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Once Upon A Time In Brooklyn: Though Long Gone, Ebbets Field Maintains Legacy

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As NY1 begins its week-long look at Brooklyn's past, borough reporter Jeanine Ramirez visits the former site of Ebbets Field where its legacy continues to make its presence known.

The housing complex on Bedford Avenue in Crown Heights looks similar to others in the city. But it's no ordinary location. It's the former site of Ebbets Field -- the home of the Brooklyn Dodgers until 1957, the place where Jackie Robinson broke baseball's color barrier and the site of numerous World Series showdowns.

Brooklyn Historian Ron Schweiger, whose basement is decorated with Brooklyn Dodgers memorabilia, was seven years old when he attended his first game in 1952.

"As I caught my first glimpse of the field, I stopped short and my father goes, 'What's the matter?' And I pointed to the field and said, 'The grass is green.' And he said 'What do you mean?' And I said 'On television, it's black and white,'" says Schweiger.

The team, the field, and the fans are legendary. They're the subjects of many books and films including a documentary called "The Dodgers Sym-Phony," which focuses of the role of the fans, including the band that played at every game. The filmmaker talks about the mystique of the Dodgers.

"Ebbets Park was smaller so it was intimate. I think it leveled out some of the class differences a little bit. It was a working class team," recalls "The Dodgers Sym-Phony" Director Pegi Vail.

Win or lose, fans affectionately called the team "Dem Bums."

"Not only was it our team but many of the players lived here in Brooklyn," says Schweiger.

The 18 foot 1955 championship banner that once hung at Ebbets Field is now displayed at the Brooklyn Historical Society. It's part of a current exhibition called "Home Base," featuring stadium seats, game tickets, a batting helmet and a map to Ebbets Field.

There are also oral histories from people sharing their memories of the Dodgers.

The exhibit, which opened last month, even features a section dedicated to Walter O'Malley -- the owner who moved the team to Los Angeles.

Students who attend Brooklyn Tech High School even helped put the exhibit together.

"We were all really interested in the controversy because of Walter O'Malley and how he moved because that was something that a lot of people mentioned in the oral open calls. People were very passionate about that," says Brooklyn Tech High School student Albina Reydman.

"When the Dodgers left, it was almost like a member of the family that had passed away," recalls Schweiger.

The stadium, which came down in 1960, was eventually replaced with a high-rise apartment complex known as Ebbets Field Apartments.

"When you have a place filled with that much history that it should be conserved and that it shouldn't have been torn down just to make housing," says Brooklyn Tech High School student Chelsea Clayton.

A Glimpse Of Old Time Brooklyn

View the complete gallery of antique photographs of Brooklyn from the archives of the Museum of the City of New York.


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