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Baseball Fan Killed By Stray Bullet - 1950 On Tuesday, July 4, 1950, while awaiting the start of a Brooklyn Dodgers-New York Giants holiday doubleheader at the Polo Grounds in Manhattan, 53-year-old Barney Doyle was killed from a bullet to the head. Doyle, a passionate Giants fan from New Jersey, had come to the sold-out event with his 13-year-old neighbor, Otto Flaig, who had been eagerly awaiting the trip to the Polo Grounds for weeks. Just as the teams entered the field, Doyle turned to speak to his youthful companion and then suddenly slumped over. Fans seated nearby thought Doyle had merely fainted, but quickly realized the situation was far more serious when they saw blood pouring from a severe head wound. Police later discovered that a 14-year-old boy, Robert Peebles, at a nearby housing project on Coogan's Bluff had fired the shot indiscriminately over a five-foot parapet to celebrate the Fourth of July. He had found the .45-caliber gun in Central Park. Newspapers also reported that fans who had bought standing-room passes for the sold-out doubleheader callously fought over Doyle's vacated seat. Because of his age, Peebles shockingly could only receive a juvenile delinquency charge. Doyle had recently been forced to retire from his job due to health concerns; attending ballgames had become one of the few outings he was permitted to do. The photo below ran in the next day's New York Daily News. (If anybody cares, the Giants and Dodgers split that day's doubleheader.)
Tags: Barney  Doyle  Murder  Polo  Grounds  baseball   
Added: 6th March 2015
Views: 2768
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Posted By: Lava1964
Posted by: Lava1964 on 2015-03-06 
One of the major reasons that the Dodgers and Giants both left New York City--but one that is seldom talked about openly--was the urban decay around the teams' respective ballparks. From the time of this unsettling incident in 1950 to when the Giants and Dodgers uprooted after the 1957 season, the neighborhoods around both the Polo Grounds and Ebbets field had declined at an alarming rate. Fans who drove to the games often had their car batteries and radios stolen. Youth gangs often demanded a dollar from drivers to protect their cars from vandalism. Those who did not pay often found the tires slashed. The area around the Polo Grounds was surrounded with low-income housing. It was not a nice place to visit, to say the least. Fan chose to stay away.
Posted by: Old Fart on 2015-03-07 
Wow. You post the best stuff Lava!
Posted by: Lava1964 on 2015-03-07 
Thanks for the compliment. My guideline is if I think something is interesting, probably other people will feel the same way.

I came across this tidbit while researching my next baseball history book. I was looking into urban decay as a factor for the Giants and Dodgers leaving New York City. I had heard of the shooting at the Polo Grounds, but I hadn't seriously researched it until a few days ago.
Posted by: Classico on 2015-03-16 
Because of his age, Peebles shockingly could only receive a juvenile delinquency charge.


Juvenile laws were exceedingly protective of errant youths back in those days. Today he would get a felony charge thanks to reforms put into place many years later.

As for why the Giants and Dodgers left, yes it is true that there had been much urban decay (I lived only a few blocks from Ebbets Field in my early youth). But this was not the actual cause for why they left. Had that treacherous Walter O'Malley gotten the backup he needed from Robert Moses he would have gotten the publicly financed stadium he wanted. But Moses was hell bent on getting a different site from the one proposed by so many for Brooklyn's railroad terminal area. Therefore, O'Malley (his name was used as an epithet for many years in Brooklyn and some still refuse to utter his name) took flight to the West Coast. I cannot say for certain that these politics apply to Horace Stoneham and the Giants but it likely is true as well.

In all fairness, expansion to the West was inevitable as the Braves moved to Milwaukee from Boston, there had been talk of expanding into Minneapolis and Kansas City, and much of the population was shifting West.
Posted by: cml60 on 2015-05-12 
This is a sad story. What is even sadder is that photo being put out there. May he rest in peace.

Wondering what happened to the shooter after all these years?
Posted by: Lava1964 on 2015-05-12 
I don't have any issue with the media showing graphic images if they are accurate and newsworthy. This photo meets those criteria.
Posted by: Steve on 2015-05-12 
I also own a local news website and even photos that are extremely tame are called graphic. I guess its in the eye in the beholder.
Posted by: Lava1964 on 2015-05-12 
I'm always amazed at how touchy-feely people have become about harsh reality.

Sports Illustrated got a lot of flak when its cover photo showed the grisly carnage at the 2013 Boston Marathon. Some angry readers wrote to say how upset they were to see the blood and gore.

My response would have been: 'Yes, you should be angry...at what the bombers did--not at us for showing you what the bombers did!'
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