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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Today Is The Anniversary Of The Day Brooklyn Died

 It was a meaningless game. The "Bums" would place third that year. The Braves of Milwaukee would win the pennant they had 1957 MVP and All-time home run leader Hank Aaron on their team. And their pitching staff was lead by future Hall of Famer and 363 game winner, Warren Spahn.

1957  wasn't the Dodgers' year but even worse it wasn't the Borough of Brooklyn's year. When the Pirates' Dee Fondy grounded out giving the the Dodgers a 2-0 victory on September 24th 1957, it was so much more than the last home game of the season. It was even more than the Dodgers' last game in Ebbets Field, it was the day the Borough of Brooklyn died. The Dodgers were part of the glue that kept Brooklyn together, with their last home game and the move to L.A. Brooklyn would never be the same.

Sure the basketball Nets moved to Brooklyn two years agoand Hockey's Islanders are joining them, but its different.  They aren't Brooklyn they are regional teams and not even the most popular or successful of regional teams.  The Knicks and the Rangers own NYC.

The Brooklyn Dodgers were so much more than a baseball team, they were the official "state religion" of Brooklyn. For example in 1952 first baseman Gil Hodges went through a horrible slump. After going hitless in his last four regular-season games of 1952, during the 1952 World Series against the hated Yankees, and into the following spring, fans reacted with countless letters and good-luck gifts, and one Brooklyn priest – Father Herbert Redmond of St. Francis Roman Catholic Church – told his flock: "It's far too hot for a homily. Keep the Commandments and say a prayer for Gil Hodges."
They were the "everyman" of a part of New York primary occupied by blue collar, strongly ethnic, first and second generation Americans. The Dodgers were just like them and lived amongst them, they weren't snooty like those dammed Yankees or those uptown Manhattan Giants.  They were proud to be 'Dem Bums," proud to be part of Brooklyn.

That all changed Sept 24, 1957. Walter O' Malley was moving the Dodgers to Los Angeles.  O'Malley may have held papers saying he owned the team, but it was grand larceny because the Dodgers were owned by the Borough of Brooklyn.

The names of Walter O'Malley (the Team owner who moved the Dodgers) and Robert Moses the NYC official who wouldn't let the Dodgers build another stadium in Brooklyn still generate hatred for anyone who was a fan of the Brooklyn team.

The Dodgers weren't the only team to leave New York that summer.  O'Malley convinced the owner of the Giants to move to San Francisco with possibly the greatest ball player in the game Willie Mays.  Together, he claimed they would own the state of California which they did for four seasons.

After four horrible seasons of no National League baseball in the largest city in America, Baseball expanded and gave the city the New York Metropolitans (Mets). Ironically that same Robert Moses, built the Mets a Stadium in Flushing by the bay, the same place he tried to force the Dodgers to move.  Shea wasn't the same warm home as Ebbets. It was a stadium, Ebbets field was a homey ball park--it was in Queens, not in Brooklyn. The Mets generated their own fan base...but they could never have the same relationship with their fans that the entire Borough of Brooklyn had with Dem Bums.

Ebbets Field was torn down but believe it or not when they miss the Dodgers, some fans still go down to where the ballpark stood and remember when baseball wasn't a game played in a stadium, it was a religion played in the holy grounds of Ebbets field

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