Howlin' Hilda

Dodgers in Time: Howlin' Hilda Chester

Today I’m going to be talking about one of the biggest Dodger fans in history. In this series we cover important Dodgers in time. Some may be players, some may be coaches, or managers, executives, and some are fans. Hilda Chester, an iron-willed woman with a booming voice, was born in Brooklyn New York in 1897. As a kid she was a softball player, and by the time she was a teenager she became a fanatical Dodger fan. She sold peanuts, banged cowbells in the stands, yelled at Vin Scully, befriended Leo Durocher, and was simply unforgettable. Our next Dodger in time is Dodger fan Hilda Chester…..

Hilda Chester

Photo:Baseballforums.com-Hilda Chester

“Eacha heat out ya Bum!”- Dodger fan Hilda Chester

Hilda was born and grew up in Brooklyn, New York. As a kid she was a softball player, and once a teenager she became one of the biggest Dodger fans ever. Often times she would wait outside the Brooklyn Chronicle waiting to read or hear the Dodger score. Sportscasters would give her free tickets to games. When Hilda was in her twenties, she was hired by Harry Stevens, the famous peanut entrepreneur, to stack peanuts. It was Hilda’s job to take the peanuts from their 50 pound sacks and put them in their individual bags before each ball game. By the 1930’s she was a regular at Ebbets Field, screaming very loudly at everyone. You see Hilda yelled at everyone. She yelled at the players, she yelled at the umpires, she yelled at the Managers, she yelled at other fans, and she even once yelled at Vin Scully. She yelled at Vinny “I love you Vin Scully!” Then she yelled at Vinny “LOOK AT ME WHEN I SPEAK TO YOU!”

She was eventually given a lifetime pass into the grandstands at Ebbets Field. She would sit in the center field bleachers, wearing large flower patterned dresses, and spoke with an accent. Hilda survived through two heart attacks. After the first, her doctor ordered her not to yell at all. Per her doctors orders, after her first heart attack, she brought a ladle and frying pan to the Dodger games. Since she was unable to yell, During rallies she would beat her frying pan with her ladle, and lead the crowd in snake dances in order to distract the opposing teams. Believe me from reading about her, no matter where you sat in Ebbets Field, you heard her. She soon had her own group of loud Dodger fan followers, the “rowdies” would bang on frying pans, yell very loudly, boo the umpires, and beat along with the Brooklyn Dodgers Bum Symphony.

In the late 1930’s some of the Dodger players gave her a brass cowbell to ring, and she retired her frying pan and ladle, and during every game she would bang her cowbell. After she had her second heart attack in 1941, Manager Leo Durocher visited her in the hospital. She even traveled with the team on road trips occasionally. Howlin’ Hilda was even featured in a short film about the 1946 Brooklyn Dodgers called Brooklyn, I love you.

Hilda accidentally influenced a Dodger game once. She gave a note to center fielder Pete Reiser to give to Leo Durocher. Durocher thought the note was from Team President Larry McPhail. The note read “Get Casey Hot. Wyatt’s losing it”. This was in the eighth inning. Once Durocher read the note,  starting pitcher Whit Wyatt gave up a hit. He was then removed. Durocher brought in Hugh Casey, who nearly blew the game, but got the save in the Dodger win.

Hilda always preferred to sit in the bleachers with her fellow Rowdies. She would often say, “You know me, Hilda wit da bell. Aint it trillin’? Home was never like dis, mac.” When the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles, Hilda was heart-broken. Hilda passed away in 1978. She will always be remembered as one of the most die-hard Dodger fans of all time. Hilda Chester, we salute you! A true blue Dodger in time.

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Tags: Dodgers Hilda Chester Leo Durocher

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