Mar 15, 2009

Ever Wonder About the Real Ebbets Field Rotunda in Brooklyn?

With Citifield being designed on the look of Brooklyns old Ebbets Field, complete with a Jakie Robinson Rotunda, lets take a brief look back at the old ballpark.

Ebbets fields was built in 1913 on a garbage dump called "pig town" It was made of concrete & steel and originally held 25,000 fans (eventually its capacity became 32,000). It's location was perfect for early 20th century. It was located walking distance to the junction of a major hub for the trolley cars. Over twenty different trolleys ventured out of the that point on Flatbush Ave which was the main drag through Brooklyn. Yep in case you didn't know thats how the (trolley) Dodgers got their name. Two subway/rail lines also stopped at Ebbets Field, making the train ride from 42nd St. only 20 minutes. Before the age of cars, it was the way to go the game. If you wanted to drive there was a very small parking lot across the street, that's about it.

The Ebbets Rotunda, was the main entrance to Ebbets Field. It's archway entrances were reminiscent of the Roman Coliseum from the outside, and resembled a large movie theaters lobby on the inside. It was an 80 foot in diameter, enclosed circle made of Italian marble with the floor tiled in what resembled baseball stitching. The width of the entrance from the street was 56 ft long. The ceiling was a 27 foot high dome with a chandelier designed of 12 baseball bat arms holding 12 baseball shaped circles of light. Inside were 12 turnstiles and 12 ticket windows that made their way into the stands. They were seperated into four different areas leading to different sections of the ballpark as to prevent bottle neck. There were also 18 different arched exits for leaving the game.

The Dimensions varied through the years. Right field always remained a short distance at 300 ft down the line when it opened in 1914 to 297 ft. by 1957. The fence was 19 ft. high with a 19 ft. screen above it that kept balls in play. Center field was an incredible 450 ft. in 1914 shrinking down through the years to 393 ft. by 1957. The left field line started out at 420 ft. but was closed down to an intimate 348 ft. by its closing in 1957. What started out as a pitchers park, became a hitters paradise by the 1930s.

The Schaefer Beer scoreboard in right field was used for official scoring as well as scores. The letters lit up in the word Scaefer, the H meant hit & E meant error. Below that was the famous Abe Stark suit sign "Hit Sign Win Suit". Stark owned a clothing store nearby and eventually became Brooklyn Borough President. The sign was hit often through the years but most outfielders caught the ball before it got to that low point.

Outside the ball park, there was a portal in right field where kids could get a glimpse inside the stadium. Vendors set up grills on bricks and sold hot dogs.
Amazingly there was no press box until 1929, it hung under the upper deck behind home plate. A woman started playing the organ located under the girders on the 1st base side while players warmed up & during the 7th inning stretch in the late 1940s. The 1st televised baseball game was broadcast by Red Barber in 1939 at Ebbets Field.

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