Baseball is known as the Great American pastime. It ranks with homemade apple pie. The game itself is very easy to follow and enjoy. For many people throughout the baseball playing world, one of the favorite ways to spend the day is at the stadium.
Baseball is an evolution of game played in mid-18th century England. This game was brought to the colonies by immigrants. It was there that the modern version came into being. Around the 19th century, baseball as we know it was being played across the country.
The game is fairly straightforward. There are two teams of nine players each. These teams take turns batting and fielding. The positions in the field are pitcher, catcher, baseman, shortstop, right field, center field, and left field. When each team has had a turn at bat, this constitutes an inning. There are nine innings in the game of baseball, although in the event of a tie, extra innings are played.
The strategy of baseball centers largely around the type of the pitch the pitcher throws. There are four main types of pitches, the fastball, the curveball, the slider, and the changeup. With these small variances the pitcher essentially orchestrates the entire game. If the pitcher can make three pitches that the batter cannot hit, or refuses to hit thinking they are simply “balls,” that batter is out. A “ball” is when the ball is thrown outside the batter’s strike range. The one who makes this call is known as the umpire.
Baseball is largely a US sport, but it is played internationally. Among the many countries which play baseball are Japan, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Australia, and the Netherlands. These countries formed leagues between the world wars and several other countries have joined the ranks since then.
The Major League Baseball season runs from March to September. The North American part of the season starts about a week after the season opening. In 2014 the opening was held in Sydney, Australia between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Arizona Diamondbacks. The season schedule can be accessed through the MLB website.
Baseball has experienced a decline in popularity over recent years. While it does not have the legal issues that other sports have, except for the occasional steroid accusation, the past eight World Series were watched by far fewer people around the world than all those that went before. National interest has dropped for this national pastime. Once known for its speed, (a game could take under an hour) baseball now takes upwards of two hours to play. This is not the only reason it has fallen out of favor compared to the likes of football and basketball. Unlike these games, baseball is a slow burn. There is not action all the time; it takes concentration and understanding to appreciate. It is a thinking person’s game.
Every great city has its sporting stadium and for Brooklyn this was Ebbets Field. During the 20th Century Ebbets Field has seen many great episodes in American sporting history. Although today the ground the stadium once stood upon has been transformed into apartments, Ebbets Field still has a place in Brooklyn’s sports history and is remembered as one of New York’s great stadiums.
A patchwork of land
Ebbets Field was originally built as a baseball field to be the home of the Brooklyn Dodgers. Originally the Dodgers were based at Washington Park, however when this burnt down a new stadium was needed. Charlie Ebbets began buying property in a run-down area of Brooklyn, starting in 1908, with the intention of using it build a new stadium. Over the years he eventually had acquired the entire block including a site of a garbage dump that was known as Pigtown, which had gained its name from the pigs that used to eat there. Four years after Ebbets started buying up the land construction started on the new stadium and a year later in 1913 the new Ebbets Field stadium was ready to receive the sporting greats.
Home of the Dodgers
Ebbets Field stadium was formally opened on April 9 when the Brooklyn Dodgers played against the Philadelphia Phillies. Although ready for baseball, the stadium wasn’t entirely complete when it first opened. Missing was the flag, keys to the bleachers and a press box, in fact a press box wasn’t added to Ebbets Field until 1929. As well as these omissions, when the stadium was first opened there was no seating in the left or center, as well as this there was no screen or scoreboard. Still, at first, the stadium proved to be a lucky charm for the Dodgers who enjoyed early success while based there. This success, however, didn’t last and during the 1920s and 1930s the Brooklyn Dodgers were in decline, although its fans remained strong and loyal.
On April 15 1947 Ebbets Field became the site for one of the most famous and progressive events in American sporting history. It was on this date and in this stadium that Jackie Robinson became the first black baseball player since 1880 to play in the Major League, this event was watched by a crowd of 26,623 baseball fans and was not only a major turning point in American sports, but also one of the early steps in the Civil Rights movement. The Dodgers won the game and with Robinson’s help, the club’s fortunes began to change and the Brooklyn Dodgers once again became a successful and winning team.
Success and downfall
It was perhaps the Dodger’s new found success that led to Ebbets Field’s downfall. Soon, the stadium’s 35,000 capacity meant that it was too small for the modern game. Arguments started about where the new home for the Dodgers should be, which eventually lead to the club moving to Los Angeles. In the 1960s, Ebbets Field was destroyed to make way for the construction of new apartment blocks, which still stand on the site today.