In the final game in Polo Grounds, the New York Giants lost 9-1 to the Pittsburgh Pirates. This was 1957, back when the New York Giants weren’t a football team and the Pittsburgh Pirates were a baseball team. Being both the final game in the legendary, terrible, field, and a horrendous playoff loss, the fans naturally decided to descend on the field and start a merry little riot, eviscerating the home of their favorite team until little was left but trampled grass and the disgusted memories of an eight run deficit.
But not everything was destroyed during the pretty standard New York reaction to anything. Former Giants player Eddie Grant was there that day, watching silently from his memorial plaque in right field. He’d played for the Giants for years, wracking up an absolutely-not-league-leading .228 batting average and the nickname “Harvard Eddie,” because he went to Harvard and his name was Eddie. Nicknames, like the times, were much simpler then.
Sadly, Eddie’s real claim to fame was being dead.
In 1918, the Germans were railroading in supplies to Sedan, France, and laughing while they did it. Clearly, if this kept up, the Allies would be attacking a consistently well-supplied enemy, making their assaults all the more difficult.
The response was the launch of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, or the Battle of Argonne Forest (Which sounds cooler because it could be from Lord of the Rings or something). The goal was to take the railroad in Sedan and snap the Germans’ spine like a dead twig. On September 26, it began, and one of those Americans charging into battle was Captain Eddie Grant, the world’s first Major League Baseball player turned warrior.
With all of his commanding officers wiped out, Grant decided to strangle all of the Germans himself, and took the reins of his platoon. A heroic move, surely, but one that would unfortunately result in him being blown up by a shell.
This depressing honor would be commemorated in 1921 on the very same plaque overlooking the swarms of madness during Polo Grounds’ last call in 1957.
The Giants were moving west, and they totally intended on bringing Eddie with them. He was a tragic hero; one of the Giants own, and the first ball player to be cut down by the enemy. It was so important to the organization that on their way from Polo Grounds to San Francisco, the Giants just sort of lost it forever.
So you can understand why a guy with the accomplishments Grant has would feel obligated to return as a furious spectre and curse his former team, once for moving across the country, and again for leaving him behind. The Giants have never won a World Series since, and many point to the ghost of Eddie Grant as the reason.
The Phillies, it seems, won’t have to rely solely on their stacked pitching and offense to defeat San Fran in tomorrow’s NLCS, as a being from the netherworld will be standing invisibly behind Roy Halladay, giving his cutter extra cut, giving his fastball extra juice, and comically ripping Pablo Sandoval’s pants just enough so that when he bends down to field a grounder, they explode.
Of course, they did wind up finding Eddie’s plaque 40 years later in a house in New Jersey. But one would assume that he would equally pissed that it A.) Took four decades to find and B.) Was in a house in New Jersey for 40 years instead of California.
I threw up out my window when I accidentally crossed the border into Jersey on the highway and was only there long enough to pull a U-turn. I can’t imagine the rage festering in a dishonored, post mortem WWI soldier trapped in Jersey for four decades.
He also played for the Phillies before the Giants, and they never dissed him hard enough to invoke the wrath of a spirit, so one would think in that match-up, Eddie’s pulling for us.