Mover & Shaker: Walter O’Malley

Do you remember why the Dodgers and Giants left Brooklyn and Manhattan after the 1957 NL season and moved to Los Angeles and San Francisco?

It didn’t have to do with fans so much, except for one thing, it did have everything to do with where the fans were now living by this time. Like so many other American families in this era, baseball fans were moving to the boondocks for a shot at more home space at cheaper prices at the expense of a big bump in the cost of daily travel to work in the cities that still served as homes to their favorite baseball teams.

The work-home commute was no big deal for Dodger and Giant fans. The East was built around a great commuter rail system that could take mostly working fathers to and from their new homes in New Jersey and Connecticut to work and back without a problem.

The problem was – how did the bulk of these diehard Dodger and Giant fans remain active patrons of their clubs, especially of the Dodgers in Brooklyn, when there was no great commuter service to Ebbets Field by rail – and only limited, expensive car space for parking, if a fan planned to drive in for a game he may have earlier in life been able to reach on foot?

I prefer to believe the following: Dodger owner Walter O’Malley worked his tail off trying to get the City of New York to help him build a new ball park in Brooklyn near a major commuter train depot – and he also sought help from the city in building this park – with plans for upgrades that even included a domed stadium design. It would have been tailor-made as a plan for retaining all the Dodgers fans that now lived in New Jersey.

It didn’t happen. For whatever political and economic factors that called the hand, the legendary NYC planning genius, Robert Moses, effectively always found a way to block all of the Dodger requests. The next thing we all knew was that the Dodgers and Giants were departing the New York area to begin the 1958 season as the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants.

Owners Walter O’Malley of the Dodgers and Horace Stoneham of the Giants were breaking from the pack to become the first MLB colonizers of the long-regarded and richly coveted West Coast territory. With the growth of television baseball coverage and the newly available presence of commercial jet plane travel, it would now be possible to schedule and play a regular season of baseball without expanding the time gates on the regular season to any big extent.

What we may never know for sure.

O’Malley’s West Coast Plan B may always have been his actual Plan A. Had Moses of NYC continued to work with O’Malley in a more giving way on the “new ballpark for the Dodgers” proposal, we’ll never know if O’Malley would have found ways to reject each try for the sake of justifying his refusal of each offer in favor of the West Coast baseball version of Sutter’s Mill.

Can’t wait to read “Movers & Shakers” by Andy McCue.

Hopefully, this new work will clarify the end game intentions of what really happened in one of the most significant structural alignment changes in baseball history.

God Willing, this subject will be revisited soon.



Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle


One Response to “Mover & Shaker: Walter O’Malley”

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