MLB

Ebbets Field blueprints to be displayed

The Wall Street Journal
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They were presumed lost, one more casualty from a move that broke a borough's heart.

THE WAY WE WERE

Trace the roots of all 30 MLB teams, dating back to the beginning of the sport's modern era in 1901.

But this week, a century-long odyssey will come to an end when the original 1912 blueprints for Ebbets Field, the iconic home of the beloved, bedeviling Brooklyn Dodgers, will be displayed in public for the first time in decades.

They will be the centerpiece of an exhibit on the Dodgers at Brooklyn College set to open on Thursday. Three of the 18 plans will be on display, alongside team photographs, cartoons and one of the last home plates used at Ebbets Field — one with a memorable dedication to the owner who moved the team to Los Angeles after the 1957 season: "May Walter O'Mally [sic] roast in hell."

The Dodgers played for 45 seasons in Ebbets Field, where baseball's first televised game took place, in 1939, and Jackie Robinson became the first African-American to play a Major League game, in 1947.

The field was torn down in 1960 and replaced by a public-housing project, but its cozy design remains an enduring standard for elegance and intimacy that modern architects have emulated.

"You might say that these blueprints are one of the holy grails of baseball memorabilia," said Ron Schweiger, Brooklyn's official historian and a rabid Dodgers fan.

The prints were found in 1992 after a dedicated search by Rod Kennedy, a Manhattan writer who has often examined the subject of Brooklyn.

They sat in his closet for 20 years after he and Marty Adler, founder of the Brooklyn Dodgers Hall of Fame, discovered them in a musty room filled with cobwebs in a subbasement of a city Department of Buildings archive.

Historians are hailing the discovery of Van Buskirk's 1912 blueprints in part because the initial design can be glimpsed only in photographic fragments. The stadium was renovated and expanded in the 1930s.

"The original blueprints are important because that's probably the best evidence we have of what Charles Ebbets' vision was for his ballpark," said historian John Zinn, who consulted on a recent Dodgers exhibit at the Brooklyn Historical Society. Their discovery, he said, "is a big deal."

Tagged: Dodgers

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