50th anniversary of last Dodgers game in Brooklyn celebrated Print
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Sunday, 24 June 2007 15:31
MLB Headline News

 NEW YORK (AP) -Four decades after the Brooklyn Dodgers broke hearts by departing for Los Angeles, Harry Nespoli is still fuming.
``It was a betrayal of the Dodgers fans who were here supporting the team,'' Nespoli said Sunday. ``They took the heart and soul from Brooklyn. When they left, they left such a despairing feeling and loss of hopes.''
The 68-year-old Nespoli was among several thousand spectators at KeySpan Park in Brooklyn who watched the reenactment of the final pitch of that game at Ebbets Field on Sept. 24, 1957, when the Dodgers won 2-0 over Pittsburgh.
As a four-piece band played hits from the '50s, fans munched on hot dogs sold for the ``turn back the clock'' price of 25 cents. Those born in 1957 or who showed a ticket stub from that last game could get into KeySpan Park for free.
Under sunny blue skies, Danny McDevitt, who threw that last ball for the Dodgers, stood near the pitcher's mound as Joe Pignatano, who caught McDevitt's ball in 1957, waited just behind home plate.
Donning a Cyclones jersey with the number ``57'' on it, McDevitt, 74, threw the ball. Seventy-eight-year-old Pignatano, wearing the same jersey, caught it. There was applause. Then it was over.
Back in 1957, playing at Ebbets Field, the two didn't realize the significance of that last game.
``They stuck with the team when they were losers,'' Pignatano said of the fans. ``Then they became winners and they left,'' he said of the Dodgers' 1955 World Series championship. ``This is what hurt.''
Pignatano, who calls Brooklyn home, said at the time he wanted to stay in the borough, but he was willing to play major league baseball wherever they hung his uniform.
After the team left, Dodgers owner Walter O'Malley became an instant pariah. Ebbets Field was torn down in 1960 to make way for a housing project.
KeySpan Park opened in 2001, bringing professional baseball back to the borough. The minor league affiliate of the New York Mets now plays at the $39 million Coney Island stadium.
McDevitt, who lives in Atlanta, Ga., said, ``You don't know what it means until later, until now.''
Some say the Dodgers' move felt like a death of a family member. Disbelieving fans couldn't understand why they were being deserted. After the move was announced, fans could be seen crying in the streets of Brooklyn.
For Nespoli, a Brooklyn Dodgers fan his whole life, that move remains a sore spot.
``There's no heart and soul here for me,'' Nespoli, who has since left Brooklyn for Staten Island, said of KeySpan Park. He said it was his first time attending a Cyclones game.
``It's a thing that will never come back again,'' he said of the camaraderie among Brooklynites and the Brooklyn Dodgers.
 

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