Brooklyn Dodgers

For many the quintessential all-American sport is baseball. Many of the well-known baseball teams have a long and prestigious history, but one of the most unique teams within the history of baseball is the Brooklyn Dodgers. Perhaps one of the reasons why the Brooklyn Dodgers has such a special place in baseball history is because it symbolized everything that is loved about the sport.

Dodgers-of-1949
Dodgers 1955 Anniversary

The Brooklyn Dodgers was founded by property mogul Charles Byrne, who persuaded both his brother-in-law, Joseph Doyle and gaming club operative Ferdinand Abell to join him in setting up a new baseball team. At this time Brooklyn was a separate city to New York, and it only became a borough of the New York in 1890, as a result Brooklyn residents saw the Brooklyn Dodgers as truly representing their neighborhood and the team’s first home game had a crowd of 6,000 fans.

Doyle was named as the Brooklyn Dodger’s first manager and the team did not only achieve initial popularity with residents, but was also successful in winning games. So much so that in 1890 it was the only Major League team to win consecutive championships in two baseball leagues.

Becoming the Brooklyn Dodgers

In the 1890s Brooklyn was known for its huge street car grid and Brooklyn residents gained the nickname trolley dodgers because they would routinely have to dodge the street cars that criss-crossed the borough. In 1891 the original Brooklyn Dodgers’ stadium located in Washington Park burnt down and it was moved to a new nearby home situated in-between two street lines at Eastern Park. This led to the team being nicknamed the Brooklyn Trolley Dodgers which swiftly reduced to the Brooklyn Dodgers.

1913 Dodgers Team Photo

Standing up against the Giants

The rivalry between the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Giants symbolized a greater rivalry between the rich and sophisticated Manhattan (the Giants) and its poorer and rougher neighbor Brooklyn (Brooklyn Dodgers). This rivalry started when they faced each other for the first time in 1889 and is still around today, even though both teams have moved away from New York.

Jackie Robinson 1947

Years in the wilderness

During the 1920s and the 1930s the Brooklyn Dodgers began to decline, with the team becoming more well-known for losing games than winning. Despite the team’s misfortune during these years the fans stayed loyal hoping that the Dodgers would once again become a winning team.

A team of progress

Perhaps one of the most famous episodes in the Brooklyn Dodgers’ history was when it became the first Major League Baseball team to employ a black player. On 15 April 1947 baseball history was made when Jackie Robinson became the first African-American to play a Major League baseball game as part of the Brooklyn Dodgers’ team. Robinson’s inclusion in the team is seen as an important part of the early Civil Rights movement and for the team it proved successful with Robinson helping to drive the Dodgers to nearly a decade of success.

One comment

  • Mark Botha says:

    This is a great little potted history of Brooklyn Dodgers and should be much, much larger in content or perhaps baseball, like cricket here in the UK, has a rich history which ,again like cricket, is fascinating to even the most casual of fans because it sets this great sport also in a social context, reflecting society, bigotry, class and myriad changes through the years. The sport of baseball is a sociopolitical reelection of societies changes. We need more of this!

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