How it all Began:The History of the Dodgers
By Scott Andes
Hey Dodger fans it’s time for a little history lesson, so bust out your pen and paper and power on those laptops. I’m going to talk today about the history and origin of the Dodgers and the team’s various nicknames. It is important to understand our past and where we came from. So put on your thinking caps Dodger fans, and let’s get our learn on!
The Dodgers were founded in 1883 originally as the Brooklyn Atlantics. Apparently there had been a team before the Dodgers that played in Brooklyn that was no longer in operation. The Dodgers actually picked up some of their old players. The old team was named the Camden Merritt Club. The Dodgers were a part of the American Association, and won the AA championship in 1889 by Beating the St. Louis Browns. The team’s first owner was a man named Charles Byrne. Charles was a real-estate magnate and well known Baseball fan at the time. There were two other men directly responsible for getting the team off the ground in their first few years. Byrne’s brother in law, Joseph Doyle, who became the Dodgers first manager. Also casino operator and friend Ferdinand Abell. The team was also known as the Brooklyn Grays. The Dodgers began play in a ballpark named Washington Park that was located on fifth avenue. The Dodgers played their first home game on May 12, 1883, drawing 6,000 fans to Washington Park. The Dodgers would play there from 1883-1891. Ebbets Field was not built until 1914.
“Some players resemble eggs, in that they are not what they are cracked up to be”-Charlie Byrne-First Dodgers Owner
The 1889 Championship team played the New York Giants in the Championship series which was an annual series played between the American Association winner and the National League winner every year. This was before the first official World Series in 1903. The Brooklyn team lost to the Giants in 9 games, six games to three. The Dodgers would win the Pennant the following season in their first official season in the National League, becoming the first team to win pennants in different leagues in back to back years. People largely contributed some of the Dodgers success in those early days to picking up more players from other defunct teams from the old Player’s League, like the New York Metropolitans (Not the New York Mets namesakes), and the Brooklyn Ward’s Wonders (Run by Hall of famer John Montgomery Ward).
In 1899 there was a merging with the Baltimore Orioles, A National League team at the time, the Baltimore Orioles who were managed by hall of fame legend first year player/manager John Mcgraw, were among four teams contracted out of the National League in 1899. The Dodgers, and some of the Orioles players merged together, as Charlie Ebbets took control of the team that year. Ned Hanlon became the team’s manager in 1899. In 1891 there was a fire that burned down Washington Park, forcing the Dodgers to move to nearby Eastern Park. There were trolley tracks that ran along two sides of Eastern Park. Those Trolley tracks helped originate the nickname “Trolley Dodgers” Later shortened to the Dodgers.
What some people may not know was that from 1883-1931 the Dodgers had no official nickname. They were just known as the Brooklyn Baseball team, but they had many unofficial nicknames. They were called the Grays, the Bridegrooms, just the grooms, The Superbas, and the Robins. Wilbert Robinson managed the team from 1914-1931, they were nicknamed the “Robins” after Wilbert. During those years, the team was mainly referred to as the Superbas, Robins, and the Dodgers, but they had no official nickname until 1932. From 194-1931, Their uniforms just read “Brooklyn” across their chests, and on scoreboards and box scores they were just known as the “Brooklyn Baseball Team.” 1932 was the first year the team was officially called the Dodgers, and the nickname “Dodgers” was proudly written across their chests. The Dodgers were also called “The Bums,” or “Dem Bums” an unofficial popular nickname given to them by sports cartoonist Willard Mullin, coined after a conversation with an unknown cab driver. Old time Brooklyn Dodger fans fondly remember these days of the golden era of Baseball. These old time fans are a link to our past, and I love talking to old time fans. We love hearing from old timers who were around back in those days.
The Dodgers uniforms have been unchanged for nearly 80 years now. The only changes are the road jerseys now have Los Angeles written across instead of Dodgers. I think it’s important to know our history, as it’s a link to our past and Dodger tradition. This has been a Lasorda’s Lair public service announcement. Go Blue!