In August 2001 some friends and I took a day trip from Maryland to New York City to chase down historical baseball landmarks. Our stops included the former sites of Hilltop Park, the Polo Grounds, Washington Park, and Ebbets Field. While in Brooklyn, we also went in search of the Ebbets Field Flag Pole, which legend had it was located in front of a Brooklyn VFW Hall. That trip ultimately formed the basis for a chapter in my book Deadball A Metaphysical Baseball Novel in which protagonist Byron Bennett makes a solo trip to New York City in search of the same sites.
In the news recently I read that the Brooklyn Nets had acquired an Ebbets Field flagpole, which it relocated to a plaza in front of their home field at the Barclays Center. According to an article on ESPN, the flagpole was acquired by Nets owner Bruce Ratner in 2007.
On my trip in 2001, we did not know which VFW Hall in Brooklyn had the famed Ebbets Field Flagpole and, as such, spent a good portion of time driving around Brooklyn visiting as many VFW halls as we could find. Ultimately, it was just plain luck (or intervention of the baseball gods?) that led us to the flagpole. While driving south on Utica Street toward the Belt Parkway, we caught a glimpse of a flagpole in front of a one-story, red-brick building with a plastic banner hanging from the roof identifying the building as the Canarsie Casket Company.
The banner partially obscured another sign, carved in granite and set into the building’s brick wall which stated “Veterans of Foreign Wars.” We knew then that we had found the famed Ebbets Field Flag Pole. Next to the sidewalk was a “Building For Sale” sign, suggesting a then-uncertain future for the Ebbets Field flagpole.
At the base of the flagpole was a piece of granite with the following inscription:
Center Field Flag Pole
Kratter Corporation purchased Ebbets Field from the Dodgers two years before their move to Los Angeles in anticipation of developing the site once the team departed for the West Coast. Marvin Kratter, the corporation’s president, donated the flagpole to the VFW in 1960, where it stood until it was purchased by the Nets in 2007.
The flagpole now resides just a short drive up Flatbush Avenue, two miles north of its former location at 55 Sullivan Place. So kudos to the Brooklyn Nets for helping insure that at least a small part of Ebbets Field remains in the borough. Also, its good to know that the flagpole no longer has the indignity of sitting in front of a building that manufactured caskets.