Expressway: With Dad, 55 years ago at Ebbets Field

An aerial view of Ebbets Field, home to

An aerial view of Ebbets Field, home to the Brooklyn Dodgers baseball team, in Brooklyn, New York. (Credit: AP, 1942)

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I recently took my granddaughter to a game at Citi Field. As we walked around the beautiful new home of the Mets, we passed a young woman wearing a T-shirt that read: "I still call it Shea."

I couldn't help smiling. I say the same thing all the time, because change is hard, especially when you have a lifetime of memories. And then my thoughts suddenly turned to another place, to an event that took place 55 years ago on Sept. 24, 1957. It was a Tuesday night, and my dad, Bill Fouchardt, was preparing to drive my mom and aunt to their weekly bridge club meeting in Brooklyn.

Usually, Dad would hang out with the other husbands, which was easier than heading back home to Floral Park. This night, however, he suggested that I take the ride with him. After he dropped off the "ladies," we headed to Ebbets Field to see the last game of the season.


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Although it was a school night, nothing could have prevented me from spending an evening with my dad, rooting for our beloved Brooklyn Dodgers. We entered the stadium as we had countless times before, but this time seemed different from all the others. The stands were mostly empty, and the energy level was low, partly because the Dodgers were not headed for postseason play. But in our hearts, we knew it was more than that.

The Dodgers won that night (lefthander Danny McDevitt shut out the Pittsburgh Pirates 2-0), but it was only a Pyrrhic victory. More significantly, it was the Dodgers' last game at Ebbets Field. The battle to keep our "Beloved Bums" in Brooklyn had been lost; they went to California the next season.

It's sometimes hard to explain how important baseball has been in my life, how so many of my memories are linked to baseball. The love of the game was handed down to me, a girl and an only child, by my dad, my hero. He was the ultimate fan. He followed every game, first by radio and then TV; he drove to Philadelphia in 1958 because we had to see our transplanted team one more time; and he then encouraged our family to give the new team in town, the New York Mets, a chance to win our hearts. We have been members of the Flushing Faithful ever since.

So even though I still call it Shea, I know it's not the name. Whatever the name, our love of the game will continue to be passed on from one generation of baseball fans to another, from my dad, to me, to my daughters, to my granddaughters and beyond. Unfortunately, my dad isn't here to witness this changing of the guard, but his spirit lives with every pitch -- and with a commemorative brick at Citi Field that reads: "Ya Gotta Believe -- Fouchardt, Russo, Aylmer -- Put it in the Books."

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