Jan 20, 2020
Following the 1957 season, two of baseball's most famous teams – the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants – left the city they had called home since the 1880s and headed west to the Golden State of California.
The dramatic departure and bold reinvention of the Dodgers (to Los Angeles) and the Giants (to San Francisco) is the stuff of not only professional baseball lore, but also broader American culture – brash and (especially among generations of New Yorkers) unforgivable acts of betrayal committed by greedy owners Walter O'Malley and Horace Stoneham.
But, as this week’s guest Lincoln Mitchell (Baseball Goes West: The Dodgers, the Giants, and the Shaping of the Major Leagues) argues, the broader chronological story of America’s biggest-ever pro sports franchise relocation was, and is, not a one-way narrative.
While a traumatic blow to the societal psyche of the New York metropolitan region, the transplanting of two longtime National League rivals was not only inevitable (as the nation’s economic and demographic profiles were rapidly changing), but ultimately crucial to the survival of the sport – as increasingly modern forces like air transportation, television and the automobile began to transform pre-War notions of leisure time and discretionary income.
A culturally and financially booming post-War California quickly proved to be not only fertile ground for baseball, but also a blueprint for US professional sports writ large in the decades that followed.
Thank you VisitArizona.com for sponsoring this week’s episode!