July 17, 2018

Ebbets Field – Home of the Brooklyn Dodgers

Ebbets Field was the home of the Brooklyn Dodgers baseball team of the National League from 1913 to 1957.  It is remembered in sports history as one of the most nostalgic baseball stadiums ever built.  The intimate configuration prompted some baseball writers to refer to Ebbets Field as a “cigar box” or a “bandbox.”Classic Sports Pictures pays tribute to this iconic ballpark with two wall hangings.

Construction and Opening

Construction on the ballpark began March 14, 1912 and Dodgers owner Charles Ebbets decided to name the ballpark after himself.  It was completed in just over a year, and the Brooklyn Dodgers played their first game at the ballpark on April 9, 1913 – a 1-0 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies. 

The exterior was done in a beautiful brick and arch design and at the homeplate entrance was an 80-foot rotunda made of Italian marble that greeted fans.  The original design had a double-decked grandstand that curved around home, continuing right to the foul pole in right field but only 30 or 40 feet past the third base line.  Wooden bleachers filled the gap to the foul line.  There were no outfield seats in fair territory.  The dimensions were a relatively short 301 to right, 419 to left and 450 to center.  The capacity when it first opened was 23,000.

The first addition to Ebbets Field was in 1926. Wooden bleachers were added in left field cutting 35 feet from the fence to home plate.  The ballpark opened without a press box and in 1929 one was finally constructed and hung under the upper deck.

Brooklyn Dodgers Home of the Brooklyn Dodgers

The largest addition to Ebbets Field occurred in 1931 when the double-decked grandstand was extended down the third base line, around the left field foul pole and into centerfield. The upper deck in left field hung over the playing field.  At the same time the scoreboard and a 40 ft. concave, angled in the middle right field wall were added. After the 1931 expansions Ebbets Field changed little during the rest of its history.  

The first night game at Ebbets Field was played on June 15, 1938, drawing a crowd of 38,748.  The game made history. Johnny Vander Meer of the visiting Cincinnati Reds pitched his second consecutive no-hitter in that game, a feat that has never been duplicated in Major League Baseball.

Ebbets Field Home of the Brooklyn DodgersEbbets Field was site of the World Series in 1916, 1920, 1941, 1947, 1949, 1952, 1953, 1955 and 1956.  It hosted the 1949 All-Star game and was the site where Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier in 1947. 

In the late 1940’s and early 1950’s Ebbets Field became structurally unsound, the plumbing was bad, had a small capacity and narrow aisles. It was also constrained by its location and the community was in decline.  As fans moved out of Brooklyn they wanted to drive to the ballpark.  However, there was limited parking at Ebbets Field and it was far away from major roads.  In 1946 Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley commissioned Captain Emil Praegar to design a new stadium.  To be constructed with private funds, O’Malley did not publicly unveil this plan until 1952.  If constructed it would have had a seating capacity of 52,000 and been the first stadium with a dome. O’Malley faced several problems having a new ballpark built including acquiring land for construction.  He was willing to be a tenant in a state owned stadium but could not come to an agreement with the City of New York.

In 1955, the demise of Ebbets Field began when a real estate developer bought the ballpark.  By then it became known that both the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants were going to move to the west coast.  On September 24, 1957 the Dodgers played their last game at Ebbets Field, a win against the Pittsburgh Pirates. In 1958, the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles and played in the Los Angeles Coliseum while their new ballpark Dodger Stadium was being built.  

The demolition of Ebbets Field began on February 23, 1960. Seats from the stadium were sold for $5 and pieces of sod for 25 cents.  The flagpole located in centerfield was donated to a company in Flatlands, NY but its whereabouts are unknown today.  Ebbets Field’s cornerstone and other artifacts are located at the Baseball Hall of Fame. 

This link shows many more photographs of iconic Ebbets Field  through the years.