On this day in 1912, Charles Ebbets, “The Squire of Flatbush”, announced he had acquired land in the Pigtown section of Brooklyn for a ballpark. Construction would start later that year, and the ballpark would open by Opening Day the next year. The name of the park: Ebbets Field (like you couldn’t guess, heh).
From what I’ve read, he decided to name the park after himself. And after working his way up with the Brooklyn Base Ball Club from errand boy/vendor in 1884 to team president in 1897 (meaning he was there from practically the beginning), I think he earned it. Plus, I’d pity the guy who would’ve suggested otherwise, Hercules was Ebbets’ middle name. Really.
While the Ebbets-inspired, soon-to-open Citi Field in Queens cost $600 million to build, Ebbets Field was build for less than a thousandth of that: $450,000. Today, that would get you close to 5 years of choice season tickets at the new Yankee Stadium.
I have been a Dodgers fan practically as long as I can remember. I think I was 6 years old when my family won a Blue Crew contest. We went in the space between the pavillions, where Orel Hershiser, Dave Anderson, and a few other members of the 1987 Dodgers signed our Blue Crew hats, we got a backpack filled with baseball cards, a nice little baseball card book of the L.A. Dodgers in Topps baseball cards since 1958 (come to think of it, I’ve gotta scan and share the next time I get down to SoCal), and other goodies. After that, we went on the field with the other winning families and were introduced on Diamondvision. I kept switching between looking ahead and looking back at the screen to see if I could see my face, a 6 year-old exercise in futility. After the day game was over, we headed to Disneyland, and it was the greatest experience ever.
Today, it’s near impossible for me to imagine life as anything but a Dodger fan, no matter how angry I get at on-field and front-office decisions (which is why I forgive Paul DePodesta for “ruining” the team by getting rid of LoDuca at a time when he was regarded as the heart and soul of the team). But when I grab for my Dodger hat, 9 times out of 10 it’s not an L.A. Dodger hat, it’s my Brooklyn Dodgers hat my future mother-in-law got for me when she was in New York. I’ve had people accuse me of being a Red Sox fan, or look oddly trying to figure out how I got the Dodger-colored UCLA hat. But the best times, few and far between, are when guys come up and ask “Is that a Brooklyn Dodgers hat?” I’ll nod, and they’ll go into this awesome story about a team I can only read about, in a place I’ve never been, in a borough that, at the time, was still an independent city at heart.
My favorite story was a guy who I ran into at the community college who looked at me like he had just seen seen a ghost. I was wearing my grey Dodgers hoodie (with just the Dodgers script in the front) and my hat. He exclaimed “THAT’S A BROOKLYN DODGERS HAT!!” I said yeah, and he went into a story about his childhood. “I used to live over by Flatbush, and my father would take me to Ebbets field and we’d see the game for a quarter each…” It was the kind of lesson about your team you’d gladly pay for, but could never buy. Then it went into how brokenhearted they were when they left Brooklyn. His dad got a job over in San Francisco, so they moved around 1960 and he’s been a Giants fan ever since.
Don’t get me wrong, I HATE the Giants. But if there ever was an excuse for being a Giants fan, that guy had the best one.
To keep the post from being overly long(er), I’ll go ahead and split this one in two, writing the more about the Brooklyn Dodgers either tonight or tomorrow.