Jackie Robinson in Dodgers uniform - Credit: Look Magazine photo collection, Library of Congress
The Dodgers were a National League baseball team based in Brooklyn from about 1891. The team’s name came from the phrase “trolley dodgers,” used by New Yorkers to refer to Brooklynites because they had to dash across streets criss-crossed by street trolley tracks. Sportswriters often referred to the team affectionately as “the Bums.” The Dodgers were the first to break the color barrier in Major League Baseball when general manager Branch Rickey, motivated by deeply religious moral reasons, put the gifted African-American player Jackie Robinson on the team in 1947.
The Dodgers and the New York Giants developed a heated rivalry when they were situated across the East River from each other, and this continued when both teams moved to California (the Dodgers to Los Angeles and the Giants to San Francisco) after the 1957 season.
Yossarian refers to the Dodgers as being something that is as American as mom and apple pie.