LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA,
APRIL 7, 1958
Many football games have been played in stadiums built for baseball, but not too many baseball games have been played in stadiums made for football. What the Dodgers had to do to the
Memorial Coliseum on this date in 1958 is a big reason why. Before the National League franchise in LAn could play the first official game west of
they had a problem to deal with. The left field fence at their home "ball park" was only 250-feet from home plate, sufficient for 12-inch softball, but undersized for major league baseball. They had to erect a 42-foot screen in left field, 5-feet higher than Boston's Green Monster, to cut down on home runs.
The Dodgers spent four years in the LA Coliseum waiting for Dodger Stadium in Chavez Ravine to be completed. Being more rectangular than square, the home of Los Angeles Rams of the National Football League was ill-suited for baseball. No matter which corner home plate was put, either left or right field was going to have a short fence.
Dodger outfield Wally Moon learned to lift relatively short fly balls over the left field screen for home runs, hence the name “Moon shots.”
There was a distinct advantage playing in a mammoth coliseum however. The L.A. Coliseum still holds the record for the biggest crowd to watch a major league baseball game—92,706 fans saw Game 5 of the 1959 World Series between the Dodgers and the Chicago White Sox. The Coliseum also hosted the 1959 baseball all-star game.
Dodger Attendance (MLB ranking)
1958 1,845,556 (2nd)
1959 2,071,045 (1st)
1960 2,253,887 (1st)
1961 1,804,250 (1st)
As much as Dodger fans poured into the Coliseum from 1958 to ’61, they liked the new Dodger Stadium more when it opened in ‘62. A major league attendance record (since surpassed) was set with 2,755,184 fans.