"Who could blame them?" Rudd says. "It's like you've lost a parent or a lover. People grieve. These things take time."
Soon, Brooklyn fans began to hear radio broadcasts of the team's first games in the Los Angeles Coliseum. They weren't impresssed.
"Gimme a break," Rudd says. "They would scream their heads off when somebody hit a foul pop-up. They had Frank Sinatra and other celebrities at the games, and everybody knows these aren't real people. What the hell was going on?"
After a few years, the inevitable comparisons were being made with Ebbets Field. Noisy, scruffy and wonderfully intimate, the old park was a place where anything could happen.
Two guys dressed up as women were once arrested for trying to get in free on Ladies' Day. A rich clothier hung a sign on the rightfield wall that read, "Hit Sign, Win Suit." Fans were like family. You could know the life story of the guy sitting next to you by the bottom of the third.
And did people holler.
They stamped their feet for the Dodger Sym-Phony, a group of musicians dressed as bums who played horribly off-key and tortured opposing players. When an enemy batter struck out, the Sym-Phony would follow the poor guy with a drumroll as he moped back to the dugout. When he parked himself on the bench, they'd crash their cymbals. The crowd would go nuts. It was Brooklyn at its best.
There was also Hilda Chester, described by one historian as a "wild, screeching woman" and a fixture in the left-field bleachers. A plump, middle-aged woman, Hilda rang a cowbell, led the fans in cheers and wore huge buttons that said "Tell the World I'm From Brooklyn."
And then there was Eddie Bettan, a husky man who raced through the stands tooting a police whistle to rev up the faithful. When the Dodgers won the pennant in 1941, Bettan met the returning team at Grand Central Station and made a remarkable statement to all of Brooklyn, according to Barber, who was broadcasting from the tumultuous scene.
"Eddie grabbed the microphone and said he was a landlord," Barber recalls. "He said that for years, he'd been fighting with his tenants, refusing to give them new toilet seats. But now, he was so happy, he promised them all new toilet seats."
By contrast, Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles seemed beautiful but boring, a gorgeous dame with nothing upstairs. Sure, you could see palm trees from the cheap seats and the sunsets were something else. But where was the passion? "Where," as Rudd complained, "was the schmaltz?"
Ira Shepnick, a Brooklyn fan who spent his boyhood at Ebbets Field and now lives with his family in Santa Monica, agrees that Los Angeles suffered by comparison.
"When I take my boys to Dodger Stadium, they think it's just great," he says. "But what do they know? These fans are so boring, you could nap at Chavez Ravine, even with the bases loaded. You might as well be going to the Mark Taper Forum."
The sheer noise of a game at Ebbets Field was unforgettable. Pop singer Carly Simon, who was an honorary Dodger batgirl in the summer of 1954, remembers the sound of fans hooting at enemy ballplayers and bickering in the bleachers over baseball strategy.
"It was very emotional, like a big Italian opera house," she says. "People arguing, singing, cheering, booing. You couldn't help but fall in love with the place."
The tickets were cheap, so you didn't have to be a bigshot to get good seats. That was important to Brooklyn fans, who lived forever in the shadow of Manhattan and suffered from what Barber called a collective inferiority complex. Many of them spent their lives in the same neighborhoods, never crossing the river to see the other sights of New York.
It was easy for them to love the talented Dodgers, who snared one pennant after another, but somehow, always, managed to blow the World Series to the hated New York Yankees. The fans' cry of "Wait till next year" echoed across Brooklyn at the end of each season. Losing, as any diehard knew, had a dignity all its own.
Most fans, for example, can still tell you where they were in 1951 when Bobby Thomson hit the shot heard round the world, a dramatic, ninth-inning home run for the New York Giants to beat the Dodgers for the pennant. Was there ever a worse day in Brooklyn? Pearl Harbor comes close, but you'd get arguments.
"Still a terrible, terrible thing," says Joey Laurice, whose brother, Shorty, may he rest in peace, led the Dodger Sym-Phony.
"I'm sitting in front of the television, and Thompson hits the home run. So I'm mad. I throw the chair through the television. The wife comes running in. 'What's wrong?' she says. Says I, 'The Dodgers just lost, is what.' And the wife begins to cry."
After years of frustration, Brooklyn finally broke the jinx in 1955 by beating the Yankees in the World Series. People honked car horns, danced with strangers, blew whistles or simply watched the celebration with tears in their eyes. Next year had finally arrived.