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[Detail] Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese

5. The Stadium in Urban Life

In the early twentieth century, Brooklyn’s Ebbets Field was the smallest and most intimate park in the National League. Fans sat close to the action and interacted with the players on a regular basis. Photographs in this collection include images of fans waiting outside Ebbets Field, in one example waiting to see a World Series game.

Ebbets Field and other stadiums offered recreation within cities. They provided a venue where fans could spend an afternoon watching athletes perform on a manicured field. On April 14, 1957, Jackie Robinson was interviewed on NBC's news program, Meet the Press. A transcript from this program briefly discusses the time-honored tradition of skipping work on opening day to catch the first game of the season while a search on stadium yields photographs of Philadelphia’s Shibe Park and the Polo Grounds during a 1913 World Series game. Insurance maps of Ebbets Field and Blues Stadium provide an opportunity to see how these parks related to the neighborhoods that surrounded them.

  • How and why do fans identify with a baseball team in their community?
  • What role did professional baseball play in urban centers during the early twentieth century?
  • What is the appeal of skipping work to go see an opening day game?
  • What role do baseball teams play in contemporary cities? Has that role changed over time?
  • Is a stadium seen as more than an entertainment center? If so, what other value does it hold?