Ebbets joined the Brooklyn club as a bookkeeper in 1883, gradually began buying shares in the team, and became president in 1898. He never played the game, but tried his hand at managing in 1898, finishing tenth. Ned Hanlon, the owner-manager of the Baltimore Orioles, bought some of the remaining Brooklyn stock after the ’98 season, moved the best Baltimore players to Brooklyn, and won pennants in 1899 and 1900. However, when Hanlon wanted to move the team to Baltimore after the 1905 season, Ebbets bought him out.
Ebbets is sometimes credited with inventing the rain check and with suggesting that teams with the worst records should draft first, long before there was a draft. He had a deserved reputation for honesty and was popular in Brooklyn.
He financed the building of a new ball park for his team in 1912 by selling half of the club to the McKeever Brothers, contractors in Brooklyn. When the park was opened the next year, it was named Ebbets Field by a vote of sportswriters. Ebbets’s Dodgers won pennants in 1916 and 1920. At the turn of the century, the prescient Ebbets was widely quoted when he said, “Baseball is in its infancy.”