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Ebbetts Field

Capacity: 32,000
 

Area of fair territory: 100,000 sq. ft

Area of foul territory: Small

 

Fences: LF to LCF was 9.87 ft.

            CF: 20 ft.

            RCF to RF: 38 ft

Elevation: 55 feet

Dimension (1957):

LF - 348 ft.

LCF - 351 ft.

CF - 393 ft. (straightaway); 403 ft. (deepest)

RCF - 352 ft.

RF - 297 ft.

 

Outside Ebbets Field

 

General Information

Address:
55 Sullivan Place
Brooklyn, NY

Who Played Here: Brooklyn Dodgers (NL)
First Opened: April 9, 1913
Surface: Grass

 

First night game: June 15, 1938
Last game: September 24, 1957
Demolished: February 23, 1960
Surface: Grass
Capacity: 25,000 (1913); 32,000 (1932)

 

Architect: Clarence Randall Van Buskirk
Construction: Castle Brothers, Inc.
Owner: Brooklyn Dodgers
Cost: $750,000

 

 

 

 

Click to purchase stadium replica from the Danbury Mint collection

 

 

History

 

      Cramped, yet always colorful, Ebbetts Field was the home of the Brooklyn Dodgers.  They struggled here in the 1920s and 1930s, brought Jackie Robinson to major league baseball here in 1947, and won the World Series here in 1955.  It was originally built without a press box (one was finally added in 1929) and no one brought the key to the bleachers for the first game.

     It was built by Dodgers owner Charlie Ebbetts in 1913, who had risen through the organization from ticket seller to business manager.  He became the owner in 1902, buying the team from Harry von der Horst, who wanted the team to stay in Brooklyn and so passed over higher bidders who would have moved the team; Ebbetts had no money, and instead of solidifying the team's finances by selling his star ballplayers he concentrated on building the team a new, modern ballpark.  The only location he could afford was a garbage dump 3 miles south by southwest of the Manhattan Bridge, down Flatbush Avenue, known as Pigstown - so called because pigs would feast on the waste each morning - which smelled of sulfur and rotten fish.

     The park opened in 1913, and the city of Brooklyn began to grow around it.  The parcel of land was tiny, meaning that the spacious field allowed a capacity of just 18,000.  As the grandstand was expanded, the field shrunk - as the grandstand was extended to left and center in the early 1930s, the distance to left was reduced to 353 feet, and the distance to center fell to 400 feet.  By 1948, the power alleys were just 352 feet, and center field stood a very reasonable 384 feet away - these distances were made even shorter by the upper deck, which hung over the playing field.  The distance to the 38-foot right field wall was just 297 feet at the foul pole.

 

Right Field Wall: The right field wall was a gem.  The wall towered 38 feet high and abutted Bedford Avenue; the top half was a black screen, and the bottom half was a patchwork collection of local ads. The wall was would deflect line drives at unpredictable angles, and the quirky, angled centerpiece added to the mayhem.  The large black scoreboard featured the famous Abe Stark "Hit sign, win suit" advertisement on the bottom, and a Schaefer beer ad on top which gave the official scorer's ruling on hits and errors by lighting up the appropriate letter (H or E).

 

The Fans: As colorful as the ballpark itself was, the boisterous fans here really made it the jewel in the firmament of classic ballparks.  They would hoot and holler incessantly, and carried on a long-running love affair with their team.  There was the Dodger Sym-Phony, a group of musically inclined fans who would play songs that ranged from mildly irritating to a nails-on-the-chalkboard cacophony, depending on the amount of alcohol imbibed.  There was Jack Pierce, who would buy an extra seat for his bartender whenever he attended.  The bartender's job was to blow up balloons, which Jack would let go during the game.

     There was Hilda Chester, who cheered so loud she suffered a heart attack; after that, she would still attend every game and bang a frying pan with a spoon to urge her team on.  The Dodgers gave her her trademark brass cowbell in the late 1930s so she wouldn't get food all over her fellow fans.  There is a story about Chester slipping a note to giving a note to Pete Reiser, Brooklyn's center fielder, and asking him to give it to manager Leo Durocher.  The note said, "Get Casey hot. Wyatt's losing it."  Leo the Lip (who visited Hilda in the hospital after her second heart attack) thought the note came from team president Larry McPhail because he had seen Reiser conversing with the GM moments before; so upon reading the note, he began warming up reliever Hugh Casey.  Eventually, starter Whit Wyatt - who had pitched brilliantly - gave up a hit, and Durocher pulled him in favor of Casey, who made a close game out of it before barely saving the win for Wyatt.

     Exasperated, Durocher ordered Reiser not to hand him notes from McPhail anymore during the game.  When Reiser told him who the note was from, Durocher flew into an unintelligible, apoplectic rage.

 

     By 1957, Ebbets Field had grown too old to satisfy Dodger owner Walter O'Malley, and in 1958 Brooklyn's beloved Dodgers were in Los Angeles.  Only 6,673 fans attended the final game, and the park was demolished in 1960.

 

 

Ten Most Memorable Moments

 

1. Vander Meer's second no-no - June 15, 1938: Fans who showed up to watch the first night game ever at Ebbetts Field got a special treat.  More

 

2. Game 4, 1947 World Series - October 3, 1947: Bill Bevens of the New York Yankees took a no-hitter into the 9th inning, and had two down before Cookie Lavagetto doubled in two runs, costing him the no-no and the win.  More

 

3. April 15, 1947: Jackie Robinson becomes the first black ballplayer to play in the major leagues when he started at first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers.

 

4. August 26, 1939: A historical milestone, as baseball makes its television debut.  With Dodger announcer Red Barber at the mike, NBC telecast the first game of a Saturday double-header between Cincinnati and Brooklyn.  According to the New York Times, "Television set owners as far as fifty miles away viewed the action and heard the roar of the crowd." 

 

5. Game 4, World Series - October 5, 1941: Brooklyn catcher Mickey Owen drops a third strike in the ninth inning of what would have been a Dodger victory over the Yankees to level the Series at 2 games apiece.  The Yankees Tommy Henrich reaches base, and the Yankees follow with 4 runs, win the game to go up 3-1, and win the Series in 5.

 

6. August 15, 1926: A story - perhaps apocryphal - in Ebbett's folklore goes like this: a taxicab cruised past the stadium, and the cab driver called out, "How's the game going?"  A fan yells back, "The Dodgers have three men on base!"  Disbelievingly, the cabbie asks, "Which base?"

   The story was inspired by a game against the  Braves on this date.  Brooklyn's catcher was on third, pitcher Dazzy Vance was on second, and infielder Chick Fewster was on first.  Babe Herman strode to the plate and promptly hit a long drive to right.  The ball hit the wall, and the runner from third scored easily; Dazzy Vance should have scored easily as well, but he held up so long to see if the ball would be caught that he only had time to round third and get halfway home.  So he decided to play it safe and return to third - alas, he got caught in a rundown between third and home.  He managed to scramble back to third, only to find Fewster already there.

     Meanwhile, Herman was running flat out as soon as he hit the ball, and got to second.  Here is how he described the play later to a friend: "I saw the ball hit the wall as I was on my way to first base and from the way it bounced I figured I could make it to second.  I slid into second safely with a double, but as I was lying there, I see that a rundown is taking place between third and home.  Naturally, I figure it is Chick Fewster in the rundown, who'd been on first, so I get up and sprint for third like I'm supposed to.  That way we'll have a man on third base, even if Fewster is tagged out.

     But when I get to third, Fewster is already there, and then here comes Vance into third from the other side.  That really surprises me, 'cause I thought he'd scored long ago.  After all, he was on second and even if you're slow as a turtle you should be able to score from second on a double.

     Anyway, there we are, all three of us on third base at one and the same time.  Boston third baseman Eddie Taylor doesn't know what to do, so he tags all of us.  Vance was declared safe and Fewster and I were both out.  If there was any justice, Vance would be declared out, because he's the one who caused the traffic jam in the first place.  But down through history, for some reason, it's all been blamed on me."

 

7. September 21, 1934: A dose of the Dean brothers - Dizzy pitches a three-hit shutout in the first game of a double-header, and brother Paul follows up in the second game with another shutout.

 

8. August 2, 1938: The only time baseball experimented with yellow baseballs at the major league level.  The new balls were supposed to be easier to see, but the players weren't impressed and the fans didn't like it, so the idea was dropped.

 

9. September 16, 1924: St. Louis first baseman Jim Bottomley hits a grand slam home run, a two-run homer, a double and three singles in six times at bat, driving in a record twelve runs, as the Cardinals trounce the Dodgers 17-3.

 

10. July 31, 1954: Joe Adcock hits four home runs and gets a double, driving in seven runs and accounting for 30 total bases with just seven swings of the bat.  Milwaukee triumphs 15-7.

 

 

Analysis


     The park was a terrific hitter's park, thriving because of it's small size and boosting both runs and home runs dramatically after the renovations in 1948 brought the left field and center field walls in by 14 feet.  The crooked outfield wall baffled visiting outfielders who often chased every which way after caroming baseballs.  Dodger outfielders did better - Dixie Walker and Carl Furillo became wizards at playing the odd caroms, and racked up plenty of assists year after year.  Jackie Robinson and
Pee Wee Reese were consistently aided by the park's dimensions, and catcher Roy Campanella hit 140 of his 242 career home runs at Ebbetts.  

     Duke Snider loved this park - from 1950 to 1957 he terrified opposing pitchers, averaging close to 40 home runs a season, leading the league in total bases three times and in slugging percentage twice.  During this period, he hit 171 home runs at home, and 120 on the road.  His left-handed stroke was perfect for the cozy confines of the ballpark, and he would pepper the 297-foot-distant right field wall with line drives.  The other big hitter on the Dodgers during the 1950s was Gil Hodges, who hit more home runs at home than on the road in every single season from 1948 to 1957 except 1951 - over this period, he hit 172 HR at Ebbetts, and 125 on the road.

     Both right-handed and left-handed hitters thrived here; the fly ball pitchers on the Dodgers would get killed - guys like Ralph Branca - though power pitchers Preacher Roe and Don Newcombe strung together a series of superlative performances in the mid-1950s.

 

 

Park Factors

 

  Run HR
1932 93 95
1933 99 120
1934 93 100
1935 90 106
1936 115 109
1937 114 95
1948 110 112
1949 100 127
1950 113 133
1951 92 120
1952 103 123
1953 107 104
1954 104 123
1955 106 122
1956 103 120
1957 133 145

 

© 2001 STATS, Inc.

 

Seating Chart

 

                     

Location

Flatbush section of Brooklyn, NY, about . Left field (N), Montgomery Street; third base (W), Franklin Avenue, later Cedar Place, later McKeever Place; first base (S), Sullivan Place; right field (E), Bedford Avenue.

 

Dimensions - History

Left field: 419 (1913), 410 (1914), 418.75 (1921), 383.67 (1926), 382.83 (1930), 384 (1931), 353 (1932), 356.33 (1934), 365 (1938), 357 (1939), 365 (1940), 356 (1942), 357 (1947), 343 (1948), 348 (1953), 343 (1955), 348 (1957). 

   Note: According to Total Baseball, there is some confusion about the distances. The left field foul line and grandstand wall were the same near the corner between the 343 and 357 markers.) 

 

Left-center: 365 (1932), 351 (1948)

 

Deep left-center at bend in wall: 407 (1932), 393 (1948), 395 (1954)

 

Center field: 450 ft. (1914), 466 (1930), 460.79 (early 1931), 447 (late 1931), 399.42 (1932), 399 (1936), 402 (1938), 400 (1939), 399 (1947), 384 (1948), 393 (1955)

 

Right side of center-field grandstand: 390 ft. (1932), 376 (1948)

 

Right-center’s deepest corner: 500 ft. (1913), 476.75 (1926), 415 (1932), 403 (1948), 405 (1950), 403 (1955)

 

Right side of right–center field exit gate: 399 ft. (1932)

 

Right-center: 352 ft.

 

Scoreboard - left side: 344 ft.

Scoreboard - right side: 318 ft.

 

Right field: 301 ft. (1913), 300 (1914), 296.17 (1921), 292 (1922), 301 (1926), 296.08 (1930), 295.92 (1931), 296.5 (1934), 297 (1938)

 

Backstop: 64 ft. (1942), 70.5 (1954), 72 (1957).

 

Fun Facts

  • The same wrecking ball that was used to demolish this ballpark was used four years later to demolish the Polo Grounds.  Demolition began on February 23, 1960.
  • There was no press box here until 1929.
  • Schaefer Beer sign (added after WWII) on top of the right-center scoreboard notified fans of official scorer’s decision - the 'H' in Schaefer lit up for a hit, an 'E' for an error.
  • Jackie Robinson School, previously known as Crown Heights, houses the Brooklyn Dodgers Hall of Fame.
  • Abe Stark sign offered a free suit at 1514 Pitkin Avenue to any batter hitting the 3-by-30-foot sign.
  • Baseball's first televised baseball game was played here by the Dodgers on August 26, 1939 against the Reds.
  • Jackie Robinson became the first black man in the 20th century to play in Major League Baseball here on April 15, 1947.
  • The only year in which the Dodgers won the World Series while tennants of Ebbets Field was 1955.
  • Built on the site of the Pigtown garbage dump at a cost of $750,000.

 

 



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