Mar 23, 2017

Citi Field's Jackie Robinson Rotunda Was Inspired By The Ebbets Field Rotunda

The Mets home ball park; Citi Field in Queens, New York is one of baseball's best looking stadiums.

It was designed with the old look of Brooklyn's old Ebbets Field in mind since the teams owner was a die hard Brooklyn Dodger fan  while growing up. Complete with the Jakie Robinson Rotunda, similar to the rotunda at the old ball park in Brooklyn.

Ebbets Field construction began in 1912 on various lots, that Dodgers owner Charles Ebbets had bought up. One of the lots was an  garbage dump called "pig town". It got its name because pigs actually ate there & helped create the stench.

Ebbets Field was made of concrete & steel and originally held 25,000 fans, although it eventually upped its capacity to32,000. It's location was perfect for the early part of the 20th century before cars took over the roads. It was located on Bedford Avenue, bounded by Sullivan Place, McKeever Place & Montgomery St.

It was 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. That's how the Dodgers actually got their name, first called the trolley Dodgers.

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 the ball park, 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 separated 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.


Citi Field -Jackie Robinson Rotunda

Citi Field -Jackie Robinson Rotunda
The playing field's 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 right field fence was 19 ft. high with a 19 ft. screen above it that kept balls in play.

Center field was an incredible 450 ft. away in 1914, eventually  shrinking down through the years to 393 ft. by 1957. The left field line started out at 420 ft. but was closed down to a more normal 348 ft. by the ballparks 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 Schaefer, 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.

Trivia: In 1938 Hilda Chester started becoming a regular at the ballpark becoming known as one of baseballs first super fans. It was the home of the Dodgers Sym-Phony band among many other classic Brooklyn characters.

Also in 1938 Ebbets Field began hosting Ladies Day where for 10 cents Ladies could attend the ball game.

Marilyn Monroe at Ebbets Field
The first televised baseball game was broadcast by Red Barber in 1939 at Ebbets Field. In the 1950's a young Vin Scully began his long 67 year broadcasting career with the Dodgers there as well.

The Dodgers won seven N.L. pennants at Ebbets Field & one storied World Championship in 1955 with the legendary "Boys of Summer". It was where Sandy Koufax started pitching & also the home of Jackie Robinson & his historic legacy.
The Dodgers left for California in 1957 (taking the New York Giants with them), & Ebbets Field was torn down in 1960 breaking the hearts of millions in a National League city.

Three Time Dodger MVP Roy Campanella
on Ebbets Field's Last Day
A housing project was built there in 1962, called the Ebbets Field Houses later renamed the Jackie Robinson Apartments.

1 comment:

Cliff Blau said...

I don't remember ever seeing pictures of the Ebbets Field rotunda before. Thanks for sharing.