September 13, 2007

My Blue Heaven

I moved out of California almost ten years ago, and besides my family, I rarely miss it. It's not that I dislike the Los Angeles area, but I prefer the pace of Minnesota living. The weather has its ups and downs -- waaaaaay ups and waaaaaay downs -- but it's cleaner, less crowded, and more personable.

Certain things just don't transfer, though, and one of them is Dodger Stadium and Dodger baseball. It's been ten years since I've last been to Chavez Ravine, but I'll be going tonight to watch the Dodgers battle the San Diego Padres for the wild-card spot. We have baseball in Minnesota, but as fun as a Twins game can be, there is no better spot to watch a major-league game than Dodger Stadium.

The stadium sits in Chavez Ravine like a crown in the hills. It has a spectacular view even without the baseball game. Its unique setting contributes to the sense of something special about any event one sees at the stadium. Legendary announcer Vin Scully's voice will echo through the park, as people bring radios to hear him call games even while attending live. The Dodger dogs will appear in abundance. We'll lose our voices cheering the team. It's all Dodger tradition, and it makes Dodger Stadium a treasure.

I'll be in the left-field stands tonight, hoping that one of the boys in blue goes deep and drops a ball in my lap. I'll take a few pictures, and hopefully I'll get one that captures why I've missed the Dodger experience over the last ten years.


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Comments (43)

Posted by The Yell | September 13, 2007 6:33 PM

Seating is a LOT more roomy than Twins stadium.
They've changed the parking setup, unless you've got premium seats. They pack them in at the bottom of the hill and then close the road as the lots fill. Get there a good half-hour early at least or you'll be facing Chinatown and looking at a five-minute walk.

Have fun! Dodger Stadium retains what a ball game must have been like for most of the 20th century.

Posted by dcslb | September 13, 2007 6:36 PM

Welcome back to the Ravine! Go Dodger Blue!

Posted by g | September 13, 2007 6:53 PM

...I agree (as a former Angeleno). But it would also be nice if they could BEAT The PADRES for a change and take the damn wild card that's been dangling there for weeks!

Posted by Harry | September 13, 2007 6:57 PM

Never been there, Captain, but I wonder do they play Randy Newman's "I Love LA" at every game?

Posted by kingronjo | September 13, 2007 7:01 PM

no better place to watch a Dodger game? I'm too young to have ever been there, but my Granpa told me it was great. So not only is it not the best place to watch a baseball game, it isnt even the best place to have watched a Dodger home game.

I also have been to Chavez Ravine about a dozen times and to compare it to Yankee Stadium is like comparing the Addams family crypt to the Taj Mahal. And I even hate to say it but it isnt even close to Fenway Park ( I never will admit to writing that though). Chavez Ravine is a cookie cutter 60's park, sorry.

Posted by oldirishpig | September 13, 2007 7:02 PM

Sorry, I'm a South Sider from Chicago, and as much as I hate the damned Cubs, I have to say there is no better place to watch baseball than Wrigley. That's how they get away with putting those crappy teams on the field year after year.

Posted by mw | September 13, 2007 7:03 PM

"...there is no better spot to watch a major-league game than Dodger Stadium...

Yeah... well... maybe... except for:

1) Wrigley Field in Chicago
2) Fenway Park in Boston
3) Pac Bell Park in San Francisco
4) The House that Ruth Built in New York

In that order. There may be a few. But Dodger Stadium is very close to the top of the second tier.

Posted by Jack Okie | September 13, 2007 7:08 PM

Captain, I had no idea Vin Scully was still around. How great to learn he is still broadcasting.

Posted by Joel Van Dahm | September 13, 2007 7:08 PM

May you both have fun with your family and see the Dodgers beat those Padres...cuz I'm a C.Q. fan and a Diamondbacks fan!

Posted by mrlynn | September 13, 2007 7:17 PM

You know, of course, that the Dodgers were originally the Trolley Dodgers, because of all the trolley lines in Brooklyn. It is passing strange to see the name persist, bereft of all its original significance, which it had already lost when the franchise was still in Brooklyn. For those who grew up hearing about "the Brooklyn Dodgers" (my mother was from Brooklyn), it still grates to hear "Los Angeles Dodgers."

But even worse was losing my boyhood team, the Washington Senators; not even the name survived, though they were also known as "the Nats," for Nationals, an older appelation, now restored to a Washington team—but in the wrong league!

/Mr Lynn

Posted by unclesmrgol | September 13, 2007 7:43 PM

The offramp from the Pasadena Freeway to the stadium (Stadium Way) passes partly over the former site of my wife's family store, which was condemned via eminent domain to build that offramp. They had just built the store a couple of years earlier, and literally got a dime on the dollar.

The O'Malleys, of course, kept their money, and made even more on the back of my wife's family, before finally selling out a few years back. On the other hand, my wife's family was unable to rebuild, given what they were paid and the increase in property prices due to the new freeway.

Sometimes the village just takes. They are welcome to their Dodger games, but none of it for me.

Posted by Cindy | September 13, 2007 7:44 PM

Sorry Cap....the BEST places to watch a baseball game are Wrigley Field and PNC Park! PNC Park is an absolute GEM.


Posted by Carol Herman | September 13, 2007 7:48 PM

Alas, once the game's over ... and, sometimes, innings before that ... there are people leaving "this paradise," because they head home on the #5.

Yeah. Los Angeles' first freeway. Narrow. Escape ramps, perhaps. But nothing like an entrance or exit that creates anything but accident havoc.

So, you go to Dodger Stadium. The nice weather, however, is all over the place. And, what with flat screen TV's you can watch this stuff from bed.

Nah. I don't use my TV. So I stopped paying the bills to Dish.

And, I've been to Dodger Stadium once or twice. But the real one's in Brooklyn. Or used to be. At Ebbets field.

And, the story goes, that as baseball became popular, as a sport to watch; the "dodgers" were a team with a stadium at the "hub" where various trolley car lines came together. Allowing men to take off from work (shhhh). And watch this sport.

And, the name "dodgers?" Those were the guys, who for a nickel, got to travel TO Ebbets Field. And, then? THEY HAD TO DODGE, this way and that, just to escape being run over.

Imagine a team with a moniker that refers to that!

Posted by The Yell | September 13, 2007 7:55 PM

I am always sorry to hear about people taken in an eminent domain deal, but I've driven through the area. The 101 wasn't just built for the O'Malleys, and there isn't much to the area even with two freeways adjacent.,-118.23349&spn=0.016708,0.028925&z=15&iwloc=addr

Vin is still on the air, though he only broadcasts alternate innings.

Posted by T A M N Y , T . D . | September 13, 2007 8:17 PM

My experience was quite the opposite of the Captain . Sixteen winters in Vermont , two in Connecticut , one in New York were more tham ample data with which to make an informed judgement . I gratefully fled the abomination of Frost Belt weather for central California - -
easily one of the most sensible decisions of my fifty - one years .

Our preferences aside , I couldn ' t make an informed choice about DODGER STADIUM because I have yet to see a game there . I ' m inclined to like a ballpark that gives the advantage to the pitchers . CUBS FANS , take note : successful baseball requires that one protect leads , which is an unwelcome ordeal in a puny ballpark like WRIGLEY FIELD . ( The Cubs ought to declare Wrigley a museum , build a modern park rather like San Francisco ' s A . T . & T . , and give their pitching a respectable shot in the 2 1 s t
Century . The RED SOX wouldn ' t have waited eighty - six years for a World Series championship had they not been hamstrung with a
little league park the likes of FENWAY ) .

Having seen one game at A . T . & T . , I challenge any architect to fashion a baseball
park of that caliber . The public square outside the stadium with WILLIE MAYS in bronze , the brick - work , the asymmetrical dimensions , the deep power alleys that prevent cheap home runs ,
the abundance of sunlight during afternoon and twi - night games , the proximity to
" McCovey ' s Cove " , to say nothing of the food ( ' Gilroy Garlic Fries ' ! ) make the former
PacBell Field a masterpiece . The convenience of public transit ( B . A . R . T . ) is a plus .

This typist recommends the H . B . O . documentary GHOSTS OF FLATBUSH , a very nostalgic and informative re - appraisal of WALTER
O ' MALLEY and the BROOKLYN Dodgers . ( It helps if you have an H . B . O . subscription ) . There is much to know about the departure of the Dodgers ( and the GIANTS ) from Gotham to the Left Coast , and GHOSTS fills in the informational gaps nicely . The vilification of Walter O ' Malley is brutally unfair , as he tried arduously to strike a satisfactory deal that would have kept the Dodgers in New York .

Posted by Del Dolemonte | September 13, 2007 8:36 PM

Assorted observations (sorry for getting long winded):

1. Watch out, Ed. Wells is pitching tonight!

2. I pretty much don't care for LA, but would love to see a game at Chavez Ravine just for the "Festival Experience", which is what I'm sure it is. I first heard Vin Scully's mellow toned voice over the airways when on exceptional nights his radio signal made it out to Hawaii, where I was living in the '60s.

3. I've been a regular at Fenway for 38 years now. I've never been to Wrigley, but I would have to agree that the two are equal in appeal and ambience. Wrigley would get the slight edge for 3 things: Ivy, Bricks, and rooftop seats across the street.

Fenway has gone slightly downhill since the 3 Wise Men/3 Stooges (depending on your team allegiance) bought the team-there are ads all over the infield and outfield, and prices have gone thru the roof.

But that's the cost of doing business. Until Steinbrenner kicks the bucket, the BoSox will always have to spend the same kind of money to remain competitive. And now the Yankapups are building a new stadium?

Alltime best game witnessed at Fenway: Luis Tiant beats Jim Palmer 1-0 in a classic pitching duel in September of 1975. Luis now has a Cuban Sandwich stand behind home plate.

4. The only other Major League stadium I've been to is Oakland-Alameda. Went with some friends in August of 1976, before the east end was closed off (boo, hiss). That was the year after the last of the 3 straight years Oakland had gone all the way, and Charlie Finley had broken the team up so they were horrible. Friday night game, less than 3,000 people. Highlights of the game were seeing Charlie O the team mascot (mule) trimming the grass around the infield, and the Dixieland band that did the pregame entertainment. They also had an unusual invention we had never seen at Fenway, the "bucket of beer". Needless to say, too many of those can be a problem.

5. Alltime best Minor League Stadium I hung out at: Honolulu Stadium, AKA the "Termite Palace". Now just a memory, this was the home of the Pacific Coast League Hawaii Islanders from the early 1960s until it was torn down. Their radio play by play guy in those days was Harry Kalas, and when Harry moved on to the Mainland he was replaced by Al Michaels.

Back in those days, Harry had to do a Dutch Reagan when the team went on the road, re-creating the away games in the studio in Honolulu. They used a number 2 pencil struck against a small block of softwood for bat hitting ball, and crumbled cellophane for crowd noise. Harry used to joke that if he wanted to get out of work early to go party in Waikiki, he'd cut down the pitch count.

Posted by Trump | September 13, 2007 8:36 PM

PLEASE beat the Pods, us Mets fans don't want to see Peavy sitting in the Wild Card spot...

Posted by theblacksheepwasrights | September 13, 2007 9:34 PM

Firstly.. its the in Padres..not Pods as in I or something from space..

Secondly... living in San Diego and being from Ohio..few teams are lower than the Dodgers in my book... I'll root for the Yankees before the Dodgers...

Posted by John | September 13, 2007 9:47 PM

Somr of your posters have it right on Dodger Stadium -- it may have a lovely view, and the levels having their own unique access ramps in back was unique for its day. But lay-out wise, it's one of the most boring ballparks in baseball, and a prime example of the horrors of major league baseball playing field design from the 1960s, when it was decided everything should be symetrical, with not a quirk to be found in the outfield fences or foul lines.

The only saving grace was the O'Malleys didn't build it as a multi-purpose stadium, which really was the bane of 1960s-70s design (DC Stadium in Washington -- now RFK stadium -- was the granddaddy of all the dull symmetrical ballparks, so it was fitting that the place was given one last hurrah with thw return of baseball to Washington, to remind everyone why nobody builds baseball/football combo fields anymore).

Posted by Dennis | September 13, 2007 9:56 PM

C'mon Dodger Blue!!!! Go Sox! (Red of course).

Posted by Only One Cannoli | September 13, 2007 10:05 PM

Save room and money for a chipwich!

Posted by Jose Sanchez | September 13, 2007 10:10 PM

Being from southern NYS I became a Dodger fan in 1948 when Jackie Robinson started playing at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn. There was no team like the Brooklyn Dodgers. Great plyers like Robinson, Roy Campenella, Billy Cox, Duke Snider, Don Newcolm, Ralph Branca, Gene Hermanski, Carl Furillo, Pee Wee Reese and others filled Ebbets Field with fans game after game for many years. The only team that beat the Dodgers in home attendence was the New York Yankees who had a bigger stadium than Ebbets field (max seating of about 33,000. Then after the 1957 season the Dodger fans were betrayed by Walter O'Malley in conspiracy with Horace Stoneham of the NY baseball Giants. These slimeballs moved their teams to the west coast. When that happened I ceased to be a Dodger fan and slowly lost interest in a game that is more and more populated with grossly overpaid, steroid-consuming prima donnas.


Posted by Dan_P | September 13, 2007 10:29 PM

Long ago and far away, a small town (800 people) Nebraska
boy went to live with his grandparents and go to Pasadena City College,
right out of high school. Can you say "culture shock" ?

My Granddad was a BIG Dodgers fan. They were fairly new in LA.
He listened to Vin Scully on the radio every game.

Granddad took me to a game in the Coliseum.
The next year, to a game in the brand-new "Ravine".
You can't buy lifetime memories like that.

Granddad also took me to a Ram's game in the Coliseum.

In 1952, our family stayed with my Grandparents
while my Dad was going to summer school at USC.
Dad took me to the Summer Olympic Trials at "the Coliseum".
I was 10 years old. This was big-time stuff.
There was no TV in our town. All I knew was newspapers and magazines.
Dad was a high school biology teacher. And, football and track coach.

The whole stadium was ragging on a guy bringing up the rear
(by far) in the 3000 meter steeplechase. I started bad-mouthing him too.

My Dad said,
"He earned the right to be here, and to finish last".
"He's better than thousands of athletes in the country".
"I hope if you ever compete, you have as much guts as he does".

Dad stood and clapped as he crossed the finish line last, way behind.
People looked at Dad like he was crazy.

You can't buy lifetime memories like that.

Posted by Carl | September 13, 2007 11:43 PM

I've been a lifelong Dodgers fan since the late 1970's. I've never been to a MLB game in my life and I hope to one with the high hopes of my first MLB game being Dodgers game. However that's probably never going to happen. I can't afford any sort of vacation and driving to an MLB game from where I live in north Florida is remote for me. So enjoy the game and I hope the Dodgers win. Tommy Lasorda isn't the only person to bleed Dodger blue.

Posted by reddog | September 13, 2007 11:51 PM

The '63 Dodgers were the best team to ever play the game. No big stars, no heavy hitters, just young guys playing their hearts out. The Series was the biggest upset in history.

Baseball is the greatest game ever invented and MLB turned it into crap. It's all steroids and money. Kids don't watch it, don't even play it.

Posted by KJBtruth | September 13, 2007 11:52 PM

Go Brewers!

Posted by unclesmrgol | September 14, 2007 12:04 AM

The Yell,

The Pasadena is the 110. The Stadium Way offramp was built for exactly one purpose, which is the purpose the name implies. By the way, my wife's family was not the only family to suffer at the hands of the O'Malley's. There were three thriving neighborhoods in Chavez Ravine; the y were razed to build the Stadium.

Angelinos fail to remember that the Stadium was built by taking from the least members of the village and giving to the wealthiest.

Posted by brooklyn - hnav | September 14, 2007 12:10 AM

sounds like you are having a great time...


except, i must suggest, there is no place like the East Coast for the diamonds.

Shea, Yankee, Fenway, etc...

Posted by Californio | September 14, 2007 2:17 AM

Los Angeles is easy to love, just ignore nearly everyone who moved here from 1940 or later. ( And that includes the peasant invasion from Mexico) Unclesmrgol, your tale is a familiar one - my Grandmother's family "compound" (more likely a ranchito) was razed to build a portion of what became the Santa Monica freeway (Interstate 10) just before it ends and curves onto pacific coast highway. So I can appreciate that other places are pleasant to live in; too bad everyone doesn't agree....and move out immediately.

P.S. - the ultimate L.A. day was going to Dodger stadium, getting in for free through a friend who worked at concession stand in the outfield; and gorging on free food; then taking a break - visiting St. Vibiana's downtown just long enough to work up an appetite to eat again at Phillipe's (for french dip sandwiches at what my grandmother called the "new" location - or at least "new" since the 1920's).

Posted by Alan Kellogg | September 14, 2007 4:49 AM

The Dodgers are a fine example when you combine money with bad talent assesment. The Pads dropped Wells for a damn good reason, he can't deliver. They may not have the stars other teams do, but they know how to get people working together.

Why do the Dodgers keep losing against the Padres? Because the Dodgers have forgotten that they have something to prove.

Posted by John Conner | September 14, 2007 5:01 AM

Sorry to say it, Ed, but screw the Dodgers.

I don't think there is a single team in all of baseball that I care less about. The team mascot, "Dodgers" is just as irrelevant as the basketball team, the "Lakers". I cannot fathom why anyone would feel diferently, if they are not from LA or don't hold a ridiculous attraction based on their former association with Brooklyn.

I am from Dallas, and now reside in Kansas City, so my closer allegiances are with the junior league (and with losers, basically). But the Dodgers are easily at the absolute bottom of my favorites in the NL. I even hate Tommy Lasorda. Not just dislike him - I hate the SOB. I wish they would lose about 120 games per year.

Posted by Tom Shipley | September 14, 2007 6:29 AM

You certainly picked a good game to go to.

Go Cubs!

Posted by rbj | September 14, 2007 7:30 AM

"there is no better spot to watch a major-league game than Dodger Stadium.

Yankee Stadium is #1. A lot more character and history.

Wrigley is second for the intimate olde timey feel.

The newer stadia such as Camden Yards & Comerica are nice, but need some history to them.

About the only good thing I can say about Dodger Stadium is that they haven't sold naming rights.

Posted by Cardinals Nation | September 14, 2007 7:38 AM


As a baseball fan I read your post with delight. There's something about an afternoon of the "perfect game" that makes things seem just a bit better, a bit slower and a bit easier. I love that game.

Now, as a Cardinals fanatic, you're all wet. I hope your overpriced $5 soydog and $8 micro beer drops right on the ground when a Pad's dinger screams past your head. When you want some real baseball in a real baseball town, come on down to St. Louis where championships have been won since 1882. Dodger blue? Please.

Go Cards! 2008 World Champions!

Posted by The Yell | September 14, 2007 8:42 AM

>>When you want some real baseball in a real baseball town, come on down to St. Louis where championships have been won since 1882. Dodger blue? Please.

Aw go to--no, that's for Giants fans.

Posted by Gregg | September 14, 2007 9:25 AM

I spent one year in LA. I did not care at all for the city but the one highlight was being able to listen to Vin Scully almost every summer night in 1992. Having grown up an Astros fan in Austin, and remembering lying in bed listening to those late West Coast games, it was magical to finally visit Chavez Ravine and watch my beloved Astros play there (remembering that it was at Dodger Stadium in 1980 that the Astros won a one game Divisional playoff to advance to the post-season for the first time.) I also caught a late September game against the Giants, who were in the midst of a pennant race. Thanks Cap'n.

Posted by kevin r | September 14, 2007 10:21 AM

Wait... they play baseball on the west coast? Who knew?

Yankees - Red Sox tonight. Both teams have been rather overexposed in recent years, but it's still the best rivalry in sports. (OSU-Michigan maybe ties, but not this year, heh.)

Posted by tyree | September 14, 2007 11:14 AM

"Wait... they play baseball on the west coast? Who knew?"

I guess that explains the Angeles, they must have won the World Series because every game they played was a forfeit.

Go Dodgers. Here's hoping the Angeles get to beat the Dodgers in the playoffs.

Posted by Achillea | September 14, 2007 3:17 PM

I'm an Angels fan, myself, but I forgive you.

Posted by Pro Cynic | September 14, 2007 10:19 PM

Captian, I'm tring to send a trackback, but it doesn't seem to be working. Lived in SoCal for a year, and my own take is similar to yours.

Only caveat I have is that last time I saw a game there was before Fox bought the team and "modernized" Dodger Stadium with more adds and bells and whistles. Before that happened, the focus had been entirely on the game. A respectful focus at that.

Yankee Stadium is a close second to Dodger Stadium. Both places keep the focus on the game and have great, knowledgable fans whose intention is to go to a baseball game, not to be seen. And yes, that's intended as a knock on Wrigley Field, which removes it from any contention for best park in baseball.

Final caveat is that I have never been to Fenway Park. I do need to get there, because it could be similar in experience to Yankee Stadium. PNC Park would be on the list, but they have had to go to more "dot races" to keep the fans attending the games with such a horrible team to watch. Never been to AT & T Park, but I can't imagine any park that the vile Barry Bonds calls home deserving to be on the list.

Posted by das411 | September 15, 2007 12:21 AM

CE et al, a bit late posting on this one but have any of you fine folks ever visited ?

Posted by Jim | September 15, 2007 12:37 PM

This thread hit me square between the eyes. I'm a migrated Angeleno, too; but to a different place, and for much longer (almost 30 years now). I'm only 80 miles from NYC now, and although it's taken me decades, I've even learned to follow the Yankees (did I just say that?). But every time YES Network talks about the 30th anniversary of the 1977 World Series, my skin still crawls :-)

I've been to ball parks all over this country: major and minor league. There is no place like Chavez Ravine. Period. Yankee Stadium needs to be rebuilt, and they're doing just that. Fenway Park has almost as much character, but it's in Boston and thus filled with the rudest, most vicious fans in all sportdom ... it's cool empty, though. All that said, LA sports fans are usually a class act, and that's probably what I miss the most.

Nobody touches Vin, either. That Castiglione idiot up in Boston -- and let's not forget Michael Kay in NY -- are amateurs. I really miss Scully.

Posted by JohnWaves | September 15, 2007 3:11 PM

Ed, try the other Los Angeles team, the Angels.

Maybe you should have driven a few miles to Orange County before you made a decision to move away from SoCal.

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