By Raanan Geberer
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Old-time Brooklyn baseball enthusiasts on Monday mourned Marty Adler, the retired educator and Long Island resident who established the Brooklyn Dodgers Hall of Fame to keep the memory of Brooklyn’s major-league baseball team alive.
Adler, who died last week of a stroke, lived in Plainview, N.Y.
The Hall of Fame, although it was an officially incorporated non-profit, didn’t have a permanent home. However, Adler donated many of the artifacts, such as uniforms, programs and baseballs, for the Brooklyn Baseball Gallery at MCU Park, home of the Brooklyn Cyclones.
Adler was always ready to give comments to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle about the Brooklyn Dodgers – in most cases, unfortunately, about players who died.
For example, when 1950s-era Dodger pitcher Johnny Podres died in 2008, Adler said that if Podres hadn’t been in the Navy in 1956, the Dodgers would have won the World Series that year like they did in 1955.
Later, when Citi Field opened in 2009, Adler told the Eagle he approved of the Ebbets Field-like design of the Mets’ new ballpark.
“The Yankees are a great team, but they’re not for everybody,” Adler added. “What better team for a Brooklyn Dodger fan to root for than the Mets, with their colors of blue, for the Dodgers, and orange, for the New York Giants.”
Adler, according to the New York Times, was born in 1937 and grew up in Borough Park. According to his wife, Linda, he was a Dodger fan from childhood. He received a bachelor’s degree from Brooklyn College and a master’s from St. John’s University.
When Jackie Robinson died in 1972, Adler sought to have the school where he served as assistant principal, then known as I.S. 320, renamed for the pioneering ballplayer.
“Many of the parents didn’t want it named for Robinson because that was the civil rights era, and they wanted it named for civil rights heroes like Medgar Evers,” his wife recalled. However, Adler prevailed – “he told them that Jackie had been right up there, marching with Martin Luther King” -- and the school became the Jackie Robinson School.
Asked whether Adler liked the recent movie “42,” his wife said, “He loved it, although he thought that certain things were exaggerated.”
Also in the 1970s, he began collecting Dodger-related items, such as seats from Ebbets Field, soil from Ebbets Field that had been used as landfill in Holy Cross Cemetery, uniforms and more.
The soil had been excavated to make room for a housing project after Ebbets Field –- opened in 1913 and named after team owner Charles Ebbets -- was torn down in 1960. Adler tracked it down and sold vials of it to raise funds for the Hall of Fame.
Over the years, Adler went to many events that featured appearances by former Brooklyn Dodger players. In the Eagle interview about Johnny Podres, he estimated that he had seen the pitcher “50 to 60 times, at dinners, when he was coaching for Minnesota, when he was coaching for Philly.”
Billy Harner, spokesperson for the Brooklyn Cyclones, said, “If not for Marty Adler, there wouldn’t have been a Brooklyn Baseball Gallery.” Adler also often came to events at MCU Park, Harner added.
Adler’s wife Linda said the Brooklyn Dodgers Hall of Fame would continue, although she was unsure of the details.
In addition to his wife, Adler is survived by his sons, Eric and Jeff; his brothers, Richard and Stephen; and two grandchildren.
One of Adler’s most cherished memories was the eighth inning on the fateful game in 1955 at Yankee Stadium – the year the Dodgers won the pennant.
“Hank Bauer [of the Yankees] was up, he got two strikes on Bauer, and sent one high and inside—not a strike. He came up with another one high and inside and struck Bauer out. Campanella threw the ball into the air after catching it, and we had the feeling that we were gonna win this one,” he said.