BROOKLYN, NY – While researching material for yesterday’s piece, The Best Athlete of the Presidential Candidates, we came across the story of how the Brooklyn Dodgers and Walter O’Malley basically made Bernie Sanders into the man he is today… by tearing his heart out. WTF (What The Frog), right?! How did an old Jewish Vermont Senator get so influenced by a bast@rd owner and a baseball team in Flatbush? Good question. We’ll answer by borrowing from this column by Les Carpenter at The Guardian because the absentee Different Matt lost sight of his duties while scrambling/preparing for his Dubai MTM assignment, which begins tomorrow. But look at the bright side: We get to spend a Weekend At Bernie’s!
The next President of the United States of America, according to some, actually grew up in Brooklyn, not Vermont. That tidbit of info is for those of you that have been living in a cave with JG Clancy (super fan) or have no clue what a Brooklyn Jew sounds like. Go to the 3:50 mark:
Anywho, the meat of this story is that Sanders grew up in Flatbush and was a diehard Brooklyn Dodgers fan. And then Hell on Earth interrupted when the cowardly, greedy, dirty name Walter O’Malley absconded in the night with ‘dem Bums – scarring generations of baseball fans. But that wasn’t all…
What O’Malley & Co. couldn’t have foreseen is how that theft in the night was how their crime against humanity would change a young Bernie Sanders, who would walk to Ebbets Field, buy a ticket for 60 cents and watch the 1950s Dodgers infield of Roy Campanella, Gil Hodges, Jackie Robinson, Pee Wee Reese and Billy Cox – whom he can still name. The loss of that team, and how it happened, got him thinking about the relationships between corporations and cities; the 16-yearold Bernie thought Brooklyn owned the franchise.
Later, as Mayor of Burlington, VT, Sanders worked on getting a minor league team to the town, with the citizens sharing ownership – as happens with the Green Bay Packers. While the plan came close to materializing, it didn’t happen that way. But he did get a team there. And when that team was swapped for a Reds affiliate, great players came through Burlington: Ken Griffey Jr, Barry Larkin, Omar Vizquel, Paul O’Neill, Rob Dibble and Norm Charlton.
Ironically, the owner of that team eventually O’Malley-ed Burlington – and Bernie – moving the team to Canton, OH. That would have made for some Weekend at Bernie’s.
Come back tomorrow for a man you should all spend a weekend with, Junoir Blaber. And please don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.