Today in Sports History: April 5th


4/05/1913 - Dodgers open at Ebbets Field

The Brooklyn Dodgers play their first game at Ebbets Field, named after Dodgers owner Charles Ebbets. Besides being home to the Brooklyn Tigers of the NFL (who were also known as the Dodgers at one point), Ebbets Field would house the baseball team for their remaining time in Brooklyn.

25,000 fans crammed inside to see the exhibition game between the Dodgers and the Yankees. With the help of an inside-the-park home run by Casey Stengel, the Dodgers go on to win, 3-2. Their first regular season game occurred four days later.

There are not many ballparks from that era that are remembered as well as Ebbets Field, which has a far greater legacy than the home of their cross-town rivals, the Polo Grounds. Much of this has to do with the attention given to Jackie Robinson, who broke the color barrier with the Dodgers in 1947. But it was also remembered in the aftermath of the Dodgers' move to Los Angeles, California; Brooklyn became the first team to migrate out west, and Ebbets Field was abandoned in the process. The home to one of the longest-rooted sports teams became obsolete, and with no one occupying it, Ebbets Field was torn down in 1960.

The vaulted exterior of Citi Field, where the New York Mets began playing in 2009, was inspired by the outside appearance of Ebbets Field.

4/05/1984 - Kareem passes Wilt the Stilt

With a 12-foot sky hook over Mark Eaton of the Utah Jazz, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar scores career point No. 31,421, passing Wilt Chamberlain for the most all time. Abdul-Jabbar, who entered the league as Lew Alcindor, was one of the most dominant players in history, so much so that dunking that was briefly outlawed in college basketball because of him. The historic event took place in Las Vegas, Nevada, where the Jazz played 11 "home" games that year as a temporary boost for their struggling attendance. The played two games there the following season before returning to Utah full time.

Prior the start of the Lakers' next game, Abdul-Jabbar was met in person by Wilt Chamberlain, who congratulated the active record-holder. "Without a doubt, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was the toughest guy I ever played against," said Chamberlain, who claimed he was most proud of his career rebounding record. "When I played Kareem, I knew I needed help. Kareem deserves all the accolades. (For someone else) to break the record, it will take a lot of luck and a strong, durable person." He added that "based on pure facts, I think I was a better play than (Abdul-Jabbar)."

Earlier that year, the 36 year-old Abdul-Jabbar expressed that his record-breaking season would be his last. "I've seen some athletes stick around too long," he said, "and that was a disappointment for them personally and their fans. Mostly I remember Willie Mays with the Mets. That made me feel bad. He was one of the greatest players in the league and he stayed too long."

As it turned out, Abdul-Jabbar played another five seasons in the NBA, collecting two additional championship rings and five All-Star selections in those years. He pushed his career scoring total to 38,387, a mark that remains the most in NBA history.

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