Tuesday, September 27, 2011

excerpts from "Stoic Link to Baseball History Stands Guard" (NY Times, 2/10/07)

While the Dodgers abandoned Brooklyn two years befoe I was born, they continue to hold a fascination for Brooklynites about which the Yankees & Mets (& minor league Brooklyn Cyclones) can only envy. It's probably easier to get Dodgers' apparel in Brooklyn sporting goods stores than it was in their lone world championship season of 1955 (which, by the way, is the very year that Morrisville won the Little League World Championship). Yet, as per "Stoic Link to Baseball History Stands Guard" (NY Times, 2/10/07), a big piece of their history goes overlooked:

  • "Once upon a time in Brooklyn, they used to play baseball here.

    "Tucked away among ancient factories and garages is a massive relic of the Dodgers' old ballpark. Not Ebbets Field, but Washington Park, where Brooklyn played before moving to Flatbush. It is believed to be the oldest standing piece of a major league ballpark in the country. And almost nobody knows it is there [emphasis added].

    "At the foot of Park Slope, a block from the Gowanus Canal, is a Con Edison truck depot and storage facility bounded by First and Third Streets and Third and Fourth Avenues. Running the length of Third Avenue is a 20-foot-high stone wall that makes up part of a loading dock. The high, small windows of the wall have been bricked up.

    "From 1898 to 1912, Washington Park was the home of the team alternately nicknamed the Bridegrooms, Superbas and Trolley Dodgers....

    "Con Ed has made unofficial proposals for the site's preservation since 2002...but all have included moving the wall or only retaining the cornerstone....

    "Preservationists have officially asked the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission to investigate the site as a potential landmark. Simply having a file open at the commission could be enough to gain an injunction on future Con Ed construction projects....

    "Recent preservation efforts have focused on publicizing the site's links to history. A 2005 Brooklyn Cyclones promotion celebrated Archibald Moonlight Graham, whose single major league appearance was made famous in W. P. Kinsella's novel 'Shoeless Joe' and the film version, 'Field of Dreams.' Graham played the field for two innings in a 1905 game at Washington Park....

    "Considering the fondness with which longtime Brooklynites recall Ebbets Field, it is surprising that the remnants of Washington Park are not acknowledged. Because there were few photographs and baseball had not yet become part of the popular culture, Gilbert said, the game's history for many people begins around 1920....

    "[Casey] Stengel played his first game here and Cy Young his last" [soon to be 100 years ago: 10/6/11]

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