The first game played was an inter-league exhibition game against the New York Yankees on April 5, 1913, played before an overcapacity of 30,000 fans, with 5,000 more who had arrived but were not able to get in. After a loss against the Yankees in another exhibition game on April 7 in front of about 1,000 fans on a very cold day, the first game that counted was played on April 9 against the Philadelphia Phillies, with Brooklyn losing, 1–0. When the park was opened, it was discovered that the flag, keys to the bleachers, and a press box had all been forgotten. The press box level was not added until 1929. The seating area was initially a double deck from past third base, around home plate, and all the way down the right side. There was an open, concrete bleacher stand extending the rest of the way down the third base side to the outer wall, but no seating in left field or centerfield. The right field wall was fairly high due to the short foul line (around 300 feet (91 m)) necessitated by the street immediately beyond it, but had no screen or scoreboard at first. The ballpark was built on a sloping piece of ground. The right field wall made up the difference, as the right field corner was above street level.
As with Boston's Fenway Park and Detroit's Tiger Stadium, two ballparks that opened one year earlier than Ebbets Field, the intimate configuration prompted some baseball writers to refer to Ebbets Field as a "cigar box" or a "bandbox."