Great Stadiums (4): Dodger Stadium, the Taj O’Malley

Help me find my car!

Help me find my car!

I (Evander) thought it only fitting, as the Los Angeles Dodgers run away with the 2013 N.L. West crown, to talk a little in this series about the Major League Baseball stadium that set the standard.

The third-oldest big-league field and traditionally “a pitchers’ park,” Dodger Stadium is otherwise pure Tinsel Town/Malibu Mentality.

Opened in 1962 at Chavez Ravine, stories over how its construction displaced locals already disenfranchised, are well known. Prior to this time, the Dodgers had been playing at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, which had been constructed for the 1932 Summer Olympics. (Brand new, it is the climactic setting for the screwy comedy Million Dollar Legs.)

The Dodgers, of course, had been fanatically embraced by Brooklyn. There are no three franchise-settings more different: Ebbets Field, the Coliseum, Dodger Stadium—also known as Taj O’Malley after the redoubtable owner.

In more than half-a-century, there have been astonishingly few changes. No corporate name has been affixed.

There are 9 levels (!) to the stadium exterior, 21 (!!) to the terraced-parking lot(s), almost mimicking the freeways’ interchanges, and uniquely, since the stadium is, for lack of a better term, “geologically constructed” like an ancient-Greek amphitheater that once staged the Oresteia, there is no way to circumnavigate the exterior on a single “ground level.” Returning to our own times, one leaves the car according to where one sits. In keeping with the film industry, the arrangement is something like that of a gigantic, unreal postwar drive-in theater.

The ca. 56,000 it holds at full attendance hasn’t much changed (as noted) either, along with the 1950s design by Emil Praeger. Beyond the fences, one takes in California-palm trees. The San Gabriel Mountains north of the bleachers are architecturally expressed by the stylized, undulating-peaked roofs covering these 2 stands. Its perfect lawn of Santa Ana Bermuda grass contrasts with pastel-shaded seats. The stadium is 1950s-luxurious gaudy.

Uncharacteristically, more than two years ago a fan named Bryan Stowe fell victim to an ugly incident here. In 2018, a woman was killed by a foul ball. Following a baffling, inexcusable span of 42 years the 2022 All-Star Game was hosted at Dodger Stadium.

One of the allures of night baseball on the West Coast is to experience the completion of all games east of Phoenix and Denver well before the seventh-inning stretch (some maintain started by William Howard Taft).

Dodger Stadium is probably the neatest ballpark in the majors, and is the home of the famous Dodger Dog from those perfect concession stands.

In short, one could be transported in his or her sleep and realize he or she has landed in Dodger Stadium.*

*As of October 2018, the Los Angeles Dodgers have won the Western Division of the National League six straight seasons, tho this one required a one-game playoff against the Colorado Rockies to determine the division-winner. In the strange, truncated 2020 season, the Dodgers won a championship.


About rightoffthebatbook

Co-author of the book, "Right Off the Bat: Baseball, Cricket, Literature, and Life"
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