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Field Trip of Dreams

jk

 Around the Major Leagues in 49 Days

Edison International Field (Angel Stadium)
Anaheim, CA
Texas Rangers at Anaheim Angels
July 3, 2003
 

By Ken Schlapp

My first order of business today is to check out the old stadium sites in the LA area.  Unfortunately, Wrigley Field Los Angeles is no longer there.  It was dismantled in 1969.  Yes, I said Wrigley Field, but not the friendly confines in Chicago, the Los Angeles version, which was also owned by the same Wrigley as in Chicago.  This was the long-time home of the Pacific League’s Los Angeles Angels and the home of the American League’s team of the same name during their inaugural season of 1961.  Afterwards, they moved to Dodger Stadium for 4 years, prior to moving into their current home at Edison International Field of Anaheim in 1966, although it was simply known as Anaheim Stadium then.  Since there is no known plaque or remnant of this stadium, I had to set my sights on the Los Angeles Coliseum.

When the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles in 1958, they had to play their first 4 seasons in the Los Angeles Coliseum, which was built for the 1932 Olympics.  Thankfully, this stadium is still standing and still in use by the USC Trojans for College Football.  Therefore, I was able to pay the Coliseum a visit.  I figured that I would make the 15 mile drive from Anaheim to Los Angeles at 11 AM to avoid traffic, but I was wrong.  Traffic was horrible at that time too and it took me over an hour to get there.  Unlike Candlestick Park, I was not able to get inside of this stadium.  It was closed that day and I could not find a contact to show me around.  I can say that what I could see from the outside was impressive.  There are statues of Jim McKay and others associated with the Olympics on the outside, plus 2 headless statues of a male and female, that 2 1984 Olympians posed for.  You can peer in from the outside as well and see how huge and majestic the Coliseum is, considering it does hold over 90,000 seats.  You definitely get that old Roman/Greek Olympic feel to the place.  I’ll have to find my way inside at a later date. Wink, wink.

OK, back to fight traffic again to make my way to Edison International Field of Anaheim.  I’ve been there before and loved the stadium as much this time as I had before.  The parking lot is huge and wide open so there is plenty of room to take full-stadium photos, of which I took many.  You can enter from left or right field entrances, but coming in from behind home plate is best.  The plaza in front is shaped and colored like a baseball diamond, with two giant Angels batting Helmets over 1st & 3rd bases to give shade to fans and promotional vendors.  Giant baseball bats and balls hold up the stadium name.  It’s one of the grander baseball stadium entrances that clearly just emanate baseball. 

When you make it inside, it is clear that the team embraces their history even though it is not nearly as long as the history of their neighbors up North in Los Angeles.  They are the defending 2002 World Champs and proudly have a display in the concourse behind the press box to highlight the exploits of the prior season.  In addition, they have a wall with the history of the team on a year-by-year basis from 1961 to the present.  Out in the Outfield under the Giant jumbotron, they have baseball plaques highlighting all of their retired numbers, including one of my favorite players in Rod Carew (29).  There is also a baseball plaque and retired number for Gene Autry (26).  They retired 26 in his honor because they considered him the 26th man on the team.  Unlike other owners, this actor/cowboy turned owner was clearly a beloved figure in the Angels community.

Autry is even recognized within the stadium’s food options, with the Autry’s Smokehouse BBQ.  There is a plethora of food chains within the stadium confines to settle your appetite, including Carls jr., Domino’s Pizza and Panda express.  Depending on the Angels success the fans can even get some free food.  If the Angels hit back-to-back home runs, you get Domino’s Pizza, and if they score 10 runs, you get free wings at Hooters.

The inside of the stadium is as beautiful as the outside.  The all green seats give the stadium a warm traditional, baseball feel.  In addition, there is a beautiful display with faux rocks and a waterfall beyond center field.  The rocks cover the picnic seating area (with a children play section) behind them from view during the game and fireworks shoot out from the rocks during the national anthem every game as the singer sings “and the rocket’s red glare!” and when an Angel player hits a home run.  Both bullpens are next to the rocks in left center field and are in full view for all fans to easily see who is warming up.  Beyond the outfield walls, the highways and mountains are in clear view and provide a nice background to the stadium.  You can also see the Pond, where the Anaheim Mighty Ducks play hockey beyond the parking lot as well.

Since this game is being played the day before the 4th of July, a lot of patriotism was incorporated into the entertainment.  It all started with a group of girl scouts saying the pledge of allegiance.  A military member lined up with each of the nine players on the field during introductions and the National Anthem, in which the previously mentioned fireworks were set off.  God Bless America was played during the 7th inning stretch prior to the more traditional Take Me Out to the Ballgame, which was played twice.  I have to say that I understand the song being played around the 4th, but as a rule it irks me.  I’m a traditionalist and the only religion I follow is baseball.  Therefore, the only song that should be played during the 7th inning stretch should be Take Me Out to the Ballgame and not some religious hymn.

The game itself got off to a great, but wet start, at least for me.  Hank Blalock was the 2nd batter of the game for the Rangers.  He promptly smacked a solo home run to right field just passed the outstretched right hand of this writer, while the left hand spilled some of a beer on the same writer’s legs without the benefit of a souvenir baseball.  The fan that did catch the ball threw it back the way they do at Wrigley Field, so the Angels have another tie with Wrigley Field.  This is also the only other stadium that I had ever seen fans throw back the opponents home run ball.   The Angels came right back in their half inning with two runs on a Darrin Erstad single, a Tim Salmon triple, and a Garret Anderson groundout, but that would be the Angels last lead of the game.

Blalock got things going again in the 3rd inning with a one-out double and later scored on Juan Gonzalez 2-run single.  Kevin Mench later added a 2-run double in the inning to cap off a 4-run inning and a 5-2 lead that they would not relinquish.  This inning knocked Angels starting pitcher Kevin Appier out of the game after giving up 5 runs in only 2 2/3 innings.  Blalock added another solo home run in the 6th inning, but this time without ruining my beer and soaking my legs, to finish the day 3-5 with 2 HRs, 1 2B, 3 Runs, and 2 RBI.

Even though their team was down, the Angel fans still showed a lot of life.  They constantly cheered “Here we go Angels, Here we go!” and kept their enthusiasm throughout the game.  The enthusiasm began to crescendo in the bottom of the 7th, when the House of Pain’s Jump Around started blaring through the speakers as the infamous Rally Monkey was unleashed to stir up the crowd.  The fans go nuts when the Rally Monkey comes out, and so did the Angels.  Bengie Molina led off with a solo Home Run and Benji Gil (attack of the Benjis) and Jeff Devannon followed with doubles to get within one at 6-5, but unfortunately for the Angel fans, the Angels were shut down (in order) from that point, and ended up losing 6-5. Even so, I saw a clear difference with the fans in this stadium being much more interested and excited about the game than the fans in Dodger Stadium.  There were still plenty of fans that came late and left early, but not as much.  I wonder if the fans are different here, or is it just that they are coming off a championship season.  It’s hard to tell, but Orange county fans do seem to be different than the LA fans.

One of the biggest things that stood out to me at this game though was Tim Salmon.  The fans seem to really love him here.  It’s no wonder why though, at the end of warm-up in each inning he threw the warm-up ball into the right field seats, so a fan could come away with a souvenir.  He was clearly aiming for specific kids each time.  So the start of every inning brought loads of excitement to all of the kids in the right field bleachers.  That was truly fun to watch.

On the way out of the stadium I looked over at the Big A, which is a tower like structure shaped like an A in Angels colors and design, with a halo on top.  The Big A can be seen from the highways and surrounding area.  The screen on the Big A gives current time and temperature as well as current and upcoming events at the stadium.  The most important think to notice though is that the halo is lit up after an Angel victory.  Unfortunately for the locals, the halo was left dark tonight.

Bottom line – If you’ve got the chance to make a game in Southern California, choose this one.  It’s a beautiful stadium with a great atmosphere with the fans and the players.

Basic trip facts:

-Stadium # 14
-Old Stadium Sites visited – Los Angeles Coliseum (Total – 9)
-Miles traveled – 67 via Car (Totals: Driving – 7,779, Subway - 20, Air - 3,196, Total – 11,015)
-States, provinces and/or commonwealths passed through – California  (Totals: States – 24, Provinces – 0, Commonwealths - 1)
-Seats –Section  P238, Row B, Seat 7 – Right Center Field Bleachers
-Prices: Parking – $8.00 (But I was able to park free in media lot), Beer - $5.00 - $6.75, Hot Dogs - $3.00 - $3.75,  Fish & Chips - $6.50 Program (including pencil) - $5.75, Souvenir Soda Cup – 4.50
-Credit Card giveaway – Angels Beach Towel
-First Pitch -  7:07 PM
-Attendance – 42,579
-Results – Rangers 6, Angles 5,  W – Tony Mounce, L – Kevin Appier, S – Ugueth Urbina
-Home team record to date – 8 wins, 9 losses
-Record of “team I was routing for” to date – 5 wins, 12 losses
-Lodging – Anaheim, California

 

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