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Queens Chronicle

The ’50s and the Mets

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Posted: Thursday, February 20, 2014 10:30 am

Dear Editor:

Let’s take a trip down memory lane to understand that if it had not been for mega builder Robert Moses along with both the New York Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers leaving the Big Apple in 1957 for California, there may have been no “Shea Stadium nearing completion” (I Have Often Walked by Ron Marzlock, Feb. 13).

The golden era of baseball in New York City was the 1950s, with a three-way rivalry between the American League New York Yankees and the National League Giants and Dodgers. All three teams claimed to have the best center fielder in baseball. On street corners all over town, citizens would argue whether the Yankees’ Mickey Mantle, Giants’ Willie Mays or Dodgers’ Duke Snider was champ.

Ordinary Brooklynites could ride the bus, trolley or subway to Ebbets Field to see their beloved Dodgers. Men and women of all ages, classes and races co-mingled in the stands. Everyone could afford a seat. Refreshments and souvenirs were reasonably priced.

Team owners would raise or reduce a player’s salary based on his performance the past season. Salaries were so low that virtually all Dodger players worked another job off-season. Most were neighbors who lived and worked in various communities in the County of Kings.

Residents of the era sat outside on the stoop and shopped at the local butcher, baker, fruit and vegetable stand. Television was a relatively new technology and the local movie theater was still king for entertainment. Brooklyn still had its very own daily newspaper — the Brooklyn Eagle — which ended publication sometime in the mid-’50s.

During the ’50s, Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley tried to find various locations for a new baseball stadium, which he pledged to finance using his own monies. With limited seating at Ebbets Field, he needed a new stadium to remain financially viable.

Master mega-builder Robert Moses refused him access to the current-day Atlantic Yards site. This location was easily accessible from all around the Big Apple via subway.

Thousands of fans who moved to eastern Queens, Nassau and Suffolk County would have had direct access via the LIRR. Imagine how different Brooklyn would have been if elected officials had stood up to Moses and allowed construction of a new Dodgers stadium in downtown Brooklyn. Without the departure of the Dodgers to Los Angeles and Giants to San Francisco, there may have been no National League expansion in 1962. There would have been no Colt 45s (original name of the Houston Astros) or our beloved New York Mets.

Larry Penner
Great Neck, LI

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