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THERE WERE GIANTS IN THOSE DAYS: THE NEW YORK GIANTS DYNASTY 1954-1963 by Gerald Eskenazi [Excerpt]

THERE WERE GIANTS IN THOSE DAYS: THE NEW YORK GIANTS DYNASTY 1954-1963 by Gerald Eskenazi [Excerpt]

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Published by Diversion Books
A Nostalgic Look Back at the Decade That Defined the New York Giants, Updated with a New Introduction

New York Times reporter Gerald Eskenazi brings us back to 1954, when the New York Giants began a decade of success as an iconic American sports team, winning six division titles between 1954 and 1963. Emerging from years of slumber, going from the Polo Grounds to Yankee Stadium, they produced a crop of hall of fame players whose names still resonate, including Tittle, Gifford, Greer, and Robustelli, making a then $7 New York Giants ticket the toughest to buy in the world of sports.

Filled with personal anecdotes from players and coaches that reconstruct the drama and excitement of the plays and games during that eventful era, Giants fans will be reunited with the players (Robustelli, Huff, Grier, Modzelewski, and Svare on defense; Gifford, Rote, Brown, Shofner, Webster, and Tittle on offense), their rivals (Jim Brown, John Unitas, and others), meet Vince Lombardi and Tom Landry when they were assistant coaches, and relive the 1958 title game against the Baltimore Colts—the first overtime game in National Football League history—which remains in lore as the “greatest game ever played.”

Originally published in 1976 and now in eBook for the first time with a new Introduction by the author on the Giants of the past 25 years, and their Superbowl championship under Tom Coughlin, "There Were Giants in Those Days" is a look back at the decade that defined the New York Giants.
A Nostalgic Look Back at the Decade That Defined the New York Giants, Updated with a New Introduction

New York Times reporter Gerald Eskenazi brings us back to 1954, when the New York Giants began a decade of success as an iconic American sports team, winning six division titles between 1954 and 1963. Emerging from years of slumber, going from the Polo Grounds to Yankee Stadium, they produced a crop of hall of fame players whose names still resonate, including Tittle, Gifford, Greer, and Robustelli, making a then $7 New York Giants ticket the toughest to buy in the world of sports.

Filled with personal anecdotes from players and coaches that reconstruct the drama and excitement of the plays and games during that eventful era, Giants fans will be reunited with the players (Robustelli, Huff, Grier, Modzelewski, and Svare on defense; Gifford, Rote, Brown, Shofner, Webster, and Tittle on offense), their rivals (Jim Brown, John Unitas, and others), meet Vince Lombardi and Tom Landry when they were assistant coaches, and relive the 1958 title game against the Baltimore Colts—the first overtime game in National Football League history—which remains in lore as the “greatest game ever played.”

Originally published in 1976 and now in eBook for the first time with a new Introduction by the author on the Giants of the past 25 years, and their Superbowl championship under Tom Coughlin, "There Were Giants in Those Days" is a look back at the decade that defined the New York Giants.

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Published by: Diversion Books on Aug 28, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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04/06/2014

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There Were Giants in Those Days:The New York Giants Dynasty 1954-1963
by Gerald Eskenazi
I
From 1954 to 1963 a football team named the Giants loved
 — 
and was loved by
 — 
NewYork. On Sundays starting in September, when the New York haze would begin todisappear as fall winds blew sulphurous exhaust out to the Atlantic, through the bitingwintertime, the Giants mattered more than most things. It was a decade that started well,with AT&T selling for $169, President Eisenhower playing golf, and Roger Bannisterrunning the mile in under four minutes.
The beginning of the Giants’ great decade coincided with the manufacture of millions
of twelve-inch and sixteen-inch television sets. The future had arrived. Americans werebecoming accustomed to a sort of instant sensationalism in their entertainment.For New Yorkers, touched by people, buildings, smells, and sounds more than mostAmericans, the changing patterns of behavior were perhaps heightened. They were readyfor a new outlet, especially in the games they enjoyed. Baseball was dominated by theYankees. They had won five straight championships. They were good and predictable.
There were rumbles that baseball’s Giants and Dodgers would leave New York. There
were basketball and hockey, in the Knickerbockers and Rangers. But the Knicksmaintained a bush-league image because they were forced to perform in an armoryduring the playoffs, when Madison Square Garden was showing the circus. And the ineptRangers were also forced out of the Garden during playoff time t
o play ―home‖ games in
places such as Toronto.
 
 
The Giants played in the National Football League, a professional loop of twelveteams divided into an Eastern Conference and a Western Conference. In 1954professional football was hardly removed from the days when the NFL was termed
―postgraduate football.‖ Indeed, even today— 
but much less than in former years
 — 
the
television announcer often follows a player’s name with the name of the college the
player attended. It was almost as if the athlete had played his
real
football in college, as if he still needed that collegiate identity to make his profession legitimate.
There remained a touch of, well … country, in pro football even into the 1950s. TheGiants’ coach since 1931 was Steve Owen, a product of the Chero
kee Strip in Oklahoma,
who enjoyed ―rasslin’ ‖ as a test of man
-to-man skills. When Owen was asked hisopinion of the coaching techniques of the innovative Paul Brown or what ho thought of the new T-
formation, he would smile and drawl, ―The game is played in the dirt.‖ He had
been thrust from the trench warfare of World War I into a new world he had never made,where there were new rules, new machines, and new armaments. And there were alsonew people, differently motivated and better educated.
Owen’s last
year with the club was 1953. Everyone hoped that the men who controlledthe Giants had fired him gently. They realized that a new era was starting in professionalfootball. It needed new coaches, new coaching techniques, and new players who couldadapt to the more fluid style that the second half of the twentieth century demanded.Few people could have envisioned the impact on New York life that the Giants wouldmake over the next ten years, when Vince Lombardi was only an
assistant 
coach, alongwith the cerebral Tom Landry. It was a time when the head of the Parke-Bernet Galleries(who also hired Emlen Tunnell as a guard in the rare books section) would show up at thegames, as well as Toots Shor, network executives, priests and nuns, and generals. Beforesidewalk cafes became fashionable in Manhattan, there was al fresco dining under theshadow of the Bronx elevated at Yankee Stadium, tailgate parties before the big game.
The shouts, the demands, really, of ―Dee
-fense! Dee-
fense!‖ started with the footballGiants’ fans. More than 60,000 of them, the largest season’s ticket
-holding group in theworld, would bellow for the most famous defensive unit in sports
 — 
probably in thehistory of sports in this country. Even today, the names have a magical connotation,t
aking in a time, a place, and a definite part of one’s mind: Rosey Grier, Andy Robustelli,
Sam Huff, Dick Modzelewski, Harland Svare, Em Tunnell.People had never before come to sports events to root for a defense. Had baseball fansgone to Yankee Stadium to see Babe Ruth make great catches in the outfield? Did they
want to see George Mikan grab a rebound? Did they want to see Maurice ―Rocket‖
Richard poke the puck away from an opponent? No, they had wanted to see Ruth smash ahome run; Mikan bank in a hook shot; or Richard sail down the ice with his eyes flaminglike torches from a cave, zero in on a goalie, and score.The offense had stars of its own, more names that are a part of nostalgia: Frank Gifford, Kyle Rote, Y. A. Tittle, Charlie Conerly, Rosey Brown, Del Shofner, Alex

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