They’re putting the biggest bum of ’em all in the Hall. On Monday, Major League Baseball’s Veterans Committee elected Walter O’Malley, whose name will live on in villainy forever thanks to his decision to move the Dodgers to Los Angeles, to the Hall of Fame.
It’s safe to say that very few votes came from this borough.
“The man was a traitor who only cared about making as much money as he could,” said Ridge teacher and lifelong Brooklyn Dodgers fan Richard Montalbano. “Hall of Shame, yes, but Hall of Fame, no. The guy is a bum and he’ll always be a bum.
“I’ll never visit the Hall of Fame so long as I live,” added Montalbano.
Another longtime resident did plan on visiting the Hall, albeit as something a notch above a spectator.
“I plan to be at the ceremony next July just to yell out, ‘Rot in hell, O’Malley,’ at the most opportune times,” posted Rabbitman on Bayridge.com.
O’Malley moved the team after the 1957 season. The residents of Bay Ridge were hit especially hard because a number of players lived in Bay Ridge during the season, including Pee Wee Reese, who lived on Barwell Terrace and 97th Street; Duke Snider, who lived on Marine Avenue between 97th and 98th streets; Carl Erskine, who lived on Lafayette Walk and 94th Street; Roger Craig, who lived on Colonial Road between 68th and 69th streets; Danny McDevitt, who lived on Colonial Road between 70th and 71st streets.
In addition, Carl Spooner worked in the off season at Marathon Motors on the corner of 69th Street and Fourth Avenue and Rube Walker lived on 76th Street between Colonial Road and Ridge Boulevard.
There are even rumors that real-estate brokers refused to show Jackie Robinson houses in Bay Ridge.
No wonder how easy it was to hate O’Malley. From the 1930s until the late 1950s, living in Bay Ridge meant always having the possibility of running into Pee Wee Reese getting a cup of coffee or Carl Erskine shoveling show.
And one man took it all away from you. No wonder people still tell the old joke, “If Stalin, Hitler and O’Malley are in a room and you only have two bullets, who do you kill? Answer: You shoot O’Malley twice, just to make sure he’s dead!”
“There was blood on the streets,” said Jerry Polizzi, whose art supply store bearing his name is located on 7813 Third Ave. “They cursed him up and down.”
To locals, O’Malley chose money over memories when he moved the Bums to L.A. after he couldn’t squeeze the city for a new stadium. The hatred runs deep, so deep in fact, that it spans generations.
Bob Nevin worked as a young ticket taker at Ebbets Field for 50 cents a day. His family was torn at O’Malley’s cold-hearted move, but his experience also shows that the oft-repeated adage that O’Malley drained all of the borough’s joy isn’t exactly true.
“My father, my mother, my brother, my sister, they were all in tears,” said Nevin from his bar seat at O’Sullivan’s Bar on Third Avenue. “All but me — I’m a Yankees fan so I couldn’t stop laughing.”
Matthew Lysiak is a writer who lives in Bay Ridge.
The Kitchen Sink
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