Dodger Stadium During the Off-Season


img_1620I’ve always loved Dodger Stadium. Maybe its because its one of the three oldest MLB stadiums still in use. Maybe its because its all the way across the country in the Golden State, the land of stars, the land of milk and honey. Or, perhaps, its the the lure and lore of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Whatever the reason, there’s just something about Dodger Stadium and the Los Angeles Dodgers that always draws me in.

So, when I found myself in Los Angeles recently for a business trip, I had to visit Dodger Stadium. It didn’t matter that I’d been there before, or that it was the off season, or that I was with non-baseball fan coworkers. I had to make the pilgrimage.

img_1602What many folks might not know is that Dodger Stadium is open on days there are no games – even during the off-season. You simply enter at Gate A (Sunset Gate) at the corner of Vin Scully Avenue and Stadium Way. Inform the person at the gate that you want to visit the gift shop and follow his or her directions to get to Lot P (i.e., “follow the blue line”). Eventually you’ll end up at the top level of the stadium and can go right into the gift shop.

img_1615Just outside the gates is the retired numbers plaza, where you’ll see giant statues of the Dodgers’ retired numbers – chief among them is no. 42. To the left you’ll see a staircase that will take you down to the Left Field Reserve Level, where you’ll find the recently installed Jackie Robinson statue (more on that tomorrow). After visiting the gift shop, you can enter the stadium. An existential, life-affirming feeling will take hold of you as you soak it all in. You will be one with the baseball gods.

The Dodgers offer a variety of stadium tours and for select dates through March 4 have a pop-up museum commemorating their 60 years in Los Angeles.

~ baseballrebecca

Advertisements

Renaming of D.C. Stadium


Kennedy_First_Pitch
RFK’s brother, President John F. Kennedy, throws out the first pitch at D.C. Stadium, 1962

Forty-nine years ago, on January 18, 1969, the Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall announced that the District of Columbia Stadium would be renamed Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium in honor of the U.S. Senator and Presidential candidate who had been assassinated just 6 months earlier.

Because the stadium sits on Federal land, the Secretary of the Interior is essentially the stadium’s landlord. The District of Columbia, through a public-private partnership with Events DC, owns the stadium but leases the land from the National Park Service. Because of this, eight years earlier Secretary Udall was able to put pressure on the Washington Redskins, the only remaining NFL team that had not hired a Black player.

RFK stadium was home to the Washington Senators from 1962 to 1971. Baseball returned to Washington and RFK in 2005 when the Montreal Expos relocated to DC and became the Washington Nationals. The Nationals played there through the 2007 season. After more than 21 seasons at RFK Stadium, Major League Soccer’s D.C. United played their last game at the stadium in October 2017.

~ baseballrebecca

 

 

Groundbreaking for the Astrodome


BW_Photoprint_Dome_Construction
The Astrodome under construction in 1963. Photo courtesy of the Harris County Digital Archive

On January 3, 1962, ground was broken to begin construction of the Harris County Domed Stadium, later called the Houston Astrodome. The “Eighth Wonder of the World” opened three years later on Opening Day.

Unfortunately, today the Astrodome remains empty nearly 10 years after being closed because of code violations.  The National Trust for Historic Preservation continues to work with Harris County, TX, to find alternative uses for this historic stadium.

~ baseballrebecca

08721f3d1ebeff53e683def982233155
Plans for the Harris County Domed Stadium. Image courtesy of Harris County Archives via http://omeka.astrodomememories.org/.

 

Got Gingerbread?


As preparations are underway for the upcoming holidays, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Minor League Baseball each shared photos of what have to be the best gingerbread houses – or rather, stadiums – EVER!

Enjoy!

~ baseballrebecca

Abandoned Before It Was Empty


Screenshot-2017-10-23 Instagram post by Andy Saavedra • Oct 20, 2017 at 1 35pm UTC
This photo doesn’t quite capture the peeling paint and ugly green fence around the stadium, nor does it show the overgrown parking lots all around RFK Stadium in Washington, DC.

I drive past RFK Stadium nearly every day on the way to my day job (except for those days I decide to take the route that goes by Nats Park instead). It always makes me sad to see the once proud stadium in front of me with its peeling paint and overgrown parking lots. I feel as though its been calling out for help for quite some time now.

On Sunday, my friends and I made a pilgrimage to say our goodbyes to the beautiful, circular stadium that once was home to the Washington Senators, the Washington Nationals, and other teams of the Nation’s Capitol. Here are some of the appalling things we saw on the inside:

The first thing I noticed was weird stuff hanging off of the ceiling – is this peeling paint? weird dust bunnies? This was apparent before we even entered the stadium.

 

Once inside, the concrete and metal walkways immediately took me back to some of my favorite stadiums – like Memorial Stadium in Baltimore and Municipal Stadium in Cleveland – stadiums that no one else seemed to appreciate much. Even the then-state-of-the-art video screen on the concourse was pretty darn cool.

 

The peeling paint and nearly rotting seats, however, were quite appalling.

 

And the abandoned media suite – or whatever that was way up there – was just downright creepy.

dscn6319.jpg

But perhaps saddest of all, were the dugouts left over from the stadium’s baseball days – no longer used for their original purpose, but still proud of their history.

 

 

The conspiracy theorist in me naturally assumes this was all done on purpose: “If You Don’t Fix It, They Won’t Come.” In other words, don’t bother with upkeep, because folks want a fancy new stadium anyway and the sooner the old one falls apart, the sooner we can have a new one. But even if its big and outdated, its still a perfectly good stadium. Its not the stadium’s fault that its been treated rather shabbily since the Washington Nationals moved out.

As I’ve said before, there’s nothing sadder than an abandoned ballpark. Whatever the reasons for its virtual abandonment before it ceased to be used, my heart aches for RFK Stadium, whom I will always miss.

~ baseballrebecca

 

 

 

Goodbye, RFK Stadium


800px-RFK_Stadium_aerial_photo,_looking_towards_Capitol,_1988
Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium in Washington, DC, ca. 1988 (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)
On Sunday, we said goodbye to Washington, D.C.’s RFK Stadium. For now, it’s future is unclear, but at least for the next year or so it will still house the practice fields of the D.C. United soccer team, who will be moving to their shiny new soccer-only stadium next year.

It’s always hard to say goodbye – especially to a baseball stadium. Of course, baseball hasn’t been played there in a while, but I will always remember it for the baseball games and rock concerts I attended there in my youth.

RFK opened on October 7, 1961. It was home to the Washington Senators from 1962 to 1971, and the Washington Nationals from 2005 to 2007. (And other sports that aren’t nearly as important as baseball.) It also hosted the occasional pre-season exhibition game in the 1980s and 1990s (before the Nationals came to town), as well as Congressional Baseball games. Sadly, I only ever saw one Nats game there before they moved across town to Nats Park.

This past week, several media outlets published sentimental send-offs for our beloved RFK Stadium. Below are links to just a few:

  • Baseball Digest, “End of an Era at RFK Stadium”
  • WTOP, “‘Best Day Ever’: Baseball’s best moments at RFK from the Senators to the Nats”
  • Cut4, “Looking back at five great baseball moments at RFK Stadium”
  • The Washington Post, “At beer-soaked, grimy old RFK Stadium, one last hurrah”

Speaking of grimy and old, tomorrow I’ll share pictures of just how poorly the stadium has been treated over the past few years.

~ baseballrebecca

 

Stat-urday, 4/13/17


This is a great infographic from the Orioles providing stats on the first 2,000 games played at Camden Yards: