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1990s / Eddie Grant Memorial Resurfaces
Eddie Grant was a Harvard-educated ballplayer who played for four MLB teams between 1906 and 1915. After his baseball career ended, Grant enlisted in the army during the First World War at age 34. He rose to the rank of captain. On October 5, 1918, a few weeks before the war ended, Grant was killed by enemy shell fire in the Argonne Forest. On Memorial Day 1921, the New York Giants, Grant's final MLB team, unveiled an enormous brass plaque that was handsomely mounted on a five-foot granite marker that sat in the deepest part of the Polo Grounds underneath the home team's clubhouse. From the memorial's dedication until the Giants abandoned New York and the Polo Grounds in 1957, a solemn wreath-laying ceremony was held at the Grant monument every year, usually between games of a Memorial Day doubleheader. At the conclusion of the final game played at the Polo Grounds on September 29, 1957, souvenir hunters mobbed the field. The New York Times reported that three teenagers were seen prying the bronze plaque off the monument. Rumors that the police ultimately recovered the plaque were never verified, and its whereabouts remained a mystery for nearly 42 years. In late July 1999, the Eddie Grant Memorial plaque was discovered in the attic of a home in Ho-Ho-Kus Township, NJ. It had been formerly owned by Lena and Gaetano Bucca. The new home owners, Brian and Deborah Lamb, came across the plaque carefully wrapped in a blanket and hidden under a trap door in the attic. Brian Lamb contacted Baseball Reliquary Board member, Wendy Brougalman, a former business associate, with news of the discovery. How did the 100-pound plaque end up in a New Jersey attic? The Lambs purchased the home from the Bucca family after the death of Lena Bucca in 1998. Gaetano Bucca, a former New York City police officer, died in 1974. Gaetano, who retired from the force in January 1958 and subsequently moved with his family to New Jersey, served in the city's 32nd precinct, an area of jurisdiction encompassing the Polo Grounds. It is assumed that that Officer Bucca and a few allies had arranged to take the plaque with the intention of delivering it to the Eddie Grant American Legion Post 1225 in the Bronx. The plaque never made it there. Benjamin Bucca, Gaetano's only surviving son and a respected probate attorney, had no knowledge at all of the 100-pound plaque situated just above his head in his former bedroom. "You know, I never felt comfortable in that bedroom," he said. "Now I know why! That thing could have fallen on my head in the middle of the night and flattened me. My Pop was always a bit of a mystery, but this . . . This is . . . What the hell was he thinking about?'"