|Babe Hamberger at Vero Beach in early 1950s (photo from www.walteromalley.com)|
Long Island University and St. Johns played baseball there in '58 and '59. Satchel Page pitched in an exhibition game in August of 1959 in a game between teams touted as the Havana Cubans and Kansas City Monarchs. Additionally a number of American Soccer League matches took place there, including the final sporting event held in the Stadium on October 25, 1959, a few weeks after the L.A. Dodgers defeated the White Sox in the World Series.
Shortly into the 1958 season, the first year New York was without National League baseball, The Milwaukee Sentinel ran a piece on April 17, 1958 addressing the Dodgers move to L.A. and the affects on Brooklyn. In the article, Hamberger was interviewed:
|Brooklyn Hall of Famer Zack Wheat is credited with giving Hamberger his nickname. "Babe" had great affection for the Dodger great.|
During the days when Brooklyn sat in the basement of the National League, year after year, Hamberger would literally repair the torn Dodger uniforms with a needle and thread hours after the last out was recorded following laubdering and cleaning the pants and jerseys. Other jobs besides the team seamster that he had included ticket taker, turnstyle boy, ticket department employee, janitor, concessions employee, scoreboard operator, groundskeeper, clubhouse attendant, and traveling secretary. But one position that absolutely proved his absolute loyalty to the Dodgers was Babe’s willingness to serve as a sacrificial lamb helmet tester.
|Babe Hamberger painting seats at Ebbets Field.|
Hamberger never complained about Walter O'Malley after his tenure with the Dodgers ended in 1960. And sadly, he never collected a major league pension either. He was 53 years old, the Dodgers were gone and he fended for himself with odd jobs the rest of his life. He knew so many in baseball, and he was always welcome at Met games. Old pals in baseball would look him up. He was an icon. Babe Hamberger was the last remnant of Brooklyn Dodger baseball.
In 1978 Babe died from heart failure. He was buried in the same cemetery as his friend Jackie Robinson. In the movie "42," Hamberger is depicted as the man stitching up Jackie after an injury. Though he was never recorded to have worked as a team trainer, the acknowledgment of this great Dodger was more than warranted in the movie. His daughter summed up her father with these words: "All my years growing up, my father never showed any animosity."
When interviewed in 1959 in an empty Ebbets Field, a melancholy Babe Hamberger could only speak of what could have been:
"Boy There would be bedlam right now if the boys were still in Brooklyn." (Gay Talese, New York Times).
For an in-depth article on Babe Hamberger, where much of this information was received, please read SABR's Rory Costello's article on this amazing man in Dodger history. Costello reached out to Hamberger's daughter, Stella Hamberger O'Conner who provided valuable insight to his life story.