Several years later I donated it to the Hall of Fame at Cooperstown. The Hall of Fame's Ken Smith accepted the flag and the proviso that he would never return it to O'Malley. Smith vowed that the flag would be part of a display dedicated to Ebbets Field, but he has since left the Hall, and when I went to Cooperstown last summer I was chagrined to see that the gaudy exhibit on old ball parks didn't include the purloined pennant.
An official said, "It's so large, it's difficult to fit it into the display." When I said politely that I would like to see the flag anyway, just for old times' sake, he took me down to the basement. There it was, wrapped in plastic. The flag that flew over Ebbets Field, that was pinned to the drapes of the hotel banquet room in Los Angeles, that lay in my cellar for a few years. It looked none the worse for wear.
I had wondered why the Dodgers never made a fuss about the theft of their flag. Hadn't they noticed it was gone?
"Oh yes," said Buzzie Bavasi recently. Bavasi, now the general manager of the California Angels, was the general manager of the Dodgers in Brooklyn and in Los Angeles at the time of the theft. He said, "To tell you the truth, I thought it did belong in New York. After finding out that it had been taken, we thought it probably was just as well. Rather than make a big fuss, we decided to ignore the whole thing."
Sure, fellas, sure. And a few years later, when the Dodgers won their next pennant, in 1963, they again decorated their World Series press headquarters with past championship flags. They had their 1959 flag and a 1955 world championship flag emblematic of the only championship in Brooklyn.
"We just had another flag made," said Bavasi.