Brooklyn Dodgers photographed during night game at Ebbets Field on...

Brooklyn Dodgers photographed during night game at Ebbets Field on June 15, 1938. Credit: Getty Images/Sports Studio Photos

This excerpt originally appeared in The Point, the daily email newsletter of the editorial board. You can sign up at

With the benefit of nearly 70 years of hindsight, the optimism seems quaint and naive.

“It looks as if it may actually happen,” Newsday’s editorial board wrote on March 23, 1956.

“It” being the goal of keeping the Brooklyn Dodgers in Brooklyn.

“Our Brooklyn Bums seem to be getting close to that new stadium they need and want so badly. Right now a bill is sitting on Gov. Harriman’s desk awaiting his signature which will create a new $30,000,000 sports center in Brooklyn,” the board wrote in a piece called “Bums & Ballparks.”

At that juncture, Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley had been trying for 10 years to find a replacement for aging Ebbets Field. O’Malley wanted to build and pay for the stadium on his own — he wasn’t requesting Buffalo Bills-style largesse — but he had been asking for assistance with getting the land, preferably at the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues where numerous subway lines converged and the Long Island Rail Road had a terminal.

But city parks commissioner and development czar Robert Moses — you knew Moses was going to appear in this tale — refused to condemn the parcel, as O’Malley wanted, and recommended instead the site in Flushing Meadows in Queens that later would host the Mets.

Newsday’s board, in the meantime, was urging Gov. Averell Harriman to sign the legislation. And he did in April.

“We would have liked the Dodgers to move to Long Island, of course,” the board wrote. “However if they aren’t coming out here, at least we want them to stay close by.”

The board saw another silver lining in the Dodgers potentially taking up residence at Atlantic and Flatbush: “The sports center will also give a boost to the ailing Long Island Rail Road — which needs a boost as badly as anything on Long Island we know,” the board opined. “If the sports center goes through, a new terminal will be constructed for LIRR trains to take fans to and from the ball park. As of now, everything looks in order.”

Then the board channeled that combination of fatalism and optimism familiar to many Dodgers’ fans.

“But we are holding our breath,” the board wrote. “With the Dodgers anything can happen. They even won the World Series last year, didn’t they?”

The intrigue lasted for months more. O’Malley had the Dodgers play some home games in Jersey City in 1956 and 1957 and even sold Ebbets Field later in 1956 and leased it back for three years until a new stadium could (hopefully) be built.

Eventually, however, the complex logistics in New York, the chance to build his own stadium in Los Angeles, and the promising economics of a move to California led O’Malley and New York Giants owner Horace Stoneham to agree in 1957 to move west.

“Wait ‘til next year!” was the immortal cry of the Brooklyn faithful.

But by next year, 1958, the Dodgers were gone.

— Michael Dobie and Amanda Fiscina-Wells

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