The blueprints of Ebbets Field, home of the fabled and departed Brooklyn Dodgers, are being publicly displayed "for the first time in decades," The Wall Street Journal reports, as Brooklyn College hosts an exhibit on the team that opens today.
The blueprints -- three of the original 18 plans for the structure, dating back to 1912 -- are said to be the centerpiece of the show. Other items displayed include "team photographs, cartoons and one of the last home plates used at Ebbets Field -- one with a memorable dedication to the owner who moved the team to Los Angeles after the 1957 season: 'May Walter O'Mally [sic] roast in hell.' "
Among Ebbets Field's historic moments are as site of the first televised baseball game, in 1939, and the first major league game to feature an African-American player -- Jackie Robinson, in 1947. After 45 seasons of Dodgers baseball, the stadium -- located in Brooklyn's Flatbush neighborhood -- was demolished in 1960. A public housing project rose in its place.
The blueprints were discovered in 1992 by a writer named Rod Kennedy, who has a particular interest in Brooklyn. After locating many other sets of stadium plans for his business -- "creating tiny tin replicas of baseball stadiums" -- he set himself the task of finding the Ebbets blueprints -- "one of the holy grails of baseball memorabilia," according to Ron Schweiger, Brooklyn's official historian.
"They were found in some dusty basement of a municipal building," said Marianne LaBatto, acting archivist at Brooklyn College. "Rod Kennedy had them for a number of years and gave them to Ron Schweiger with the understanding that Ron would find a permanent home for them." Schweiger chose Brooklyn College, "and we're totally delighted by this," LaBatto said.
LaBatto explained that the college decided, "because [the blueprints] are such a wonderful piece of Brooklyn history," to build an exhibit around them, drawing on Schweiger's extensive collection of Dodgers memorabilia.
"We're going to have them on display but we also have a conservation lab, the only one in the City University of New York. This is important because a lot of the blueprints are damaged, because of the way they were originally stored." Hence at Brooklyn College the plans can be preserved as well as made available to the public, so that "anyone can come to see them, study them, and see what Ebbets Field used to look like." Aiding visitors in that endeavor is a 3-D model of the stadium on loan from the widow of a Brooklyn College alumnus. "It's very intricate," LaBatto said. "Whoever put it together spent a lot of time on it."
Although Ebbets Field (pictured above) has been gone for more than 50 years, its influence can be seen in such structures as Citi Field, home of the New York Mets. Its facade (pictured below) is essentially an updated replica of Ebbets' exterior.