From 1905 Ebbets started to purchase pieces of land in Flatbush, then a slum of Brooklyn. By 1912 he had collected enough land to build a ballpark. The groundbreaking was in March 1912. The official opening was with a game vs the Yankees on April 5, the first official competion game was on April 9 vs the Phillies. Costs of the construction was a whopping $750,000 (a huge sum of money in those days of course).
Opening Day 1913 at Ebbets Field
On Opening Day 1913, Ebbets Field had a capacity of 23,000. consisting of a covered double decked grandstand extending from the right field foul pole to homeplate and around to the third base side. A lower level of seating continued down the third base side to the left field foul pole. The right field wall consisted of a nine foot wall. Outside, the facade consisted of brick and arches. Maybe the most famed item of the ballpark was the rotunda at the entrance.
The famed rotunda after which several other rotundas were modelled (Safeco Field, Tropicana Field and of course Citi Field)
The first expansion of the stadium’s seating capacity was in 1926. In that year, bleachers were added in the outfield. In 1929 a pressbox was installed, hanging under the upper deck. In 1931, more additons were created, the biggest so far. the double decked grandstand was extended down the third base line, around the left field foul pole and into centerfield. The upper deck in left field hung over the playing field. A scoreboard and a 40 ft. concave, angled in the middle right field wall was built in 1931.
A shot of the upper deck hanging over left field and the famous Schaeffer Beer score board.
Shot of the 1931 additions
After the 1931 additions, the park would basically remain the same until its demoliton in 1960.
In 1938 night games were introduced at Ebbets Field, three years after the Reds had the scoop. On June 15, during the first night game at Ebbets Field, Johnny Vandermeer pitched one of his famed back to back no-hitters.
Just like any other ballpark, the dimensions of the playing field changed over the years:
Year: LF CF RF
1913: 419 450 301
1914: 410 450 300
1921: 419 450 296
1926: 384 450 301
1930: 383 466 296
1931: 384 461 296
1932: 353 399 296
1934: 356 399 296
1938: 365 402 297
1939: 357 400 297
1940: 365 400 297
1942: 356 400 297
1947: 357 399 297
1948: 343 384 297
1953: 348 384 297
1955: 343 393 297
1957: 348 393 297
Ebbets Field had the scoop of hosting the very first televised MLB game on August 26 1939.
At the end of the 1940’s and in the early 50’s Ebbets Field began to deteriorate. I have been told by old Brooklyn fans that Walter O’Malley didn’t do much to maintain the park only to make a statement that he needed a new stadium (I can’t tell if this is true). Bad painting made the park look ugly and the bad plumbing didn’t help either.
In those days, many did not see it that way, but I think that the sale of Ebbets Field to a real estate developer was an omen of the upcoming move to LA. After O’ Malley couldn’t reach an agreement with Robert Moses (who opposed to a ballpark in Brooklyn. He offered a site in Flushing where Shea Stadium was built eventually), the fate of the Dodgers and Ebbets Field was sealed. On September 24, the final game was played at Ebbets Field. The demolition of the stadium began on February 26 1960. One of the few remainings of Ebbets Field, the 1955 WS Championship banner is still in a church in Brooklyn. The homeplate of Ebbets Field is now shown in a display at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.
On the very same site, appartment blocks have been built, just like they did with the site of the Polo Grounds.
Here are some great pics of that grand old ballpark that I found.
Ebbets Field in the early years
The famed Schaeffer scoreboard
The demolition in 1960
Only a plaque and a wall at the location of the right field wall are the only memories of what once was a famed ball park.
The right field wall that could make a ball bounce in a very unpredictable way
This seating chart, shows the odd shape of Ebbets Field
Groundrules of Ebbets Field
Another famous bill board was the Abe Stark sign. It said: Hit sign, win suit.