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Home » Podcasts » Dodger Legends – The Move West

Dodger Legends – The Move West

Poole & Shaffery Attorneys at Law
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The Los Angeles Dodgers have been a part of the Southern California sports culture for more than half of a century, but even more of their history lies almost 3,000 miles away in the New York City borough of Brooklyn.

 

The Dodgers were founded in 1883 spending 75 years in the beating heart and soul of Brooklyn. The team became notorious for losing and coming up short, coining the phrase “Wait ‘til next year!” The Dodgers were beloved by the members of Brooklyn, and as their home ballpark of Ebbets Field began crumbling under their feet, Dodgers’ owner Walter O’Malley looked to secure a new, modern stadium in Brooklyn.

 

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As O’Malley began his effort to secure a site and funds for the new stadium, he ran into a roadblock in the form of New York Construction Coordinator Robert Moses, widely regarded as the most powerful man in New York, and one of the most powerful in the United States. Moses wished for the new stadium for the Dodgers to not be located in the heart of Brooklyn, but in Flushing Meadows, Queens – the site that eventually became home to Shea Stadium. As O’Malley pushed forward harder and harder for a new ballpark, he met more and resistance from Moses whom refused to grant the Dodgers any other site for a ballpark. As time passed, it became clear to O’Malley that no matter the effort, building the Dodgers a new stadium in Brooklyn was not going to happen, forcing the owner to turn his eyes westward.

 

Walter O’Malley began to take steps toward moving his team westward, and found a suitor in the City of Los Angeles. In 1957 the St. Louis Cardinals were the most western baseball franchise, and O’Malley looked to extend baseball beyond the Midwest and tap into the vast reserve of baseball fans on the West Coast hungry for a baseball franchise of their own. However, he knew he could not head west alone, prompting a phone call to the owner of the rival Giants, Horace Stoneham, who was experiencing similar difficulty securing a new stadium of their own to replace the Polo Grounds.

 

Stoneham was already looking to move to Minneapolis, an idea that O’Malley viewed as foolish. In proposal to Stoneham, O’Malley stated that if both teams were to move, they needed to do so together in order to maintain the fierce rivalry between the two clubs and promote West Coast baseball. O’Malley told Stoneham he wanted to move the two franchises to Los Angeles and San Francisco, and even offered to give the Giants their first choice of city. The Giants’ owner took the bait, and the two franchises moved together following the 1957 season.

When the Dodgers left Brooklyn, they left behind a fan base stunned, hurt, and angry. The Brooklyn natives had stuck with their Dodgers through think and thin and they held the Dodgers near and dear to their hearts for three-quarters of a century. The Dodgers were only two years removed from winning their first world series after years of heartbreak and near misses. Many residents of Brooklyn never forgave O’Malley for taking their beloved Dodgers away from them. However, as O’Malley left a behind a city full of anger, he arrived in Los Angeles with a fan base welcoming the Dodgers with open arms. He single-handedly opened up the western United States to baseball and sports and became beloved in Los Angeles. The Dodgers played their first game in Los Angeles before a crowd of 78,672 in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on April 18, 1958.

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The move west brought immediate success for the Dodgers. After Brooklyn was forced to wait over 70 years for their first World Series title, Los Angeles only had to wait two as the Dodgers clinched the title the following season in 1959. Soon after, in 1962, Walter O’Malley’s dream stadium was complete in the form of Dodger Stadium, and has been the home of the Dodgers ever since. The days of ineptitude and failure in Brooklyn turned to times of prosper and victory in Los Angeles. The Dodgers won four pennants within their first decade in the City of Angels, winning three World Series rings during the span. The Los Angeles Dodgers have claimed baseball greats such as Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Tommy Lasorda, Don Sutton, Fernando Valenzuela, Orel Hershiser, and Mike Piazza. Although many still to this day long for the Dodgers to return to their native Brooklyn, the Dodgers have found a place in the hearts of countless Angelinos and Southern Californians.

1957 Brooklyn Dodgers Starters

C – Roy Campanella
1B – Gil Hodges
2B – Jim Gilliam
3B – Pee Wee Reese
SS – Charlie Neal
LF – Gino Cimoli
CF – Duke Snider
RF – Carl Furillo
SP – Don Drysdale
SP – Don Newcombe
SP – Johnny Podres

 

1958 Los Angeles Dodgers Starters

C – Johnny Roseboro
1B – Gil Hodges
2B – Charlie Neal
3B – Dick Gray
SS – Don Zimmer
LF – Jim Gilliam
CF – Duke Snider
RF – Carl Furillo
SP – Don Drysdale
SP – Johnny Podres
SP Sandy Koufax

 

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Dodger Legends – The Move West

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