Ebbets Field was a Major League Baseball park located in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn, New York, USA, on a city block which is now considered to be part of the Crown Heights neighborhood. It was the home of the Brooklyn Dodgers of the National League. It was also a venue for professional football. The first National Football League team in New York City, the New York Brickley Giants used the stadium in 1921, as did the NFL's Brooklyn Lions in 1926. Two different incarnations of a Brooklyn Dodgers football team also used Ebbets Field as their home stadium, as did the Brooklyn Tigers of the second AFL before they moved to Rochester in November 1936. The field was demolished in 1960 and replaced with apartment buildings.
Ebbets Field was on the block bound by Bedford Avenue, Sullivan Place, McKeever Place, and Montgomery Street. After locating the prospective new site to build a permanent stadium to replace the old, wooden Washington Park, club owner Charlie Ebbets acquired the property over several years, starting in 1908, by buying parcels of land until he owned the entire block. This land included the site of a garbage dump called Pigtown, because of the pigs that once ate their fill there and the stench that filled the air. In 1912, construction began, and a year later, Pigtown had been transformed into Ebbets Field, where some of the game's greatest drama would take place.
Ebbets Field was the scene of some early successes, as the "Robins" (so-called for long-time manager Wilbert Robinson) won league championships in 1916 and 1920. The Ebbets seating area was expanded in the 1920s, a "boom" time for baseball when many ballparks were expanded. The double deck was extended from third base around the left field corner, across left field, and into center field, covering the terrace and allowing right-hand hitters to garner many more home runs. By the 1940s, the big scoreboard had been installed, as well as a screen atop the high wall, which made right field home runs a little harder to come by. However, additional rows of seating across left field reduced that area by about 15 feet, to the delight of the sluggers.
After the early successes, though, the team slid into some hard times, which would continue for a couple of decades, until new ownership brought in first promotional wizard Larry MacPhail (in1938), then, after MacPhail's wartime resignation, player development genius Branch Rickey (in 1943). In addition to his well-known breaking of the color line by signing Jackie Robinson, Rickey's savvy with farm systems (as with his prior work for the St. Louis Cardinals) produced results that made the Brooklyn Dodgers "Bums" a perennial contender, which they would continue to be for decades to come.
The Dodgers won pennants in 1941 (under MacPhail), 1947, 1949, 1952, 1953, 1955 and 1956. They won the 1955 World Series (the only world title in Brooklyn Dodgers history), and were within two games and a playoff heartbreak of winning five NL pennants in a row (1949–53) and matching the cross-town Yankees' achievement during that stretch. Ebbets also hosted the 1949 Major League Baseball All-Star Game.
But the Dodgers were soon victims of their own success. Only a limited number of eager fans could cram into minuscule Ebbets Field; it never seated more than 35,000 people, and the constraints of the neighborhood made expansion impossible. It had almost no automobile parking for Dodger fans who had moved east to suburban Long Island, though it was near a subway station. Club owner Walter O'Malley announced plans for a privately owned domed stadium for his Dodgers at the Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn (the future site of Barclays Center), where a large market was being torn down. However, New York City Building Commissioner Robert Moses refused to help O'Malley secure the land. Instead, Moses wanted the Dodgers to move to a city-owned stadium in Flushing Meadows in the borough of Queens (the future site of Shea Stadium and Citi Field). O'Malley refused to consider Moses' position, famously saying, "We are the Brooklyn Dodgers, not the Queens Dodgers!" In turn, Moses refused O'Malley's proposal. As a result, O'Malley began to flirt publicly with Los Angeles, using a relocation threat as political leverage to win favor with his desired Brooklyn stadium. Ultimately, O'Malley and Moses could never come to agreement on a new location for the Dodgers, and the club moved west to Los Angeles after the 1957 season During the last two years in Brooklyn, the Dodgers played several games each year in Jersey City, New Jersey's Roosevelt Stadium, as part of O'Malley's additional tactics to force a new stadium to be built.
In 1956, real estate developer Marvin Kratter bought Ebbets Field from O'Malley. He leased Ebbets Field back to O'Malley until the team left for Los Angeles after the 1957 season.
When the Dodgers left for Los Angeles, O'Malley urged Horace Stoneham, owner of the Dodgers' long-time crosstown rivals, the New York Giants, to move west as well. Stoneham, who was having stadium difficulties of his own, agreed, and moved the Giants to San Francisco after the 1957 season. That meant lights out for Ebbets Field, which was demolished, beginning on February 23, 1960. O'Malley's removal of the franchise from its historic home has been referred to by a federal judge as "one of the most notorious abandonments in the history of sports."