Five-star General Douglas MacArthur was invited to attend a game at Brooklyn’s Ebbets Field in 1951, after having frequented Yankee Stadium and the Polo Grounds following his return from the Korean War as Supreme United Nations Commander. Upon his return to New York, Gen. MacArthur had received a hero’s welcome around the country, including a huge New York City parade in his honor and had addressed a joint session of Congress, despite being relieved of his duties by President Harry Truman on April 11 for a public disagreement regarding politics and war strategy. After receiving some prodding from the Dodger front office, which expressed disappointment about him watching the two other New York teams, Gen. MacArthur, who had visited Ebbets Field years before while at West Point, agreed to attend the May 26, 1951 contest between the Dodgers and the Boston Braves.
His entourage arrived for the Saturday day game at 12:30 p.m. and he was brought to the area behind home plate to publicly address the crowd. “I’ve just seen the Giants and Yankees (boos from the crowd) and somebody said, ‘If you want to see a real game of baseball, go over to Ebbets Field,’ so here I am.”
Gen. MacArthur was presented with a lifetime gold pass from Dodger President Walter O’Malley. Wearing a black dress, Mrs. MacArthur received a king-sized orchid from Kay O’Malley, while the MacArthur’s 13-year-old son Arthur, who had just arrived in the U.S. for the first time, was presented with a Dodger cap and an autographed baseball from Dodger Manager Charlie Dressen. When asked his favorite Dodger player, young Arthur said diplomatically, “I like them all.”
Despite the fact the Dodgers had 18 hits in the game, they lost to the Braves, 12-10, in a wild contest before a paid crowd of 17,541. The Dodgers used 12 batters in the number nine position in the lineup, including seven pitchers. In a year in which the Dodgers let a 13 1/2-game lead on August 11 evaporate, allowing the Giants to tie them for first place in the National League, apparently, Gen. MacArthur became somewhat of an instant Dodger fan, returning just a few days later and eventually watching a total of 13 games at Ebbets Field.
Following the resignation of Baseball Commissioner Happy Chander on July 15, 1951, Gen. MacArthur was considered one of the contenders to replace him. However, eventually Ford C. Frick won the job on the 16th ballot. Ten years later, Gen. MacArthur was offered the position of Baseball Commissioner on April 12, 1961, but declined.
Sources: Michael Gaven, New York Journal-American, May 27, 1951; Dick Young, New York Times, May 27, 1951; roadsidephotos.com; decades.com