Dodgers to battle Red Sox at Coliseum
Exhibition game to benefit team's official charity, ThinkCure
LOS ANGELES -- When the Dodgers moved out of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and into Dodger Stadium in 1962 it was believed that the Coliseum -- constructed in the the 1920s for football and track and field -- would never again host another baseball game.
Forty-six years later, the Dodgers will return to the Coliseum one more time to play an exhibition game with the world champion Boston Red Sox as part of the organization's 50th anniversary celebration of its move to Los Angeles. Executives from the Dodgers and Red Sox joined local politicians and former players at a news conference, hosted by legendary broadcaster Vin Scully at the Coliseum on Monday to announce the event.
"It's going to be so much fun next March 29," said Dodgers chairman Frank McCourt. "There's already a great buzz about it. It's just a pleasure. I think Senator Mark Ridley Thomas had a great idea and we just jumped on the opportunity. It's going to be a special, special night here in LA, not only to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the team's arrival in LA, but the proceeds are going to go to ThinkCure, our new official charity."
It's estimated that the Dodgers will spend around $250,000 to build temporary dugouts for the game as well as erect a longer and larger metal curtain in left field, dubbed the "Chinese curtain" from 1958-61 when the Dodgers called the Coliseum home. The curtain was created to prevent pop flies from becoming home runs because the dimensions of the Coliseum made left field 251 feet away from home plate. New Dodgers manager Joe Torre remembers being enticed by the curtain when he played in the Coliseum in 1961 as a member of the Milwaukee Braves.
"You run out of that tunnel behind home plate and you look up at that screen and you say, 'Oh my Lord, this looks like its pretty easy,'" recalled Torre about his only series at the Coliseum. "I've never been a pull hitter, but I tried being a pull hitter that weekend and I think I got one single that skimmed down the fence -- and I think it was off [Sandy] Koufax, but it certainly didn't hurt anybody."
Another former player with ties to the Coliseum is former Dodgers great Maury Wills, who, in his 1959 rookie season, helped the team win the World Series.
"I guess I remember looking up one time at the crowd and it was 90-something thousand people," recalls Wills. "I swore I'd never do that again and just concentrate on the field, because that would unnerve you."
"I think that's going to be fun," said McCourt. "Both for people who were here to experience Dodger baseball at the Coliseum. I think it will bring back fond memories and those who only heard about it, they will get to experience for themselves as well and I think that will be great."
Another person who thinks the exhibition game will be great is Red Sox chairman Tom Werner, who was a longtime Dodgers season ticket holder when he lived in Los Angeles for 30 years and made a name for himself as as a successful television producer of such shows as "The Cosby Show," "Roseanne" and "A Different World."
"This is a great year for the Dodgers," said Werner. "The Dodgers, as you know, are a historic franchise -- as important as any franchise in baseball, including the Red Sox -- and for Frank and Jamie to celebrate the 50th anniversary by playing in the Coliseum is great."
The Dodgers will be donating net proceeds from the game to their official charity, ThinkCure. Launched in July by the Dodgers, the McCourt family, City of Hope and Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, ThinkCure is dedicated to raising funds for critical cancer research and ultimately finding a cure for cancer. The non-profit organization follows in the footsteps of The Jimmy Fund, which was started in 1948 and is one of the most enduring and successful charities of its kind and is supported by the Red Sox. The McCourt family has been associated with The Jimmy Fund since its inception when Frank McCourt's grandfather, Francis McCourt, was a part owner of the Boston Braves.
The game at the Coliseum will be sandwiched between games with the Red Sox on March 28 and 30 at Dodger Stadium. Ticket information for all three games will be announced at a later date.
"This will be dynamite, it really will," said Torre. "Just to know the history of the Dodgers coming out here, their being in Brooklyn for so many years and to have the good fortune of playing the Red Sox. I'm sort of used to playing the Red Sox for the last 12 years and to have the world champs come out here to commemorate that great date and that great event, I think is very special and I expect to see a few people in this ballpark."
Ben Platt is a national correspondent for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.