While the Dodgers have established a rich tradition in Los Angeles, their franchise history dates back to Brooklyn, where they played 74 seasons. They began as Brooklyn Atlantics and were also known as the Grays, Bridegrooms, Grooms, Superbas and Robins during their time in the borough.
Because of a dispute over a new stadium, then-owner Walter O’Malley elected to move the franchise west. But in order to relocate to Los Angeles, O’Malley needed to convince another team to join him.
So the New York Giants agreed to move to San Francisco, and MLB owners granted their approval via vote. In the blink of an eye, the New York region lost two professional teams that had enjoyed successful runs on the East Coast.
As is often the case in present day when a franchise makes the decision to relocate, it can devastate a fanbase that feels abandoned. Such was the case for senator Bernie Sanders.
He joined the Dodgers in camp at Camelback Ranch, and touched on how much the team meant to him during his childhood days in Brooklyn, via Andy McCullough of the L.A. Times:
“My memories of the Dodgers go back a little bit before L.A.,” Sanders said. “We were in Brooklyn. The Dodgers were more than a team. They were a way of life. The team meant the world to the kids of Brooklyn. I’m sure that’s the case now.”
Sanders went on to add the heartbreak he felt in watching the Dodgers move to Los Angeles:
“It was a disaster,” Sanders said. “Walter O’Malley, his name remains in infamy. It really was a very deep thing. Because when you’re a kid and the name of the team is called the Los Angeles Dodgers or the Brooklyn Dodgers, you assume that it belongs to the people of Los Angeles or Brooklyn.
“The idea that it was a private company who somebody could pick up and move away and break the hearts of millions of people was literally something we did not understand. So it was really a devastating moment. I remember it with great sadness.”
It presumably will be a lifetime, if ever, that the Dodgers relocate for a second time. The closest they’ve come to it was with a decision to move Spring Training from Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Fla. to Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Ariz.
The team is celebrating 60 years in Los Angeles this season, and with that players will wear a specially-designed patch on their jerseys. This season also marks a 30-year anniversary since the Dodgers last won a World Series.
Considering how close they came in 2017, this year could be all the more meaningful for the team’s fans. Perhaps even Sanders.