Today is a very sad anniversary in the history of the borough of Brooklyn. It was 50 years ago today that the Brooklyn Dodgers played their final game at Ebbets Field. It would be the final MLB game ever played in the borough, and the last professional game played here until the Brooklyn Cyclones were born in 2001.
Only 6,702 fans attended what would be the death of the Brooklyn Dodgers. It was a long year for the Dodgers in 1957, and they finished third and were long out of the pennant race. Rumors of a possible move dogged the team throughout the season. The Dodgers moving west had become a foregone conclusion, and the fans had basically abandoned the team.
The finale was a 2-0 Dodgers win over the Pittsburgh Pirates, as rookie Danny McDevitt pitched a five-hit shutout for his seventh win of the year, striking out nine. Four future Hall of Famers played in this game, two for each team: Roy Campanella and Pee Wee Reese for the Dodgers, and Roberto Clemente and Bill Mazeroski for the Pirates. (Reese interestingly went in as a defensive replacement at third base for Gil Hodges, who played third that night and moved over to first later in the game. Duke Snider did not play that night.) The last play ever at Ebbets Field was when Pirates first baseman Dee Fondy grounded out to shortstop, and that SS was a man who would go down in Red Sox infamy over 20 years later: Don Zimmer.
Three future 1962 New York Mets would also play in this game: Hodges, Zimmer and Brooklyn-born catcher Joe Pignatano (who went in for Campanella as a defensive replacement). Seven years after that, Hodges would become manager, and Pignatano his bullpen coach, of the 1969 World Series champion Mets.
For more on the game: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/BRO/BRO195709240.shtml
The Dodgers would finish the season, and their 67-year history as the Brooklyn Dodgers that weekend in Philadelphia, and would lose their final game there. The Pirates would also play the final game the New York Giants would ever play that same weekend at the Polo Grounds.
Two weeks later during the World Series, a simple notice would be sent out by Dodgers management stating that the team had officially transferred to Los Angeles. In February 1960, the wreckers ball came to Sullivan Place, between McKeever Place and Bedford Avenue, and Ebbets Field was torn down. A housing project now stands on the site. It was a dagger driven through the heart of the borough, and it was never, and will never be, the same again.
It's hard to believe that it has been a half-century since the Dodgers officially left. Those great Dodgers teams are still beloved in the borough by those fans who'll never forget them. I have never been to the site that the ballpark was on, even though I live just ten minutes from it by subway. I'll probably go there one day. I've heard all the stories about Ebbets Field from people like my parents, other relatives and their friends.
I'm sorry I never got the chance to see a game at Ebbets Field, one of the truly historic ballparks in baseball history.