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Why Did the Dodgers and Giants Leave New York?

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Wikimedia Commons

In 1957, the face of New York baseball was forever changed when the Giants and Dodgers—two teams that had been playing in the Big Apple since the late 1800s—abandoned the city for California. To this day, their relocation remains a touchy subject to longtime fans throughout the five boroughs. What drove them to leave town in the first place?

In a word, money.

During the first quarter of the twentieth century, the New York Giants had arguably been Major League Baseball’s most dominant franchise. From 1900 to 1925, they won ten National League pennants and three World Series championships, thanks largely to their bombastic club manager John McGraw. Their home field was the legendary Polo Grounds of Upper Manhattan, a stadium which boasted a seating capacity of 55,000.

However, as the subway system took hold, New Yorkers began leaving Manhattan en masse in favor of neighboring boroughs. With the Dodgers residing in Brooklyn and the Yankees ruling the Bronx, fans were increasingly less-inclined to visit the Polo Grounds when another franchise generally played much closer to home. The fact that the Giants started fielding less-than-stellar teams throughout much of the 1930s and '40s did not help matters. When the '50s came around, moving the club became—in the words of Giants executive Charles "Chub" Feeney—an economic “necessity.”

But what about the Dodgers? They were also losing money, but unlike their longtime rivals, the “Brooklyn Bums” still remained among baseball’s richest teams. In fact, they were later cited as the only National League club to have made a profit from 1952 to 1956.

That didn’t satisfy owner Walter O’Malley. To him, the real problem was Ebbets Field, the stadium the Dodgers had called home since 1913. In addition to yearning for a larger seating capacity, O’Malley believed that the surrounding area’s rising black population (which rallied behind Jackie Robinson) was driving white fans away from the ballpark.

Hoping to eradicate these concerns, O’Malley hatched a plan to build a brand-new stadium for Brooklyn at a cost to taxpayers of $6 million. New York Parks Commissioner Robert Moses nixed the idea, claiming that it violated the Title I Housing Act of 1949. The pair never saw eye to eye on this subject, and in October 1957, the Dodgers officially announced that they’d be moving to Los Angeles for the following season.

O’Malley figured that having a second team in California would be a wise business move, so he convinced Giants owner Horace Stoneham to move his club to San Francisco. Thus, the storied Dodgers-Giants rivalry was preserved and the west coast was formally introduced to Major League Baseball.

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video
Seattle Mariners Fans Are Going Crazy for These Crunchy Grasshopper Snacks
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Great Big Story, Youtube

Seattle Mariners fans have more than warmed up to the newest, offbeat addition to the Safeco Field concessions menu: toasted grasshoppers covered in chili-lime salt.

The crunchy snack, which sells for $4 and comes packed in a small container, has only been available for less than a season but has already sold 300,000-plus orders to date. That's about 1000 pounds of grasshoppers. 

Frequenters of Seattle's popular Mexican restaurant Poquitos will know that this delicacy—which first started as a novelty item on its menu—has actually been available to the public for six years. But it wasn't until local chef Ethan Stowell was hired to give the Safeco Field menu a hip retooling that the salty bugs found new, fervent popularity at the ballpark. (Also on the Safeco menu: fried oysters drizzled in hot sauce.)

Great Big Story met up with Manny Arce, the executive chef of Poquitos and visionary behind this culinary home run, to discuss the popularity of these crunchy critters. You can watch the video interview below:

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History
The First High Five Recorded in the History of Sports
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Denis Poroy/Getty Images

We don’t quite know who invented the high five—but we can pinpoint the moment it became inextricably linked with sports, which the short documentary The High Five explores below.

On October 2, 1977, Los Angeles Dodgers leftfielder Dusty Baker scored his 30th home run, making the team the first in history to have four players—Baker, Ron Cey, Steve Garvey, and Reggie Smith—with at least 30 homers under each of their belts. Fellow outfielder Glenn Burke was so overwhelmed with joy and pride, he raised his arm and slapped his flat palm against the victorious athlete’s own palm. The moment transformed Baker and Burke into legends.

Sadly, the latter player faced hard times ahead: Burke was gay, and it’s believed that his sexuality prompted team officials to trade him to the Oakland A's the following year. In Oakland, Burke clashed with team manager Billy Martin, then retired early from baseball. Today, Burke is remembered for his charisma and talent—and for transforming a simple gesture into a universal symbol. “To think his energy and personality was the origin of that, that’s a pretty good legacy,” sportswriter Lyle Spencer says in the film.

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