Oh, Great: Baseball Turned Bernie Sanders Into A Socialist

First the sign-stealing scandal, and now this.

It is, apparently not exactly a new revelation that having his juvenile heart broken by a baseball team set Bernie Sanders on the dark road that had stops in Moscow and the Workers’ Paradise, but it is a timely moment to expound on the tale, readying as the Vermont Senator is to tear the Democratic Party asunder.

Many distinguished Americans of a certain age, from historian Doris Kearns Goodwin to Old Blues Eyes himself have waxed nostalgic about Walter O’Malley’s great betrayal, when he yanked the beloved Brooklyn Dodgers away from their iconic Ebbets Field home to the corrupt embrace of La La Land.

As  baseball fans know *or should), the year was 1957. The Brooklyn Dodgers, affectionately called “Dem Bums” by  the locals, had finally rewarded their community with a World Series championship over the hated Bronx-dwelling Yankees in 1955. Then, on a day that lives in infamy, Dodgers owner O’Malley announced that the team was leaving. (So were their National League rivals, the New York Giants, heading to San Francisco.) The Dodgers were a massive part of the Brooklyn community’s self-image, and the degree of trauma  it suffered cannot be underestimated. Bernie suffered too, and the scars still ache. Sanders told the Times in a recent interview:

“It was like they would move the Brooklyn Bridge to California. How can you move the Brooklyn Bridge to California?… I don’t want to tell you that was the sole reason that I’ve developed the politics that I’ve developed. But as a kid, I did see in that case about the greed of one particular company. And that impacted me.”

And here we are. In one of the more dramatic examples of Chaos Theory in action and the Law Of Unexpected Consequences, an upheaval in the  national pastime started the dominoes tumbling that threaten the Democratic Party and the nation’s economic stability 63 years later. What fun!

Ironically, it may be that Bernie reached the exact opposite conclusion than the facts of the episode dictate.  Brooklynites and the standard narrative hold that O’Malley and his Giants counterpart calculated that the West Coast presented a new Major League Baseball market too rich to ignore. That was certainly true, but as Jonathan Tobin points out,  the myth of O’Malley’s greed doesn’t square with the facts.

Robert Caro’s “Power Broker,” the definitive biography of New York City planner Robert Moses, showed how Moses,  the city’s planning czar, blocked the Dodgers from building a new stadium in Brooklyn, though the team’s ball park, steeped in golden hued nostalgia as it is today, was decaying and located in a  declining neighborhood.  Fr from being eager to flee, O’Malley wanted to build a domed stadium  in downtown Brooklyn.  Even though his team was filled with stars like Jackie Robinson, Pee Wee Reese, Gil Hodges and Duke Snider, attendance at Dodger games had been declining. falling by almost 50% in ten years. O’Malley warned that unless he could replace his crumbling stadium—unlike today’s team owners, he was ready to pay for a new ball park himself— he had no choice but to consider moving the team.

Moses, a government bureaucrat with near dictatorial power, adamantly stood in the way. He had sole authority to control major governmental building projects, and was not accountable to any elected politician or legislature. That enabled him to cut through red tape and neighborhood protests to build the highways, bridges,  tunnels, parks and institutions like the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, wielding exactly the kind on undemocratic power Sanders and allies like Rep. Oasio-Cortez believe must be accepted in order to address the threat posed by climate change, and, in the process, to remake America.

Moses, Caro explained, thought Brooklyn was lost cause, and wanted  O’Malley to build his stadium in Queens, where eventually the New York Mets, promoted as baseball’s mea culpa for the betrayal by Da Bums and the Giants, would play. Concludes Tobin,

Stymied by Moses from pursuing his ambitious dream and seeing little benefit to his team in losing its connection to its home borough without the advantage of opening up a vast new and profitable market, O’Malley enriched his stockholders by taking a better offer from Los Angeles. That made him a hero to Southern Californians but a villain to New Yorkers….Those, like Sanders, who still see what happened in 1957 as only a case of corporate greed, ignore the fact that main reason Brooklyn lost the Dodgers was the unaccountable governmental authority Moses presided over. But that’s a story that debunks a belief in big government rather than inspiring it.


10 thoughts on “Oh, Great: Baseball Turned Bernie Sanders Into A Socialist

  1. This post is hilarious.

    Leaving Moses out of it, one would think Bernie would approve of the moves. After all – isn’t a central tenet of his belief system “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs?”

    California needed professional baseball teams. New York had teams to spare. What could be more egalitarian? What’s the problem here? 😉

    • But, under Marxism, you don’t decide your needs, the state does! If Moses had decided to move the Dodgers, it might’ve warmed Bernie’s heart. Since it was the owner of the team (you know how evil business owners are) who made the ultimate decision, it was a betrayal of the community since no one has the right to do with one’s own property what one wishes (unless it’s one of Bernie’s mansions, of course!).

  2. Let’s face it, Bernie has difficulty thinking clearly in the best of times. If Brooklyn wanted to keep the Trolley Dodgers they could have come together and raised the money to buy them from O’Malley if they believed the team truly belonged to the community. But they didn’t.

    As usual the only person being blamed by Sanders is the owner, not the people who failed to support the team or the government creating in intentional market distortions…despite the Dodgers being quite good in the 1950s.

    Like shooting fish in a barrel.

  3. Hilarious. A Jewish kid thinking an owner of an entertainment business was supposed to ignore profits and put on a show for free for cheap people who weren’t showing up. Bernie, you’re a moron and an embarrassment. When I was a little kid watching “NFL” games on our black and white TV, I assumed the “National Football League” was owned and run by the federal government given the name (“National”) and the flag-like symbol they painted on the field. Eventually, I figured it out. In probably fourth or fifth grade. Bernie, grow up.

  4. The discussion of Robert Moses reminds me of a videogame I’ve been playing, Cities Skylines. You get to build your own city with a ll the amenities: plumbing, electricity, highways, public transport, etc. I get to be my very own Robert Moses. I have to say, the power is exhilarating. If I want to build a highway through a neighborhood, no pesky eminent domain, years of litigation, etc. Back to the real world, the urban planners of the 40-50s really screwed us over. Since I live in Boston, a quick example. West End was demolished, which was dense neighborhood like North End, and now it’s a bunch of dreary concrete apartment buildings and hospitals, it looks unappealing. The New York streets, considered a blight, demolished to make way for industrial space and the Boston Herald printing press, Blech! And the crown jewel achievement, Scollay Square was demolished for the new City Hall, a building so brutalist and totalitarian, that even the Soviets would find it distasteful. Credit to President Trump for his federal building design edict. I hope it goes through.

    • You have to admit, the Boston City Hall is the one botch in what was generally an unusually balanced and effective renewal plan that preserved the flavor of the old while still removing most of the rot. But ugh, that thing is a monstrosity.

      • I think urban planners did get overzealous, but there were some good accomplishments. the Prudential Center definitely put Boston in the running. People did grow weary about all the renewal, and some projects got quashed. There was supposed to be a highway running through Cambridge.There is still evidence of that plan on the I-93 North after TD garden, where there is a ramp to the left that ends in the air. Or Route 1 was supposed to be I-95 North, running through Lynn Woods.

  5. Real talk though…isn’t this EXACTLY like a villain origin story from a Pixar movie?

    “Now I will RULE America! I, and ONLY I, will decide who builds, who moves, who lives, and who dies! And no little boy will EVER have his heart broken like mine was, EVER, AGAIN! BWAAHAHAHAHAHAH!”

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