Los Angeles's Historic Ballparks (Images of America)
Baseball's long and storied history in Los Angeles has been played at venues including the turn-of-the-century Chutes Park, which was part of an amusement park, as well as Gilmore Field, where the Hollywood Stars played, and Wrigley Field, where many movies and television shows were filmed. The 1923-vintage Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum became the Dodgers' first home in California in 1958, when they moved from Brooklyn. Greater Los Angeles also featured professional baseball at Olive Memorial Stadium in Burbank, Brookside Park in Pasadena, on Catalina Island, plus at numerous diamonds throughout Orange and Riverside Counties, where legends including Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, and Connie Mack appeared. Most fans know Dodger Stadium and Angel Stadium, but many other historic ballparks existed in Southern California. Their images are collected together here for the first time.
has undergone not one but two major overhauls. And while many fans around the country may not consider “The Big A” a classically historic field, consider this: as of this writing, it is the fourth-oldest ballpark in use today in the major leagues—right behind Dodger Stadium, now the third-oldest. (Fenway Park in Boston and Chicago’s Wrigley Field are, of course, the first- and second-oldest MLB parks still in use.) In addition to photographs from my personal collection, in this book you’ll be
treated to some stunning and rare images from several generous individuals. In several cases, these images are being presented publicly for the first time; I hope they take your breath away as they did mine. Joe DiMaggio at Wrigley Field, Walter Johnson and Babe Ruth at the old Brea Bowl—I still cannot believe my good fortune in being able to include many of these pictures in this book. The L.A. area may not be able to claim the well-known baseball history of the East Coast, but it does boast
funds from the Federal Housing Act of 1949. The city had planned to develop the Elysian Park Heights public housing project, which included two dozen 13-story buildings and more than 160 two-story townhouses, in addition to newly rebuilt playgrounds and schools. Those plans changed, however, when L.A. voters approved a “Taxpayers Committee for Yes on Baseball” referendum. This allowed the Dodgers to acquire 352 acres of Chavez Ravine from the city. This diagram of a proposed Dodger Stadium plan
is seen at left. The view from home plate at Olive Memorial, below, looked off toward the San Gabriel Mountains. The grandstand at Olive Memorial looked like this (above) just days before it was razed. One of the plaques affixed to the outer stadium wall at Olive Memorial Stadium is seen at right. This panorama of Olive Memorial was shot on the day the stadium was destroyed. Some of the Olive Memorial artifacts from a 2001 display are seen here. The exterior of the Olive Memorial Stadium
who tormented his manager and fiancée with alibis and excuses for all of his strange habits.) On October 31, 1924, Babe Ruth and Walter Johnson played a barnstorming game in Brea that has become a solid part of the area’s folklore. Sponsored by the Anaheim Elks Club, the game was a homecoming of sorts for Johnson, who grew up in the neighboring oil town of Olinda. A crowd of nearly 5,000 attended the game in Brea Bowl field, an incredible number given that nearby Anaheim’s total population back