BROOKLYN—Tuesday afternoon, a piece of Brooklyn's past became a symbol for its future. Before the Brooklyn Nets took on the New York Knicks in the second "Clash of the Boroughs," CEO Brett Yormark joined Borough President Marty Markowitz, Atlantic Yards Developer Bruce C. Ratner, Nets swingman Jerry Stackhouse and Sharon Robinson, daughter of Dodgers great Jackie, in commemorating the new home of an Ebbets Field flagpole.
The flagpole extends skyward from the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues, in front of the main entrance to Barclays Center, the borough's first major professional sports venue since Ebbets Field was demolished in 1960.
"I think that it's a beautiful connection to Ebbets Field," Sharon Robinson said. "To imagine this flying over Ebbets Field and being so much part of that history, to have this plaque will remind fans that the Brooklyn Dodgers were here and made such a difference in the community."
Raising the flagpole was a personal project of Ratner's, who acquired it in 2007 after Markowitz alerted him to its availability. The flagpole had been positioned at a Utica Avenue church in East Flatbush, on a site that had previously been the Canarsie Casket Company and prior to that a VFW post.
An American flag and a Brooklyn Nets flag were flown as part of Tuesday's ceremony, a visible declaration of the community connection envisioned by all.
"Jackie Robinson means so much to African-American athletes like myself," Stackhouse said. "Without his contributions and what he was able to do through his playing, we wouldn't be able to do what we're doing today. I'm ecstatic to be here and carry on his tradition into the future. I chose 42 for a number of different reasons, but when I found out all of his story and what he meant to athletes in general – not just baseball – I began to wear that number with tremendous honor."
Ever since joining the Nets, Stackhouse has been a frequent participant in Brooklyn-area community events. That's exactly the kind of thing Sharon Robinson believes can help recreate the bonds held in the hearts of Brooklyn Dodgers fans to this day, none moreso than Markowitz, who often attended games as a youth growing up blocks from the ballpark.
"My only hope," Markowitz said,"is that we won't be saying 'Wait til next year!' as often as we did then!"