Old Ebbets Field Opens One Hundred Years Ago Today

Revisiting a few pieces of baseball’s past

Ebbetts Field opened April 9, 1913. Photo courtesy of the American History Museum

You may think we’re sick of baseball here at Smithsonian Mag, seeing as we’ve already written about its sheet music and poetry just 10 days into its season, but no way! We can’t stop digging up cool artifacts relating to America’s favorite past time.

Today is the 100-year anniversary of the opening of Ebbets Field, Brooklyn’s now-demolished major league baseball park, and in celebration we’ve compiled a few images of items related to the park that are currently in Smithsonian’s collections. Above is a pair of seats from the park’s stands, which were torn down along with the rest of the stadium in 1960 three years after Brooklyn’s home team, the Dodgers, relocated to Los Angeles, and below is a Dodgers jersey and a postage stamp commemorating the park’s iconic facade (after which the exterior of Queens’ Citi Field is modeled).

Ebbets Field made history on April 15, 1947, when Jackie Robinson debuted as Major League Baseball’s first African American player the modern era, covering first base for the Dodgers. Over the following decade, the franchise’s enormous success (including a 1955 World Series victory) ultimately was its undoing, because the stadium’s small size and lack of parking could not accommodate the team’s growing number of fans. The Dodgers’ departure and the field’s demolition were seen by many New Yorkers as a departure from baseball’s old-time values to an increasingly commercial focus.

“The move showed even a team with an entrenched fanbase and a lot of love could leave, and it changed baseball’s relationship between its fans and its franchises,” says Eric Jentsch, curator at the American History Museum. “Ebbets field has a special place in the hearts of America, because it fought for New York City’s love. Its demolition signified a more modern take on the sporting world, in spite of the affection the park won.”

A Brooklyn Dodgers jersey, c. 1913. Photo courtesy of American History Museum

A 2001 stamp commemorating Ebbets Field. Photo courtesy of National Postal Museum

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