Sixty years ago today was one of the greatest days in baseball history and in the history of Brooklyn New York. For the first time ever, Dem Bums, the Brooklyn Dodgers won the World Series.
Although Bums was their unofficial nickname, his was not a team of bums, the team was comprised of all-stars including; home run threat and hall of famer and 1955 MVP, catcher Roy Campanella, first baseman: Gil Hodges (who should be in the hall of fame), at third base hall of famer Jackie Robinson, the sure fielding Pee Wee Reese at short stop, power hitter Duke Snider playing center field hit 42 homers during the season, and right fielder Carl Furillo who was not only threat at the plate, but was an incredible fielder with a rocket arm.
Don Newcome was the leading pitcher with twenty wins but this was a bullpen that won an amazing 30 games. The other starters were Carl Erskine, Johnny Podres, and Billy Loes. A spot starter for the team was this young, kid who only pitched 41 innings, named Kofax.
The Dodgers won pennants in 1941, 1947, 1949, 1952, and 1953, only to fall to the New York Yankees in the series each time. It was an annual ritual of building excitement, followed in the end by disappointment. “Wait ’til next year!” became the motto of Dodger fans.
The love affair between the Dodgers and the borough of Brooklyn was unique in MLB history:
What made the Brooklyn Dodgers unique, even to this day, is that they are the only major-league team in baseball history that didn’t represent a city or state but a mere borough — and an orphan borough, at that — a politically liberal, polyglot community of three million, comprised mostly of working-class immigrants living simple lives, the blood-and-sweat underdogs striving as best they could for something higher.
While Manhattan always overshadowed it with the hovering power of the Empire State Building and the star power of Broadway, Brooklyn had the Navy Yard and Coney Island and, most of all, the Dodgers, a team tightly woven into the daily culture of Brooklyn in a way that the Yankees weren’t in the Bronx or the Giants in upper Manhattan, with a ballpark not on the outskirts of town but smack in the center of Flatbush, the heart of Brooklyn.
The fans at Ebbets were almost entirely Brooklynites — rarely were there tourists — and they either walked a few blocks to get there or took the BMT subway a handful of stops, or less, to the Prospect Park station.
“Going to a Dodger game,” says Ed Igel, a financial advisor at Smith Barney who grew up in Ocean Parkway, “was like going to the movies.” His lingering memory: “My father taking me out of school early to see a day game, and at the ticket window, he’d (grease the palm of the cashier by putting) a fifty-cent piece on its edge on the counter and ask for the best seats in the house.”
Ebbets, built on a garbage dump called Pigtown in April of 1913, was a place that eventually held 32,000 people but always sounded as if there were at least twice as many.
Two years after celebrating the win over the Yankees (they lost to the Yankees in ’56 but it didn’t seem to matter) the Brooklyn Dodgers played their final game on September 24, 1957, which the Dodgers won 2–0 over the Pittsburgh Pirates. Thanks to NYC Construction Coordinator Robert Moses, who denied them the location they wanted in Brooklyn for a new park, and Team Owner Walter O’Malley, the team was no more…having moved to Los Angeles (taking the NY Giants to California with them). O’Malley was so hated by Brooklyn Dodgers fans, after the move to California it was said If you asked a Brooklyn Dodgers fan, if you had a gun with only two bullets in it and were in a room with Hitler, Stalin and O’Malley, who would you shoot? A Dodgers fan would answer, Walter O’Malley, twice!
This was written eight years ago but is still true:
You won’t hear a peep from the citizens of Philadelphia crying for their long-lost Athletics or St. Louis for the Browns or Boston for the Braves or even New Yorkers for the Giants of the Polo Grounds. But, 50 years from the last recorded out made at Ebbets Field, on Sept. 24, 1957, the Dodgers and Brooklyn remain, amazingly, frozen in a black-and-white pocket of time, connected forever, heart and soul, with a secret bond that outsiders will never fully comprehend.