A Man Ahead of His Time

The Brooklyn Dodgers won the World Series in 1955. Two years later, after the team played what was to be its last game at Ebbets Field, the Dodgers announced they were moving west to Los Angeles. Brooklyn has never forgiven them.

Dodgers’ owner Walter O’Malley began construction on the only privately-financed baseball park since Yankee Stadium in 1923 and until the Giants’ Whatever-Is-the-Current-Phone-Company Park in 2000. (The 2008 version of Yankee Stadium cost taxpayers $1.2 billion.)

When the new $23-million, 56,000-capacity, stadium opened, featuring an “unobstructed view of home plate from every seat,” fans noticed there were only two drinking fountains, one in each dugout. O’Malley said it was merely an oversight and denied that the reason was to increase beer and soft-drink sales. His remedy was to place Dixie cups in the rest rooms. The city Health Department considered that a code violation and ordered drinking fountains be installed.

(When Disneyland opened in 1955, Walt Disney claimed a plumbers strike forced him to choose between rest rooms and drinking fountains. Disney reasoned, “People can buy Pepsi Cola but they can’t pee in the street.”)

Walter O’Malley, were he still alive, would have the last laugh. Public drinking fountains are out of fashion and fans now pay $5.75 for a bottle of water at Dodgers Stadium.