Almost a decade ago, my brother and I took a baseball road trip. For two weeks, we hit every baseball stadium from San Francisco to Arlington, TX. The LA portion of the trip took us to see the Dodgers play on Father’s Day. They were playing the cross-town Angels in the finale of a three-game interleague series.
These are my recollections of that day: (1) Chavez Ravine was underwhelming. I’m prolly in the minority in that opinion, but I had such high hopes for it and it kind of fell flat; (2) I got the biggest corn dog ever made that day. Like, I don’t even know how they fit it in the fryer. Sidenote: The Bearded Barrister is a corn dog connoisseur. Whoever thought to impale a hot dog, coat it in corn bread batter, deep fry it, and slather it with mustard should be given a national holiday. Congress should get their act together and dedicate the second Monday in August to the corn dog. That’s public policy I can get behind.; (3) the beer prices were outrageous, so much so, I could not justify having more than one; and (4) the entire game. my inner monologue was, What the hell is a Dodger?
To answer that question, you have to go back to Brooklyn, the birthplace of the Dodgers franchise. Nicknames are pretty fluid in the early years of baseball, and Brooklyn’s baseball team was no different. Their first year in the National League, 1890, they used the moniker Bridegrooms. Yes, the Brooklyn Bridegrooms were a Major League Baseball team. Apparently, a bunch of the players on the roster all got married around the same time. A newspaper reported on that happy coincidence, and the name stuck, at least for a few years.
Around the same time Brooklyn’s baseball team started playing in the Senior Circuit, American cities were undergoing an urban transit revolution, one that commenced in Richmond, VA. In 1880s America, horsecars and cable cars were the favored mode of transportation, ferrying urbanites from one destination to another. Each had their drawbacks – horsecars weren’t much faster than walking and ya know, there was the horse poop; cable cars were much faster, but the required infrastructure made it an expensive endeavor that was not sustainable. So, in 1888, Richmond, VA became the first city in the the United States to successfully run an electric streetcar system. These electronic streetcars were dubbed “trolleys”. After its successful implentation in Richmond, the powers that be in Brooklyn quickly followed suit and electrified their streets in 1890.
Trolleys were a speedy transportation option and they became immensely popular in Brooklyn. Soon, a maze of trolley lines criss-crossed the city. Accustomed to the plodding horsecars of old, Brooklynites had to adjust to the speed of the trolleys as well as their volume. Pedstrian collisions became somewhat commonplace, with dozens of deaths being attributed to trolley-pedestrian accidents in the first few years. Imagine Costanza playing his real-life game of Frogger and you get the idea of what the streets of Brooklyn were like in the 1890s. Around 1895, Brooklyn’s residents were getting a reputation for their ability to dodge the swift-moving trolleys and sportswriters across the country started referring to the baseball team as the Trolley Dodgers. The residents embraced it and the name stuck, eventually being shortened to just Dodgers. The baseball club officially recognized the designation in 1933 by putting “Dodgers” on the uniforms.