The Greatest Ballpark Ever: Ebbets Field and the Story of the Brooklyn Dodgers

The Greatest Ballpark Ever: Ebbets Field and the Story of the Brooklyn Dodgers

The Greatest Ballpark Ever: Ebbets Field and the Story of the Brooklyn Dodgers

The Greatest Ballpark Ever: Ebbets Field and the Story of the Brooklyn Dodgers


Generations after its demise, Ebbets Field remains the single most colorful and enduring image of a baseball park, with a treasured niche in the game's legacy and the American imagination.

In this lively story of sports, politics, and the talented, hilarious, and charming characters associated with the Brooklyn Dodgers, Bob McGee chronicles the ballpark's vibrant history from the drawing board to the wrecking ball, beginning with Charley Ebbets and the heralded opening in 1913, on through the eras that followed. McGee weaves a story about how Ebbets Field's architectural details, notable flaws, and striking facade brought Brooklyn and its team together in ways that allowed each to define the other.

Drawing on original interviews and letters, as well as published and archival sources, The Greatest Ballpark Ever explores the struggle of Charley Ebbets to build Ebbets Field, the days of Wilbert Robinson's early pennant winners, the eras of the Daffiness Boys, Larry MacPhail, and Branch Rickey, the tumultuous field leadership of Leo the Lip, the fiery triumph of Jackie Robinson, the golden days of the Boys of Summer, and Walter O'Malley's ignominious departure.

With humor and passion, The Greatest Ballpark Ever lets readers relive a day in the raucous ballpark with its quirky angles and its bent right-field wall, with the characters and events that have become part of the nation's folklore.


On a cold, icy night in December 1972, fresh from reading Roger Kahn’s Boys of Summer, I kick-started a red Honda 350 for a fifteenminute pilgrimage up Bedford Avenue from Brooklyn College, off to see a place that was part of my birthright, yet impossible to find. I was off to a place far away, requiring travel back in time, but I knew that simply by taking measure of the geography, I might somehow grasp a sense of what once had been. the frigid blackness was slick, crystalline, and the streets whipping by were lonely. in search of a memory, so was I.

Inspiration for the sojourn came in part from the wistfulness of those peopling my youth, speaking of something they found difficult to put into words. These were articulate people, and yes, they were from Brooklyn. the problem: speaking the truth. What is so impossible to convey turns out to be nothing less than a sense of who you really are, what you really care about. When distilled, it turned out to be this: the Brooklyn Dodgers were a religion. For those who bought into the faith, Ebbets Field was a holy place.

The understanding came from varying quarters, communicated to me mostly by Frank Fennell and Bill Carney. They didn’t put their sentiments into exactly those words, but it was easy enough to decipher what they meant. How they loved every aspect and intricacy of the game! Frank, whose blue eyes would light up at the mere mention of the Bums, never felt the same way about baseball after the day in 1957 the announcement was made that his Dodgers were gone, a way of life . . .

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