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Saturday, March 29, 2008

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:

23 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said:

I'm really glad to see something about baseball on this blog. I am a huge baseball fan. I like baseball. I know there are more important things in life. And there is certainly more racketeering in the city by the politicians than any blog could possibly handle. So I say forget all of that, and have some happy thoughts about baseball today.

Maybe someone could write about Tiger Woods. He just got his own brand of Gatorade.

And I have just one question: Has someone lost their mind. What the hell is up with this baseball bullshit? Take a look at what has been blogged here this past week. Or should I say this past weak.

March 29, 2008 6:10 AM  

Anonymous Goofy said:

"Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd.
Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack,
I don't care if I never get back,
Let me root, root, root for the home team,
If they don't win it's a shame.
For it's one, two, three strikes, you're out,
At the old ball game."

Ah schucks!

March 29, 2008 7:48 AM  

Blogger Red Spot in CD 14 said:

The three basic food groups for Dodger Fans are 1."DODGER DOG" 2. "PEANUTS" 3. "BEER" = $20 and some change for Frank McCourt's pocket book.

BTW, this is for the "CHOWDER FANS",

"GROUND BALL TO BUCKNER......"

March 29, 2008 8:04 AM  

Blogger Joseph Mailander said:

And I have just one question: Has someone lost their mind. What the hell is up with this baseball bullshit? Take a look at what has been blogged here this past week. Or should I say this past weak.

This is an event that will attract over 100,000 people in the City of Los Angeles, in perchance the most politicized structure in the City. It will establish a new mark for attendance at a baseball game. It was featured on the front page, not the sports page, of the local fishwrap yesterday.

If you don't like the news here, go makes some of it on your own. Be sure to email me when you leave your cubicle and finally try to do something yourself.

In fact, if you are so delusional as to imagine that it's your god-given right to make another human being write precisely what you want to read whenever you want to read it it, you may even need some mental health assistance. Here's the County's mental health page, which lists some resources from which you may benefit.

As usual, indeed a pleasure to respond to a reader's concerns about content here at MayorSam!

March 29, 2008 8:33 AM  

Blogger don quixote said:

Great post about the underappreciated LA Coliseum, a truly historic venue that should be venerated by the USA as not only a beautiful architectural manifestation of the grandeur and imperial aspirations of a new world power (theUSA in the 20's), but as maybe the most historical of any present day stadium in America and maybe the world.
The site of two, yes that's two Olympiads, The place where many world records in track and field were shattered, the historic battle ground where so many classic USC and UCLA football games took place.
While most of the USA was still hobbled with an ugly legal segregation my own father witnessed the historic UCLA team (pre WW2)that may have been the best in the country featuring probably the greatest athlete of all time, "Jackie Robinson" along with the outstanding athlete and actor Woody Strode, and from Lincoln High School the greatest, "Kenny Washington".

How many classic USC games were played at the grand dame of college football lore? Some of My favorite's was the game against the mighty #1 team in the nation, Notre Dame, as USC upset them in the last seconds with a touchdown catch by Rod Sherman of John Muir High in Pasadena, or who can forget the second half comeback in the rain against ND as Anthony Davis ran wild and ND coach Ara Parsegian looked destroyed and devestated.

Pro Football? Who cares, we got Pete Carroll and the mighty USC Trojans, let the NFL pay us in LA for the privilege to play here, who needs them!

The Coliseum was my intro to pro football, as a kid in the 50's, the late great LA Times Boys Club used to put us kids into the backs of three or four big stake bed trucks and take us every year to the preseason game between the Rams and the Redskins, what fun that was for us!

In 1956 (I think?) my old man took me to the Coliseum for the playoff game between the Rams and the Bears, it was sold out and I recall fans climbing over the fences to get in and a riot was in progress., Coach George Halas stalking up and down the sidelines yelling and all the fans booing his ass.
All the great Raiders games played there, more action in the stands than on the field, one time at a sold out Raiders vs Broncos game there were so many fights going on in the stands that all the football players were looking up at the brawls instead of paying attention to the game.

Baseball was my passion as a kid and I’ll never forget my first Dodger game. It was at the Coliseum of course, the old man popped for some tickets and we sat behind the high fence in left field.
I sat there in awe watching my hero’s Duke Snider, Carl Furillo, Wally Moon, and Johnny Podres pitching, wow! In the 3rd inning Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks hit one off Podres and it cleared the left field fence and landed right in front of us, unfortunately someone else got the ball.
In the later innings Coach Walt Alston replaced Podres with the new, young, untested pitcher, "Sandy Koufax" and I’ll never forget the speed on his fastball that had everyone talking, but after a couple of strikes he got wild and one of his pitches was 15 feet over the batters head and Alston pulled him out.
Then the next year 1959 my Dodgers played the great White Sox team in the World Series at the Coliseum. Although big underdogs the Dodgers with the tandem Norm and Larry Sherry (pitcher and catcher) won the Series beating the great Sox pitcher Nellie Fox.
Another LA legend, announcer Vin Scully became my eyes and ears while listening to the Dodgers on Radio.
Another indelible memory of mine was attending the 1984 Olympics in the old Coliseum that was all spiffed up and made to look like a gorgeous Hollywood Star for the event. It was a thrill to be there and the atmosphere was electric.

The old gal’s got a few wrinkles and her bones squeak a little but she’s still beautiful and at work, as maybe the most historic stadium in the whole wide world, I hope she is never torn down or screwed up by the Babbits, Barbarians and Developers whose only sense of aesthetics is the color of green in their pockets.

March 29, 2008 9:12 AM  

Blogger Red Spot in CD 14 said:

Don Quixote the historian.

March 29, 2008 9:18 AM  

Blogger don quixote said:

Hey one bit of history I forget to mention but is of note, is the fact that nobody was ever able to throw a baseball out of the Coliseum from the playing field.

I remember when Duke Snider had a bet with someone that he could and after a couple of tries he hurt his arm and had to sit out a bunch of games.
Walter O'Mally was so pissed off that they fined the Duke and threatened to suspend any other player caught trying the same stunt.

How's that for historical memory Red Spot?

March 29, 2008 9:31 AM  

Blogger Red Spot in CD 14 said:

Excellent

March 29, 2008 9:53 AM  

Blogger Red Spot in CD 14 said:

May I add the epic Track Meets between USC and UCLA that packed the seats in the 50's and 60's.

March 29, 2008 9:56 AM  

Blogger don quixote said:

RS CD14, excellent memory hanging off you, I was at a couple of those meets, taken there again by the LA Times Boys Club (Remember when the LA Times sponsored track in LA? cheap bastards don't pop for anything nowadays!), but we were there when the high jump record was broken (and my memory fails me, who was it?), and our coach Art? A great black coach who taught us a lot about life and athletics had gone to Fremont high with the record breaker and after the meet he came over and rapped with Art and us, what a thrill!

PS was his name willy Dumont or Du something?
Thanks RS CD 14!

March 29, 2008 1:25 PM  

Blogger joseph mailander said:

I didn't get to attend the opening ceremonies of the 1984 Olympics, but while watching the teams parade in on tv at home I suddenly got an impulse to simply go to the Coliseum and see what was up. I parked for free on 27th street (parking was $75 in many spots) and hustled down. I remember how utterly empty the streets were on the drive down.

When I got to the Coliseum, a bunch of people had congregated around the fence immediately outside the peristyle end, which was only about forty feet away. It was a great crowd outside, purely festive, and a little later...

Somebody had one of those battery operated tvs and we saw that the torch was about to be lit. All our eyes went to the unlit bowl. Suddenly there was a whoosh and a stunning combination of fire and smoke and the Olympic flame was lit again after fifty-two years.

It was a very awe-inspiring sight from that particular angle---to see only the flame and smoke above our heads, with none of the glitz inside. It was shady on that side, late in the afternoon, and the flame was simply majestic, yet very much restrained.

For the duration of the two weeks, there were a few moments that really captivated me, but none like watching the Olympic flame itself. Even passing by on the Harbor during that time, you were awestruck by it.

~~~

I have some good Rams memories from the Coliseum, but mostly great UCLA/USC memories---1977 was a really good game which USC won on a field goal after being dominated much of the game. How about the 1989 or 1989 game in which the last minute fifty-nine yard field goal by UCLA hit the crossbar and bounced harmlessly away, enabling a tie? The USC players celebrated as though they had won the Rose Bowl, and all they had done was salvage a tie after a horrible performance.

I think I went to all the USC/UCLA games between 1977 and 1990. Almost all of them were great, with equally great memories between the Rose Bowl and Coliseum after 1982. Undoubtedly the best from the UCLA perspective is the 1982 game at the Rose Bowl, with Karl Morgan sacking a QB, I think it was Scott Tingsley or something, with no time on the clock and USC trying to go for two to win the game, and Robinson on the sidelines, stunned.

March 29, 2008 2:24 PM  

Anonymous jethro said:

I see we are still being entertained by Sr. Don Quackers aka Don Culo the cholo apologist

L.A.'s most illustrious "token mexican" spokesman, who brings tears to our old eye's with his thrilling stories of yester-year and his hardworking papa taking him to baseball games.

Hey Don Culo or whatever your flavor/name of the day, tell us again how all of L.A. gang problems are due to Bush, Republicans and gavachos.

March 29, 2008 4:13 PM  

Blogger don quixote said:

JM, again great post, and your description of the 1984 Olympics at the Coliseum is right on.
Peter Uberroth and the city really pulled it off and gave the world a taste of what the Olympic spirit is suppose to be about.

The way the old gal was dolled up and the opening ceremony's with Rafer Johnson and Muhammad Ali lighting the torch, and even though I was never a Lionel Ritchie fan after he left the Commodores, the opening ceremony with all the athletes, from all around the world partying and dancing in the historic old Coliseum to Ritchie's inspired and passionate rendition of "Fiesta" made many people shed tears.

Why can't the world be like that ceremony all the time?

People are people and have so much in common and so much to share no matter where they come from, and that time of the Olympics was really special and was a taste of how thing really could be.

I had a relative that worked at USC at the time and had "passes" for the Olympic Village around USC, a bunch of us went down to the 32nd St. Bar in the village and par-teed with the athletes from all around the world and all of them were so happy and proud to be in LA representing themselves and their countries.
Boxers from Ireland, Swimmers from India, Fencers from Spain, Track and Field athletes from Africa and Iceland and Poland. Most were not even in the finals but were still proud and happy to be a part of the LA Olympic Festival which was one of the most successful and smooth Olympics ever put together, and all right here in LA!

Afterwards and even to this day I think that the Olympics should always be held in the Coliseum and LA because what was put together was a template of how a world event should happen.

March 29, 2008 4:53 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Don Quacker the racist writes ...
"People are people and have so much in common and so much to share no matter where they come from, and that time of the Olympics was really special and was a taste of how thing really could be."

*******************

Then why do you call blacks mayates changos and mayates, you are one full-of-shit hypocritical racist.

Don Q. the Racist Speaks

don culo racist said...
"the shooting death of 3 year old Kaitlyn Avila and these killings (including an innocent 10 year old boy while he was on the ground), what does this tell you about culero Mayates. And look at the ages of these chanates. I hope the Carnals get a shot at these changos when they hit the joint."

March 29, 2008 6:25 PM  

Anonymous Miguel Mentiroso said:

Joe M,

Great post I remember when my Abuelito took me to the coliseum back in 1958, in his 1956 Chevrolet Nomad wagon. I now own that same 1956 Nomad wagon which I have restored twice and I now enjoy driving my own grown children and grand kids to the Dodgers game in the same 1956 Nomad wagon.
I still remember the first time I saw Pee-Wee Reese running the bases after he hit a triple down the third base line, man was he fast. Pee-Wee Reese was also my hero because he (Reese) refused to sign a petition that threatened a boycott if Jackie Robinson joined the team. My Abuelito taught me never to treat a black person different because the color of his skin. My Abuelito really hated our fellow the Latinos who called blacks mayates, chanates or changos.

My Abuelito told me about when Jackie Robinson joined the Dodgers in 1947and traveled with them to their first road trip game, Jackie was heckled by fans in Cincinnati, Ohio. During the pre-game infield practice, Reese, the captain of the team, went over to Robinson, engaged him in conversation, and put his arm around his shoulder in a gesture of support which silenced the crowd. The story brought tears to my eyes. What a wonderful world we could have if everybody were like my child-hood idols my Abuelito, Pee-Wee Reese and Jackie Robinson. Si Se Puede

On a vacation to visit relatives in New York, we drove my kids in the 1956 Chevrolet Nomad Wagon and took my kids to KeySpan Park in Brooklyn, where the beautiful bronze sculpture of Reese and Robinson, created by sculptor William Behrends, rests today.

I sat my kids in front of the beautiful bronze sculpture of Reese and Robinson and told my kids about how my Abuelito admired Pee-Wee Reese and Jackie Robinson and why. As we all sat in a moment of silence in front of Jackie Robinson bronze sculpture, a homeless black man walked by. My kids asked me why he was homeless and asking for money, my kids asked “why don't we help the black man”. Well I drove the homeless black man to a local restaurant; he told me how he lost his job and how he ended up on the streets. I took the homeless black man to my cousin’s print shop and got him a job. Well do you know that homeless man I helped is now my best friend and god-father to my youngest child, and I am god-father to his youngest child? I only wish we could all live such beautiful moments in life and appreciate each other similarities and not look to our differences.

My beloved black friend Leroy Johnson passed away a few weeks ago, and I dedicate this to Leroy Johnson and Jackie Robinson may he forever live in my heart, and to any fellow Mexican who calls a beautiful black man a mayate, chanate or chango burn in HELL.

March 29, 2008 7:25 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

^^^^^^^^^^^ sob!

Now she's Mexican too!
I hope she doesn't steal food for her kids from her own refrigerator!

We didn't come here to act monkey for everbody! Jim Healy radio

March 29, 2008 9:25 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Miguel,

Great story, I am a big fan of the old great Dodgers legends/players, Pee-Wee Reese and Jackie Robinson were a class act. I still have my autographed jersey from Pee-Wee Reese. I will someday tell, my heart wrenching story, about my childhood cancer survival and Pee-Wee's vist to my hospital room.

The story you told brought tears to my eyes thinking about the injustice Jackie Robinson suffered in his career. Jackie Robinson was a class-act and never publicky complained about being called a mayate, chanate or chango. It's a shame that so many people have a hatred of blacks, and all this killing of blacks by latino gang members is especially troubling.

When I think of great men such as Jackie Robinson who have worn the Dodger Blue, and now we see the murderous mexican street gangs wearing the same Dodger Blue it make me sick.

Why do the mexican gang members wear the colors of a true black Hero? The cholos disgrace the Dodger Blue and Jackie Robinson with their KKK tactics against innocent black residents of the greater Los Angeles area.

March 29, 2008 11:23 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

I also enjoyed Miguel's story about Jackie Robinson. Too bad there are still so many racist mexicans in Los Angeles who call blacks mayates, chanates and changos and kill them.

March 30, 2008 8:30 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Don Quixote a man for all seasons?

Or a big bull-shit kiss-ass artist who will make up any story for his much needed attention.

I'll go with history the guy has been everywhere, done everything and knows everybody, what a crock of BULL-SHIT.

Don Quackers go back to your other blog.

http://inthehat.blogspot.com/

March 30, 2008 2:52 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Hey Don Quackers who really gives a shit about your stories?

March 30, 2008 5:41 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Joe:
Fantastic post and fantastic comments. The old building obviously resonates with a lot of fans.

I went to Rams games in the 70's, Raiders and LA Express games in the 80's, and have seen USC football live in the Pete Carroll era. I have very fond memories of the Coliseum, and hope that a long-term solution to its ownership can be found. It needs to be renovated, so its glory can last another 75+ years.

Other great Coliseum moments:

**Pope John Paul II's mass in 1987
**O.J.'s run against UCLA in 1968
**JFK's Democratic nomination acceptance speech in 1960
**Reggie Bush's spectacular 2005 run against Fresno State (I was there, the whole place held its collective breath)

March 30, 2008 11:14 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

I agree - great post. Being at the Coliseum was a lot of fun and did bring a lot of the early Dodger history to life.

My only complaint would be about poorly planned shuttle service from Dodger Stadium to the Coliseum. 35,000 fans and not enough buses. I was one of the lucky ones who got to the game in time. There were other folks I know who didn't get there until 8:00pm or so.

After the game, the line for the return back to Dodger Stadium was so long that we ended up taking a cab back to Chavez Ravine.

Thanks, RS and Don Quixote for the great historical context.

March 31, 2008 4:24 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Don Quixote:

I talked with Duke Snider at the Coliseum, and as reported in the Times, Duke did succeed in throwing the ball out of the Coliseum after getting fined by Alston for throwing his arm out on his first attempt the week before. Duke managed to throw the ball out of every stadium he played in. Have you noticed how few ballplayers have an "arm" these days? Snider, Carl Furillo, and players of that era were feared and could throw out runners consistently.

April 01, 2008 3:39 PM  

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