Twenty years ago this week, the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants closed up shop in their ancestral homes, Flatbush and Harlem, and moved to California. There’s no denying that nothing in baseball has been the same since.
No other major league game was ever played in Ebbets Field and it was torn down three years later. The Polo Grounds were still there in 1962 when the Mets came to life. Not only did the Mets use it for two years until Shea Stadium was built, but the Giants themselves, now representing San Francisco, also came back to play the Mets there 18 times in those two seasons. The Polo Grounds disappeared in 1968, replaced by Apartment Houses, just like Ebbets Field. The Dodgers, who prospered mightily in Brooklyn, have prospered even more mightily in LA. The Giants, who went from affluence to the brink of insolvency during their twenty years in New York, have followed the exact same pattern in SF. So it was altogether fitting that in SF Tuesday night the Dodgers clinched the NL West.
The move marked the full emergence of major league sports to continental proportions, in step with network television, jet passenger travel, and shifting population.
Ebbets Field had only 32,000 seats and the television market was being divided three ways. When it was built in 1913, almost all its customers could reach it by foot, trolley or subway; now, with potential ticket buyers moving more and more to the suburbs, parking space was becoming essential.
And to those who felt that the last week of September 1957 was an emotionally shattering experience, a still more shattering thought can now be added: 20 years have passed.
ex NYT Koppett 9/22/77