Home sob! Brooklyn mourns the passing of Dem Bums’ historian Tom Knight

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Sports columnist and Brooklyn Dodgers’ chronicler Tom Knight, who shared his passion for the team with generations of sports lovers and was instrumental in forming its hall of fame, died on Feb. 17 at the age of 89.

The affable Bay Ridge resident authored the popular nostalgia column “Diamond Reflections” for The Brooklyn Eagle, The Record of Staten Island, the Staten Island Advance, and The Spectator, enjoying an illustrious career that spanned more than 30 years. His gift of the gab and deep knowledge of the team, whose players’ autographs he collected as a boy, made him a coveted guest speaker at Society of Old Brooklynites’ annual luncheons, local podcasts, and community tributes.

The Park Slope native, whom then-Brooklyn Borough President Sam Leone appointed Brooklyn Dodgers’ historian in 1976, knew many baseball greats personally, but his chief interest remained the average Joes and Janes who went to see the team play.

“The Dodger fans were more rabid than the average fan, and more informed,” he wrote in “When Baseball Returned to Brooklyn” by Ed Shakespeare.

Knight helped Marty Adler, the late assistant principal of Jackie Robinson Intermediate School 320, create the Brooklyn Dodger Hall of Fame after the team headed west, donating memorabilia to the Brooklyn Historical Society and the baseball gallery at MCU Park in Coney Island, and keeping the Dem Bums’ flame alive with annual induction ceremonies at Grand Army Plaza. He was the guest speaker when the Brooklyn Cyclones hosted a memorial service for former Brooklyn Dodger Duke Snider in 2011.

Knight grasped every opportunity to take a trip down memory lane, sharing with sports fans and historians that he attended his first baseball game at Ebbets Field in 1936 at age 10, paying 55 cents for a bleacher seat to see the Dodgers lose to the New York Giants, 8–3.

He attended up to 50 games a season, before the arrival of radio, television, or commercial breaks between half-innings, he added.

“We used to go to Sunday doubleheaders and leave the house at noon for a one o’clock start, and we’d be home at six for dinner,” Knight recalls in “When Baseball Returned to Brooklyn.”

The never-married, dyed-in-the-wool Brooklynite relished sharing stories about Ebbets Field and its unique characters, said borough historian Ron Schweiger.

One side-splitter involved a man he once saw stomp on a woman’s foot while wading through the aisles to get some refreshments, making her squeal in pain. The man — according to Knight, says Schweiger — returned a few minutes later with a beer in one hand and a hot dog in the other, and asked the woman if he had stepped on her foot a short while ago, and when she nodded, said, “Good, this is the right row!”

“Tom loved telling that story!” Schweiger said with a laugh. “He was a very warm and gentle man with a big sense of humor, and he loved promoting Brooklyn and the Brooklyn Dodgers.”

Thomas Knight, who was cremated, is survived by nephew Harold J. Johnson and nieces Catherine Kubasak and Elizabeth Manocchio.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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