Monday, August 6, 2007

Leaving Flatbush

An entertaining account of how Walter O'Malley got the Dodgers to Los Angeles:

In order to keep his array of stars — Carl Erskine, Duke Snider, Don Newcombe, Roy Campanella and all the rest — in Brooklyn, O’Malley asked the city to condemn a piece of land and sell it to him, and he would build his own ballpark.

The authority being cited was Title I of the Federal Housing Act of 1949, allowing the city to condemn a parcel of land to be replaced by a public project or to be sold to a private developer whose construction would conform to a “public purpose.” O’Malley wanted a site at Flatbush and Atlantic avenues in Downtown Brooklyn, but Moses refused to allow the building of a ball park, as he considered it not to be in accord with the intent of the Act. The entire question of blame hinges on whether the Dodgers’ boss was sincere in his desire to obtain this piece of property.

Some thought not. Bill Veeck has written that “They couldn’t have met his demands, of course, because if they had given him what he wanted, he’d probably have kept changing them.” O’Malley was then offered a site at Flushing Meadows in Queens, where the current Mets reside. He refused it, saying that Dodgers fans would know that it wasn’t in Brooklyn. Presumably, they wouldn’t notice that Los Angeles was not in Brooklyn either.

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