On May 3rd, 1957. Walter O’Malley broke the hearts of the Brooklyn faithful by announcing that the following year the beloved Bums from the borough of Brooklyn would be moving out West. The skies were certainly gloomy over Ebbets Field. But out West the sun glimmered with excitement. The glitz and the glamour of Hollywood awaited the Boys of Summer.
It didn’t take long for the Dodgers to make their impact felt. A year after their move out West. They won their first World Series as the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1959. For the first time since 1948, a World Series wasn’t played in New York. It was a historical World Series, in which it broke attendance records as 92,706 baseball fans filled the LA Memorial Coliseum for game 5 as a record breaking crowd, that holds to this day.
Everything seemed right for LA at the time, but they were just missing a place to call home. As big as the Coliseum was, it just wasn’t baseball. Walter O’Malley sailed the skies of Los Angeles and saw “Chavez Ravine” a beautiful mountaintop that overlooked Los Angeles. It truly was the perfect setting for a team that for a long time of struggle was finally on top.
On April 10 1962, the gates opened to Dodger Stadium. A 56,000 seat baseball cathedral. As Hall of Fame Dodgers Manager, Tommy Lasorda calls it: “Blue Heaven on Earth”. Surrounded by beautiful hills and palm trees, the Dodgers had finally arrived home.
Fast Forward 50 years, on April 10, 2012 the gates to Dodger Stadium will reopen once again. The history, the magic and memories will be revisited once again. If the outfield walls could speak, if the players’ tunnels would echo, if you could hear the chatter in the dugout. If you could feel the warmth in the bullpen, if you could feel the energy in the stands. There has been a lot of moments within these walls in this quiet mountaintop. From Koufax’s perfection, to Valenzuela’s No-No. Gibson’s magic, to Vin Scully. From Walter Alston, to Tommy Lasorda. Gold Glovers and Silver Sluggers. Stealing bases to grand slams. Many moments and many players have passed by here on their way to Cooperstown.
It’s been 50 years. Times have certainly changed, but the anticipation, the excitement, the unexplainable feeling of joy to walk into Dodger Stadium remains the same. New generations and old generations will come together on that April afternoon, as they did 50 years ago, and LA’s baseball diamond jewel will shine brighter than ever.
The days seem slow, April seems eternal. Each day we wake up, it’s a day closer to Opening Day. Before we know it, it will be upon us.
Los Angeles was and is the perfect fit for this team. From Brooklyn Bums to Hollywood Stars. A rags to riches story.
They say Home is where the Heart is, and on April 10th. We will all be going Home…to the heart of LA…Dodger Stadium.
Many children work hard to please their parents, but what I truly longed for was good times that were about us, not about me. That is the real hole the Dodgers filled in my life. -Gil Hodges