Murray Chass is not a happy man.
|]By MURRAY CHASS|
Published: August 23, 2005
IT was bad enough that Los Angeles stole the Dodgers from Brooklyn. Now the poseurs have hijacked the only World Series the team won in its rightful home.
Disclaimer: I am not a Brooklyn native. I have never lived in Brooklyn. I have never spent any money in Brooklyn. I have hardly ever been in Brooklyn; the first time I penetrated the borough's borders, I almost didn't find my way out.
In other words, I have no link to the former home of the Dodgers, no ax to grind about Walter O'Malley's absconding with Brooklyn's team. My friend, on the other hand, might have wanted to do something with that ax and O'Malley, as many Brooklyn natives might have done if given the opportunity.
My friend Richard Latkin, now a resident of Fair Lawn, N.J., was born and reared in Brooklyn and was a typical Dodgers fan; a fanatic, in other words. Like all Brooklyn fans, Latkin has no choice but to watch the accessories to the O'Malley larceny celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1955 World Series championship this weekend. But he doesn't have to like it.
I asked him how he felt about having the Los Angeles thieves celebrate Brooklyn's championship.
"When people used to ask me if I still rooted for the Dodgers after they moved to L.A.," he said, "my answer was, 'If my wife divorced me and left me for another man, would I root for her?' It's like they're thumbing their nose at the whole borough.
"If you took a vote of Dodger fans still living in the New York area, I'm sure 98 percent would say it's a shanda; it's an insult."
Shanda is the Yiddish word for shame. And indeed it is a shame that this celebration will be held in Los Angeles.
"Hey, they have to do it because it's a franchise," said Bob Rosen, a Brooklyn native, who in his capacity as a statistician with the Elias Sports Bureau views the offending act more pragmatically than his fellow Brooklyn fans. "But it breaks my heart that it's being celebrated out there. It was done here."
The celebration of the 50th anniversary of the 1955 World Series belongs in Brooklyn, and the Brooklyn Historical Society is celebrating. Located on Pierrepont Street, at Clinton Street, the society is displaying exhibits and holding programs to commemorate the triumph over the Yankees. It was the only Brooklyn Dodgers victory in six World Series between the teams in a 10-year period.
"Stroll through playful environments and travel back in time to experience the agony and ecstasy of each of the seven games in the World Series and Brooklyn's deep-rooted love for baseball," the society's Web site says.
"The Dodgers' victory," it also says, "was Brooklyn's victory, and it was felt across the borough, permeating social and racial barriers and unifying all of Brooklyn."
What did it ever do for Los Angeles? My point exactly.
Tours of the historical society exhibit are scheduled for each Saturday in September, though the society is shutting out the Dodgers' many Orthodox Jewish fans, like Latkin, by not scheduling tours for Sundays.
Other events are scheduled elsewhere in Brooklyn. In one, on Oct. 1 at the Brooklyn Public Library at Grand Army Plaza, my Times colleague Dave Anderson will talk about growing up in Brooklyn and covering the Dodgers for The Brooklyn Eagle.
The Hall of Fame, another rightful sponsor, is recalling the Dodgers' championship with events on three weekends in September and October.
The faux Dodgers have been "celebrating" the anniversary in a season-long series of events. They have co-opted players from the 1955 team to participate, and the team's 13 living members have been invited to the culminating event Sunday. As former players, these guys will go anywhere someone wants to recognize them. They most likely have not given a minute's thought to loyalty to Brooklyn and rejecting the invitations.
Some of them actually played in Los Angeles - 9 of the living 13, although only half of the 32 who played for the 1955 Dodgers later played in the western outpost.
For their game on Sunday against the Houston Astros, the Dodgers, for the second time this season, will wear Brooklyn throwback uniform jerseys and caps with the letter B on them. The club is also staging a promotional giveaway of a variety of prizes.
This is all supposed to be in honor of a World Series championship won nearly 3,000 miles away, but it is a blatant revenue-raising gimmick, proceeds to go into the owner's pocket.
"The Dodgers are a club steeped with a rich history," a team news release quoted the owner, Frank McCourt, as saying. He also said the 1955 players "left an indelible mark on our history."
Whose history would that be? Not the Los Angeles Dodgers' history.
The Los Angeles Dodgers' history began with the kidnapping of the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1958. They had no history, no existence, before that heinous act.
The Los Angeles Dodgers have built their existence on the tombstone of the Brooklyn Dodgers, and now they are stealing their history as well.