09/24/08 7:14 PM ET
Shea moment No. 7: Beatlemania
Rock icons bring down the house in first stadium concert
By Jon Blau / MLB.com
Second base became a stage -- but for singles. Shea Stadium erupted, not for a crack of the bat, but for the pluck of a guitar. The father, the son and their gloves were replaced by teenage girls who stretched their hands out toward the infield and pleaded for a glance.
"Now, ladies and gentlemen," television personality Ed Sullivan said into the microphone, "honored by their country, decorated by their queen, and loved here in America, here are The Beatles!"
Shea Stadium's significance to baseball is null and void in the fan's No. 7 favorite moment. Instead, the crowd roared for the legendary rock band from the U.K. on Aug. 15, 1965, greeting the group with what was the largest concert of its kind at the time.
The Beatles entertained about 55,600 fans in Queens -- none on the field level -- including about 2,000 security guards scattered throughout the stadium to hold back an eager public. Special transportation brought the band to Shea Stadium without inhibiting traffic, flying the group onto the World's Fair building in Flushing Meadows Park before an armored truck shepherded them to Shea.
John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and George Harrison started the show with "Twist and Shout," shaking the stadium and provoking camera flashes from every tier. The crowd noise was so deafening, in fact, that during "I'm Down," Lennon jokingly played the keyboards with his elbows. Nobody would hear the misplayed notes anyway.
"At Shea Stadium," Lennon said in 1970, "I saw the top of the mountain."
At the height of "Beatlemania," this concert is considered to be one of the -- if not "the" -- most historic performance of its time. Video of the 30-minute event was made into a documentary named "The Beatles at Shea Stadium."
In "The Beatles Anthology," Starr recalled how the audience was so far away from the stage, but what little effect it had on the volume piercing the band's ear.
"Everybody screamed," he said. "If you look at the footage, you can see how we reacted to the place. It was very big and very strange."
Jon Blau is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.