Don’t be embarrassed or feel like a luxury box bozo if you don’t know who Shea Stadium is named after. Most fans only have a passing knowledge of William A. Shea. However, given that today is the day before Shea Stadium's 43rd birthday, here are some key points:
* Born in Manhattan, 1907 into a middle class Irish family.
* Attended George Washington High School.
* Played football and LaCrosse for NYU for one year, then switched to Georgetown, where he got his undergraduate and law degrees.
* During the Depression, his dad couldn’t afford to pay for college. Shea’s younger sister Gloria became a model and actress and earned enough money to pay his tuition.
* Became a successful lawyer and friends with mayors, senators and captains of industry in New York.
* After the Dodgers and Giants left New York in 1957, was tapped by New York mayor Robert Wagner to find a replacement team.
* Also responsible for bringing the New York Jets to Shea Stadium. And for bringing the New York Nets and New York Islanders to Long Island.
* Tom Deegan (a.k.a The Major Deegan) was the PR man for the Triborough Brisge and Tunnel Authority in the 1960’s. He is the man who started a campaign to name the Met’s new baseball Stadium after Shea. William Shea was adamantly opposed to the idea, since only dead people got honore with building names. He lost the battle and also didn’t die…until 1991.
* Founded the law firm Shea & Gould. I happened to work there as a moving man in 1986. Shea had an office but was hardly there. I never met him but did go into his office once. It was a shrine to Mets baseball; I believe the actual Mayor’s Trophy was there in a case but I was pretty young and nervous and don’t remember much, except that Shea’s office was bigger than 98% of most Manhattan apartments I’ve ever been in.
Without William Shea’s devotion to baseball and skills as a negotiator, there would probably be no Mets. The new stadium will not bear his name. Will his legacy be in any way represented in Citi Field?
About Loge13: Tracking the last days of Shea
April 16, 1964: The Day Before The Creation
When The Shea Walls Come Down