The year 1947 marked the end of one era and the dawn of a new one for New York City baseball fans. Babe Ruth bade an emotional farewell to fans at Yankee Stadium; in the same month, Jackie Robinson played his first major league game at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn. A mere ten years later the Dodgers and Giants pulled up stakes and headed for California. In between were an extraordinary 11 seasons during which New York City ruled baseball – and vice versa. With three major league teams, New York was in the World Series every year but one and won a staggering nine championships. In seven of those seasons, a New York victory was a foregone conclusion because both teams in the Series were from the city.
But the passion for baseball reflected more than the glory of the players and the clubs: it was a symptom of an era. The Dodgers, Giants, and Yankees touched a nerve in a New York where neighborhoods were still like small towns and where diverse communities of New Yorkers identified with heroes who represented their hopes for success and inclusion in the new national culture.