Babe Hamberger

The Brooklyn Dodgers franchise had no more loyal foot soldier than Joseph Julius “Babe” Hamberger. The lifelong Brooklynite began working for the Dodgers in 1921 as a 14-year-old batboy. He held numerous other jobs with the club, ending up as superintendent of Ebbets Field in 1958 after the Dodgers left for Los Angeles. Hamberger’s heart was in that ballpark – when it was demolished in February 1960, it prompted him to quit the organization.i

Though many histories have been devoted to “Dem Bums,” Hamberger has received scant mention in them. That reflects his humble station. “Factotum” was the single word that summed him up bestii – but in 1942 sportswriter Tom Meany called him “Ebbets Field plenipotentiary-extraordinary-and-secretary-without-portfolio.”iii Though he was a small part of the big picture, Hamberger came in frequent contact with the daily journalists of New York City. They loved the genial fellow and made him the subject of some lively features. Other frequent newspaper mentions also shed much light on Hamberger’s unusual life and career.

As a March 1951 account by Joe King in The Sporting News put it, “He is Mr. Dodger. If there is anything about the organization he doesn’t know, nobody else knows either. … Hamberger has acted as traveling secretary, ticket seller, ticket taker, turnstile boy, concessions employee, sweeper, scoreboard operator, groundskeeper, announcer and clubhouse man.”iv Over the years his roles also included usher, batting-practice pitcher, ticket supervisor, seamster, and saloonkeeper. About the only things he didn’t do were to play or coach.

Joseph Hamberger was born in Brooklyn on February 18, 1907. He was of German and Austrian descent; the mother tongue of both his parents was German. His mother, Mary, was a native of Vienna – but there is uncertainty about the birthplace of his father, also named Joseph.v The Hambergers had two daughters before Joseph, named Mary (Mamie) and Julia, plus another child who did not survive. They lived in Williamsburg, a big section of a big borough. As of 1910, their home was 156 Gerry Street, near where Woodhull Hospital stands today. The elder Joseph made gold leaf in a The elder Mary was a laundress.

When Joseph was a small boy, his father died, so money was tight. The 1920 census shows that the widow Hamberger did housework for a living. Daughter Mary, then 15, worked as a gilder of frames (perhaps influenced by her late father’s occupation). The family was then living at 308 Nostrand Avenue, near Bedford-Stuyvesant; they also had a lodger, a barber from Italy named Salvatore Tomasello.

Young Joseph also helped out. In 1937 Harold Parrott – then a writer for the Brooklyn Eagle and later a Dodgers executive – wrote, “Babe’s first job was assistant to a brewery horseshoer at $1.50 a week, and on Saturdays he helped a peddler bellow his garden-truck wares through the Williamsburg streets.”vii

Ebbets Field, which opened in 1913, was in Crown Heights, about two miles down Bedford Avenue from the Hambergers’ residence. In 1954 Babe told Harold Burr of the Eagle, “I used to hang around outside the park, waiting for ’em to hit foul balls over the fence. We kids used to scramble for the balls. I remember one Sunday I had on my communion suit.viii A ball came sailing out of the park and we gave chase in full cry. Someone gave me a push from behind – and down I went face first in a puddle. My pants were ripped, my knees scratched and bruised, no ball and what a belting I took when I got home. But they were good days.”ix

Harold Parrott described how Hamberger joined the Dodgers. One summer afternoon in 1921, the lad decided to play hooky and climbed over the wooden fence of Ebbets Field at 7 A.M. He hid under the old wooden scoreboard in center field – “there was a lot of old lumber under there,” he recalled, “and the bugs and spiders were awful. But I was afraid the cops would spot me if I came out before game time.” He emerged as the first pitch was thrown – but went in the wrong direction, onto the field in full view of the crowd. A security man named Sock Lewis (who still worked at Ebbets as of 1937) ejected the teenager.

According to Parrott, another longtime Dodgers employee named Dan Comerfordx then saw Hamberger and another boy at the press gate and said that the team needed a batboy. The other youth had dibs on the job but got confused about where to meet Comerford, so Hamberger was in.xi

That game was against the St. Louis Cardinals (it was probably in the series of August 18-19). In 1951 Hamberger told Joe King, “In those days, [Branch] Rickey was manager of the Cardinals and Burt Shotton was the coach” – both would later become prominent figures with the Dodgers. He also clarified, “The visiting secretary used to go out on the sidewalk … and sign up a batboy for the series. He took me that one time, and I never left the park since. The man’s name was Clarence Lloyd and I will always remember him.”xii

Hamberger also talked about that first game to Harold Burr in 1937 (the writer was then with the New York Post). He remembered that Jacques Fournier had been the first ballplayer to speak to him on the Cardinal bench. “ ‘You’re new around here, aren’t you, kid?’ he asked me. … I told him I didn’t know what to do and he showed me how to lay out the bats. Gee, I was green then! The Cubs came to town shortly afterward [August 24-27], and there was a wild throw to the plate. I picked up the ball and returned it to the pitcher. That was the day I wanted to run home and hide.”xiii

The Dodgers’ manager, Wilbert “Uncle Robbie” Robinson, got the team to chip in for Hamberger’s first pair of long pants (he had torn his knee-length trousers while scaling the fence). Dan Comerford soon made the youngster a permanent batboy. Hamberger told Harold Parrott that he guessed it was because he never missed an afternoon. “I had to quit school for a while to keep my record clean, though,” he said with a grin.xiv Indeed, the 1940 census revealed that his education ended after the eighth grade.

It was Zack Wheat, then Brooklyn’s star outfielder, who dubbed Hamberger “Babe” because he was so small.xv Nearly 37 years later, when the New York chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America honored Hamberger, he told sportswriter Harry Grayson that Wheat was the best ballplayer and best person he’d known in all his time with the club – “no contest.”xvi

Just hearing the name “Babe Hamberger” brings a response. It could be disbelief – at the extreme, a cuff to the ear from a Brooklyn truant officerxvii – or delight. His team prompted both feelings at once, which (in 1937) inspired Willard Mullin to create the lovable Bum caricature that came to symbolize the Brooklyn club. Indeed, Mullin recognized that Hamberger became part of the Dodgers’ soul. In later years the noted cartoonist provided the drawing for at least one Hamberger family Christmas card. It featured Babe’s face atop the Bum’s outlandish body and included each family member’s name on a steaming hamburger sandwich. It’s no surprise that the surname was often misspelled that way while Babe was alive and even more often in books published after his death.

Hamberger’s next promotion, again courtesy of Dan Comerford, was to locker-room assistant. He told Harold Parrott how Wilbert Robinson, “satisfying a good luck urge, acquired the habit of yanking out his false teeth and fastening them onto a fatty place on the Hamberger person when the Dodgers won a nice game. ‘He never failed to bite me with those grinders when we beat the Giants,’ the Babe revealed.”xviii

Hamberger told Harold Burr that his mother had doubts about his work with the Dodgers – but Comerford said that the tips he would earn running errands for the players, as well as a year-end collection, would appease her. “When I took that first $150 home and tossed it in her lap she was won over to Danny’s and my way of thinking; she’s never regretted it either.”xix

Hamberger also told Burr, “At one time I tried to persuade Uncle Robbie to give me a trial as a pitcher. I was only 17 then and I used to pitch in batting practice. But I hit Johnny Frederick on the fingers and plunked Sammy Bohne in the short ribs – and I grew discouraged.”xx

“The Daffiness Boys” weren’t very good on the field in the 1920s and 1930s. In 1945 Hamberger remarked, “In those days, we used to open the gates and hide.”xxi By the mid-1930s, the franchise’s finances had grown very shaky. During spring training in 1934 and 1935 (held in Orlando, Florida), in addition to looking after the athletes, Babe set up a sewing machine next to the clubhouse and patched up old uniforms.xxii The only place he had to sleep was on the hard rubbing table in the locker room.xxiii

By 1936, as Ebbets Field historian Bob McGee wrote, “The team was getting turn-off notices for electricity at the club’s offices … and staff members were doing their best to put off bill collectors of any stripe.” Nonetheless, business manager John Gorman invested in a new public-address system that year – Ebbets was one of the last major-league ballparks without one.xxiv Hamberger, the ballpark announcer, turned in his megaphone for the PA mike. During one game (it’s not certain when), he offered an amusing malaprop: “A small boy has been found lost in the grandstand.”

In July 1937, however, he relinquished those duties and became the Dodgers’ road secretary (which prefigured John Gorman’s departure from Brooklyn that December). He hoped to take his wife of three years on the first Western swing after that – the honeymoon they’d never had. Stella (née Cherep) was Babe’s childhood sweetheart.xxv They eventually had five children: Joseph, Lorraine, John, Laura, and Stella.

The Dodgers soon hired another road secretary, John McDonald. Hamberger was named McDonald’s assistant; he may have been deemed more valuable to the organization in his multipurpose role. In the fall of 1939, he accompanied Charlie Dressen (then a coach) and scouts Ted McGrew and Ben Tincup on a trip to the Far West. As usual, he was a general handyman and took care of the baseball paraphernalia. He even pinned the numbers on the backs of the hopefuls trying out – and if Dressen gave the signal, it fell to Babe to call a nonprospect over to the sidelines, take the number off again, and “tell him to forget about being a ballplayer.”xxvi

According to Harry Grayson, “(W)hile Babe was the most cheerful man in the borough, he was deathly serious about anything having to do with the Dodgers.” A story from June 1940 made this point. That month the Dodgers had obtained Joe Medwick from the Cardinals. A week later, facing his old team, Medwick was knocked unconscious by a pitch. After the beaning, the Dodgers tested batting helmets. According to Larry MacPhail (then Dodgers general manager), Hamberger said, “If you’ll assure me that I won’t get hurt, boss, I’ll put on one of those things and let Kirby Higbe throw at my head. That ought to convince those dumbbells.”xxvii MacPhail’s memory was a bit faulty when he told the tale 18 years later, though – Higbe did not join the Dodgers until 1941.

Brooklyn had another hard-throwing, tempestuous, boozing righty in those years: Van Lingle Mungo. In 1941 the Dodgers held spring training in Havana, Cuba (as they would also do in 1942 and 1947). In his book Nice Guys Finish Last, Leo Durocher (then the team’s player-manager) told the story of how Mungo cuckolded a Cuban dancer, getting caught in bed with both the man’s wife (the other half of the dance team) and the star attraction at the Hotel Nacional, where the Dodgers were staying. When the outraged husband came back with a knife after Mungo punched him in the eye, it fell to Hamberger to rescue the pitcher. Babe smuggled Mungo down to the cellar and hid him in a vegetable bin, then spirited him (in a laundry cart, by some other accounts) onto the wharf where a Pan Am seaplane awaited.xxviii “They never thought of scouting the seaport,” Babe recalled in 1951, “because there was no regular service there. You had to charter a plane. We did.”xxix

Jerry Mitchell of the Post got off a funny line: “Too bad they’re not awarding the Nobel Peace Prize any more. … Brooklyn would have a real candidate in Babe Hamberger, the man who got Van Mungo out of Cuba without a shot being fired.”xxx But the episode caused Hamberger so much stress that he broke down and landed in a Clearwater, Florida, hospital.xxxi

The “go-to guy” (as his daughter Stella described him) kept plugging away at his major-domo job in the 1940s. The Dodgers, by then one of the better clubs in the National League, typically awarded him fractional shares of postseason money. As Joe King wrote, “No one would consider molesting him, because he is Mr. Brooklyn, and if he hadn’t that feeling himself, he doubtless would have taken more remunerative jobs offered him by other clubs in the past.”xxxii

Some vivid memories of Hamberger in the 1940s come from Joe McDonald, the longtime baseball executive who was still a scout for the Boston Red Sox as of 2013. McDonald (born 1929) grew up in Brooklyn, and his father worked for the Brooklyn Dodgers (though they were no kin to road secretary John McDonald). Young Joe’s first paying job – he got 49 cents a game – was stile boy at Ebbets Field. He recalled, “One of Babe’s duties was to take the stile readings and help compute the attendance.” McDonald described the old-fashioned turnstiles – “cut into quarters, with a little odometer. One had to depress a lever to let each person through.” He added, “Babe had a great voice, a powerful voice. He would shout to us, ‘Open up!’ ”

In those years, there was also a Brooklyn Dodgers team in the National Football League. McDonald earned $3 for working the last game one season, and he had to go to the baseball Dodgers’ team office on Montague Street in Brooklyn Heights. “Babe handed me the check and said, ‘Don’t spend it all in one place!”

In 1946 Jackie Robinson went to his first spring training with the Dodgers organization. One of the first people he met was Hamberger, who said to Jackie and Johnny Wright, “Well, fellows, I’m not exactly what you’d call a part of this great experiment, but I’m gonna give you some advice anyway. Just got out there and do your best. Don’t get tense. Just be yourselves.” Author Chris Lamb wrote, “Robinson and Wright both knew it would be difficult to relax under the circumstances. Robinson nevertheless appreciated the man’s words and later said he never forgot his smile.”xxxiii Hamberger’s daughter Stella recalled, “My father was Jackie’s roommate on the road on many occasions.”

In the 1950s Babe’s duties reached higher levels. The spring of 1951 was Walter O’Malley’s first in charge of the Dodger organization. He upgraded the dining service at the team’s Dodgertown spring-training complex in Vero Beach. Florida. There was also a salon, and Hamberger was named its keeper, as well as the official greeter. Joe King wrote, “No one is more fitted for the job of welcoming press, notables, mayors, other politicians, and distinguished friends of the top brass.”xxxiv Babe presided behind the cozy little bar. He was always quick with a quip – in 1974 New York sportswriter Jack Lang wrote, “I’ll never forget the night that Mike Gaven [another writer], dipping the moist end of his cigar in the brandy, inquired why the club didn’t purchase a better brand. ‘When you buy better cigars, we’ll buy better brandy,’ Hamberger retorted.”xxxv

In February 1952 the Dodgers reshuffled their front office. As part of the changes, Harold Parrott became business manager. Hamberger was named to serve under Parrott as ticket supervisor. Joe King wrote, “This announcement by O’Malley brought a round of applause from the newspapermen at the meeting. They all love the Babe. One asked if that meant a boost in pay for Hamberger. O’Malley said it would, and added that Babe ‘was worth his weight in gold.’ Quick, though, on the trigger, the president added that ‘we are off the gold standard.’ Babe weighs quite a lot.’”xxxvi

The ticket offices in the Dodgers’ Montague Street headquarters were remodeled, with new offices for Parrott and Hamberger. A new office at Ebbets Field was also built, open from 8 A.M. to 8 P.M. for advance sales, and the wire “bird cages” that protected ticket sellers were also removed.xxxvii

In January 1955 Roscoe McGowen, a veteran sportswriter at the New York Times, described the preparations that went into the show that the New York chapter of the BBWAA put on each year. He called Hamberger one of “two chaps [who] are really indispensable,” noting that Babe was “in about his fifteenth – maybe more – year of being on lend lease to the New York writers for at least a month preceding the show. Babe is also the property man before, during, and after the show and he contributes a calm competence and a sense of humor.”xxxviii

The 1955 season was when Brooklyn finally won its only World Series, and Hamberger got a well-deserved ring. After the Dodgers lost the Series in 1956, they set off on a trip to Japan, stopping over in Hawaii on the way. Hamberger was the baggage manager. He was hospitalized in Tokyo for two weeks, however, after he developed phlebitis. Among others, NL President Warren Giles visited Babe there. Upon his return to Brooklyn, he landed in the hospital again and was idled for much of the winter. The long plane flights may well have caused and aggravated the ailment. By the time spring training 1957 rolled around, though, Hamberger was back behind the bar in Vero Beach shaking up cocktails.xxxix

By late 1957 it was a foregone conclusion that the Dodgers were moving to Los Angeles. Although a number of club employees went west, Hamberger didn’t leave the only workplace he’d ever known. In January 1958 the New York baseball writers honored him at their annual shindig, held that year at Toots Shor’s restaurant. Larry MacPhail came up from his farm in Maryland, passing up a bigger baseball party in Baltimore. Among other things, he told the story of Babe and the batting-helmet test from 1940. But as Harry Grayson wrote, “(T)he best news to the New York writers was that Babe Hamberger will be with them for at least another year – running the Dodgers’ office at Ebbets Field.”xl His daughter Stella said, “My parents had bought a house about a year before. They felt strongly about keeping the family here, all five kids in school, and being close to relatives and lifelong friends.”

In the park’s twilight years, Hamberger headed a skeleton crew that included a part-collie, part-chow watchdog named Angel. The atmosphere was somber, as Ed Corrigan of the Associated Press wrote in April 1958. He quoted Hamberger: “How do you expect me to feel? All my life in baseball. How would I feel?”xli James Kilgallen of the International News Service wrote a similar story right around the same time, after the Dodgers’ first Opening Day in Los Angeles. Hamberger admitted that he’d miss the team, but added philosophically, “Oh well, I still have a job. With five kids, I’m still getting paid. And that puts meat on the table.”xlii

Hamberger’s men didn’t just punch the clock. Their boss set the tone: “He was the first to arrive and the last to leave,” said Stella. As Babe said in an article in Newsweek also published in April 1958 – sitting in a musty office underneath the left-field stands – “The field is in good shape. There’s a college game here Thursday. There are other things coming up. Soccer games, meetings, things like that.” Nonetheless, he shook his head and called it “a terrible thing, seeing the place like this … a terrible thing.”xliii

Indeed, soccer was the most frequent activity at 55 Sullivan Place during these years. Many of the games actually drew rather well, and like the Dodger fans, the crowds could be avid. One example came on June 21, 1959, when Napoli of Italy faced an all-star team from the American Soccer League. Before the match, 1,000 Napoli supporters ran onto the field to greet their club, and Hamberger had to disperse them. A week later, the Napoli partisans crossed the line from boisterous to riotous.

Gay Talese, who was a sportswriter for the New York Times before becoming a best-selling author, visited Ebbets Field after the LA Dodgers won the World Series in October 1959. The brief but arresting report that he filed included a chat with Hamberger. “ ‘Boy, there’d be bedlam here now if the Dodgers were in Brooklyn’ … He was talking with one foot on the rail in the center field grandstands staring out toward the rows of empty seats; to his right was the empty dugout, to his left the scoreboard and Abe Stark’s sign: ‘Hit Sign, Win Suit.’ ”xliv

Less than five months later, the wreckers descended. Upon resigning from the Dodgers, Hamberger – then aged 53 – was “looking around,” according to New York sportswriter Dick Young.xlv The loss of the Dodgers was a wound that never healed for many Brooklynites – they demonized Walter O’Malley. Yet Babe Hamberger was not one of those people, despite the depth of his attachment to the club. “All my years growing up, my father didn’t have any animosity,” said his daughter Stella.

Hamberger never drew another official paycheck after leaving the Dodgers. Nonetheless, “he kept active,” said Stella. “Every day he went on the bus and came home with something.” When the New York Mets came into being in 1962, Babe often visited the Polo Grounds and hobnobbed with old friends. (It does not appear that he worked for the team.)

That August, another Big Apple writer, Jimmy Breslin, wrote a story for Sports Illustrated about the expansion club’s first year. To gain further perspective on how bad those Mets were, he turned to Hamberger. Breslin wrote, “[Hamberger] vehemently denies he ever saw a Brooklyn club as bad as the Mets. ‘When Uncle Robbie [Wilbert Robinson] was managing, he didn’t even know the names of the players,’ Babe says. ‘But he won two pennants. Casey [Stengel] was over here too. Ask him. He’ll tell you. It got rough, but never like now.’”xlvi

Hamberger didn’t make much money with the Dodgers – and the club did not award him a pension, as it had done in 1948 for Dan Comerford. Babe had offers to write a book about his time in baseball, but he didn’t want to divulge many confidential things. “We struggled,” said Stella, “but we never lacked for anything. And because my father helped people, they helped us.” For example, he received free passes to all major-league games each year, and his family continued to get them for many years after Babe had passed on. The old-timers who typically manned the press gates still knew who he was.

Hamberger wasn’t forgotten higher up either. “Somebody important was always calling the house,” said Stella. She also offered a couple of other anecdotes. One regarded a Mets party at Bear Mountain, New York (a former training site of the Dodgers), sometime in the 1960s. “I got to dance with Casey Stengel,” she said. Some years later, she went to see a Mets-Dodgers game at Shea Stadium with her son. She insisted that they would sit in the owner’s box, for she had always been accustomed to first-class seats growing up. A security man questioned them, and she said, “Is Peter O’Malley in the ballpark? Tell him Babe Hamberger’s daughter is here.” Babe had often babysat Walter O’Malley’s son and heir. The younger O’Malley wasn’t there that day, but still, after some time passed, the security man returned and said, “ ‘Please enjoy the game.’ ”

Babe Hamberger died in Brooklyn on November 18, 1978.xlvii “His heart just gave out,” said Stella. He was survived by his wife (who lived until 2000) and their children. Numerous baseball dignitaries sent their regards, including Lee MacPhail, son of Larry and then president of the American League. Hamberger was buried in Brooklyn’s Cypress Hills Cemetery, very near the last place he lived.xlviii

Stella recalled that a couple of Mets representatives attended Babe’s funeral. Joe McDonald – who was then the Mets’ general manager – said with feeling, “I wish I’d known! If I’d heard he was deceased, I would have gone.” He suggested that the most likely person was Hamberger’s friend Bill “The Judge” Gibson, “a ticket seller for the Dodgers who then went to work for the Mets – a wonderful person.”xlix

Close to Babe’s gravesite is the tomb of his old friend, Jackie Robinson. The 2013 movie about Robinson, 42, included Babe Hamberger’s character. It’s not surprising that it was a bit part with one line: Babe says “Thank you” to Branch Rickey (played by Harrison Ford) after Rickey compliments him for the job he did stitching Jackie’s leg.l As many things as Hamberger did for the Dodgers, there’s no evidence that medic was one of them – indeed, director/writer Brian Helgeland acknowledged that he cheated a little bit on some aspects of historical The cast list also made the same old “Hamburger” spelling error.

Nonetheless, it speaks well of Helgeland that he wanted to give a little tip of the cap to “Mr. Brooklyn Dodger,” even within the constraints of a two-hour Hollywood movie. Babe Hamberger’s memory endures, a century after his beloved Ebbets Field opened and nearly 60 years since it’s been gone. As Joe McDonald said, “I could pick him out of a lineup today!”


Author’s note

Special thanks to Stella Hamberger O’Connor (telephone interviews, May 3, 13, 16 and June 6, 2013) and Joe McDonald (telephone interview, May 16, 2013) for contributing their memories. Continued thanks to Eric Costello for additional research.

Photo Credit

Brooklyn Dodgers program, unknown year

Sources (census records – 1910, 1920, 1930, 1940; death records for Joseph and Stella Hamberger)

Rory Costello, “Twilight at Ebbets Field”



i Dick Young, “Bits of Sports Gossip,” wire service reports, May 3, 1960.

ii Frank Graham, A Farewell to Heroes (New York: Viking Press, 1981), 235. At least one Dodgers program also used this word.

iii Tom Meany, “Meany’s Baseball: Dodger Interlude…,” New York PM Daily, Unknown date, 1942, 30.

iv Joe King, “Bums Go From Rags to Riches at Camp,” The Sporting News, March 7, 1951, 6.

v The 1910 census showed that the elder Joseph Hamberger was born in Hungary. This nation was part of the heavily German-influenced Austro-Hungarian Empire until the end of World War I. However, Babe Hamberger’s daughter Stella stated that the mention of Hungary came as a surprise to her – it was not something that she had ever heard mentioned in her family. The 1910 census also indicated that Mr. Hamberger was of Jewish origin – again something that his descendants find unknown and unlikely.

vi There were several such establishments in Manhattan then, but there’s a good chance that Mr. Hamberger’s employer was Fred Muntzer, who ran a gold-leaf business on Scholes Street in Williamsburg, several blocks from where the Hambergers lived as of 1910. Source: 1904 annual reports from the New York State Department of Labor and Bureau of Factory Inspection. Stella O’Connor speculates that this may well have been a Jewish-run business, in a heavily Jewish, tightly knit neighborhood, and that her grandfather therefore told the census enumerator he too was Jewish.

vii Harold Parrott, “I’ll Say,” Brooklyn Eagle, August 22, 1937, D3.

viii The family was raised Catholic. Though another reference to a Jewish background for Babe Hamberger is visible in a 1940 issue of The Advocate: America’s Jewish Journal, if his father had indeed been Jewish, it would have been highly unlikely for him to have married outside the faith.

ix Harold C. Burr, “Babe Hamberger Dodger Without Name or Title,” Brooklyn Eagle, March 29, 1954.

x Comerford had joined the club in 1907, when the team was still known as the Superbas and played in Washington Park (Frank Graham, The Brooklyn Dodgers: An Informal History (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1945), 22. He was still with the Dodgers as late as 1947, when Jackie Robinson entered the Dodgers’ clubhouse, but retired in 1948.

xi Parrott, “I’ll Say.”

xii King, “Bums Go From Rags to Riches at Camp.”

xiii Harold C. Burr, “Hamberger’s Rise With Dodgers Outshines Alger Success Story,” New York Evening Post, July 23, 1937, 13.

xiv Parrott, “I’ll Say.”

xv Burr, “Hamberger’s Rise With Dodgers Outshines Alger Success Story.”

xvi Harry Grayson, “Harry Grayson’s Scoreboard,” Newspaper Enterprise Association, January 27, 1958.

xvii Burr, “Babe Hamberger Dodger Without Name or Title.”

xviii Parrott, “I’ll Say.”

xix Burr, “Babe Hamberger Dodger Without Name or Title.”

xx Burr, “Hamberger’s Rise With Dodgers Outshines Alger Success Story.”

xxi Tom Meany, “Flatbush Follies,” The Sporting News, August 30, 1945, 12.

xxii Harry Grasyon, “He Knew Secrets of Fabled Flock,” Newspaper Enterprise Association, January 25, 1958.

xxiii Parrott, “I’ll Say.”

xxiv Bob McGee, The Greatest Ballpark Ever (Piscataway, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 2005), 124. Yankee Stadium was the last big-league ballpark without a PA system.

xxv Parrott, “I’ll Say.”

xxvi Edward T. Murphy, “Setting the Pace,” New York Sun, December 23, 1939, 26.

xxvii Harry Grayson, “Like All Dodgers, Hamberger Willing to Be Hit on Head,” Newspaper Enterprise Association, January 17, 1958.

xxviii Leo Durocher with Ed Linn, Nice Guys Finish Last (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1975), 173-177.

xxix King, “Bums Go From Rags to Riches at Camp.”

xxx Jerry Mitchell, “Dodgers’ Babe Hamberger Wins Mungo ‘Peace Medal,’ ” New York Post, March 13, 1941. The Nobel Peace Prize was not awarded from 1939 through 1943.

xxxi Eddie Brietz, “Mungo Spree Puts Dodger in a Hospital,” Associated Press, March 30, 1941.

xxxii King, “Bums Go From Rags to Riches at Camp.”

xxxiii Chris Lamb, Blackout: The Untold Story of Jackie Robinson’s First Spring Training (Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press, 2004), 83.

xxxiv King, “Bums Go From Rags to Riches at Camp.”

xxxv Jack Lang, “Heaven on Earth – Springtime With Dodgers,” The Sporting News, March 2, 1974, 18. In The Boys of Summer, Roger Kahn described this habit of Gaven’s. The New York Journal-American scribe liked how the brandy brought out the flavor of the tobacco, but he’d throw the pony away because the tobacco ruined the flavor of the brandy.

xxxvi Joe King, “Flatbush Shuffles Officials, but Stands Pat on Players,” The Sporting News, February 13, 1952, 7.

xxxvii “Advance-Sale Ticket Office Being Built at Ebbets Field,” The Sporting News, February 20, 1952.

xxxviii Roscoe McGowen, “That Thunder in Gotham? Writers Planning Dinner,” The Sporting News, January 26, 1955, 19.

xxxix Various items, The Sporting News, October 1956-February 1957.

xl Grayson, “Like All Dodgers, Hamberger Willing to Be Hit on Head.”

xli Ed Corrigan, “Former Homes of Dodgers, Giants Quiet,” Associated Press, April 16, 1958.

xlii James L. Kilgallen, “Ex-Dodger, Giant Fans ‘Hoiting’ Real Bad,” International News Service, April 16, 1958.

xliii “Home of the Bums…,” Newsweek, April 28, 1958, 86.

xliv Gay Talese, “Brooklyn Displays Little Enthusiasm After Dodgers Win,” New York Times, October 9, 1959.

xlv Young, “Bits of Sports Gossip.”

xlvi Jimmy Breslin, “Worst Baseball Team Ever,” Sports Illustrated, August 13, 1962.

xlvii “Obituaries,” The Sporting News, December 16, 1978.

xlviii The 1976-77 Brooklyn phone directory shows an entry for “Hamberger Jos Babe” at 13 Cox Place in Cypress Hills.

xlix The other name McDonald suggested was Lou Niss, the Mets’ traveling secretary from 1962 to 1980, and a longtime Brooklyn sportswriter, but his name didn’t ring a bell with Stella O’Connor.

l Ford insisted that director/writer Brian Helgeland give local community theater actor Dan Fenlon the line after one take. “Cookeville Kroger employee lands role in ‘42’,” (Nashville, Tennessee), April 23, 2013 (

li Jacob Pomrenke, “Filmmaker Brian Helgeland brings Jackie Robinson legend to life in 42,’ ”, April 12, 2013 (

Full Name

Joseph Julius Hamberger


February 18, 1907 at Brooklyn, NY (US)


November 18, 1978 at Brooklyn, NY (US)

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