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Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history

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The Ghosts of Wrigley Field, January 24, 1969

Wrigley_field_1944_1004_final
Photograph by Hal Moulin / Los Angeles Times

Wrigley Field, Oct. 3, 1944, as the San Francisco Seals defeat the L.A. Angels.


"Roadside Baseball" looks
at Wrigley Field
1969_0124_john_hall



John Hall wrote a couple of columns bidding farewell to Los Angeles' Wrigley Field.

"It was another time, another place. It was Wrigley Field, 1925-1969, may it rest in peace. The demolition crews are at work and the creaky old place at 42nd and Avalon will soon be nothing but a vacant lot, " Hall wrote.

Wrigley Field had been home to the minor league Angels and for a year the expansion major league Angels. There were memorable brawls with their crosstown rivals, the Hollywood Stars, who also called Wrigley home for a few seasons early in the stadium's life. The ballpark also had been the site for prize fights, football games and countless other high-profile events.

A 1925 photo in The Times showed William Wrigley Jr. with his new ballpark being finished behind him. "There are several novel features ... Yes brothers, it's going to be some plant," The Times promised.

Movies such as "The Pride of the Yankees" were filmed there as was television's "Home Run Derby".

Then-Angels publicist George Goodale was the voice of Hall's Jan. 24 column, for good reason. Goodale worked for the Pacific Coast League Angels and "researched and recorded every game of note in Angel history dating back to 1903."

Among the memories: Wrigley Field was the first place all three DiMaggio brothers--Joe, Dom and Vince--played together on the same field, according to Goodale.

And there was a game the Angels lost to the Hollywood Stars. "My lowest ebb was the time the Stars had a 15-0 lead," Goodale told Hall. "[Fred] Haney was the Hollywood manager and he squeezed home the 16th run."

Wrigley_field_1969_0319_final

Photograph by Cal Montney / Los Angeles Times
Stanley Evans, left, and Kenneth Thompson visit Wrigley Field as it is being demolished, in a photo published March 21, 1969.

The Angels played there in 1961 and fittingly, a former minor league Angel star closed out the ballpark's season in the majors. Steve Bilko, who hit 56 home runs with the Angels in 1957, homered in the last home game of 1961.

"Now that thing called progress is taking it away for good," Hall wrote.

His Jan. 29 column focused on the plans for the area, which included a community health center that would "rise and breathe where the ivy on the ballpark fences once climbed and reached for the same sun."

--Keith Thursby

 
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Comments (3)

Demolition, far from being progress. was the act of a city in the fifties through the seventies bent on tearing up its past. Anything old was deemed 'old fashion' and destroyed. Often nothing of note was erected in the place of history.

Imagine Chicago tearing down its Wrigley Field to make a parking lot? Unthinkable. But in Los Angeles of the era, destruction seemed a civic duty.

Actually, Wrigley Field in Chicago and Fenway Park in Boston are the two exceptions. Definitely not the rule with sports stadiums in the United States.

The original Yankee Stadium in New York, baseball's greatest shrine is slated to be demolished. YANKEE STADIUM!!!

Sports stadiums in the United States get recycled every thirty years or so now. Sports stadiums built during the 1960's and 1970's have been abandoned and demolished in favor of newer stadiums.

The most extreme example is the RCA Dome in Indianapolis, IN. Opened for the NFL Colts in 1984 and demolished after only 24 years later in 2008 when the Colts moved to a brand new Lucas Oil Stadium. 24 years!

The Colosseum in Rome is nearly two thousand years old. It would have been imploded long ago if it were in the United States.

Los Angeles sports facilities are relatively old compared to some other cities. The Memorial Coliseum and the Rose Bowl date back to the 1920's. Dodger Stadium is the third oldest major league baseball stadium.

I went to see an Angels game at Wrigley with my dad in 1961. The Angels were playing the Detroit Tigers that night. If I recall correctly, I actually saw players walking through the stands to get to the playing field: I especially remember Tigers pitcher Don Mossi walking past me in uniform, and with his homely face (which made Lincoln's appear photogenic in comparison) and his gangly gait, he is not someone you'd easily forget.

Anyway, that's how I remember Wrigley. Does anyone know if players actually trudged through the stands in uniform to reach the dugouts at Wrigley? Or is this just an aberrant memory of mine?


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