Sunday, March 04, 2012
100th anniversary: Ebbets Field groundbreakingPosted by Chris Jaffe
One hundred years ago today was a big day in the history of the Dodgers. On that day, they took their first step toward getting their first real stadium. On March 4, 1912, they had a groundbreaking ceremony in Brooklyn for Ebbets Field.
Prior to Ebbets, the Dodgers had a field, of course, but it wasn’t what we’d recognize as a modern stadium. Initially, baseball stadiums were ramshackle wooden structures. They weren’t much of anything, just a place for fans to sit. The early 20th century saw the construction of the initial wave of steel and concrete stadiums. The first was Shibe Park, home of the Philadelphia A’s, which opened in 1909.
Though the Ebbets Field groundbreaking was just three years after Shibe hosted its first game, the Dodgers were a bit late in the game in creating a modern stadium for their team. After all, there was no way the place would be ready for Opening Day a month later. In fact, the team wouldn’t move into their new stomping grounds until 1913. By that time, almost all teams played in a concrete and steel stadium.
Shibe Park had been the forerunner, but by the end of that year it wasn’t the only such place. The Pirates debuted their Forbes Field in midseason. That same year, the St. Louis Browns souped up their home park, Sportsman’s Park, transforming it from a creaky old stadium to a more modernized one.
A year later, two more teams updated their digs. The White Sox debuted Comiskey Park, where they would stay until 1990. The Indians, like the Browns a year before, opted to improve their old place, and thus Cleveland’s League Park became League Park II.
On Opening Day, 1911, the Senators got into the mix, as they began playing in the spacious Griffith Stadium. By now, six teams played in new-wave stadiums, but aside from the Pirates, they were exclusively in the American League.
The NL got its second modern park in the middle of 1911 as the Giants updated the Polo Grounds. The Giants had been playing on the same site since their creation as a franchise in the 1880s, but the 1911 version of the Polo Grounds would last until the 1960s (when it served as the Mets first home).
Thus, at the time of the Ebbets Field groundbreaking, five AL and two NL teams had modern parks. However, many of the remaining holdouts were ahead of the Dodgers in getting a better place to play.
In the 1911-12 offseason, the Yankees signed a lease agreement with the Giants to play at the Polo Grounds. Not only that, but three other clubs had stadiums under construction that would be ready by Opening Day, 1912.
The Reds were putting the finishing touches on Redland Field (later known as Crosley Field), and the Tigers and Red Sox did likewise with their new stadiums. The Tigers' new place would become known as Tiger Stadium, and it would last to the end of the century. The Red Sox facility, of course, was Fenway Park, and it is still being used.
So when Ebbets Field was in its earliest stages of construction, the entire AL played in modern stadiums. Aside from the Yankees, it was their own place to play.
The NL was just slower with it, but in 1913 Ebbets Field opened, and the Dodgers moved in. They stayed there the rest of their time in Brooklyn. That same year, the Boston Braves began playing half of their games in Fenway. Two years later, they had their own park, Braves Field.
In 1916, the Cubs finally got on board with the program, moving into Wrigley Field. Well, back then it was called Weegham Park, but it’s the same place they still play in. Four years later, the Cardinals became a tenant in the Browns’ Sportsmans Park.
The Phillies played in the dingy old Baker Bowl for quite a while, but eventually they entered Shibe Park.
All the teams moved to modern stadiums, and 100 years ago today the Dodgers began creating their first one.
Aside from that, many other baseball events celebrate their anniversary or “day-versary” (which is something occurring X-thousand days ago) today. Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you’d just like to skim.
1,000 days since the White Sox sign free agent Freddy Garcia, allowing him to return to the team with which he’d won a world title.
2,000 days since Bobby Abreu collects a career-high seven RBIs in one game. He’s 2-for-3 with a double, a homer, and a sacrifice fly as the Yankees trounce the Rays, 12-4.
6,000 days since a pair of high-profile closers appear in their final games: Rob Dibble and Terminator Tom Henke.
8,000 days since Delino DeShields makes his big-league debut, and it’s one of the best in history as he tallies four hits on the day.
9,000 days since the BBWAA votes to rename the Rookie of the Year Award to honor Jackie Robinson.
9,000 days since Royals star Bo Jackson announces that he’ll play in the NFL, as well. He has the misfortune of calling it a hobby, a word usage that will come back to haunt him in the short-term future.
20,000 days since Pete Schneider, one of only six 20th-century pitchers to toss 200 innings in his age-19 season, dies.
20,000 days since Roy Campanella has maybe his worst career game. He ties his personal high of three strikeouts in a game, and unlike his other occasions doing that, this time he has only three at-bats in the entire game.
At some point today, it will be 1,000,000,000 seconds since Mike Schmidt tries to steal home. It happens against the Montreal battery of Scott Sanderson and Gary Carter. It fails as Schmidt is out at the plate.
1884 NL owners agree to a rule to minimize fraternization between players on opposing teams during a game. There is still such a rule on the books now, but it hasn’t been enforced since the 1970s.
1886 The National League adopts the stolen-base rule. Also, it creates a four-by-seven foot pitcher’s box.
1891 Dazzy Vance, Hall of Fame hurler, is born.
1897 Lefty O’Doul, outfielder who is also often considered to be the Father of Japanese Baseball, is born.
1897 Lu Blue, first baseman, is born.
1907 The Brooklyn Dodgers pay $40,000 plus $12,000 interest to the city of Baltimore. The $40,000 was supposed to go there seven years earlier when the NL pulled out of Baltimore.
1913 The New York Highlanders open spring training in Bermuda, becoming the first team to train outside the US.
1921 The White Sox trade outfielders Shano Collins and Nemo Liebold to the Red Sox for Harry Hooper.
1925 John Montgomery Ward, baseball Renaissance Man (infielder, pitcher, manager, union leader, league founder), dies.
1938 Jack Taylor, king of the complete game, dies.
1939 Jack Fisher, 1960s Mets pitcher, is born.
1941 Grace Comiskey is elected president of the White Sox after winning her court case for team ownership.
1943 The Philadelphia Phillies announce a new team nickname: Blue Jays. It’ll last a few years and then they’ll go back to the Phillies.
1947 Cleveland trades George Case to Washington for Roger Wolff.
1962 George Mogridge, pitcher, dies.
1967 Negro Leagues star Bullet Joe Rogan dies at age 77.
1972 Texas trades Denny McLain to the A’s.
1976 The Giants franchise is sold to new owners Bob Lurei and Bud Herseth.
1982 Detroit trades Champ Sumners to San Francisco for Enos Cabell and cash.
1994 Michael Jordan, White Sox, first bats against big-league pitching in spring training. He faces Darren Oliver of the Rangers.
1999 The Cubs sign amateur free agent Hee Seop Choi from South Korea.
1999 The Padres sign amateur free agent pitcher Oliver Perez.
2004 Bud Selig announces that baseball will celebrate Jackie Robinson Day on April 15.
History instructor by day, statnerd by night, Chris Jaffe leads one of the most exciting double lives imaginable; with the exception of every other double life possible to imagine. Despite his lack of comic-book-hero-worthiness, Chris enjoys farting around with this stuff. His new book, Evaluating Baseball's Managers is available for order. Chris welcomes responses to his articles via e-mail. Oh, and now he's on twitter.