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Dodger parking

March 31, 2008 |  4:17 pm

By Keith Thursby
Times Staff Writer

There’s a long line of people willing and able to criticize the Dodgers for the traffic mess at the Coliseum Saturday. But what could people have expected?

Unless you’ve been under a rock for a few days, you know that more than 115,000 people crammed in and around the Coliseum to see the Dodgers play the Red Sox. The Dodgers provided free shuttle service to the Coliseum and back from Dodger Stadium and depending on the newspaper or blogger, it was a disaster or worse.

We did fine.

I left my home in Irvine on Saturday with my two teenage sons at about noon. The plan was to have lunch and get to Dodger Stadium by 2. We arrived right on time to find few people and several buses waiting for baseball fans.

Yes, it was ridiculously early for a 7 p.m. game. But we had 115,000 reasons for getting there so early.

We got to the Coliseum about 3 and waded through the thousands already there. Clearly we weren’t the only people arriving early. We got into the stadium a little after 4 and saw the real baseball highlight of the night, batting practice.

We cheered Vin Scully, ate overpriced junk food and had a good time with our friends. But we couldn’t help but notice all the late-comers. We started hearing stories all around us about people delayed by the long lines at Dodger Stadium.

Los Angeles Examiner Negatives Collection in the the Regional History Collection of USC Libraries

The Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants on opening day at the Coliseum, April 18, 1958, from "Mobsters, Molls, and Mayhem: A Year in the Life of Los Angeles" at the Doheny Library.

So we decided the easiest thing to do was abandon ship. We lasted five innings, enough to soak in the weirdness of baseball at the Coliseum and the drunks and the near-fights and the knuckleheads throwing peanuts at every Red Sox fan who walked by.

We got to the bus line at 9 and nearly an hour later we were on the way back to Dodger Stadium. It wasn’t pretty or efficient but for a crowd that big, it was pretty peaceful. We were back in Irvine before midnight.

We didn’t want to leave the game early, but figured it was our only option. And we weren’t complaining. This was free parking and transportation, after all, even if it was messy.

I don’t have any baseball memories of the Coliseum. My memories are the 1984 Olympics, the Rams and Notre Dame or UCLA against USC. But we wanted to experience Saturday’s event.

So it was beyond crowded. Too many lines and too little baseball (can’t remember the last time we left anything early). But my kids and I knew it wouldn’t be perfect, just something we can say we did.