No era in Dodger history was as wacky and wild as the 1930s. Unfortunately, the depression years were depressing for the organization as no pennants were won in this decade and the style of play led Brooklyn's teams to be known as the "Daffiness Dodgers."
A forerunner of the frustration for the Brooklyn fans could be summed up in the season of 1930. The Robins made quite a drive for the pennant, taking over first place with 15 consecutive victories and were in the top spot for 75 days. But they dropped a crucial three-game series to the Cardinals at Ebbets Field and wound up in fourth place by six games.
This decade was also marked by changes in baseball -- the development of the farm system, the first night baseball game and the first broadcast on television.
The "Uncle Robbie" period faded after the 1931 season, but his legacy remains as the winningest manager in Brooklyn Dodger history with 1,375 victories in 18 seasons. Four different managers would parade through the decade, including Max Carey (1932-33), Casey Stengel (1934-36), Burleigh Grimes (1937-38) and Leo Durocher (1939-46, 1948).
With Robinson's departure, former Dodger player Max Carey took over the reins, but the results in 1932 and 1933 were less than satisfactory and Stengel replaced Carey.
It was in February of 1934, prior to Carey's departure, that New York Giants Manager Bill Terry was asked what he thought of Brooklyn's chances in the pennant race that season. He answered, "Brooklyn? Is Brooklyn still in the league?" That statement would come back to haunt Terry on the last two days of the season as the Giants were in a neck-and-neck race with the Cardinals for the pennant. The Dodgers proved they indeed were still in the league and they managed to knock out the Giants in the final series and the Cardinals became champions of the league and defeated the Detroit Tigers in the World Series.
After three sub-par seasons, Stengel was replaced by Burleigh Grimes, the former Dodger pitching great. In 1937, the Dodgers finished sixth under Grimes, 33 1/2 games out. On January 19, 1938, innovative Larry MacPhail was hired as the team's Executive Vice President to rebuild the Dodgers. While with Cincinnati, MacPhail had introduced night baseball to the Major Leagues as Crosley Field. In March of 1938, Steve McKeever died and MacPhail was appointed president.
MacPhail made needed improvements at Ebbets Field and then hired Red Barber (who had been Cincinnati's broadcaster) to come to Brooklyn for the 1939 season, effectively ending an agreement among the three New York clubs prohibiting radio broadcasts. The first televised game was on August 26, 1939 when the first game of the Cincinnati at Brooklyn doubleheader was aired. The introduction of night baseball to Brooklyn was on June 15, 1938 and Cincinnati's Johnny Vander Meer pitched his second consecutive no-hitter when the lights went on in Ebbets Field. MacPhail also signed Babe Ruth as a first base coach, the Bambino's last appearance in a Major League uniform as a player or coach.
One of MacPhail's initial acquisitions was purchasing first baseman Dolph Camilli from Philadelphia. Camilli made an immediate impact on the 1938 and 1939 clubs with a total of 50 home runs and 204 RBI.
In the decade, second baseman Tony Cuccinello became the first Dodger ever to be selected to an All-Star Game as he played in the first one in 1933. Babe Herman, who typified the decade of the "Daffy Dodgers," set numerous records, including a .393 batting average in 1930. Outfielder Lefty O'Doul earned a National League batting title with a .368 average in 1932. Other Dodger notables included pitcher Van Lingle Mungo, who twice was an 18-game winner; catcher Al Lopez, who hit .279 in more than 700 games and later became a Hall of Fame Manager; and third baseman Cookie Lavagetto, who averaged .275 for seven seasons.