Brooklyn Dodgers: The Ghosts of Flatbush



8 p.m. Wednesday, July 11

There is perhaps no greater love than that which exists between a baseball fan and the team that has burrowed its way into his (or her) heart. This newest HBO Sports baseball documentary, the latest in a long line of gems, explores one of the most glorious love affairs of all times.

Executive producers Rick Bernstein and Ross Greenburg, in collaboration with Major League Baseball Prods., cast a long and longing glance at the Brooklyn Dodgers during a magical decade. It begins in spring 1947, when the Dodgers broke baseball's color barrier with Jackie Robinson, and it ends with the team's departure to Los Angeles following the 1957 season. Probably no team has won and broke as many hearts in so short a time.

"Brooklyn Dodgers" is more than history. It is a time machine back to the days before greedy owners and free agency drove an all-but-impenetrable wedge between the fans in the stands and the men on the field. The docu's ability to re-create that atmosphere is crucial. Only by understanding the emotional involvement of the fans can you appreciate what the team accomplished and its place in the history of the national pastime.

"Brooklyn Dodgers," finely narrated by Liev Schreiber, also argues against the popular notion that team owner Walter O'Malley is the villain (or hero, depending on where you live) behind the team's move west. That role, says the two-part, two-hour telefilm, goes to New York building commissioner Robert Moses, who denied O'Malley's reasonable request to build a new stadium with his own money.