Curse of Gaven

DMZ · January 27, 2005 at 9:11 pm · Filed Under General baseball 

It’s almost too bad that the Dodgers have done well since they moved from Brooklyn in one of the more craven line items in the ledger of treachery by baseball teams. A New York sportswriter covering the Dodgers named Mike Gaven fell ill at the ball park and later died. Gaven said “Well, at least I covered the Dodgers when they were a great team. They’ll never be that great again.” Dick Young wrote an eloquent piece for the New York Daily News that ran the day Gaven died, in which he talked about how the team, having turned on their home, turned also on the sportswriters long close to the team favoring the sycophantic Los Angeles press “who are writing the kind of stories that will sell tickets where tickets are being sold”, and Young’s opinion that it was those small wounds that brought down and killed Gaven.

Young also had this gem in the piece

And I say to you, sports writers of Los Angeles and other cities: When a club official comes to you and says, “Why don’t you be a nice fellow; after all, you’re like one of us,” never for a moment believe that you are one of them, because you are merely tolerated-and then for only as long as they feel they can use you and your paper. You belong to your readers, and to them alone.

If they’d stunk ever since — even if they’d enjoyed Red Sox-like success but no titles, we’d still be talking about the Curse, and we’d remember Mike Gaven and the hole the loss of the Dodgers left in Brooklyn. It makes me sad that we don’t, and we don’t.


20 Responses to “Curse of Gaven”

  1. dw on January 27th, 2005 9:40 pm

    Maybe the bad luck transferred to the Giants. 1901-1957, 5 WS trophies. 1958-2004, 0 WS trophies and only 3 appearances.

    Of course, a lot of the blame can be laid at the feet of the idiots who thought Candlestick Point was a great place for a stadium.

  2. Ivan on January 27th, 2005 11:05 pm

    I love seeing this quote from Dick Young, one of the greatest hypocrites in the history of baseball journalism, who lived in the pocket of Mets management in the epoch of his long decline.

    Or is everyone here too young to remember his conscienceless bashing of Tom Seaver?

  3. tede on January 27th, 2005 11:54 pm


    I feel more sorry for the west coast baseball fans who had to wait an extra 12 years after the LA Rams moved from Cleveland for MLB to wake up.

    O’Malley was evil, but it was Robert Moses who forced the Dodgers out of Brooklyn. Robert Moses ran NYC for 40 years and had say over what roads, parks and stadiums were built. He offered the Dodgers only one location in Brooklyn in Bed-Sty (a slum) and of course the Flushing site where Shea was later built. It was Moses idea that Flushing be a sports complex all along. So yes, O’Malley could have stayed in NYC but not Brooklyn.

    Also half of the Giants attendence came from their 11 home games against Brooklyn.

    Read up on it in “The Last Good Season” by Michael Shapiro. That’s a real good book on the Dodgers 1956 season when the last decent Brooklyn team played and when O’Malley & Robert Moses were locking horns. O’Malley also had the Dodgers play some regular season games in Jersey City where the fans saw fit to boo Jackie Robinson.

    The book also has some good stuff on the mutual dislike of Jackie Robinson & Campy, the sly behavior of the current Seattle GM’s dad, and the sad decline of Newk which began with Game 7 in the 56 Series.

    As for Dick Young, he was a fun read in the old TSN as a kid, but what a sleeze bag. #2Ivan is right, Dick Young’s kid was on the Mets payroll when he went on a jihad against Seaver. (There’s also a few salacious details on him in “The Last Good Season”)

  4. DMZ on January 28th, 2005 7:21 am

    I love seeing this quote from Dick Young, one of the greatest hypocrites in the history of baseball journalism, who lived in the pocket of Mets management in the epoch of his long decline.

    I didn’t know that. If that’s true, it would make this story even sadder.

  5. vj on January 28th, 2005 8:29 am

    This Dodgers/Giants talk reminds me of the “Shot heard around the World” and its description in a novel by Don Delillo. Highly recommended reading.

  6. Bernard Aboba on January 28th, 2005 8:36 am

    I was born in Brooklyn, a few blocks from where Ebbets Field stood. The site on which O’Malley wished to build a ballpark has remained undeveloped since then, and is now the site proposed by the Nets for their new baskeball complex. We will see if that gets built either.

    Branch Rickey, for all his genius, was not particularly good at developing pitchers, and the Dodgers were often out-pitched in the World Series against the Yankees. Compare the ERAs of the Dodger and Yankee clubs during the subway series seasons:

    Year Dodgers Yankees

    1947 3.82 3.39
    1949 3.80 3.69
    1952 3.53 3.14
    1953 4.10 3.20
    1955 3.68 3.23
    1956 3.57 3.63
    1963 2.85 3.07

    The transformation of the Dodgers from a focus on power hitting toward pitching and speed took place after the move to Los Angeles. However, a greater emphasis on analytical thinking also began to take hold after the dismissal of Clyde Sukforth the bullplen coach after the 1951 “Shot Heard Round the World”. Bobby Thomson had hit several home runs against Ralph Branca that year, including one the day before. No way should Branca have been brought in to pitch to Thomson with the game on the line.

  7. Woody Woodward's Son on January 28th, 2005 9:12 am

    In my humble opinion, the real tragedy of the Dodgers move to LA was not merely the abandoned faithful they left behind, but the creation of the Yankee Revenue monster we must now face as a baseball fan.

    New York’s historic status as a three team market was suddenly altered when the Dodgers departed. Baseball’s furtherance of this inequity allows the Yankees to maintain a much higher revenue base than if they were competing with a third team’s TV audience, fan base etc. Do the math on how many people live in New York, divide by two and compare that to other very large cities. The reason that N.Y. had three teams for so many years is that they were capable of supporting them.

    For those who want to see salary caps in baseball because the Evil Empire can spend more than anyone else, I say “Nonsense”. Put a third team back in New York and watch the Yankees payroll return to levels of other large market teams.

  8. Chris Robertson on January 28th, 2005 9:37 am

    #6 Did you take into account the dimensions of Yankee Stadium during those years? That ballpark was huge and really helped pitchers. I don’t remember the year but I believe the fences at Yankee Stadium were brought in until after 1963.

  9. DMZ on January 28th, 2005 9:41 am

    Oh, I have for so long argued against the inherent unfairness of MLB’s territorial restrictions on team movement that I’ve worn my arguments thin from frequent use.

    But yes, a market of so many should be served by more than two teams. Especially when most teams have markets of 1-2m in their metro area.

  10. Bernard Aboba on January 28th, 2005 9:59 am

    #8 – there was definitely a large park effect between Ebbetts field and Yankee Stadium during the period. There also was a substantial difference in ERAs between leagues, with the AL being consistently lower than the NL. I’m not sure how to adjust for that though — any thoughts?

    Here is a comparison the Dodger and Yankee ERAs during the series. In ’41, ’47, ’49, ’52 and ’56, Yankee pitching was substantially better. In ’63, Dodger pitching was remarkable, an ERA of 1 for the entire series!

    Year Dodgers Yankees Result
    1941 2.66 1.80 4-1, Yanks
    1947 5.55 4.09 4-3, Yanks
    1949 4.30 2.80 4-1, Yanks
    1952 3.52 2.81 4-3, Yanks
    1953 4.91 4.50 4-2, Yanks
    1955 3.75 4.20 4-3, Dodgers
    1956 4.72 2.48 4-3, Yanks
    1963 1.0 (!) 2.91 4-0, Dodgers

  11. Dash on January 28th, 2005 10:32 am

    So here’s my question. Why are the Dodgers historically villified for moving from New York to LA, but the Giants move from NY to San Fran is barely even mentioned as an afterthought? Most people don’t even realize that the Giants even played in NY, but most know the Dodgers are from Brooklyn.

  12. Adam M on January 28th, 2005 11:33 am

    Dodger Thoughts links to this site the Offical Walter Om’Malley website, which has a whole section on O’Malley’s attempt to build a new stadium for the Dodgers in Brooklyn. The designs Fuller created were really innovative: a transparent geodesic dome (fiberglass I think), that would have served as an open roof. Its beuaty is definitely subjective, but fascinating nonetheless:

  13. mr kenny on January 28th, 2005 11:56 am

    #5, talking about libra by don delillo? yep, good book 🙂

  14. mr kenny on January 28th, 2005 11:59 am

    Err… doh!
    libra is still a good book.

  15. eponymous coward on January 28th, 2005 3:47 pm

    Because the Giants basically got ran into the ground in the late 1950’s, while the Dodogers were at their peak. (The defending world champion Giants drew an average of LESS than 11,000 a game in 1955, in NYC, and were 6th in the league in attendance, behind a 66-88 Pirates team which was on the tail end of a 10 year stretch of awful baseball. Think about that for a minute. Wouldn’t YOU be tempted to move your team under those circumstances?) Plus Horace Stoneham moved as a favor to Walter O’Malley- it was pretty clear who was the “instigator”.

    Bill James wrote some on the 1950’s being a time of trouble for baseball, attendance-wise, in the Historical Baseball Abstract, and Roger Kahn also writes about this in The Boys of Summer- as I recall, his description of Bill Bavasi’s dad was “E.J. ‘Buzzy’ Bavasi, Dodger executive vice president in charge of Dick Young”. Kahn makes it pretty clear that Young got preferential treatment by the Dodger front office due to his being an influential writer with the Daily News, and got dropped like an old shoe once the team no longer needed him due to an imminent move to LA.

  16. Bernard Aboba on January 29th, 2005 5:34 am

    #13 – there is a special edition, called “Pafko at the Wall” that contains only the section of Libra relating to the 1951 Giants-Dodgers final game.

  17. Bernard Aboba on January 29th, 2005 5:51 am

    With respect to Ebbets field, there is a website out there:

    This includes a blue-print and a picture of the Rotunda:

    At the opening day of Safeco field, I seem to recall hearing that the elements of the Safeco Rotunda were modelled on Ebbets Field, although the resemblance is not obvious judging by the above picture. Does anyone remember that, or was it just my imagination?

  18. captain_napalm on January 29th, 2005 6:36 pm

    Bill Veeck has an interesting take on the Dodgers’ move to LA. Anyone else familiar with it?

    [quote]I was born in Brooklyn, a few blocks from where Ebbets Field stood. The site on which O’Malley wished to build a ballpark has remained undeveloped since then, and is now the site proposed by the Nets for their new baskeball complex. We will see if that gets built either.[/quote]

    IIRC the site O’Malley wanted was at the intersection of Atlantic & Flatbush Aves.

    Don’t know what the area was like back then, but I’d think putting a Stadium on that site would have been a traffic nightmare. The site has finally been developed. They redid the transit hub and built a couple of malls onsite. So maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad after all.

  19. captain_napalm on January 29th, 2005 6:52 pm


    Because unlike the Dodgers, the Giants weren’t doing too well at the gate.

    Some blame the area (people have told me that the area around the Polo Grounds were getting “bad” at the time… I suppose the area improved when the Mets came to town? lol), some blame mediocre ball by the Giants, some say the park was tough to get to, but the end result was the same; people stayed away from the park. They were looking for a new park as well, and IIRC they were offered the Flushing site as well.

    They were set to move to MN, but I would’ve loved to see them remain in NY, and I wonder what could’ve been when the Giants got better talentwise with McCovey, Cepeda, Bill White, and Co. Would they have won a few pennants? Would attendance have improved?

  20. Rob McMillin on January 31st, 2005 3:50 pm