On September 24, 1957, the Brooklyn Dodgers played their last game at beloved but decrepit Ebbets Field. Originally founded in 1883 as the Brooklyn Athletics, the venerable team which signed the Major League’s first African-American player, Jackie Robinson, was also known over the years as the Grays, the Bridegrooms, the Grooms, the Trolley Dodgers, the Superbas, and the Robins before “Trolley Dodgers” was shortened to Dodgers in 1932.
After businessman Walter O’Malley acquired majority ownership of the team in 1950, he worked with the mayor and city planner of Brooklyn to get permission to build a much-needed, state-of-the-art stadium, but they refused to “play ball”. O’Malley took the Dodgers on the road to New Jersey for several games in 1956 to signal the seriousness of his intent to move the team unless the situation changed. Brooklyn’s Mayor Robert F. Wagner, Jr. refused to budge. Los Angeles, originally angling to acquire the Washington Senators, offered O’Malley land for a stadium, which he would own, and complete control over all revenues. O’Malley took the Dodgers to LA, convincing New York Giants owner Horace Stoneham to bring his team (also suffering a home-field “disadvantage” in a crumbling stadium) to San Francisco, instead of the then-contemplated move to Minneapolis. Stoneham agreed, and the Giants-Dodgers rivalry permanently moved west.
After having won the World Championship in 1955, only two years before, the Dodgers could be forgiven for being disappointed that only 6700 diehard fans showed up for their last Brooklyn game. On this Tuesday in autumn, at 44-year-old Ebbets Field, O’Malley’s team won one last victory before going “Hollywood”, defeating the Pittsburgh Pirates 2-0.