In its 49 years, Dodger Stadium has been the site of plenty of great baseball and legendary baseball players, record attendance and very few rainouts.
The stadium hosted World Series games in 1963, 1965, 1966, 1974, 1977, 1978, 1981 and 1988, including the title-clinching game in 1963. Major League Baseball staged the All Star Game in 1980. In 2009 it was the site of the semi finals and finals of the World Baseball Classic, and in 1984 was the stage for Summer Olympics baseball, as a demonstration sport.
Sandy Koufax threw a perfect game at Dodger Stadium in 1965, as did Montreal’s Dennis Martinez in 1991. Kirk Gibson hit one of the most famous World Series home runs there in 1988. Fernando Tatis of St. Louis cracked 2 grand slams in one inning in Dodger Stadium in 1999.
Hall of Fame Dodgers who played or managed at Chavez Ravine--the alternate name stuck after it was adopted by the L.A. Angels because of the “Dodger” in the stadium name—include managers Walter Alston and Tommy Lasorda, pitchers Don Drysdale, Sandy Koufax and Don Sutton.
Other Hall of Famers who played for the Dodgers in Dodger Stadium, but whose primary HOF team was not the Dodgers, include Jim Bunning, Gary Carter, Juan Marichal, Eddie Murray, Frank Robinson, Rickey Henderson and Hoyt Wilhelm. Dodgers greats who played at Dodger Stadium and have yet to crack the HOF include base-stealing shortstop Maury Wills, first baseman Steve Garvey, pitchers Orel Hershiser and Valenzuela, catcher Mike Piazza, third baseman Ron Cey, left fielder Tommy Davis, and outfielder Gibson.
The Dodgers took up residence five years after the franchise relocated from Brooklyn. Built for $23 million on 300 acres in Chavez Ravine, it was the first 100% privately-financed stadium since the original Yankee Stadium and the last until San Francisco’s AT&T Park in 2000. In 1978, on the strength of a team that made the World Series for a second-straight year, the stadium became the first in the major leagues to host more than 3 million fans in a season. The feat recurred in 1980, and the team drew more than 3 million fans from 1983-1986, 1990-91, in 1993 and from 1996-2009.
The third-oldest active stadium (Fenway, Wrigley) is also the largest in the league by capacity (56,000). It rarely has rainouts due to dry Southern California summers; from its opening to 1976 there was one, in 1967. The major league record for homes games without a rainout is 856, set by the Dodgers from April, 1988 to April, 1999. The only time there have been consecutive rainouts was three straight in 1988.
As for the dimensions of Dodger Stadium, perhaps the most telling stat is that eight pitchers have thrown 11 no-hitters there, including two perfect games—Montreal’s Dennis Martinez did the trick in 1991. The Angels’ Bo Belinsky threw the first no-hitter at the stadium, in 1962, followed by four from Koufax (1962, 1963, 1964 and 1965), Bill Singer (1970), Fernando Valenzuela (1990), Martinez, Kevin Gross (1992), Kent Mercker (1994) and Ramon Martinez (1995). Only two players have hit for the cycle at the stadium.
The power alleys are 385 feet while center field is 400. It is 330 feet down both lines. Because the original foul poles were discovered to be actually foul, home plate was moved 10 feet closer to center field in 1969. The move’s potential effect on home runs was offset by the increased foul territory. Also, during evening games, the air quickly cools, making the air more dense and knocking down balls that might be home runs in the daytime. Recent expansion of box seat area and a reduction of foul territory has moved the park’s rating closer to neutral--neither a hitter or a pitcher’s park.
The views at sunset of the San Gabriel Mountains beyond the outfield are breathtaking, and only possible because the team has never acted on the expansion of the grandstand to the outfield, which could make capacity 85,000, as included in the stadium’s original plans.
Even the parking lots and landscaping at Chavez Ravine are something to behold. There is room for 16,000 cars on 21 terraced levels that correspond with the six levels of seating. Thirty-four hundred trees cover 300 acres and are maintained by a full-time staff of gardeners. The stadium is painted each offseason.
Notable stadium features include the twin wavy roofs over each outfield pavilion; strobe lights added in 1999 go off when the Dodgers take the field, for Dodger home runs and Dodger wins; and retired numbers mounted below the pavilion roofs, including those of Koufax, Drysdale, Sutton, Lasorda, and Alston and Brooklyn Dodgers Pee Wee Reese, Jackie Robinson, Duke Snider, Jim Gilliam, Roy Campanella and Jackie Robinson.
The stadium itself had seen little renovation until the 21st century. A new scoreboard, video board and control room arrived in 2003. In 2004, the team added seats that were closer to home plate than is the pitcher’s mound, the dugouts moved 20 feet closer to the field, and new seats took up some space down the foul lines. Nearly all seats were replaced in the 2005 offseason. The team announced in 2008 a $500 million project that deals mainly with the outside of the stadium—walkways, a museum, restaurants.
The field had a major makeover after the 1995 season. The turf and technology combined to make Dodger Stadium the favorite field of major leaguers, according to a 2003 Sports Illustrated poll.
Non-Dodgers fans will remember Dodger Stadium best for Gibson’s walk-off home run in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series versus Oakland’s dominant reliever Dennis Eckersley. Gibson, on the bench with an injury, pinch-hit the winning blast to fuel the underdog Dodgers’ Series win. It is one of the most famous and recognizable highlights in baseball history.
On the opposite end of the spectrum was the Aug. 10, 1995 game against the Cardinals. When fans halted play by throwing their souvenir baseballs onto the field a third time (Dodgers ejections and the teasing of a Cards outfielder were the causes for the two previous ball-tossings), the umpires forfeited the game to the visitors with 1 out in the Dodger ninth. It was the first forfeit in the National League in 41 years.
Dodger Stadium has also hosted Pope John Paul II’s celebration of Mass on Sept. 16, 1987. Concerts include KISS, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, The Bee Gees, Elton John, Simon and Garfunkel, Michael Jackson, David Bowie, Genesis, Eric Clapton, U2, the Dave Matthews Band, and Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. In 1994, internationally renowned tenors Jose Carreras, Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti reunited for a concert performance entitled, “Encore - The
Three Tenors” with conductor Zubin Mehta.
The Dodgers headed into 2010 having lost the National League Championship Series in 2008 and 2009. A third straight postseason at Dodger Stadium was in doubt however, as San Francisco and San Diego fielded strong teams as well and were ahead of the Dodgers in the standings as August began.