Years ago, after my grandmother died, I found the attached photo; clearly, it had been cut out of a magazine. I knew the ballpark in the photo. Its structure, including protruding beams, overhanging lights, a catwalk behind the lower deck, and the distance from the third base line to the field level box seats, indicated it was Brooklyn’s Ebbets Field. That was the easy part.
But what about the rest? When was the photo taken? The photo provides a number of useful clues: The boy is wearing a sweater and his father a jacket, indicating cool weather and they have a large picnic basket with them, indicating a long stay, perhaps for a doubleheader.
I researched the photo at the New York Historical Society. I’d narrowed it down to a number of magazines and soon learned that it had appeared in PIC Magazine as part of a two-page photo spread in their July 23, 1940 issue. The Dodgers and Giants were playing a doubleheader at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn. The Dodgers lost the opener to the Giants, 7-0, as Carl Hubbell pitched a one hitter. And the Dodgers lost the nightcap, as well, 12-5, to fall out of first place.
The boy in the photo is my father and the man with his arm around him is my grandfather. On a cool day in May–May 30, 1940—exactly eighty years ago today–my grandfather took my father to a doubleheader at Ebbets Field. It was my father’s thirteenth birthday. Today, I’d love to able to say to him, “Happy Birthday, Dad.”