I really didn't like it when the Los Angeles Dodgers replaced my Pacific Coast League Hollywood Stars in 1958.
Although, it was exciting when over 90,000 baseball fans attended the 1959 exhibition game honoring Dodger catcher Roy Campanella, who had been crippled in a car accident a year earlier.
Their new home at Chavez Ravine had not been built yet, so they played on the football field known as the Los Angeles Coliseum.
It was the home of the Los Angeles Rams, and great players such as "Crazy Legs" Hirsch, Norm Van Brocklin, Les Richter, and Rosie Greer, among others.
But, it was almost painful to watch the baseball games from center field, in what seemed like another time zone away. Even with binoculars, it looked like home plate was still located in Brooklyn.
When team owner Walter O'Malley bought out the land from under the Latino ranchers and home owners for close to $500,000 dollars, in order to build a privately owned Dodger Stadium in Chavez Ravine, around the Echo Park area of Los Angeles, the baseball fans were very excited. The Dodger owner paid more for the land than the assessment, but still, it was a painful exit for the locals, and remains a historical sore point among those with strong ethnic memories.
When the Dodgers played their first game in the new stadium during 1962, it was a much different era. If there was too much traffic, just build another freeway. When the car ashtray became too filled with cigarette butts, just empty it on the street
But in a funny way, Mr. O'Malley started a small consumer movement in Los Angeles, all by himself. When fans attended the opening game in April 10, 1962 against the Cincinnati Reds, they naturally looked to get a drink of water. But where were the drinking fountains?
It appeared that the new team wanted a little more revenue from the food stands and the sell of beer and soft drinks, than it wanted to give away free water. To be completely honest about this, Mr. O'Malley was a great baseball owner. He kept ticket prices lower than most major league teams. This allowed many poor families to attend a big league game for about the same price as watching a movie.
Fans did,however, get upset about the lack of free water, so the team installed a few fountains. You still had to look for them. They were kind of hidden in corners and behind walls. This was a beginning of consumer power in laid back LA.
July 30, 2006-- Almost every time I bring a new person to the game, I tell them about this historical aspect at Dodger Stadium. I had forgotten to mention it to my kid, though. I thought I had told her some time ago, but maybe she wasn't listening.
We had great seats on a hot Sunday, for the home game between the Washington Nationals (our second Nat's game of the year) managed by Frank Robinson, and the Dodgers at Chavez Ravine
I played a little game with my daughter called, "find the drinking fountain at Dodger Stadium".
We were lucky enough to have seats on the field level. As we walked the corridor of food concession stands selling everything from all beef hot dogs to baseball caps, we searched and searched and searched for the drinking fountains. I said, " They used to be near the bathrooms," but we couldn't find them. We did spot Wheel of Fortune host Pat Sajack, but not the drinking fountains.
Finally, out of desperation and frustration of not being able to find the drinking fountains since attending the Dodger games at Chavez Ravine since 1962, I had to ask the attendant near the Stadium Club entrance. He said, "We moved them to each entrance." Oh, I thought to myself, they make you walk by every single concession stand, once your'e in the park, in order to find free water. The subtle business strategy is to break you psychologically, on a hot day, so you'll give up halfway on the long walk toward the exit, and buy that Coke.
It was a well-played game. The Dodgers beat the Nationals 4-3. The thirsty crowd of 42,000 fans probably didn't find the drinking fountains either.
Thanks for Reading,