It’s official! Walter O’Malley and Walter O’Malley alone is to blame for the Brooklyn Dodgers’ move to Los Angeles in 1958 — breaking the hearts of Brooklynites for generations to come including that of Brooklyn Paper editor-in-chief Vince DiMiceli’s mom, who vowed to never again root for a shortstop named “Pee-Wee” when the soul was ripped out of her home borough.
Or maybe it was Robert Moses’s fault.
On this week’s scintillating episode of Brooklyn Paper Radio, author Jerold Podair took the argument he laid out in his new book “City of Dreams: Dodger Stadium and the Birth of Modern Los Angeles,” that New York’s master builder Moses forced O’Malley’s hand to the court of public opinion — and that of Judge and BPR co-host Gersh Kuntzman — who has final say on who is to blame.
And those comments were convincing:
• Podair noted that Moses, who was not a baseball fan, refused to build a new, baseball-only stadium in Brooklyn, preferring to build a multi-purpose stadium in Queens.
• DiMiceli pointed out that O’Malley wanted a new stadium the day he became the sole owner of the Dodgers, and that he started looking west once the Boston Braves made the jump to Milwaukee in 1954.
Take a listen and find out how Judge Kuntzman rules!
All told, it was another exciting episode of Brooklyn Paper Radio, and you can hear it all right now on Brook
• Podair countered that O’Malley, who lived on Long Island with his wife and two kids, had no real interest in moving himself, his family and his team, out west, an area he knew very little about, and was only using the threat of the move as leverage to get the land he wanted near the Long Island Rail Road terminal.
• DiMiceli claimed that the plan to move to Atlantic Avenue was a ruse, used to scare people in Los Angeles into thinking there was a chance the team would stay in Brooklyn, forcing residents their to give him the subsidies he needed to make the move.
• Podair said a last-minute offer by Nelson Rockerfeller to put up millions of dollars to keep the team in Brooklyn proved O’Malley was intent on keeping the team in Brooklyn.
• DiMiceli claimed that the devil was in two simple details: O’Malley convinced Chicago Cubs owner Phil Wrigley to trade him the rights to playing in Los Angeles — along with ownership of Wrigley Field in City of Angels — for a bag of baseballs, and O’Malley had paid an exorbitant amount of money for a plane to fly his team back and forth to the west coast. Both of those deals happened two years before the Dodgers left town after the 1957 season.
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