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Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum

Built in 1932 for the Summer Olympics (the only stadium prior to 1977 to host both major league baseball and the Summer Olympics), the stadium was a true coliseum, with the famous torch and scoreboard (called the "peristyle") on the one end, the track around the perimeter of the stadium, and all that. When Walter O'Malley moved his Dodgers to Los Angeles, there was no suitable place for the team to play. His make-shift solution was to put the Dodgers in the Coliseum while Dodger Stadium was being built.

The Coliseum is now home of the USC Trojans and is the former home of the Los Angeles Rams and L.A. Raiders of the NFL, and let's just face it – the park wasn't cut out for baseball.

The distances to the left field foul line and left power alley, respectively, were the shortest distances since Lake Front Park II in Chicago.

A dinky little line shot to left was only 251 feet, and even with a 42-foot screen in front, it couldn't keep cheap home runs from being hit over the shortest home run distance in any park in the 20th century.

The center field bleacher seats were 190 or so feet away from the permanent seats, which, if the field had extended to the permanent seats, would have made for an unthinkable 575 foot distance to home plate.

Still, an exhibition game there on May 8, 1959, between the Dodgers and New York Yankees drew a paid attendance of 93,101, the largest crowd ever at a baseball game. The event benefited legendary Dodger catcher Roy Campanella, who was paralyzed in a 1958 car accident. The Dodgers also attracted 92,706, the most ever to an official Major League game, in October 1959 for a World Series game against the Chicago White Sox.

The Dodgers left the park to the Rams and Trojans in 1962 when Dodger Stadium was completed.

The January 1994 earthquake that rocked Los Angeles did major but reparable damage to the Coliseum; repairs were made in time for USC to continue to use the stadium for football that fall.

The park has hosted the Super Bowl (1967), the All-Star Game (1959, the first All-Star Game held west of Saint Louis), the World Series (that same year), and the XFL Million Dollar Game (2001 – the only such game in the league's abbreviated history).

A renovated Coliseum could be the site of a future NFL expansion team in L.A., but bickering between competing ownership groups have clouded the issue – as did the decision to award the 2002 NFL expansion franchise to Houston.

 

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Tagged:
Ball Parks of Yesterday, Baseball History, Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum

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