Opinion of Kingman's Performance

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Still Angry After All These Years

Why is there still so much venom still coming from Brooklynites 53 years after the Dodgers departure from the borough?  It’s been 53 years for heaven’s sake!   Brooklyn Dodger fans are proof positive that the saying “time heals old wounds” is a complete fallacy.  
Today I was reading comments to Jon Weisman’s Dodger Thoughts posting that addressed a New York Daily News article.  In the article the Daily News inaccurately claimed that the Los Angeles Dodgers organization was attempting to “make amends” to Brooklyn fans by wearing throwback Brooklyn jerseys for 6 games this coming year.  What resulted was a barrage of negative comments and some insults from Brooklyn Dodger fans that remain intensely bitter about the Dodgers departure following the 1957 season.
I think I understand their feelings to a degree.  I followed the Rams from the age of 8 into adulthood, not as religiously as the Dodgers, but they were my NFL team, that was until Georgia Frontiere moved them to St. Louis.  I feel a particular disdain for Frontiere and what she did to the franchise I followed.  But I eventually moved on.  And rather quickly too.  I must admit though, football really isn’t my passion either.  Unlike Frontiere and the Rams, Walter O’Malley wanted the Dodgers to flourish in Brooklyn.
L-R, Thomas Goodfellow (Long Island Railroad), Robert Moses (NYC Commissioner Bridge and Tunnel Authority), Bernard Gimbal (NYC Convention Bureau), Walter O'Malley, John McGrath (Attorney) .  In this photo commission members review O'Malley's proposal to build a domed stadium in Brooklyn.

The evidence is out there.  O’Malley’s wishes were to stay.  He wanted the Dodgers to remain in Brooklyn and occupy a new stadium built adjacent to the Long Island Railway terminal.  It was a perfect location and solution to a Dodger fan base that was moving out of the borough to Long Island.  We all know that Robert Moses wanted no part of that plan and forced the Dodgers out.  It has been documented and written about and anyone with a non-jaundiced eye can honestly say that O’Malley attempted to stay in Brooklyn, but Robert Moses was a proud egomaniac who ran the city planning department.   Here is the thing that I don’t get.  Why is there very little discussion on the New York Giants departure to San Francisco?

Why isn’t there the same vitriol from former New York Giants fans for Horace Stoneham and San Francisco?  The New York Giants were on the verge of moving to Minneapolis, where their farm team roots were, when the Dodgers left in ’57.  It was  a fact.  They were moving.  Stoneham announced they were leaving a full week before O’Malley did.   After meeting with several children that begged him not to leave Harlem, Stoneham said, “I feel badly for the kids, but we haven’t seen too many of their fathers around here lately.” 
N.Y. Giants owner Horace Stoneham with Walter O"Malley
Many report that Walter O’Malley was influential in convincing Stoneham to move to the coast.  (A fact that few S.F. Giants fans are aware of...it was the Dodgers owner that influenced their team to move there).   I have never read or heard of bitter New York Giant baseball fans.  They have to be out there, but I haven’t seen it.  The 2010 Champion Giants even returned to New York with Mays and the trophy to a positive reception and fanfare this winter. Could you imagine a championship Dodger team returning to Brooklyn and doing the same thing?  No way.
I have a theory and it’s unproven, but I believe that early Los Angeles Dodger success and a flurry of World Championships really added to the Brooklyn Dodger fans misery and resentment towards their old team.  It’s salt in the wound of Brooklyn Dodger fans.  They had such amazing teams in Brooklyn during their final 17-18 years there, but  they only came up on top once in all those years.  Then the “Flatbush refugees,” as Danny Kaye referred to them, arrived in L.A. with an inferior product and rolled out three World Championships in their first eight seasons.  

Additionally, it had to hurt that Brooklyn boy, Sandy Koufax, led the charge.  And what were they left with?  A lot of hurt and bitter feelings.  The Los Angeles Dodgers were having success out west, record attendance that lined the pockets of O’Malley who had been vilified and solely blamed by such writers as Dick Young, (who had his own hidden personal agenda to attack Walter O. that is an article in itself).   Combine that with a pristine new stadium that was the Taj Majal of baseball.  In exchange they got the expansion Mets, who didn’t even play in Brooklyn, but in the decaying Polo Grounds and eventually Queens.  The Mets, those loveable losers healed their wound initially, but it was a tough pill to swallow.  One Brooklyn Dodger follower remarked that watching the L.A. Dodgers play the Mets in the early 60s was akin to watching your ex-wife kiss your new best friend.
The New York Mets played at the old Polo Grounds during the 1962 and 1963 seasons
I should add that from what I read on Brooklyn Dodger message boards, the Giants didn’t have nearly the following of the Dodgers.  Their attendance averaged a mere 8,100 fans a game by 1956 and they dropped to last in the league attendance in their final two years below Cincinnati, Chicago, St. Louis, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Milwaukee.
As Brooklyn Dodger attendance dwindled also, it wasn’t nearly at the precipitous rate of the New York Giants.  One thing that caught the attention of owners of that day was the Milwaukee Braves attendance figures nearly doubled those of the team with the second to highest gate.  The Braves expansion west was a sign of where the prosperity was in baseball of that era.  
Take a look at these postings from self identified Brooklyn fans at the www.baseballfever.com message board.  They speak of the allegiance and the betrayal they felt.  It gives me a better undersatnding of the resentment that exists in the borough to this day:
Post from Squeeze Play on 10/30/2009:
“... when 1946 began, I was a general baseball fan, but with no allegiance to any one team... I know now that I was drawn to the Dodgers because of Jackie Robinson, and his heroic struggle for acceptance. I was initially a passionate Robinson fan, and when he was brought up to the Dodgers the following year, I naturally became a Brooklyn Dodgers fan. I felt then -- and still believe now -- that rooting for Jackie and the Dodgers was rooting for America.
I attended many games at Ebbets Field, and can still recall the thrill of coming up the ramp and seeing the team's white home uniforms against that impossibly green grass. Each visit was a religious experience, and the pride I felt in Jackie's success and my love affair with the team was, without exaggeration, the defining experience of my youth.  That relationship was often characterized by heartache and despair, but it was also punctuated by one glorious moment of joy on October 4th, 1955.”
from milladrive on 01/20/2010:
I became a Brooklyn fan through osmosis. Born in 1902, my maternal grandfather actually dodged those trolleys on his way to the games. ...even in the days before Ebbets opened its doors!
So, I got a great deal of info from him when I was a child. Once they moved west, his natural inclination was to stare sadly into space until the Mets came along. I still recall him saying, "They should be ashamed to call themselves Dodgers out there. Where have there ever been trolleys to dodge in Los What?" ...Must've been mentally tough for him to shlep all the way up to the former home of "those hated Gints" to attend the Mets' early home games.   He died at the age of 92 in 1994, but the impact he'd had on me was irreversible. I'll always be grateful that he imparted so many of his first-hand experiences on me. He'd seen it all.
My father was also a Brooklyn fan, but, being 17 when they moved to soCal, he was one of those folks who simply lost all interest in MLB. To him, the Dodgers and MLB had betrayed him, and he resented the hell out of it. Ironic, since my old man made most of his living in business. But when one is seven years old when Robinson breaks in, then comes of age with his heart with the team, there was no replacing what had been axed from his life. (At very least, now pushing 70, I've kept him in the loop, for I've long felt that the Mets are the true extension of our beloved Brooklyn franchise.)
Damn Moses. But even he got what he wanted in Flushing, while O'Malley simply couldn't have turned down the offer he'd received. At 45, part of me still resents both men, but the other part is grateful to have come of age with my Mets (who, as I say, may as well be known as the New York Dodgers)...”

John Wandzilak, writer of poem below
Then there is this classic poem written by John Wandzilak, a lifelong Brooklyn Dodger fan left with nothing to root for in the spring of 1958.  It is a classic eulogy from a broken hearted fan.  It's all there.  The bitterness, pain, anger, and even humor.
Look Out Forest Hills!
Da spring has sprung, da grass has riz
I wonder where da Dodgers is?
No line at Ebbets do I see.
I don’t know where da flock can be.
Oh yeah, dat’s right, dey flew da coop,
To play in smog dat’s tick as soup.
How bout da Jints skippin too?
No one to heckle when I’m blue.
Da one arm jernts are kinda quiet.
No more Jints and Dodgers in a riot.
Dat O’Malley’s some kinda hoople.
Anyting to make a ruble.
Dose greedy guys ain’t never grateful.
He stole da team right from da faitful.
To tink a rootin for da Phillies,
Gives me d.t.’s and da willies.
I guess I’m troo wid baseball.
Tennis any a youse guys?

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