Queens - Flushing - Shea Stadium
Shea Stadium, originally to be called Flushing Meadows Stadium Park but instead named after William A. Shea, the man who brought National League baseball back to New York, was opened on April 17, 1964 after 29 months and $25.5M of construction. Located right next to LaGuardia Airport, Shea Stadium is known for the roar of overhead airlines.
The architectural firm of Praeger-Kavanagh-Waterbury designed the stadium to be the first all-purpose facility. In addition to serving as the home to the New York Mets, Shea also hosted the New York Jets until 1983, the New York Yankees and New York Giants during construction on Yankee Stadium (1974-75, and briefly in 1998), and numerous concerts including the opening of the 1965 North American Beatles tour, which was the first concert held at a major outdoor stadium.
With a seating capacity of 55,000+, Shea is a circular stadium, with the grandstand forming a perfect circle around the field, ending a short distance beyond the foul lines. The remainder of the perimeter is mostly empty space beyond the outfield fences--occupied by the bullpens, scoreboards, and a section of bleachers. Shea Stadium, with its swirling winds and poor batter's eye has historically played as a pitcher's park.
Square sections which hold the ramps from level to level pop out of the stadium's perimeter. After the Jets left for the Meadowlands in 1983, the exterior was masked with large blue wind screen panels and neon silhouettes of baseball players were placed on each of the six panels. In 2003, large murals celebrating the Mets' two world championships in 1969 and 1986 were put up, covering the two ends of the grandstand. The 1986 mural was removed following the 2006 season.
A distinctive Big Apple emerges from the Mets Magic Top Hat, a giant upside-down black top hat, and flashes whenever a Mets player hits a home run. the hat features the words home run in big letters. Prior to 1984, the hat featured the words "Mets Magic" in honor of the slogan used in 1980 declaring that "The Magic Is Back."
Prior to the construction of Citizens Bank Park, Shea Stadium's 175' x 86' scoreboard topped with a Bulova clock 25 feet beyond the right field fence was the largest in major league baseball. A new LED system was installed prior to the 2004 season, replacing an older light bulb display that had been in place since 1987. The scoreboard is topped by the New York skyline. Since 9/11 the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center have been kept unlit, a red, white, and blue ribbon placed over them. In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks, Shea served as a relief center.
A DiamondVision video board in left center field was installed in 1982, replaced in 1992 by a higher resolution CRT board, and then again by a high-definition LED board manufactured by Mitsubishi. The screen--35 feet, 8 inches wide by 26 feet, 3 inches high -- shows replays, special in-game features, statistics and more.
Shea Stadium Firsts:
* Game: April 17, 1964 - Pirates 4, Mets 3 (WP-Bob Friend; LP-Ed Bauta)
* Batter: Dick Schofield, Pirates (popped up to Mets second baseman Larry Burright against pitcher Jack Fisher)
* Met Batter: Tim Harkness (grounded out, shortstop Dick Schofield to first baseman Donn Clendenon against Bob Friend)
* Hit: April 17, 1964 - Willie Stargell, Pirates; second inning home run off Jack Fisher
* Met Hit: April 17, 1964 - Tim Harkness, third-inning single off Bob Friend
* Met Victory: April 19, 1964 - Mets 6, Pirates 0 (WP - Al Jackson; LP - Bob Veale)