May 28

This Day in History

Sports

May 28, 1957:

Baseball owners allow Dodgers and Giants to move

On May 28, 1957, National League owners vote unanimously to allow the New York Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers to move to San Francisco and Los Angeles, respectively, at the mid-season owner’s meeting in Chicago, Illinois.

There were, however, conditions attached to the owners’ decision. First, either both teams had to move or neither could, which meant that if one team reconsidered, the other would have to change their plans as well. Second, both teams had to announce their plans before October 1, 1957. In the end, both teams did move: The Giants hosted a farewell party at a game on September 29, and the Dodgers formally announced their move on October 8. West Coast baseball fans were overjoyed, and the people of New York City were heartbroken.

In 1957, the Dodgers were in the midst of an impressive run; they had won five pennants and one World Championship in eight years. The team was profitable, and regularly packed all 32,000 seats at Ebbets Field. They were also splitting a massive radio and television pie with their rival Giants and the hated Yankees, who had beaten them in the World Series six times in seven tries. However, their owner, Brooklyn lawyer Walter O’Malley, still wanted to move his team west, where the city of Los Angeles had agreed to build him the new stadium that Brooklyn would not.

The Giants were an up-and-down team leading up to 1957, both fiscally and on the field. In spite of winning World Championships in 1951 and 1954, the team could not draw fans as consistently as their Brooklyn rivals did. Owner Horace Stoneman thought the relocation to San Francisco would revitalize the team, but they continued to suffer from inconsistent play and attendance even after the move. On their final day at the Polo Grounds in Coogan’s Bluff, after fans stormed the field, former baseball writer and the Giants PR man Garry Schumacher chided, "If all the people who will claim in the future that they were here today had actually turned out, we wouldn’t have to be moving in the first place."

Although the Giants and Dodgers continued to face each other some 20 times each season, for many the storied rivalry just wasn’t the same. Once just a subway ride away, the teams were now separated by 382 miles. Meanwhile, back in New York, fans consoled themselves by following the National League’s Mets, added as an expansion team in 1962. The Yankees and Mets did not face each other as the Giants and Dodgers had until inter-league play began in 1997. In 2000, the two teams faced off in the World Series, the first "subway series" since the Dodgers and the Yankees met in 1956. The Yankees prevailed, four games to one.

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