View Full Version : Brooklyn Baseball - Long Time Coming. Steve Serby, NY POST

Slippery Elm
06-24-01, 06:16 PM
A VERY NICE ARTICLE. BTW, Cyclones' opener is on channel 13 in NYC Monday at 7 PM.



by Steve Serby

June 24, 2001 -- These aren't the Dodgers. This is not Ebbets Field. There are no trolley cars by Bedford Avenue. Hilda Chester doesn't live here anymore. Duke Snider and Jackie Robinson don't play here anymore.

And it doesn't matter. A romance grows in Brooklyn again, a once-in-a-lifetime romance between a heartbroken borough that never really stopped mourning the day Walter O'Malley went west with its first true love, with its heart and soul, with its Dodgers.

Because look, over by the Coney Island boardwalk, where the original Nathan's Famous and the Cyclone rollercoaster loom down the left-field line along Surf Ave. and the Parachute Jump towers down right field and the Atlantic and boardwalk beckon: baseball comes back to Brooklyn, 44 years later. The ballpark is fan-friendly KeySpan Park (7500 seats, $5 bleachers, $10 field box) and the league is Single-A and the team is named the Cyclones.

And what it all means is this: Boys of Summer play in Brooklyn again, starting tomorrow night. And the men who remember the best time of their lives, men who are now Grandfathers of Summer, can feel young again, and take their children and grandchildren out to the ballgame and buy them some peanuts and Cracker Jack . . . and Brooklyn USA becomes Heaven USA again.

"Forty four years have gone by," Myles Seitz is saying at KeySpan Park, "and it's like I'm being reborn."

He is 63 years old now, grew up on Pennyslvania and New Lots in East New York, took the train from Pennyslvania and Livonia to Franklin and walked to his baseball shrine. Seitz, who will be there tomorrow night, along with the old Dodger Sym-phony, was asked about the love affair between baseball and Brooklyn once upon a lifetime. "Ebbets Field was very small," he begins, "and when you went there, you were part of the action. You could actually talk to the right fielder, the center fielder, the left fielder just by leaning over the railing. There was no place like it.

"The first time I ever went in there I was nine years old. And when you see the green grass and the brown dirt, it would just . . . wipe me out. The smell of the ballpark, which Shea doesn't have." The smell? "Peanuts, hot dogs. Disinfectant almost, to be very honest with you. They boiled the hot dogs, they didn't have 'em on a grill. It was 60 cents to get into the bleachers. And it was like you were going home."

He ran home from school to watch Ralph Branca relieve Don Newcombe and the Giants win the pennant, the Giants win the pennant. He remembers standing between the kitchen and living room relaying the horrific nightmare to his sister, a telephone operator. "I didn't go out of the house for a week. I literally sat shiva."

There was no team like the Dodgers. "They were Loveable Losers," Seitz said. He was asked what the spring of 1958 was like for him with the Dodgers, and innocence, gone. "It was empty," he said. "I wasn't interested in baseball again until the Mets were born [1962]."

Al Weingarten is 77 years old, grew up on 28th and Mermaid, lives in Howard Beach now, married 51 years. He can still hear Red Barber's voice on his portable radio walking the boardwalk with Eli Gottlieb and Freddy and Ruby and Milton. He goes back to 1938 with the Dodgers and Ebbets Field, Whitlow Wyatt beating the Cardinals. "It was a [homey] ballpark; everybody knew everybody," Weingarten says. "You felt at home in it."

He was at the '47 Series game when Joe DiMaggio kicked the dirt after Al Gionfriddo robbed him. He listened to The Shot Heard Round Brooklyn on radio. "My dad had a shirt factory in Coney Island," Weingarten said. "I could take off whenever I want." When Bobby Thomson beat Branca? "Nearly fainted," Weingarten says. He loved to wager on Dem Bums, you see. "I peddled confetti at the Mardi Gras at age 15," Weingarten says. "I did good with them." But this fateful day cost him. "Maybe $50 or $100."

When the Dodgers left and the wrecking ball demolished Ebbets Field? "I was shook up; I hated the management, all of them," Weingarten says.

Jeff Wilpon, Fred's son, won't be taking the Cyclones to L.A. "The fact that baseball's back in Brooklyn, makes this a better place to be," Seitz says. "After O'Malley and his gang took baseball away, Brooklyn died. I mean, the entire borough just lost its pride."

What seems like an eternity later, everyone is a Boy of Summer again in Brooklyn.

Slippery Elm
06-25-01, 06:57 PM
I'm currently watching the Cyclones' game on TV. VERY weird seeing the Parachute Drop behind rightfield.

Kind of weird hearing guys on the Cyclones and S.I. Yankees speaking with AUSTRALIAN accents!

Nice ballpark.

Slippery Elm
06-25-01, 09:18 PM
Cyclones won a very enjoyable game, their home opener.

They came back from a 2-0 deficit and won it in the bottom of the ninth, 3-2.

A lot more fun than looking at the Yankee bullpen implode.