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Dodgers at Coliseum: WAY Cool

March 29th, 2008 · 1 Comment · Dodgers

I’m not sure all the fans are gonna get in the stadium. I’m not sure they even sold as many tickets as the Dodgers said they did.

But this Coliseum game … is a great, great idea, and if you couldn’t be here, I hope you watched at least part of it on TV.

This is the football stadium where the Dodgers played for their first four seasons, 1958-61, after moving from Brooklyn.

I’m just old enough to have a vague memory of seeing a game here. My father belonged to the Long Beach Optimists Club, and they had an outing here, and my father brought me along. Maybe 1960? A day game. I’m fairly sure the Dodgers won, 3-0. Wally Moon hit a home run.

But if you’re not at least 50 years old, you can’t possibly have a personal memory of seeing the Dodgers here. And that means that this exhibition game, against the Red Sox, gives everyone else an opportunity to go back in time and see how this franchise started. Somehow playing ball in a football stadium.

I was just out wandering among the fans, including those at the very far end of the stadium, the peristyle end, and they all seem jazzed. “This is amazing,” one kid said, and he was about 500 feet from home plate when he said it.

A really interesting part of this? I have never, ever seen so many people at a Dodgers game actually wearing Dodgers gear. I’m gonna guess that 75 percent of them have a jacket or jersey or cap. The place is a sea of blue.

It reminds me of what an absolutely precious thing this franchise is to Los Angeles. Dodger Blue is one of the great unifying forces in a community of so many different interests and ethnicities. The Dodgers … they share that. I hope the McCourts understand what it is that they bought — one of the most beloved cultural institutions in the region.

It’s bizarre out there, for sure. The Coliseum as a baseball facility. The field is even smaller than it was 50 years ago. That’s because they took out the track when the Raiders were here, lowering the field and putting in another eight rows of seats.

So it is all of 201 (!) feet to the net in left field, down from the 251 feet of 50 years ago. The outer edge of the infield is far closer to the foul pole in left than it is to home plate.

The net in left is 60 feet high, but a lazy fly ball out there still is going to end up in the seats, so fans there better be paying attention,. During batting practice, David Ortiz hit about a half-dozen balls into the seats in his first 10 swings.

Other stuff: The dugouts are temporary structures, little more than elongated tents. A temporary fence is up in right field, running across the stadium about where the back of the end zone would be. Home plate is about where the goal line would intersect with the south sideline.

A weird aspect of this, for baseball is the location of the famous tunnel. Instead of being at the end of the football action, it’s slightly to the left of home plate — a big blank, as far as fans are concerned, instead of prime seats.

But this is a special situation. A unique one. I don’t think anyone is here to see the competition. They are here to be part of the experience. Something that hasn’t happened since 1961 and may never happen again.

The McCourts haven’t gotten much right since they’ve owned the Dodgers … but this idea was brilliant, and as far as I can see so far, the execution is equally brilliant.


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