Let’s take a trip down memory lane to understand that if it had not been for mega builder Robert Moses along with both the New York Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers leaving the Big Apple in 1957 for California, there may have been no Barclays Center or Brooklyn Nets.
The golden era of baseball in New York City took place in the 50’s with a three-way rivalry between the American League New York Yankees, and the National League New York Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers. All three teams claimed to have the best center fielder in baseball. On street corners all over town, citizens would argue whether the Yankees’ Mickey Mantle, Giants’ Willie Mays or Dodgers’ Duke Snider was champ.
Ordinary Brooklyn natives could ride the bus, trolley or subway to Ebbets Field to see their beloved Dodgers. Working and middle class men and woman of all ages, classes and races co-mingled in the stands. Everyone could afford a bleacher, general admission, reserve or box seat. Hot dogs, beer, other refreshments and souvenirs were reasonably priced.
Team owners would raise or reduce a players salary based on their performance the past season. Salaries were so low, that virtually all Dodger players worked at another job off season. Most Dodger players were actually neighbors who lived and worked in various communities in the County of Kings.
Residents of the era sat outside on the neighborhood stoop, shopped at the local butcher, baker, fruit and vegetable stand. Television was a relatively new technology and the local movie theater was still king for entertainment. Brooklyn still had its very own daily newspaper — the Brooklyn Eagle — which ended publication some time in the mid 50’s.
During the 1950s, Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley tried to find various locations for construction of a new baseball stadium which he pledged to finance using his own monies. With limited seating capacity at Ebbets Field, he needed a new modern stadium to remain financially viable.
New York City master mega builder Robert Moses refused to allow him access to the current day Atlantic Yards project site. This location was easily accessible to thousands of baseball fans from all around the Big Apple via numerous subway lines.
Thousands of fans who moved to eastern Queens, Nassau and Suffolk County would have had direct access via the LIRR. Imagine how different Brooklyn would have been if elected officials had stood up to Robert Moses and allowed construction of a new Dodgers stadium in downtown Brooklyn. Without the departure of both the Brooklyn Dodgers (becoming the Los Angeles Dodgers) and New York Giants (San Francisco Giants), there may have been no National League expansion in 1962. There would have been no Colt 45s (original name of the Houston Astros), our beloved New York Mets or the Barclays Center hosting the Brooklyn Nets basketball team.