goodbye (with Keith Hernandez), New York Mets: The Complete Illustrated History, and Best Mets. He is also author of Baseball Miscellany and Golf Miscellany. He has co-authored Mets by the Numbers, Cubs by the Numbers, and Red Sox by the Numbers. He blogs regularly at metsilverman.com.
An avid baseball fan growing up in White Plains, New York, Silverman went on to be a newspaper reporter and editor before joining Total Sports Publishing, eventually becoming associate publisher and heading the reference division. He was managing editor for Total Baseball, Total Football, and was lead editor for Baseball: The Biographical Encyclopedia, a volume of 2,000 baseball biographies. The Village Voice wrote, "It's possible that the last time so much essential information was gathered in one volume was The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire."
Silverman also served as managing editor for books on the Packers, Cowboys, 49ers, and Steelers, among other teams, plus Total Super Bowl. He later served as managing editor for first editions of The ESPN Baseball Encyclopedia and The ESPN Football Encyclopedia, along with subsequent editions. He edited all four editions of the Maple Street Press Mets Annual with Greg Spira. He lives in High Falls, New York.