SOURCE: Sam Anderson in New York Magazine
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50 years ago, the Dodgers left Ebbets Field for Los Angeles. Isn’t it time their ghosts left, too?
The story of the Brooklyn Dodgers is very likely the most mythologized nostalgia bath in the entire 400-year history of New York. The official version—a legend you’ve probably fallen asleep to during late-night documentaries or wondered vaguely about while barreling down the Jackie Robinson Parkway—goes roughly like this. A hundred years ago, Brooklyn was the meltiest part of the New York melting pot. In Bay Ridge and Crown Heights and Midwood, mustachioed fathers with giant Old-World biceps gratefully worked themselves to death so their newly American kids could play stickball and mainline egg creams. The only force strong enough to unite all of the fractured cultures was baseball: early clubs like the Atlantics and the Excelsiors and the Bridegrooms and the Superbas and then, crawling out of the half-professionalized protoplasm, the Dodgers. And the relationship between Brooklyn and its Dodgers was almost obscenely intimate. Ebbets Field occupied one city block near the geographic center of the borough, where fans sat huddled in tiny seats stacked so close to the field they could curse the players personally, without raising their voices. All 3 million Brooklyn residents seemed to live directly next door to their favorite star. It was a magical civic soul-meld: Just as Brooklyn was the quintessential loser borough, the Dodgers were the quintessential loser team, a sacred band of holy fools who (barring a couple of minor victorious blips) stunk up the league for decades. (Even the name was an insult: Brooklyn wasn’t sophisticated enough to be trusted with a subway system, so residents crossing the street were forced to dodge trolleys.) When the team finally got good, in the era of Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese and Duke Snider and Roy Campanella, they still couldn’t win it all: They’d dominate the National League all season long, only to get ritually gutted by the Yankees in the World Series. Their epic chokes—a World Series game blown on a dropped third strike in the bottom of the ninth, an entire season wrecked by Bobby Thomson’s tragic “Shot Heard ’Round the World”—came to be more eagerly mythologized than their victories. But finally, just once, in October 1955, the gods of baseball dozed off, the cruel laws of the universe momentarily relaxed, and—thanks to a cocky young pitcher and a miraculous catch in left field and Mickey Mantle’s gimpy leg—the Dodgers beat the Yankees, setting off an orgy of multicultural celebration (with occasional arson) from Greenpoint to Sheepshead Bay. ....
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