But fame can be fleeting. Players like Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig are still revered many years after their deaths, in no small measure due to the fact that the team they played for still exists and is still thriving. Christy Mathewson, on the other hand, has not fared nearly as well.
Before Ruth joined the Yankees in 1921 and forever changed the game of baseball, the Giants were easily New York's dominant team, and Christy Mathewson was their shining star. Mathewson shared the spotlight with his manager, John McGraw. McGraw and Mathewson, however, could be called polar opposites. The public saw Mathewson as the prototypical gentleman athlete, a college man who lived an exemplary life both on and off the field. He was what we would today call "a good role model." McGraw, though, was coarse, ill tempered, and driven. He had unprecedented success as a manager, and New Yorkers came to appreciate the genius he displayed from the dugout.
Between them, Mathewson and McGraw personified the New York Giants. They were world famous, and they lived in an era before radio and television, when worldwide fame was much more difficult to achieve.
The Giants, along with the Dodgers, abandoned New York after the 1957 season and relocated to California. The move was, sadly, a successful one for the Dodgers. Certainly, the Giants have had their moments in San Francisco, but it seems hard to imagine that their fame, and their fortunes, would not have been much greater had they remained in the nation's largest market. And Christy Mathewson and John McGraw would continue to be cherished heroes in the city that once loved them.
Here at LeapToad, we do not have the power to restore the Giants and Dodgers to New York, where they belong, and to banish the Yankees to Buffalo or Indianapolis. We would if we could. What we can do, however, is give Christy Mathewson a little corner of the Internet, to give modern-day web surfers a chance to see how Matty was seen by his contemporaries.
We have transcribed a handful of articles from periodicals that were on the newsstands when Christy Mathewson ruled New York. As you read them, allow the decades to slip away. Imagine yourself standing in front of the Flatiron Building, waiting to cross 23rd Street. Everyone around you is talking about today's game at the Polo Grounds. Matty is going to be pitching...