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Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history

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Starring Wrigley Field



1958_0527_damn_pix_2

May 27, 1958

By Keith Thursby
Times staff writer

1958_0527_damn_page Even without a team, Wrigley Field was always ready for its closeup.

The ballpark had more than its share of film and TV credits during its years in Los Angeles, from the "The Pride of the Yankees" to "The Munsters."  Wrigley Field also was the location for the television show "Home Run Derby," where major league hitters competed for up to $2,000 an episode. Yes, it was a long time ago.

In 1958, Wrigley Field became a location for the musical "Damn Yankees."  The story focused on a longtime Washington Senators fan who gets his wish and is transformed into a slugger leading the hapless Senators past the hated Yankees. Of course, it's not that simple and there's dancing and singing.

Writing in The Times, Jeane Hoffman pokes some fun at the Dodgers while describing the action. Writes Hoffman: "There was the thought that the Dodgers, lounging in last place, might profitably emulate ... the dancing on toes, split leaps and graceful whirls. But then things are bad enough."

Hoffman mentions star Tab Hunter as the only "player" who looked at home on a baseball field. Also noticed was Bob Fosse, a 30-year-old dancer taking Casey Stengel's place as manager of the Yankees. Calls himself a choreographer, Hoffman writes.

You could say that. He eventually won eight Tony Awards for choreography, another for direction, and won an Academy Award as best director for "Cabaret".

As for the Senators and Yankees, the real variety returned to Wrigley Field in 1961 when the Angels played their first season in Los Angeles.

keith.thursby@latimes.com



 
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