The Los Angeles Dodgers has its origin story firmly implanted in Brooklyn, although there is tragically not much left to see. What was once the illustrious home of the Brooklyn Dodgers in Crown Heights became a hulking 24-story housing development. Its name, Ebbets Field Apartments, is one of the few reminders of its baseball history. Sadly, a sign reads “No ball playing.” Even lesser known is a forgotten plaque on a sidewalk that marks the original location of the Ebbets Field home plate.
Located in a parking lot within the complex just off of Sullivan Place, the plaque which is in the shape of home plate, reads: “Site of the Ebbets Field Home Plate. Home to the Brooklyn Dodgers 1913-1957. At this location on April 5, 1947 Jack Roosevelt Robinson Integrated Major League Baseball.” On our list visit, it was on a section of sidewalk under scaffolding.
The other piece of history is located behind a bush, under the building’s address number. A cornerstone is inscribed with the words “This is the former site of Ebbets Field.” The year 1962 is shown inside a baseball to mark the year the apartments were constructed. Across the street on the western side of the complex you will find P.S. 375 Jackie Robinson School and the Jackie Robinson Playground. Another remnant of Ebbets Field is not on the site, but at Barclays Center — a flagpole from center field.
The Dodgers’ name comes from the literal dodging of Brooklyn’s trolleys by the borough’s residents, as crossing the city’s streets amidst the new transportation method was a deadly sport in itself. In fact, the team was originally known as the Brooklyn Trolley Dodgers. It should also be noted that there are some that believe the term comes from Brooklynites evading or “dodging” the farebox, but the official Dodgers’ history matches the traffic reference. It wasn’t until 1933 that the team put the word Dodgers on their uniforms.
Ebbets Field, opening day, 1913. Image via UCinternational on Wikimedia Commo
The early Dodgers team, known under names like the Brooklyn Atlantics, the Bridgerooms, the Superbas and others, practiced at the first Washington Park, the location of the Old Stone House in Park Slope. After moving to the second Washington Park in Gowanus in 1898, the Dodgers moved to Ebbets Field in Crown Heights. Ground broke on Ebbets Field in 1912 and the stadium opened in 1913. The stadium had an Italian marble rotunda and chandelier made of baseballs and bats. Here, the Brooklyn Dodgers would win their only World Series title in 1955, over the New York Yankees.
It was soon clear, however, that Ebbets Field was too small for the Dodgers fan base. Team owner Walter O’Malley hoped to build a new, larger stadium at Atlantic Yards, where the Barclays Center stands today but Robert Moses, New York City’s master builder had grand plans for Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, site of the 1939 and 1964 World’s Fairs. Refusing to move the team to Queens, O’Malley looked into using Los Angeles as a leveraging tool against Moses but ended up taking the offer to move cities. Ebbets Field closed in 1957 and was demolished in 1960. Within two years, the Ebbets Field Apartments was up.