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The Brooklyn Dodgers played their last game at Ebbets Field on this date in 1957, defeating the Pittsburgh Pirates 2-0. The Dodgers had been a rare cohesive force in working-class Brooklyn, “very close,” writes Andrew Paul Mele, “to the spiritual core of… an otherwise racially, religiously, and ethnically divided city.” By signing Jackie Robinson in 1947, “Dem Bums” had integrated baseball and inaugurated a span of nine years in which they won six NL pennants. Jews on the team in the 1950s included Sandy Koufax, Cal (Abie) Abrams, Goodwin (Goody) Rosen, and first-base coach Jake Pitler.
With only 32,000 seats, Ebbets Field was an intimate, heymish ballpark in Flatbush, and the intense World Series competitions between the underdog Dodgers and triumphal Yankees (“Bronx Bombers”) became life-dramas for striving Jewish families. When the Dodgers move to Los Angeles in 1958, after 75 years in Brooklyn, the borough of three million, a third of them Jewish, was demoralized.
“That team, in that neighborhood, seemed exactly what a national game is supposed to be.”
—Andrew Paul Mele, A Brooklyn Dodgers Reader
Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.