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  • Bill Chastain

Searching for Ebbets Field…

Spent Tuesday in Brooklyn. My mission: Find Ebbets Field, or where the home of the Brooklyn Dodgers once stood.

I’ve walked across the Brooklyn Bridge many times, but Tuesday was the first time I ventured past the Great Bridge and into Brooklyn.

Among other things, I wanted to get the vibe from the area where Ebbets Field sat. Departed friends Al Lopez, Johnny Vander Meer, Tony Cuccinello, and Don Zimmer all played there.

So I walked, and I walked, and I walked.

Normally my iPhone zeroes in on any location. Tuesday, my navigation system let me down, leading me off on different tangents. Particularly annoying was the constant that continued to pop up seemingly wherever I was: “Take a slight right on State Street in 25 feet.”

While I never found State Street, I found the area where Ebbets Field stood.  I just couldn’t find anything commemorating that the historic baseball venue existed. However, I did smell a lot of weed along the way, and I found a school named for Jackie Robinson — not sure if it was a high school, elementary school, or what. I asked the school officers if they knew of anything commemorating Ebbets Field. They knew of nothing. Despite the disappointment of not finding anything, my imagination ran wild.

Like being there on the night when Vander Meer threw the second of his back-to-back no-hitters. He walked eight and struck out seven in the first night game at Ebbets Field. He met and became friends with Babe Ruth before that game, too. Vander Meer used to tell me, “Someone might tie my record, but they’ll never break it.”

I could see Lopez behind the plate for the visiting Dodgers, Pirates, or Braves, nursing his pitchers like only a future Hall of Famer could.

Cuccinello –“Cooch,” played against the Dodgers wearing Reds, Braves, and Giants uniforms. He also played for the Dodgers.

Al and Cooch taught me so much about baseball, and shared their stories about Ty Cobb, Lou Gehrig, Hack Wilson, and many others. I can’t begin to express the esteem in which I hold that pair.

Finally, I imagined Zim hanging around Flatbush, loving life and the fact he’d be playing another ballgame for his beloved Dodgers.

Yeah, I wasn’t able to pinpoint everything I wanted, but I experienced my own little Iowa cornfield on Tuesday afternoon.

The NFL is preparing to drop the hammer on a group of players that participated in an arm-wrestling event at a Las Vegas casino. Anybody else find that hypocritical considering NFL owners just lined their pockets with cash after allowing the Raiders to move to Las Vegas?

While in Manhattan, one has a choice: Healthier stuff — soup, salad and the like, or Coke and a slice. Yeah, I chose the latter. And I never drink soda anymore, either. Exquisite cuisine.

Finally, from former Atlanta Braves player Gerald Perry, who once looked an an empty Fulton County Stadium prior to a game and proclaimed: “Looks like a great day to paint the seats.”

bchastain19@gmail.com

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©2020 by Bill Chastain. Photo credits: Jill Doty Photography