Sports in Brooklyn

Sports in Brooklyn

Brooklyn has a storied sports history and has been a breeding place for many famous sports figures such as Joe Paterno (The Pennsylvania State University), Joe Pepitone (MLB), Joe Torre (MLB), Larry Brown (NBA), Mike Tyson (boxing), Paul Lo Duca (MLB), Vinny Testaverde (NFL), and Vince Lombardi (NFL). Parks throughout the borough including Prospect Park, Marine Park, and the community sports complex at Floyd Bennett Field provide residents an opportunity to practice and hone their sports skills and talents.

Early baseball

Brooklyn has been a hotbed of baseball going back to the sport's infancy. A box score from October 21, 1845, lists a game between the New York Base Ball Club and "Brooklyn Players". The New York Base Ball Club was one of the first to play under rules codified by the New York Knickerbockers only one month earlier but no one knows the rules of that "first box score" game.

In the mid-1850s, dozens of ballclubs were formally constituted in greater New York City. When the fraternity convened for the first time to revise playing rules, 8 Brooklyn clubs were among the 16, traditionally considered the founding members of the National Association of Base Ball Players. In summer 1858, the Fashion Race Course in Brooklyn hosted a series of three "all star" games between New York and Brooklyn teams. That was a milestone in commercialization, the first baseball games with admission for sale.

Brooklyn teams dominated play in the NABBP during the early and mid-1860s, with the Atlantic, Excelsior, Eckford, and Atlantic clubs contending for championships in that order. (All three were among the 16 founding clubs. The Atlantics both preceded Excelsior and outlived Eckford as claimant to the very top spot.)

During the War, which curtailed the game greatly, William Cammeyer opened Union Grounds in Williamsburg, the first enclosed field dedicated to baseball, which put the game on a commercial basis. (It was dedicated to baseball most of the year but flooded and used for ice sports in the winter.) The Eckfords played home games at Union Grounds and the New York Mutuals relocated there in 1868, from Hoboken, New Jersey, where several Manhattan clubs were based. A second enclosed baseball park opened, the Capitoline Grounds in Bedford-Stuyvesant, served as home to the Atlantics. [Other clubs would have rented both grounds, too. Very likely the major clubs made annual arrangements including some priority in scheduling.]

League baseball

The National Association of Professional Base Ball Players (NA), the first professional league was established in 1871. The three major clubs calling Brooklyn home all joined by its second season, so both grounds are in the record books if we count the NA as a major league. For 1873 the Eckfords went out of business and the Atlantics moved in as second team at the Union Grounds, sharing with the Mutuals for three seasons. The Mutuals continued as a charter member of the National League in 1876 and the Hartfords of Brooklyn played there in 1877.

Brooklyn's most famous team, the Dodgers, got its start as a minor league team in 1883, joining the American Association in 1884, calling themselves the Bridegrooms and playing at the first of three venues called Washington Park. The team moved to the National League in 1890 and relocated to Ebbets Field in 1913. In the years prior to 1932, they were also known as the Superbas and the Robins, the last an informal name taken from their manager, Wilbert Robinson. The team name is short for "trolley dodgers," a reference to the many streetcar lines that once criss-crossed the borough.

Perennial losers, the Dodgers were called "bums" by their fans, first with derision, eventually with affection. The Dodgers greatest achievement came in 1947 when Jackie Robinson took the field in a Dodgers uniform, the first Major League African American player of the modern era. The Dodgers won pennants in 1941, 1947, 1951, 1952, and 1953, but lost to their longtime rival the New York Yankees in the World Series. In 1955, the Dodgers won their first and only World Series in Brooklyn, beating the rival New York Yankees, resulting in mass euphoria and celebrations all over Brooklyn. Just two years later, the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles, California, after the 1957 season, causing widespread resentment and sorrow. Brooklyn's most beloved and cherished institution had left, and the move is cited by some historians as one of the catalysts for the decline of Brooklyn in the 1960s and 1970s.

In addition, the Brooklyn Ward's Wonders of the Players League in 1890 and the Brooklyn Tip-Tops of the Federal League in 1914 and 1915 called the borough home. The Players League team played in Eastern Park, in what is now known as East New York. The Tip-Tops played in the final incarnation of Washington Park.

After a 43-year hiatus, baseball returned to the borough in the form of the Brooklyn Cyclones, a minor league team that began playing in Coney Island in 2001. The Cyclones are a short season Class A New York - Penn League affiliate of the New York Mets professional team. The Cyclones play at KeySpan Park, located in southern Brooklyn near the Coney Island boardwalk. During hot summer nights, fireworks are sometimes used to signify the commencement of the baseball games.

Football

Several professional football teams have called Brooklyn home, including two in 1926. The Brooklyn Horsemen of the original American Football League and the Brooklyn Lions of the National Football League competed for a time before merging in November and folding at season's end.

In 1930, the Brooklyn Dodgers began play at Ebbets Field. The team lasted until 1944, calling themselves the Brooklyn Tigers that last season but going winless. In 1945, the team was merged with the Boston Yanks.

The second AFL also had a Brooklyn Tigers club in 1936; it played seven games before folding.

In 1946, the new All-America Football Conference had yet another Brooklyn Dodgers team. This club lasted until 1948, after which it merged with the New York Yankees football team.

Finally, there was an independent minor league team called the Brooklyn Dodgers in the short-lived Continental Football League in 1966. They played a 14-game schedule and then folded as well.

Basketball

On January 23, 2004, developer Bruce Ratner announced that he had purchased the New Jersey Nets of the National Basketball Association as part of a controversial large multi-use luxury apartment skyscraper development. He plans to move the Nets to a hoped-for 20,000-seat Barclays Center as part of the Atlantic Yards development at Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues.

Fierce and widespread community opposition has forced many -- sports fans, elected officials, religious leaders and most in the communities immediately adjacent to the Atlantic Yards -- to rexamine the project's worth, with many opposed to the project's massive scale, fluctuating numbers of jobs and affordable housing, and billion-dollar taxpayer funding. This opposition has not succeeded in delaying the project. Demolitions have begun, and the first stage of the project is on schedule to be completed in late 2008.

The Brooklyn Kings, a United States Basketball League team, currently play in Downtown Brooklyn. The borough is also receiving a franchise in the new American Basketball Association in 2006, which will be called the Brooklyn Wonders.

Hockey

The Brooklyn Americans, formerly known as the New York Americans, were a National Hockey League club in the 1941-42 season. Despite the name, the team played its home games at Madison Square Garden and never played a game in Brooklyn. Brooklyn has two ice rink facilities, Aviator Sports and Recreation (a twin NHL regulation ice sheet facility) in Floyd Bennett Field in Southeast Brooklyn, and [http://www.nycgovparks.org/sub_things_to_do/facilities/skating_rink_detail/abe_stark_rink.html Abe Stark Rink] in Coney Island. Brooklyn (specifically the new Nets arena) has been a rumored new home for the New York Islanders if Nassau Coliseum becomes an untenable venue for professional hockey.

The Eastern Professional Hockey League added a franchise called the Brooklyn Aces for its inaugural 2008 season. The team will play at the Aviator Sports and Recreation.

Wrestling

Fans of professional wrestling have long admired The Brooklyn Brawler as one of the sport's premiere jobbers. ECW legend Tazz is also proud of his Brooklyn roots, hailing from the Red Hook area of the city.

Homicide and Low-ki are independent and TNA wrestlers that are also from Brooklyn.

occer

A minor league soccer team called Brooklyn Knights plays at the Metropolitan Oval, which is one of the oldest soccer venues in the US.

ee also

* Sports in New York City

Notes

References

*Retrosheet. [http://retrosheet.org/boxesetc/PKDIR.htm "Park Directory"] . Retrieved 2006-09-03. (major league baseball parks)


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