Whom age doth not destroy
LA Coliseum in the O'Malley era
If you've read any old-timer Dodger biographies, such as Sandy Koufax's incredibly literate autobio from 1965, you know the mystique the Coliseum captured as a ballpark and holding tank for the local nine while the hills of Chavez Ravine were being bulldozed.
In the old days, the Coliseum's short porch in left, just barely over the MLB required 250 feet down the left field line, made a huge screen a necessity. Wally Moon's famous "moon shot" involved inside-outing an inside pitch, hitting a pop fly to left that barely kissed the screen or just hopped over it, really not much more than a medium-distance fungo.
Today the dimension to the left field foul pole is a scant 201 feet, which is forty-nine feet less than baseball allows, but this is an exhibition game and nobody cares.
Part of the fun of that pre-Sports Center era was information that traveled at a different speed than today. When pitchers heard about Moon's luck with the screen, they presumed that as a left-handed hitter he was hitting outside pitches. So they came inside on him, and continued to pay the price.
The screen ran off into center and in a hurry: in center, the park was an airport, and tough in right too. Koufax reports that when Willie Mays first saw the dimensions, he said, "Poor Duke," referring to Duke Snider, the Dodgers' left handed power hitter of the late fifties. Both center and right were well over 400 feet.
For today's exhibition game, the shorter dimension will again be to left.
While the Red Sox have their local adherents, I think the idea of a game at the Coliseum itself is what's appealing to the staggering amount of people interested to attend.
Labels: a guy in la