The Brooklyn "Trolley Dodgers," Eastern Park
and Rail Service to Eastern Park in 1893
Many sources have suggested that the Brooklyn "Trolley Dodgers" earned their nickname in 1891, when the Brooklyn baseball team moved to a new stadium, Eastern Park. Eastern Park, it is presumed, was surrounded by several trolley lines that fans would have to "dodge" on their way to games.
The origin myth, however, is just a myth. Although the name "trolley dodger" does come from dodging trolleys in Brooklyn (as discussed in my earlier post), it relates to the trolley conditions in Brooklyn, generally, not to trolley lines at the stadium, in particular. The name was also not used until 1895.
There are two reasons that "trolley dodger" would not have been used in 1891:
First, there was no reason to "dodge" trolleys in 1891 becasue all of the trolleys in Brooklyn were horse-drawn trolleys; no dodging necessary.
Second, Brooklyn's extensive trolley system did not serve Eastern Park in 1891; fans reached the stadium by the Kings County Elevated Railway, or walked about a quarter of a mile from a stop on a line (most likely the Broadway line, which terminated at Broadway and Van Siclen) operated by the Brooklyn and Union Elevated Railroad Company.
The Citizen Guide to Brooklyn and Long Island (R. Wayne Wilson and Company,1893) includes maps and descriptions of the surface trolleys and elevated railroad lines in Brooklyn in 1893. It also includes instructions on how to reach the stadium by public transit:
To reach the professional ball grounds at East New York the nearest route is by the Kings County Elevated Railway from Fulton Ferry and the Bridge, the Union Elevated roads taking passengers from the Eastern District to East New York, but not within a quarter mile walk of the grounds, while the Kings County road runs to the grounds direct. The time to Eastern Park by special trains from the Bridge on match days is twenty-five minutes, fare five cents.
A map of the surface railroad system (trolleys), shows that there were no trolley lines running directly to Eastern Park in 1893:
Eastern Park was bounded by what are now Pitkin Avenue (or Industrial Park Road) to the north and Sutter Avenue to the south, as well as by Powell Street to the west and Van Sinderen Avenue to the east. On the surface railroad map above, Eastern Park was located just below where the reference line between 7 and 8 meets the reference line between E and F.
The only trolley line near Eastern Park was the Fulton Street line, which ran along Fulton Street, several blocks north of the stadium, diagonally from west-northwest to east-southeast, to Broadway, where it turned to the south on what appears to be Williams, Alabama or Georgia, all of which are located several blocks east of the stadium. Fans approaching the stadium did not have to cross any trolley lines to get to the game.