What if the Dodgers had never moved to LA from Brooklyn?

This originally came out of having listened to some considerable discussion of the Dodgers and their move from Brooklyn to Los Angeles following the 1957 season following the February 27 passing of Edwin (Duke) Snider, mainly from those old enough to have been alive when the Dodgers were still in Brooklyn:

With the passing of Duke Snider, the last surviving regular player of the Brooklyn Dodger teams that were beloved prior to their move to LA, there have been many remembrances from people old enough to actually remember when the Dodgers played at Ebbets Field, along with those who to this day feel Brooklyn has never been the same without the Dodgers.

Many who were alive then even in 2011 still blame the late Robert Moses (a man who from the 1920’s-early ‘60s did a lot of things that were necessary, but also did a lot of things with no regard to others that New York is still paying for in many ways to this day) for the Dodgers moving to LA.  For much of the disregard Moses may have had on a lot of things (particularly to many today, his total disdain for public transportation) , his refusal to get Walter o’Malley the land necessary to build a privately funded domed stadium on the Atlantic Yards was not Moses simple refusal to do so as many old-time Dodger fans believe:  It actually was illegal for Moses to do the kind of eminent domain being done in 2011 to build what eventually will be the new home of what will become the Brooklyn Nets, the Barclays Center.  Moses was not willing to openly break laws like that as much as he had done eminent domain (that in the process ruined many neighborhoods throughout New York, including in the eyes of many the South Bronx that in many ways still has not recovered from the building of the Cross-Bronx Expressway that like other highways actually was needed at that time) to build the Dodgers the domed stadium they desired, prompting the move to Los Angeles along with all the other unintended consequences of all of the other things Moses did over the many years he was in (sometimes) absolute power of New York City.

This is not about re-hashing old stuff.  This is about how different baseball and football might very well have been different if the Dodgers had NOT moved to LA after the 1957 season.

Say that instead of moving to LA, the Dodgers agree to have Ebbets Field completely renovated (which was going to be needed for the Dodgers to remain there, even if supposedly the real reason the O’Malleys wanted out of there was because the neighborhood was changing).  The lack of parking was an obvious problem, especially at a time when cars were becoming more affordable and people were moving to the suburbs (the same reason that the old Penn Station would be torn down a few years later to the disdain of many to build a new Madison Square Garden, although that really was because the Pennsylvania Railroad was severely cash-strapped by then) was also a problem, but say something could have been done where parking could have taken place at a remote site and the transfer that is now in place at the Botanical Gardens Subway station between the Franklin Avenue Shuttle (that has always stopped there) and the IRT 2, 3, 4 and 5 trains was built much earlier than it actually was in the late 1990s as a compromise so people could do a park-and-ride and take the subway from that location to Ebbets Field.  While the lack of parking concessions would have eventually done in Ebbets Field, it at least could have proven to be a stop-gap measure that, along with a renovated stadium could have kept Ebbets Field in operation through the 1960’s into the early ‘70s, with O’Malley then getting his chance to build his domed stadium on the Atlantic Yards site in a post-Moses era, with that stadium opening in say 1972-’73.

While some also blame Moses for the Giants moving out of New York with the Dodgers to the west coast, it needs to be noted even if the Dodgers had stayed in Brooklyn, the Giants (who were drawing very poorly at The Polo Grounds in upper Manhattan) were moving regardless.  The Giants were looking at that time to move to Minneapolis-St. Paul, which at that time was the home of their AAA affiliate (this was in the pre-expansion era when there were only 16 teams, eight per league in all of Major League Baseball), and that move likely would have happened after the 1957 or ’58 season (the Giants would have been playing their games in the Twin Cities at Metropolitan Stadium, which was in existence from 1956-’81 before moving with the Vikings to The Metrodome, which was the actual home of the Twins from 1982-2009 before the Twins moved to Target Field for the 2010 season).

Assuming that had happened after the 1957 season, the likely scenario for the Dodgers would have been this:

Play the 1958 season at their enemy’s old home, The Polo Grounds, while Ebbets Field was being re-built.

Play from 1959 through the early ‘70s at Ebbets Field, waiting out Moses so that a later administration (not as concerned on eminent domain or with the laws changed) would allow O’Malley to build the domed stadium he wanted to at the Atlantic Rail Yards that say again opens either in 1972 or ’73.

That said, there are a whole bunch of other things that likely wind up happening if the Dodgers remained in Brooklyn affecting baseball and the NFL over time:

The most notable of these is that Shea Stadium (which of course became home of the Mets from 1964-2008 and along with Citi Field since 2009 is as much a part of the claim to fame of the 7 line as any) is likely never built, and we likely never have the Mets and their improbable World Series runs of 1969 (when they won it all) and ’73 (when they won the NL Pennant with what is still the worst record of any team ever to make the World Series), not to mention 1986, which may still be the greatest single season team in baseball history.

Another involves the Jets.  With Shea likely not being built at that time, the Jets (who played in the Polo Grounds from 1960-’62 as the Titans of New York and as the Jets in 1963) likely play 1-2 seasons in Yankee Stadium or Ebbets Field while the Polo Grounds undergoes a complete rebuild into a modern (by 1964-’66 standards), football-only stadium for the Jets, who along the way likely in later years share the stadium with the Cosmos of the old North American Soccer League.   If this happens, it is quite conceivable that then-Jets owner Leon Hess does not move the Jets across the Hudson to The Meadowlands in 1984, especially if the Jets have complete control over parking, concessions, and in what would likely be another rebuild of the Polo Grounds in the 1980s-early ‘90s, luxury boxes that were en vogue by then if not by that point moving into a new stadium on the site of what was Shea Stadium (and near where Citi Field currently stands).  This in turn likely leaves the Giants (who were likely moving to The Meadowlands anyway back in the ‘70s) by the late 2000s either with having to rebuild the old Giants Stadium (that had only opened in 1976) or building the new Meadowlands Stadium without the help of the Jets, with whom they co-own the new stadium with.

It’s not just New York that would have been affected, however:

With the Dodgers staying in Brooklyn and the Giants likely having moved to the Twin Cities instead of San Francisco, the focus on LA would have stayed where it may actually have been all along, and that was luring the original Washington Senators to Los Angeles.  The late Calvin Griffith from known accounts apparently wanted out of D.C. at that time and very possibly would have been the owner who moved his team to LA instead of O’Malley.  As the Senators were an American League team, that likely means in expansion that actually came with the 1961 season (mainly to replace the original Senators team that actually became the Twins then in Washington) might have come earlier, and NOT with the Angels coming in with the new Senators as the second team.  With the original Senators in LA (most likely under a new name, possibly the Angels that did land in LA in the 1961 expansion), the likely second team in an American League expansion to me would have been in San Francisco, possibly taking the name of the longtime Pacific Coast League (AAA) team that pre-dated the Giants there, the Seals (and that expansion might have been earlier than when it actually did in 1961 since the original Senators might very well have moved from Washington to LA before they actually did to the Twin Cities if the Dodgers stayed in Brooklyn).  The National League, in turn realizing what they were missing by not having a team on the west coast, likely counters with expansion of its own, at that time most likely adding its own LA team that very possibly would have been the team we know today as the Angels in the American League (though most likely under a different name since the original Senators might very well have taken the Angels name if they had moved to LA), along with the team that actually came into the National League with the Mets, the Houston Colt .45s (who became the Astros when they moved into the Astrodome in 1965), with that expansion possibly happening before the expansion that brought the Mets and Colt .45s/Astros into existence actually did for the 1962 season.

From there, what happened next also might very well have been different in baseball.  Assuming the expansions happened as noted, there then was the issue of the A’s in Kansas City, having moved there from Philadelphia in 1955.  Their continued losing was creating problems for then-owner Charlie Finley, and he was looking to move the team by 1967.  With the Oakland Alameda County Coliseum having opened a year earlier in 1966, Oakland seemed like a logical landing point, but in this scenario, there would have been one problem: Assuming the American League put an expansion team in San Francisco to go with the original Senators having moved to LA in earlier moves, it was likely the American League would be reluctant to have a repeat on the west coast of the Baltimore-Washington setup that would actually be in place until the second Senators team moved to Dallas in 1972 and became the Texas Rangers.  The A’s might very well have been able to move to Oakland as they actually did for the 1968 season, but there might have been some ripple effects of that as well, including a brokered deal where the A’s moved from the American to the National League, becoming the first team to change leagues in the modern era of baseball (something the Milwaukee Brewers actually would do 30 years later in 1998).

With an odd number of teams in each league (9 in the American League and possibly 11 in the National League by that time), if the A’s move did occur in 1968 as it actually did, the next round of expansion and the move to divisional play that happened in 1969 might have happened one year earlier in ’68.  The likely teams that actually did come in for the 1969 expansion (Montreal Expos), Seattle Pilots, Kansas City Royals and San Diego Padres) would have, but the one difference might have been that the Padres would have been the lone team to enter the National League, while the Expos (now Nationals) would have joined the Pilots (now Brewers) and Royals as new American League teams.

The divisions in 1968 (assuming the division era would have started one year earlier than it actually did) might very well have looked like this:

AL East
Yankees
Red Sox
Orioles
Senators
Expos
Tigers

AL West
San Francisco (Seals?)
Los Angeles (ex-Senators, perhaps Angels)
Royals
White Sox
Pilots
Indians

NL East
(Brooklyn) Dodgers
Phillies
Braves
Reds
(Minneapolis-St. Paul) Giants
Pirates

NL West
Los Angeles
A’s
Cardinals
Cubs
Astros
Padres

Would the National League have allowed Finley and the innovations he wanted to bring into baseball to move the A’s into the National League with a move from KC to Oakland?   Maybe-maybe not, but I suspect in the end they would have to get a second team on the west coast along with the Padres coming into MLB one season earlier than they actually did since the stadium the Padres actually played in from 1969-2003 (originally San Diego Stadium, later Jack Murphy and currently Qualcomm Stadium, which is still home to the Chargers) actually opened in the fall of 1967 (with the old Pacific Coast League Padres playing one final season in that stadium in ’68).

Obviously, if all of the above happened, we:

Might not have had a Cardinals-Tigers World Series in 1968 since the Cardinals (assuming they won the NL West) and Tigers (assuming they won the AL East) might not have met since the Cardinals would likely have had to face the Giants (who would have won the NL East in ’68 in this scenario) and either San Francisco, LA or even the Indians (who actually finished the best of the actual teams that would have been in this incarnation of an AL West in 1968) in the new League Championship Series (which also would have started a year earlier) first.  The Giants in particular might have upset the Cardinals in the LCS as they actually were the second place team overall in the NL in 1968.

Would never have had the Mets win the 1969 or 1986 World Series or National League Pennant in 1973 or 2000, since they never would have been in existence.

Might not have had the A’s win their three championships from 1972-’74 since in the National League, they likely would have had to deal with “The Big Red Machine” Reds of that era or a Brooklyn Dodger team in the NLCS, and the results might very well have been different.

I could go on, but the point is, if the Dodgers had NOT moved to LA after the 1957 season, everything else, not just in baseball but even possibly ALL of sports would have moved in a completely different universe from the one we know.  It just shows how the Dodgers moving to LA (and the Giants to San Francisco) after the 1957 season in many ways had far more effects than just the moving to the west coast.

Note: This blog is also on the Too Smart To Fail Site at:
http://www.toosmarttofail.com/whatif.html

Replies can also be posted to the Too Smart To Fail Message Board at:
http://www.toosmarttofail.com/forums/showthread.php?222-What-if-the-Dodgers-had-never-moved-to-LA-from-Brooklyn

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