The Los Angeles Dodgers are about to reach a big milestone. Next year marks the 50th anniversary of the team's cross-country move to Los Angeles from Brooklyn. Today, team officials announced the Dodgers' plan to observe the occasion by playing an exhibition game in their first Southland stadium: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. KPCC's Brian Watt says that homecoming is scheduled for March 29th.
Brian Watt: The Dodgers played their first four L.A. seasons at the Coliseum while Dodger Stadium was under construction. The legendary voice of the boys in blue, Vin Scully, told assembled VIPs how the Dodgers fared in their temporary digs.
Vin Scully: When the Dodgers came out here in 1958, they had a 7th place team, and it was the first time in history – in 1959 – that a 7th place team from the year before won the World Series.
Watt: When the Dodgers moved west, then-owner Walter O'Malley chose the Coliseum over the old Wrigley Field at 42nd and Avalon. The Coliseum's 90,000 seats trounced Wrigley's 20,000. But the bigger venue wasn't configured for baseball. So O'Malley wedged in a baseball diamond with an interesting result: The left field wall rose a mere 250 feet from home plate – a chip shot for sluggers.
Don Newcombe: Coming to the Coliseum and seeing this layout, the field layout, for pitchers, we knew we were gonna have a lot of fun. It wasn't gonna be nice fun sometimes, but we were gonna have a lot of fun.
Watt: That's legendary Dodger Pitcher Don Newcombe. The 81-year-old remembers standing on the wrong side of some at-bats, and realizing how... "intimate" the place could appear.
Newcombe: You wind up or bend over to get resin, and you look out into left field and could almost touch the left fielder, it seemed. You knew you could touch the shortstop, but it felt like you could touch the left fielder.
Watt: To keep home run balls in the park, the Dodgers erected a 40-foot-high screen that stretched from the foul pole to left center field. Still, it rained home runs during the four seasons the Dodgers played at the Coliseum. Most were hit by the other guys. The Dodgers plan to resurrect the screen for the exhibition game next March against the Boston Red Sox. This time, the screen will carry a logo for ThinkCure. That's the Dodgers' charity for cancer research, and proceeds from the game will go there.