Great Stadiums (4): Dodger Stadium, the Taj Mahal

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.

Today the third-oldest big-league field and traditionally “a pitchers’ park,” Dodger Stadium is pure Tinsel Town. Opened in 1962 at Chavez Ravine, stories over how its construction displaced locals already disenfranchised, with nowhere else to go, are well known. Prior to this time, the Dodgers had been playing out their seasons at the Los Angeles Coliseum, which had been constructed for the 1932 Summer Olympics. (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 from each other: Ebbets Field, the Coliseum, Dodger Stadium—also known as Taj O’Malley after the redoubtable owner of the club.

In more than half-a-century, there have been astonishingly few changes made. No corporate name has been affixed. There are nine levels to the stadium exterior, and uniquely, since the stadium is, for lack of a better term, “geologically constructed” like an ancient-Greek amphitheater, there is no way to circumnavigate the exterior on “ground level.” One parks the car, in the massive lot, according to where one sits. The ca. 56,000 it holds at full attendance hasn’t much changed with the 1950s design by Emil Praeger. Beyond the fences, one takes in California-palm trees. The mountains past the bleachers are architecturally expressed by the stylized, wavy roofs above these stands. Its perfect lawn of Santa Ana Bermuda grass contrasts with pastel-shaded seats.

Uncharacteristically, more than two years ago a fan named Bryan Stowe fell victim to an ugly incident here.

One of the allures of night baseball on the West Coast is the completion of all games east of Phoenix and Denver well before the seventh-inning stretch. Dodger Stadium is probably the neatest ballpark in the majors, and is the home of the famous Dodger Dog from those perfect concession stands.

One could be transported in his or her sleep and know one has landed in Dodger Stadium.

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About rightoffthebatbook

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