NYCnow Brooklyn

60 years ago: End of Brooklyn’s ballgame

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By Mark Langill

Exactly 60 years ago, baseball in Brooklyn came to an end.

The Phillies defeated the Dodgers 2–1 on Sept. 29, 1957, at Connie Mack Stadium. Trivia experts note journeyman outfielder Bob Kennedy was the game’s final batter — a flyout to center field — and future star Sandy Koufax pitched the final inning by a Brooklyn Dodger after starter Roger Craig went the first seven innings.

The 1957 Dodgers (84–70) finished in third place after winning the franchise’s first championship in 1955 and returning to the World Series in 1956, losing in seven games in a Fall Classic rematch against the New York Yankees.

Although the official announcement of the Dodgers’ intention to move to the West Coast didn’t occur until nine days later — and one day after the Los Angeles City Council approved a motion to enter into a contract with the baseball team — those who were present for the final week of the 1957 season felt the team was as good as gone. Team president Walter O’Malley was unsuccessful in his 10-year quest to acquire land from New York City officials to build a new ballpark to replace an aging Ebbets Field.

Can’t imagine what your life and Southern California would be without the Dodgers for the past 60 years? Consider the heartbreak carried for generations by the New York-based fans who also watched the National League’s Giants relocate from the Polo Grounds to San Francisco. The National League added the expansion Mets in 1962, blending the colors of the departed Dodgers (blue) and Giants (orange).

“The reason the Dodgers are still popular in Brooklyn is the fans never had a chance to see us grow old,” says 90-year-old Carl Erskine, a Dodger pitcher in Brooklyn and Los Angeles from 1948 to 1959. “In their eyes, we’re always going to be the ‘Boys of Summer.’”

What if the Dodgers and Giants had stayed in New York? Chances are the American League’s Washington Senators would’ve eventually come to Los Angeles at the invitation of the local civic cheerleaders: City Councilwoman Rosalind Wyman, County Supervisor Kenneth Hahn; sportswriters Vincent X. Flaherty and Bob Hunter of the Los Angeles Examiner.

If the Giants moved to Minneapolis after the 1957 season as originally planned, the National League might’ve waited until two West Coast teams were available. If the Senators moved to Los Angeles, an expansion team would’ve likely been added in San Francisco to give California two teams needed for schedule and travel purposes.

The St. Louis Browns previously were the closest team to move to Los Angeles. The Browns, tired of sharing the same market with the National League’s Cardinals, were going to seek permission to move after the 1941 season. But prior to the Winter Meetings, the bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7 and the outbreak of World War II curtailed travel in the United States. The Browns eventually relocated to Baltimore after the 1953 season and became the Orioles.

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