The Los Angeles Dodgers stand for the first National Anthem at Dodger Stadium prior to their season opener against the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday, April 10, 1962. The Dodgers lost to the Reds, 6-3, in front of 52,564 fans. You rip one out of the park here and you’ve really earned it,” Dodger Coach Leo Durocher raved. “This is what I call a ballpark.”
Dodger Stadium, the third oldest ballpark in the major leagues, is 50 years old this season. Here's what it looks like today. Let's see what led up to its grand opening on April 10, 1962.
The Dodgers began playing in Los Angeles in 1958. The team played its first four seasons on the West Coast at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. On Sept. 17, 1959, the Dodgers broke ground on the new Dodger Stadium, two-and-a-half years before the first game was played there.
What to expect
The Line Drives newsletter from April 1959 touts plans for the new Dodger Stadium, calling it the Home of Tomorrow and promising that "there will not be a single column obstructing the vision of the fans."
Envisioning the future
Dodger vice presidents Fresco Thompson and Dick Walsh survey the Dodger Stadium construction site in 1960. Dodger Stadium was the first MLB ballpark since the initial construction of Yankee Stadium to be built using 100 percent private financing.
The construction site is shown in 1961. The city of Los Angeles purchased the Chavez Ravine property back from the Federal Housing Authority, with the stipulation that it be used for public purpose. On June 3, 1958, LA voters approved a "Taxpayers Committee for Yes on Baseball" referendum and the Dodgers acquired 352 acres of Chavez Ravine from the city.
Surveying the site
Dodgers outfielder Ron Fairly and manager Walter Alston tour the Dodger Stadium construction site in 1961. Dodger Stadium would also be home to the Los Angeles Angels from 1962-65. The Angels called the park Chavez Ravine.
Larry Sherry, Norm Sherry, Ron Fairly, Jack Yount of Vinnell Constructors (front row) go over the plans with Dodgers vice president Dick Walsh and manager Walter Alston.
An aerial view of Dodger Stadium shows the construction of the outfield pavilions on March 2, 1962, less than six weeks before those stands would be filled with cheering fans.
Dodger President Walter O’Malley (center) holds his grandson, John Seidler, during the dedication ceremonies for Dodger Stadium on April 12, 1962. Also in attendance: O’Malley’s daughter, Terry Seidler, with her son Peter Seidler, architect Emil Praeger and Walter's wife, Kay O’Malley. Kay and Walter were also parents to Peter O'Malley. When Dodger Stadium opened, Kay threw out the ceremonial first pitch to catcher John Roseboro.
Key to the castle
During ceremonies on April 9, 1962, MLB Commissioner Ford Frick, Dodger president Walter O’Malley and National League president Warren Giles officially opened the Dodgers' new home. An estimated 5,000 fans in the grandstands enjoyed the sneak preview of the new Dodger Stadium the day before Opening Day. “It’s the most gorgeous thing I’ve seen in my life,” said Dodger shortstop Maury Wills.
The cover of the 1962 Dodger Yearbook illustrates how “all roads lead to Dodger Stadium.”
Holders of a commemorative ticket for the first game at Dodger Stadium saw the home team take on the Reds at 1 p.m. on on April 10, 1962. The Dodgers opened the ballpark at 10 a.m. to help fans avoid traffic congestion. Dodger organist Bob Mitchell and Johnny Boudreau’s band entertained the early arrivals. Stadium workers painted the outfield grass with a vegetable dye, which turned the baseballs a shade of green during batting practice. Renowned tenor Alma Pedroza sang the national anthem at 12:45 p.m.
Get your program!
The cover of the 1962 Opening Day program is a self-portrait of artist Nicolas Volpe enjoying a Dodger Dog, a ballpark treat fans still clamor for. During the public dedication ceremonies, broadcaster Vin Scully raved about the acoustics of Dodger Stadium, which boasted a stereo-equipped public address system.