The Death of Dahlgren Place: A Brooklyn Tale

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Emphasis mine. This bit of commandeered road would once have allowed the public to continue down to Poly Place, where it would grant access to Seventh Avenue, a way around the backs of Poly Prep as well as the golf course. Is that connection necessary? The rest of Battery Avenue and the closed segment of Poly Place would be bordered by no homes or businesses or even entrances, just fences protecting the grounds of a United States military installation and a tony private school with its fancy football field.

These are bona fide backroads, with no purpose but to connect—and in a car, how much time would it really save? In the early 20th century, it would have also intersected with Warehouse Avenue, too, though that road, or at least this western leg of it, seems to have been demapped as early as the s.

In fact, it might make the block sleepier, and more attractive to its residents. How many people are truly inconvenienced by the dead end? Why not take it for parking, right? Which the armybase apparently cannot get enough of! Seriously, look on Google Earth at how many spots there are! On a base you could walk across in ten minutes! The army-brat friend I had in high school who never invited me to his home! Which was an excellent question for its unanswerability: why does anyone visit a museum?

Why do people care about the places they live, or history, or, for that matter, art or music or literature? Why are they curious about anything? But it raises that old problem about what you sacrifice for security. Photo by Michael Gaffey There are roads that run farther south or lie farther east than Battery Avenue, but no such southeasterly block in the Bay Ridge area exudes such bleak finality. Battery Avenue under construction at Poly Place, She accepts, and confesses to Jimmy that she is indeed guilty as charged.

Jimmy next visits Hoffman and Associates. Without Hoffman, the associates are barely able to keep the firm up and running. Jimmy asks for their help on the case assuring them that after he wins the trial of the century the business will boom. Wyler and Associates is born. Jimmy assigns Justine Appleton as second chair because she is a woman approximately the same age as Sharon.

The prosecuting assistant district attorney Miriam Grasso lays out the strongest case possible. Sharon left her husband to become Van Allan's mistress. When Sharon became pregnant Van Allan forced her to have an abortion. After the abortion Sharon became mentally unstable and Van Allan ended the affair. Forensic evidence shows Sharon at the crime scene and she was caught fleeing the crime scene.

The recovered gun ballistically matches the bullets used to commit the crime and was registered to her roommate. Jimmy quickly loses friends and makes enemies as he attempts to discredit his former friends in the police department. Miriam is angry that he overheard discussions related to the case before he quit the district attorney's office. During the trial, Jimmy uses information from his past as a DA to discredit his former co-workers; for example, Detective Biggio sent an innocent man to prison where he was killed before his release, and he uses a forensic examiner's attention deficit disorder ADD to try to convince the jury that he may have been confused at the crime scene.

Jimmy begins to suspect the assassination is bigger than simply an angry lone nut. His office is bugged, a billionaire Malcolm Dietrich attempts to buy him off, and key witnesses are turning up dead. Jimmy requests an immediate mistrial. The judge denies a mistrial and rules that the jury may consider Sharon's outburst and that she will have waived her Fifth Amendment right and can be subjected to cross-examination by the prosecution if she has any more such outburst in the courtroom.

Jimmy's big break comes when Van Allan's campaign manager Larry White tells Jimmy that he was actually a spy for Dietrich hired to get Garfield elected. Larry witnessed massive corruption, scandal, and even murder. The Governor had made many powerful enemies like Dietrich with the means, motive, and opportunity to have him assassinated. Larry is emotionally remorseful for his crimes and requests no money for his testimony. Given the short life span of past witnesses, Jimmy places him in secret protective custody. After exhaustive measures to keep Larry safe, he finally makes it to the witness stand.

He lays out a detailed saga of Van Allan and Garfield's massive corruption and crimes where literally billions of dollars changed hands. The enormity of the election and the assassination are finally realized. As Larry testifies he is visibly ill and loosens his tie drinking water before finally dropping dead on the courtroom floor. Miriam stands over his dead body and with a smile requests that his testimony be excluded, "Since it doesn't appear as though I'll have an opportunity to cross-examine him. The courtroom holds its breath as Sharon tells her heartbreaking story of being a young woman in love who grew distant from her husband because of his long hours as a doctor.

Her affair with the Governor was a fairy tale as Van Allan treated her opulently. Upon telling him of her pregnancy he offered to leave his wife and marry her after the election, but only if she aborted their child. Sharon describes the abortion in graphic detail and how it sickened her to end the life of her first child. Of course Van Allan did not keep his promise and instead dumped her immediately. She confesses to Jimmy that she did not kill the Governor and when she called herself a murderer she was referring to her child. She accepts the possible eventuality of a murder conviction and death sentence as an opportunity to be with her baby.

On cross-examination Miriam shows how Sharon's misery only proves her motive for the assassination. To this Sharon has no answer. The jury is clearly affected by Sharon's testimony as they acquit her despite the overwhelming physical evidence. Both the defense and prosecution are shocked by the verdict as well as the angry and vocal media. That night Jimmy and the firm throw a victory party at a bar and grill.

Still emotionally unstable, Sharon slits her wrists in the restroom, killing herself. Jimmy is contacted from jail by Mafia hit man Carmine D'Nardis. He provides details confirming that he assassinated the governor and wants Jimmy to broker a deal with the police to tell them everything in exchange for witness protection. But he doubts he will live long enough to make the deal. Jimmy presents the case to Detective Biggio and asks him to help bring the true murderer of Governor Van Allan to justice.

Through an intermediary, Jimmy is offered millions for giving up Carmine's location. Through a series of sting operations and wire tapping with police they are able to uncover the conspiracy all the way up to Dietrich and Garfield. Jimmy and Miriam go together to confront now Governor Garfield in his office. Miriam is enraged that he used her in his cover up. Garfield tearfully and cowardly begs forgiveness, insisting they were going to do it anyway and there was nothing he could do to stop them. Unsympathetic, Miriam reminds him that he deliberately planned the wrongful prosecution of a mentally traumatized innocent who is now dead.

Miriam grants Garfield full immunity in exchange for his testifying against Dietrich. Jimmy goes to Dietrich's office for a final confrontation and as he walks out, Detective Biggio comes into the office to place Dietrich under arrest. Garfield was later seen resigning from being Governor-elect on TV. Instead of admitting wrongdoings, he blames Dietrich and says he does not deserve to be the governor because his campaign was associated and aided by Dietrich.

Although not credited this story is obviously based on the O. Simpson murder case. The evidence is overwhelming, Rickey was in Sandy's office around the time of the murder and the murder weapon recovered in a waste treatment plant is registered to Rickey. The case is assigned to Chris Docknovich who chooses Aaron Mosley as his second chair. Immediately the two begin arguing over trial strategy. Aaron wants to make race the focus of the trial, and wants to be first chair because he's black like Rickey.

Aaron wants to get a mostly black jury and accuse the police of racism. Chris agrees the race card should be played but it should not be their only card. He hopes to win over the white jurors with his good looks and charm. Race immediately becomes the focal point of the trial during jury selection as Chris and Aaron accuse all white jurors as being racists. The prosecution team of district attorneys Scotto and Paige Weikopf attempt to exclude all black jurors as being anti-government and favorable toward a black celebrity. Most of the trial's witnesses are character witnesses.

The prosecution's witnesses portray Rickey as a corrupt NBA superstar with a history of violence who indulged in gambling and prostitutes. Their star witness is a bookie Rickey owed money to. The bookie recorded Rickey offering to throw games to clear his debt, and used this tape to blackmail Sandy into paying off his own dept to the bookie. If true this would give Rickey overwhelming motive to kill Sandy and recover the tape.

The defense argues that without the tape or Sandy's testimony the entire event rests on the words of a bookie who's cut a deal with the DA. The defense puts on witness after witness attesting to Rickey's character as a black role model who overcame poverty in the inner city to become one of the most famous men in the world. They claim Rickey displayed strong religious and family values, while Sandy gambled and owed money to organized crime.


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However, their biggest character witness, Rickey's wife Carla, ends up hurting them on cross-examination when she acknowledges Rickey beat her and that she had an affair with Sandy. As a former prosecutor Jimmy mercilessly badgers Rickey with the evidence against him until he snaps and confesses to the murder.

Sandy had used the gambling tape to blackmail Carla into sleeping with him. This will fall in line with the defense strategy of arguing celebrity and not evidence. The not guilty plea stands but Rickey takes the stand and confesses to the murder. The judge, jury, and media are all shocked along with the prosecution who effectively has no case since all their arguments have been stipulated to.

While the jury is deliberating Rickey flees the country since he has confessed to murder. Jimmy tracks him down in Mexico and persuades him that his trial strategy will work. Rickey is acquitted and returns to the basketball season a bigger star than ever, preaching to the media about civil rights and how the racist government can't keep blacks as slaves anymore.

Then stop talking like it is, because what you say means a lot to our people. Jimmy inherits his next big case from a friend dying of cancer. Police found a dismembered body in his van which led them to his home where they found the murder weapons, personal effects of the victims, and a journal Clifford kept of how he planned and committed the murders while making plans for more.

The blue collar Clifford was intending to pay for his high-profile defense with the movie adaptation of his story being made by sleazy and comical Hollywood producer Gary Blondo. Jimmy visits the terrifyingly creepy Clifford in jail, where he tells Jimmy that his crimes are justified because he killed criminals who were freed by a corrupt judicial system. He became a vigilante after Jimmy let a murderer, Osvaldo Cesarus, plead to manslaughter. Jimmy recalls pleading what he dismisses as a rather minor case as district attorney.

Osvaldo was a junkie who killed a crippled mentally handicapped man for his television. Clifford angrily reveals that the victim was his younger brother whom he had taken care of all his life. The two men become bitter enemies immediately. Press accounts were glowing.

Ebbets, who is nothing if not patriotic, intends to hurry along the work of construction so that the park will be opened either on Flag Day in June, or if untoward obstacles are met, in August on the anniversary of the Battle of Long Island. A slight oversight was made by those esteemed members of the fourth estate—many of whom were legends in their own right—who failed to recognize that no provision had been made for them.

The ballpark that Clarence Van Buskirk designed was, quite unfortunately, without a press box. The ballpark also incorporated a design concept that was new to local fans, and some of them failed to appreciate it. Essentially, Van Buskirk had taken the design elements of the cupola a step further. Borough president Alfred E. Steers remarked about looking through a knothole as a child to see the famous upset when the Brooklyn Atlantics defeated the Cincinnati Red Stockings at the old Capitoline Grounds. He named individual players from that era, too: Bob Ferguson, a catcher; Dickey Pearce, the shortstop; and George Zettlein, a pitcher.

Already the trolley, elevated and subway line owners are getting in touch with the situation and are planning to have better transit facilities. By the time the stadium is built, there will be a big change in the transit situation. Just wait and see when the Superbas start playing in their new park. Something is wrong with him.

We cannot have too much baseball in these strenuous business days. It is a great sport, a clean sport, a healthy sport and an honest sport. A healthy interest in such open-air pastimes will assure the welfare of the nation. More power and a long life to the Brooklyn Ball Club and the grand sport which it promotes and fosters. And I think Mr. Ebbets will give us the best team in the country, and it will play right here on this park.

Clad in a long, fur-lined overcoat and sporting a diamond pin, he had long since given up his bushy mustache. Now, in one of the most important moments in his life, he carefully removed a chamois cloth from a beautiful, solid silver spade with an ebony handle, a gift of the Castle brothers, Walter and Edmund, the contractors who would build the ballpark. Off the platform now, he picked some manageably soft ground in front. The crowd roared. That evening, a light snow began to fall over the site, covering it with a blanket of white.

It is this steady increase in popularity that I am endeavoring to anticipate.

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Though the new Polo Grounds and its 40,seat capacity set a size standard for the times, its design hardly did. The huge double-decked grandstand had the wide-arc curve of the closed end of a horseshoe around home plate, creating plenty of foul territory and keeping the fans farther away from the diamond than necessary. Covered single-decked pavilions continued down the length of both foul lines. The park would be renamed Crosley Field in after a subsequent owner, Powell Crosley.

Originally the park had been named for Charley Bennett, an s Detroit catcher who lost both legs in a freak train accident. Frank Navin had become principal owner of the Tigers in The park would become Briggs Stadium after a subsequent owner in and then Tiger Stadium in The new parks in Boston, Cincinnati, and New York illustrated the overwhelming popularity of baseball when there was no doubt about the fact it was the national game.

Work progressed, albeit at a slower than expected pace. Barney York was master of ceremonies. Charles Ebbets Jr. I want to say a word about Brooklyn. Brooklyn is a great borough. In population it is as large as three or four of the great cities of the country put together.

It has a greater population than three of the smaller states put together, and it is growing at the rate of four hundred families a week. I have no doubt it will soon be the largest 54 The Greatest Ballpark Ever of all the boroughs, and the largest city individually in the United States.

Here initiated the initiative, referendum and the recall. Ebbets has done a great work for Brooklyn and for baseball. When Charley Sr. Charley Jr. After the ceremony, as at the ground breaking, Ebbets gave an informal party for a number of his guests over at Consumers Park restaurant.

When it was over, everyone went down to Washington Park to see their Superbas lose to the Giants. The next day Ebbets was joined by two new principals as he made a big announcement at the new ballpark site. He had struck a deal with Stephen and Edward J.

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McKeever that allowed them to become stockholders. No terms of the deal were disclosed, but years later it was revealed that in order to complete the deal, Ebbets bought out the 30 percent share of stock of his old friend Henry Medicus, and then sold 50 percent of the ball club to the McKeevers. While I will take an active interest in the club, its management will continue the same. Ebbets will have absolute charge.

We wanted to invest some money and my brother and myself were pleased when we got a chance to place the investment by purchasing stock in the Brooklyn club. We wanted to keep all our money invested in Brooklyn. Steve was born on October 30, , quit school at age ten, apprenticed with a plumber, and by eighteen was in business for himself. He also refused a Tammany-backed nomination for state treasurer during a year when all the Democrats but gubernatorial candidate William Randolph Hearst swept to victory.

In Ed returned to Brooklyn to go into the building and general contracting business with his older brother. They sold the homes to a syndicate. In the summer of they built a menhaden oil and fertilizing plant employing workers on Crab Island, twelve miles from Atlantic City, said to be worth half a million dollars. Two separate corporations were formed with an interlocking directorship: the EbbetsMcKeever Exhibition Company would own the ballpark, and the Brooklyn National Baseball Club would own and operate the ball club. Charley Sr. Ebbets Jr. The same day the news about the new owners was announced, it was revealed that there was no chance the new ballpark would be ready before September And then something changed that.

On September 17, a youngster made a great splash with his Superba debut a day after making a long, overnight journey from Montgomery, Alabama, where his Southern Association team had just concluded its season. His name was Charley Stengel, soon to become better known as Casey, given the initials of his hometown, Kansas City. Stengel hit. The grounds had been excavated to a depth of three feet, where a layer of six-inch stone was placed, and then a layer of two-inch stone, then one-inch stone. On top of that was placed six inches of clean steamed ashes, then eight inches of topsoil.

The seventy truckloads had to be shoveled up, reloaded, and removed. In January of the wooden stands at Washington Park were dismantled plank by plank. Only the clubhouse on the Third Avenue side was left standing. Briggs would undertake when double-decking the entire ballpark in Detroit beginning in There concrete gargoyles marked the spring line for the crowning semicircular windows above each of those fourteen rows, with each of the windows surrounded by an ornamental half-circle of brick-belt coursing.

Between the columns, Vulcan Rail and Construction installed the pipe and ornamental railings, which also featured designs of baseballs. At the outset, only a single small sign adorned the junction of the Ebbets Field exterior wall on the Bedford—Montgomery corner, with the rest of the Bedford Avenue wall white as a cloud, devoid of the advertising that would become a familiar staple years later.

Few other buildings were around; when one looked east from the brewery, the ballpark loomed as the most imposing structure on the horizon. It was an optimistic scene in an optimistic country, which at that moment was readying for the inauguration of President-elect Woodrow The New Ballpark 61 Wilson of New Jersey, who had exploited the Roosevelt-Taft feud that had split the Republican Party in the election of , ending a sixteenyear Republican reign in the White House.

Industrialized America had taken its place as a world power. The nation had built and opened the Panama Canal, though whether its ships should be required to pay tolls, as the United States had initially agreed years before in its international discussions, was a national political issue. Only two days before, Ebbets Sr. Stevens, who made some thinly veiled accusations about scoreboards being wrong too often, rather transparently hiding his concern that the new innovation might impair his scorecard sales. An electric scoreboard would be quite an innovation given that numbers were typically dropped manually through slots, but there was no subsequent indication that an electric scoreboard was ever implemented then.

Italian marble columns and an apron of marble wall were imported and installed by the Brooklyn Steam Marble Company of Third Avenue. It was the largest dome in America made of metal lath and iron furring, constructed by the Troy Metal Lath Company under M. Forster at Eighth Avenue in Manhattan. Installed during the previous week, each ticket window had doors adjacent and a turnstile behind it, forestalling entry into the caverns underneath the stands.

The wall was not without precedent. An earlier ballpark, the fourth Oriole Park where the old Orioles played in and , had a wall whose bottom two-thirds were similarly angled. On the whole, the new parks were tailored in their dimensions to the demands of a baseball era when an over-the-fence home run was infrequent and a much less strategic element in generating runs.

A Saturday exhibition game on April 5 against the Yankees with their new manager, Frank Chance, would open the new park. Until then the American League club had been known as the Highlanders, or simply as the New York Americans, the team that had been moved from Baltimore in to put an American League franchise in New York. Newspapers, merchants, politicos, and people on the street were all promoting or talking about the opening of the new park. Everything needed is here and prices are very moderate.

Gates were supposed to open at noon, but because of confusion regarding the hiring and assignment of ticket sellers, it was another hour before things got on track. Finally that was settled and things moved along more smoothly, but only for a short time. Even though the number of ticket windows at the marble Rotunda far outstripped the several at Washington Park, the windows were inside an eighty-foot-wide circular room, a design that had immediate unforeseen consequences. All those now streaming toward the ballpark came as Ebbets thought they would come, via the trolleys, from every direction, and quite naturally, walking overland, up Park Slope through Prospect Park.

The arrangement left ticket sellers and ticket takers hard pressed to keep up while the incoming hordes pressed against those already waiting to buy tickets, so the gates were temporarily closed to prevent a panic. Instead, it was a maelstrom of pregame activity resulting in an unsolicited intimacy not unlike that found on the average subway train at rush hour. Although most from that vantage point could look down upon the action for nothing, one opportunistic entrepreneur built an elevated wooden bleacher and sold plank space that was quickly bought up for 50 cents a person.

The players, almost all hatless, with arms folded or hands behind their backs, stood behind her. They wore their eight-button sweaters with navy-blue button panels and collars, pin-striped uniforms, and wide-striped white-and-blue socks. Once the banner was run up the mast, the band performed the national anthem. Umpire Tim Hurst had handed her the ball earlier. Induced to hit a foul pop on the third base side, Wheat watched as Yank third sacker Roy Hartzell, 66 The Greatest Ballpark Ever in pursuit of the ball, took a header into a bevy of musicians, bonking his head on the bass drum, which in turn resonated obligingly in G.

McLaughlin, the clerics represented four different faiths. As he moved to stab it, he kicked the ball instead, and it rolled to the wall. As Wolter chased the sphere in vain, Stengel sped around the bases for an inside-the-park homer. The late-season hero was picking up where he left off, and the crowd loved it. Although the Yankees managed to tie it in the ninth with a couple of runs off reliever Frank Allen, Brooklyn properly christened the ballpark with a win in the bottom of the inning when J.

There is nothing personal The New Ballpark 67 about the building, except the enterprise of its sponsor. Moreover, it is calculated to outlive by far even those veterans of the diamond to whom life seems to be eternal.

“The End of Bay Ridge”: The Unusual Story of Battery Avenue and Fort Hamilton

Barring accident, the building may last years, or four times as long as the average structure lasts. The league permitted Brooklyn to open the season a day early in recognition of its new ballpark, and despite all the hoopla of a few days earlier, more ceremony was in order. And that was before Brooklyn had a new ballpark. The Superbas prevented further damage when Wheat nailed Paskert trying to stretch a single and when Stengel heaved a strike to the plate, cutting down Magee trying to score.

When the Giants visited on April 26 for a weekend game, it became clear that the Rotunda was a problem. The Brooklyn Baseball Club had hired a hundred special police, all former soldiers at least six feet tall, and dubbed them the Dohertys, but they were no match when 40, 68 The Greatest Ballpark Ever descended on Ebbets Field and fought for admission. Inexplicably, some entrances in the Rotunda were closed, and people already holding reserved-seat tickets fought to pass those waiting on line to buy them.

The next day, he announced that two new gates had been opened on each side of the ballpark. When Yankee Stadium was built in , care was taken to put ticket-buying kiosks outside the ballpark, with a good deal of distance between the kiosks and the entrance gate.

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This allowed fans holding tickets to gain access to the turnstiles from the right or left or from the ample space between the kiosks. Ebbets was given a diamond pin in the shape of a baseball diamond; when he rose in response to all the tributes, he was almost—but not quite—moved beyond words. I wish that I had the tongue of an orator to make suitable reply. I will carry this token, with the recollection of this happy evening, to my grave. Unfortunately, the epithets frequently tossed around the home plate area were heard as well, and as a result Ebbets did away with the innovation immediately.

Steve usually kept a big tumbler of milk on hand during the games, and in later years he had a device to hold the glass attached to his seat. Ebbets and Steve McKeever would hold court with the fans out in the open, sometimes during the games but most often after, when there were either smiles and congratulations from the fans who would gather round or, conversely, sympathies, concerned discussions, arguments, and sometime acrimony if the team lost. Ed McKeever, quieter, preferred to slip into the crowd anonymously, especially if the Superbas had taken a beating.

A favorite bit of fun was racing the doll buggies down the runways. Even so, the nucleus of a future pennant winner was beginning to develop: Jake Daubert managed to capture the batting crown, hitting. Ebbets knew of the breach, and after some discussion, he and the McKeevers agreed that they would hire Robinson as a coach while seeking to get another old Oriole, Tiger manager Hughie Jennings, to manage the club. He established expectations of better performance, and tried to keep his players calibrated with critical appraisals when he thought their performance wanting.

If his jovial demeanor or his girth allowed observers to think he was soft, they were mistaken. He was rough as a cob. Little Vic Lombardi, a Dodger pitcher in the mids, never would have gotten in the door of a Wilbert Robinson clubhouse. Meanwhile the happy days Ebbets and the McKeevers had enjoyed moneywise in were quickly coming to an end.

The 40 percent spike the team saw in its attendance to , with the opening of Ebbets Field was in peril. The new Federal League took wing largely on the bankrolls of wealthy industrialists such as Charles H. Weeghman, who had lunchrooms in Chicago, Phil Ball in St. Louis, and Robert B. They put franchises in Chicago, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, and Brooklyn, directly opposite major league teams, and in other cities, such as Indianapolis, Baltimore, Kansas City, and Buffalo.

It would be just the luck of the Brooklyn National League Baseball Club that a competing franchise was going to land not only in its backyard but in its old ballyard. The major leagues, meanwhile, threatened a lifetime ban for players who made a jump to the Feds. Although the threat intimidated some of them, most were still emboldened enough to linger in their salary demands so they could squeeze a few extra bucks out of the owners.

The natural rivalry and already acerbic relationship between the Dodgers and Giants, given the antipathies of McGraw and Ebbets, were further fueled in by the private and deeply held rancor that now ran between Robinson and McGraw. Although neither would admit his feelings about the other publicly, the intensity of the two and the way each emphasized the need to win against the other among his players heightened the confrontations. The Giants took the season series, thirteen games to nine, Robinson often muttering about those losses for hours after a game.

The new circuit not only was encroaching on major league markets and imbuing minor league towns with a major league cachet, but also was bidding up the prices of major league players. And attendance at Ebbets Field was awful. Over the winter the Feds put on a push to lure Jake Daubert, and also moved one of their biggest gate attractions, Benny Kauff, to the Tip Tops.

He led the Federal League the previous season, batting. The action alleged violation of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. Naturally Ebbets was irritated by exaggerated press reports on the size of crowds showing up to see the Federals, but could do little other than question their veracity and mutter about the art of press agentry and the ethics of reporters under his breath. The extra pressure of the Brookfeds had Charley Ebbets looking to make some extra money with the ballpark when the team was on the road in Initially Marcus Loew showed some movies at Ebbets Field, but these were stopped after a year for violation of the Sunday law.

Boxing 74 The Greatest Ballpark Ever was the only idea that panned out, inaugurated at the ballpark on May 31, The headliners on the featured card were pound Mike Gibbons and U. Gibbons, from St. The boxing ring was put near home plate on the third base line. What could be better? He was in heaven before he had a chance to go.

The Death of Dahlgren Place

By the end of July the Dodgers had reached second place in the jumbled standings. For Brooklyn fans, the only thing better could be winning the pennant. The Federal League drew well, but the high salaries that its owners promulgated were causing as much strain on them as they were on the magnates of the American and National leagues. Meanwhile, by his inaction, Judge Landis encouraged the two opposing parties in the federal lawsuit to consider settling their differences, an effect probably intended. Late in the oil mogul Harry Sinclair—the same person who would later be linked with the Teapot Dome Scandal during the Harding administration in the early s—announced plans to bring a Federal League team into Manhattan.

Sinclair took an option on property at th Street and Lenox Avenue, not far from the Polo Grounds, where the Yankees had become tenants of the Giants. It was all a bluff, but it worked. It prompted the National Commission— or so-called Organized Baseball—to settle. The pact allowed Weeghman to buy the Cubs and move them into his new ballpark on the North Side of Chicago, while the St.

The only negative item in the sorting out was the destination of Brooklyn favorite Benny Kauff. Thus Kauff took his colorful ways across the river. Ebbets Field, meanwhile, was spurring growth in its immediate area. Housing starts had generally involved several homes at a time, but by rows of attached row houses—ten or twelve at a time—were rising near the ballpark.

Babe Dahlgren

Housing had been built by Crown and Carroll streets, one and two blocks north, and also on President Street between Bedford and Rogers avenues, three and a half blocks away. More homes were built two, three, and four blocks south, along Sterling Street and Lefferts Avenue and Lincoln Road, the construction heading east from Bedford toward Rogers, Nostrand, and New York avenues. A number of the Brooklyn players— especially those with families—had rented apartments near Parkside and Flatbush avenues, and were reportedly often seen pushing their baby carriages on surrounding streets or in Prospect Park.

The club had great hitters like Wheat and Daubert, but the sparkplug was none other than Casey Stengel. They played with swagger and stayed ahead most of the way. The majority of baseball prognosticators were waiting for Brooklyn to collapse. Now the Robins would go head to head against Philadelphia.


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Seven thousand showed up for the morning encounter; 16, came in the afternoon. By losing the morning game, the Robins fell a half game behind the Phillies. For the raucous fans at the new ballpark, the fruits of victory were about to assuage the bitterness of a decade and a half. After a quiet Sunday in observance of the blue laws, Jack Coombs tossed a shutout for Brooklyn at Ebbets Field to beat the Giants, while Philadelphia was splitting a doubleheader in Boston.

Brooklyn was now ahead by a full game with three games left to play against the Giants, all at Ebbets Field. The Phillies had only pair remaining in the form of a twin bill on Tuesday. The Brooks reached Rube Benton and knocked him out of the box, and when McGraw put in Pol Perritt, he was going into a full windup even with runners on base. Additionally, there was some bad blood between the Giants and the Phillies. McGraw, disgusted, was gone by the end of the game, not banished by the umpires, but of his own volition.

The Giants did manage to push one inconsequential run across in the ninth. Brooklyn was going to win the pennant. He complained to reporters about players disregarding his signals and refusing to obey orders, but had enough sense to keep his mouth shut when asked if he thought his players were throwing the game. Tell McGraw to stop pissing on my pennant!

Under the stands, in the clubhouse, the players laughed, hugged, yelled, and snake-danced, draping themselves all over Robbie and each other. Charley had a winner in his fourth year in Flatbush, and when the clinching occurred, the joy was unbounded. It was a big undertaking. The Robins had a motorcade out of Brooklyn starting from Ebbets Field at 11 a. The contests were held at Braves Field, since the capacity was bigger— 40, to 35, —than that of Fenway Park.

While Charley had been up in Boston, the McKeever brothers were supervising World Series ticket orders in the ballpark at home. Boston scored twice in the sixth and once when Larry Gardner homered in the seventh, but Ed Pfeffer was brought in to nail down the 4 —3 win down for Brooklyn. Finally in the win column, the Brooklyn fans let loose in an area across the street adjacent to the ballpark. A stranger, unfamiliar with the ways of baseball and the baseball crowd, might have taken the demonstration for an outing of lunatics.

After chugging around the bases, he slid into the plate for a three-run, inside-the-park homer as the Red Sox poured out of their dugout to greet him. The crowd rose to give him a long, rousing cheer as he walked in from the bullpen with Brooklyn behind 6 —2 in the eighth. It was the only Series appearance 81 82 The Greatest Ballpark Ever of his career, and he was coming in to pitch for what everyone rightly sensed would be the last time. He obliged by striking out three men in two innings, including the last hitter in the top of the ninth, the last man he ever faced.

Charley Ebbets was still smarting from the higher, multiyear contracts he awarded during the Federal League war, and as they expired, he was cutting salaries by as much as a third. The team got off to a slow start. More important, the nation was preoccupied with the war in Europe, which the United States formally entered on April 6. There was plenty of activity in Brooklyn, but most of it was centered at the Brooklyn Navy Yard rather than at Ebbets Field.

Chuck Ward, a shortstop arriving in the Stengel deal, was drafted, and the core of the Brooklyn pitching staff, Jeff Pfeffer, Leon Cadore, and Sherry Smith, had gone off to serve. Remaining, though, via the Pittsburgh deal, was one Burleigh Grimes, a spitballer who over time would play a big role in Brooklyn. As a nonessential industry, baseball saw its schedule cut short by the War Department, completing the season in early September. The poor attendance hurt. Thousands of Americans had now perished in the Great War as millions of Europeans had before them, much of it in trench warfare that amounted to little more than mass slaughter.

Before 7 p. The left sides of the second and third cars were stripped away, and pillars cut great gashes in the sides of the other cars. Most of those in the second car were also killed or badly injured. For a frantic short while that evening, Charley Jr. For an hour, Charley Jr. By 11 p. The death toll would rise to ninety-seven, resulting in a listing in the World Almanac under rail disasters. Ten days later, the armistice was signed, ending World War I. Not long after the accident, the name of Malbone Street was changed to Empire Boulevard, and the Malbone Street subway station became the Prospect Park station.

Unlike the war, which everyone would seek to remember and memorialize, the city of New York did everything possible to make everyone forget the events of that night in the tunnel. Unsure about the postwar economy in , baseball cut back its usual game schedule to games.

The Giants franchise changed hands over that winter, not going to candy mogul George Loft, oil mogul Harry Sinclair, or actor George M. Cohan, who were all reported to be interested, but instead to Charles A. John McGraw was also able to buy a small interest in the ball club as part of the deal. Once the season began, Casey Stengel, discharged from the navy he had joined the previous June, began picking up where he had left off.

Up until then, with the exception of opening days, Ebbets Field had been like a neighborhood ballpark hosting a small-town team during the week, and it was only on Saturdays and holidays when the people from around the borough would come en masse from their neighborhoods to see the games. Stengel was having a tough time with left-hander Sherry Smith that day, striking out twice and grounding to short, with the crowd razzing him each time as an easy out.

It was there where Stengel stopped, visiting with his friend Leon Cadore. The pitcher liked to do magic tricks, and happened to be holding a sparrow. Stengel covered the sparrow with his cap, brought it to his dugout, and then put it under his cap on his head before he went up to hit. It was then quite literally that he gave the crowd the bird. The crowd howled, and even the plate umpire, Cy Rigler, joined in the laughter. Attendance picked up everywhere. At Ebbets Field, buoyed by Sunday baseball and a desire for a return to normalcy, attendance more than quadrupled to ,, fourth highest in the league.

Up on Eastern Parkway, known then for its beautiful homes and apartment houses and its elegant tree-lined thoroughfare, the names of soldiers who had died in the Great War would be fastened below each tree. The private life of a baseball magnate hardly ever made news, but it did in the case of Charley Ebbets, whose marital problems hit the press in September Minnie asked the court that the papers be sealed. Actually, Minnie was acting in collusion with Charley, since he paid for her attorney. Charley himself would only admit that Mrs.

Ebbets wanted her freedom. Grace Slade Nott. Ford that she asked her father to give Mrs. Nott out of the Ebbets Field grandstand, only to have Charley come down and give his daughter the same treatment. Minnie had to settle for seeking a legal separation in December. It also was an eventful off-season in other respects. Babe Ruth was purchased the day after Christmas by the Yankees, and the sale changed the game of baseball indelibly and forever. On Friday, January 16, , prohibition on alcoholic beverages began nationwide, something that would certainly have an impact on Harry M.

The spitball was outlawed, too, before the start of the season, with a caveat: the active major league veteran pitchers who had always thrown a spitter could continue to use it for the balance of their careers. Leon Cadore became known for one of the most famous baseball games ever played. Ebbets Field hosted the middle game of three consecutive extra-inning marathons in May that featured pitching performances that are inconceivable today.

Cadore, who was never the same pitcher again, went back to the hotel, went to bed, and stayed there. The Robins, meanwhile, grabbed a midnight train to Brooklyn to meet the Phillies on Sunday, seeing as how Sunday baseball was still illegal in Pennsylvania. It took all of thirteen innings to lose to the Phillies, 4 —3, at Ebbets Field, with Burleigh Grimes and George Smith also pitching complete games. The only time Redding was in any trouble against the Lincoln Giants was when Fats Jenkins, who would play regularly in Ebbets Field in with another black team, the Brooklyn Eagles, tripled.

But Redding went on to retire the next three men he faced, the last one on a called strike, en route to a 5 — 0 shutout victory. Black teams played each other and white semiprofessional teams, with teams operating independently and setting up dates where they could, often playing without a permanent home base. Few black entrepreneurs possessed the necessary capital, and even those with adequate resources were unenthusiastic about investing in something as uncertain as a professional baseball team.

He had gotten his nickname when he outdueled major league pitcher Rube Waddell in a barnstorming game in The owner of the Brooklyn Royal Giants was Nat Strong, fortynine, a white New York City native who had been a booking agent and in the promotions business since the late s; Strong co-owned Dexter Park with Max Rosner and ran the Bushwicks, and also controlled a number of other semipro parks in the New York metropolitan area.

In either case, most, but not all, preferred such terms rather than having a team remain idle. Brooklyn climbed back on top in the National League race in the middle of August, and then the Giants jumped in the race as well. Good hitting won the next three games 90 The Greatest Ballpark Ever against the Phils, and Grimes opened a homestand against the Cardinals with a 4 —2 victory.

The next day, in what was probably the most exciting game all season long, Brooklyn trailed St. Louis 5 —3 going into the bottom of the ninth before tying the game. In the eleventh, the Cardinals scored three runs to make it 8 —5, but then Brooklyn rallied for four in its half to win the game, 9— 8, and retain its lead in the standings. And then they whipped the slumping Reds two out of three. Women came too, though they were many fewer in number, arriving most often but not always escorted.

The Ruthian era had begun: the Babe was in the process of launching a season record of 54 home runs, eclipsing his own record of Despite that, it was not the Yankees but the Indians, led by the great Tris Speaker, who were edging out the reigning American League champion White Sox, who had other problems as well. To add to all the attention, several days before Cleveland clinched the pennant and the Brooklyn—Cleveland World Series began, Brooklyn district attorney Harry E. The investigation revealed no wrongdoing. Before that incident, scuffed baseballs browned from bouncing in the dirt were often kept in games; those balls were tougher to see, especially in shadows, and pitchers could make a scuffed ball move in different ways.

Afterward, the leagues mandated that only new, relatively unmarred baseballs could be kept in play. It was a cold, windy day for the Series opener, which forced Brooklynites to wear overcoats to the ballpark. Always hospitable to the press, Ebbets passed out half-pint bottles of rye to reporters in the outdoor press box, notwithstanding Prohibition. It was reported at headquarters that a detail of 50 men would guard the aisles. The delegation that arrived congested the streets.

Those in the seats shed their overcoats and sweaters and used them as seat cushions. Sherry Smith won the third game on a brilliant three-hitter, 2 —1, to give Brooklyn the Series lead as they left Ebbets Field. Even though Zack Wheat hit. My ailment has chased enthusiasm out of my system. The place was colorful, Coney Island in a can, its own movable feast. About half the people in the stands believed it. Actually—although it could never be truthfully said of him that he liked to throw money around—he was generous when he had it, and more than one charitable agency in Brooklyn could testify that to call on him for help was not to call in vain.

Ebbets would take the Rafters out, and the ritual was almost always the same. After a big dinner, the Rafters would repair to the rest rooms and, while they were away from the table, the check would come, and Ebbets would pay it. As far as I know, there was never such an occasion. Baseball fans are usually above that kind of heckling. On weekdays, after the third inning or so of a game when no more paid attendance was anticipated, he would allow these little urchins to come into the bleachers to see the rest of the game.

The kids were there by the hundreds and probably many had walked some distance to get there, lacking carfare. Wilbert Robinson, who would retreat to his beloved Dover Hall in Georgia to recover from the baseball season every winter, was himself 96 The Greatest Ballpark Ever largely responsible.

For after , his reign over the franchise became legend from the standpoint not of establishing a winning tradition, but of creating a hilarious one. Sometimes he let them pick the lineup; once, desperate, he allowed the baseball writers to pick it. I started that kid like you suggested. Once during spring training in Florida, Robinson loaded his team on the bus and rode from Clearwater to Lakeland for an exhibition game with the Indians, and while rolling down the road in Lakeland passed the Indians relaxing on a hotel porch. Robinson stopped the bus. The record holder? Wilbert Robinson.

Frank Graham wrote that Jacques felt cheated, and never forgave Uncle Robbie. It was before game time, and they were in a fairly remote section of the stands when a vendor came up to them and gave them two bags of peanuts. Robinson and Mrs. I have never known an owner to get into the act but that day grandfather came down from his accustomed bench at the top of the stands and he and McGraw went the rounds. I will say politely that they were hurling invectives and casting aspersions—just the two of them. I was frightened for grandfather but knew the ushers, players and fans would not let anything happen to him.

Thirty thousand crammed Ebbets Field for the occasion. If there was a single point at which cohesion would break in the life of the Brooklyn franchise, it was traceable to the events of July 8, They were never able to patch up their differences. Since Charley Jr. To his perhaps even greater credit, he shunned any spotlight and attention. Harry Margol of Bedford Avenue was seized with cramps and was crying for help when Charley swam over to him and held him up until Eddie Zimmerman, a life guard, arrived in a boat and pulled Margol aboard.

For Charley Sr. The new action revealed that as of April 24, , Charley Jr. Both York and Ebbets Sr. Regardless of the resolution of the pay issue, it was the end of Charley Jr. Disagreements in councils above the Rotunda were easily matched and routinely surpassed by those in the stands. Such was the case for Jackie Farrell. One of the earliest rabid Dodger fans was a weatherbeaten old lady known as Apple Annie.

She dated back to sometime before , and typically sat in the upper stands around third base, yelling and screaming at the players below as the spirit moved her.



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