Brooklyn Boro

LISTEN: Our Bums: What the Dodgers meant to Brooklyn

August 29, 2019 Brooklyn Eagle Podcast

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Before they moved out to Los Angeles, the Dodgers had a long history of representing Brooklyn, a melting pot of working-class people. In 1955, they made the borough proud by finally winning the World Series against the Yankees. And we still celebrate their decision to break the color barrier in the major leagues by signing on Jackie Robinson.

Andy Falco, who grew up in Red Hook while the Dodgers were in their prime, described how the team was a central part of Brooklyn’s culture. 

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“They were weaved into the entire lifestyle. They were everything to us,” Falco told Brooklyn This Week. “I don’t think any baseball fans ever loved a team like the Brooklyn people loved the Brooklyn Dodgers.” 

Part of the borough’s loyalty stemmed from how accessible Dodgers players were to their fans. Dodgers worked during the off-season and were regular members of their neighborhoods, often spending time with fans and working multiple jobs to support their families.

Historian David Krell wrote the book, “Our Bums: The Brooklyn Dodgers in History, Memory and Popular Culture,” where he brings to the surface anecdotal evidence that shows how close the players were to the fans.

“You have people who grew up in that era who will say you could see Pee Wee Reese’s wife at the supermarket. You could see Duke Snider walking around town, Jackie Robinson taking the subway. They were very, very much a part of the community,” Krell said. 

And as a die-hard Brooklyn Dodgers fan and Cyclones season-ticket holder, Borough Historian Ron Schweiger has watched how baseball fandom in Brooklyn has evolved over the years.

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Remembering the first ever Cyclones game, he said, “There had to be at least a thousand or two thousand [fans] wearing some kind of Brooklyn Dodgers emblem on their shirt or on their hat. After 44 years without the team here.”

After the Dodgers picked up and left, which sent the borough into mourning, the Cyclones were the first taste of a home team in Brooklyn for over four decades.

“There were three teams in New York the Dodgers, the Giants and the Yankees and when the Dodgers and Giants left, it left a void for me and for many Brooklyn Dodgers fans. It was like a member of the family had passed away.”

  • Interview with Andy Falco at 1:40
  • Interview with David Krell at 7:24
  • Interview with Ron Schweiger at 13:20

Our host Lawrence Madsen is a native New Yorker. He graduated from Columbia University with a B.A. in History, and volunteers with the disaster relief group Team Rubicon.

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