By Bryan Jeon
Saturday night’s exhibition game between the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers was held at the L.A. Coliseum in commemoration of the Dodgers’ 50th year anniversary since their move from Brooklyn. All 115,300 seats were sold, breaking the previous record of about 114,000 during the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. (Vin Scully, who was calling the game, advised the viewers that there was an Olympic event at the stadium right after the baseball game and that fans poured in early, setting the then-record attendance in the later innings. Scully moved with the Dodgers from Brooklyn in 1958.)
The Coliseum, which was built for track and football and not baseball, vastly changed the dynamics of the game. In 1958, the left-field foul pole was 251 feet with a 42-foot screen while for this game, it was set at just 201 feet with a 60-foot screen. (In comparison, the Green Monster at Fenway Park is about 310 feet from home with a 37-foot wall.) Meanwhile, right field was the exact opposite, standing almost 500 feet from home plate. This had Andruw Jones, the Dodgers’ center fielder, standing just behind second base to provide them with a fifth infielder and Jason Varitek before the start of the game to joke, “Dodgers 85, Red Sox 81.”
The Red Sox won 7-4 with each team hitting two home runs. They jumped out to a 7-1 lead after Tim Wakefield outpitched Esteban Loaiza and to show some ethnic but unbiased loyalty, I will say that Chan Ho Park, who is fighting to be on the 25-man roster for the Dodgers, showed mostly great control in the 2 and 2/3 innings pitched in relief of Loaiza, striking out four despite giving up 2 runs. I personally feel that he should be on as the fifth starter over Loaiza, who had a 5.79 ERA in 7 starts last year, or as a reliever over Jon Meloan, if Meloan makes the roster. Last year, Meloan had an 11.05 ERA in 5 games pitched.
But back to the game, it was just an amazing view to see a sea of people and the awkwardness of the field length. And to think, the Dodgers played their home games at the Coliseum for four years before moving to Dodger Stadium in 1962.