Brooklyn thinks it has been without major league baseball long enough. So a band of politicians, die-hard fans, and one-time Dodgers is trying to bring a team back here. Ideally, it would like to lure the Dodgers -- who left here 24 years ago for Los Angeles. But, realizing the unlikelihood of that happening, it would settle for an expansion franchise.
Its strategy: plan one of those new domed stadiums and appeal to the memories of all those who loved the Dodgers of old.
In fact, Sen. Tom Bartosiewicz (D) of Brooklyn recently introduced legislation in the State Assembly to establish a commission "to study the feasibility of bringing [back] a major league team." Senator Bartosiewicz even has a prospective name for such a stadium: Ebbetts Dome.
The old Dodgers, you may recall, played their home games in Ebbetts Field in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn. The field was named for the late Charlie Ebbetts, longtime owner of the team, and was converged upon by trolley lines. Indeed, the name Dodgers was taken from the fact that fans coming to the park literally had to dodge the trolleys.
But where old Ebbetts Field stood there now is a housing project.
Not everybody called the Dodgers Dodgers, however. Some preferred to call them "bums," because for many years the team couldn't escape the National League basement. When finally it won the league pennant in 1947, all Brooklyn took a holiday.
Wrote one sports columnist at the time: "There's no use of going across the East River today to look for Brooklyn. It isn't there. It's floating dreamily on a fluffy, pink cloud, somewhere this side of Paradise. Flatbush is reeling in mass delirium. . . . We're living with the champions of the National League."
One story more than all others perhaps illustrates why the nickname "bums" stuck: In a game way back in 1926, the Dodgers had men on first and second bases , when the man on first suddenly and inexplicably ran to second, forcing the runner ahead of him into an out. When Wilbert Robinson, the manager, asked the man who had been on first for an explanation, the player replied: "Yeah, I knew he was there, but I had such a big lead, I couldn't resist."
Longsuffering fans could be forgiven if they failed to see the humor in his little joke.
Bartosiewicz and other supporters of the new move, however, say their effort to bring the Dodgers back to Brooklyn is no joke. But exactly which Dodgers, they admit, is up in the air. It almost certainly won't be the successors of those who left here in 1957, for they are firmly ensconced in Los Angeles for what looks like a long time to come. However, when the major leagues next expand, Bartosiewicz and others want Brooklyn to be considered -- along with New Orleans, Denver, Washington, and other cities seeking teams.
Brooklyn, of course, isn't a city per se; it's a borough. But with Jackie Robinson-like speed proponents here say that Brooklyn by itself would constitute the fourth-largest city in the United States and that there are more than enough impassioned fans to fill a large portion of a new stadium.
This whole escapade may have reached an early peak June 2, which Gov. Hugh Carey (D) proclaimed as Brooklyn Dodger Day in New York. Ralph Branca, Sandy Amoros, Carl Erskine, and other former Dodgers were on hand for the occasion to help r ecreate the glories -- and sorrows -- of a bygone era.