Batter up! It’s Opening Day and quite possibly the dawn of a new Dodger era

Apr 9, 2012

Dodger Stadium

The field is ready for play before the season’s first home exhibition game against the Angels on Tuesday, April 3, 2012. Credit: Grant Slater/KPCC

Dust off your baseball cap and leave your pirate patch at home, for today is Opening Day at Dodger Stadium. The Los Angeles Dodgers will be playing the Pittsburgh Pirates – to a sold-out crowd, that’s more than ready to get their Dodger blue back on.

Tuesday also marks the venerable ballpark’s 50th anniversary. It’s been a rough year, even for diehard fans, to hold onto their love-of-team. On Opening Day last year, Giants fan Bryan Stow was brutally beaten nearly to death in the stadium parking lot. He’s still slowly recovering from traumatic brain injury, as his family seeks $50 million in damages from the Dodgers franchise, and his two alleged attackers await trial.

The Stow beating was a particularly horrific incident, but other unfortunate incidents had been playing out at Dodger Stadium over a period of time. Gone were the days when parents would drop off their kids to watch games on their own. Instead, Dodger Stadium had become a place that seemed to tolerate a growing number of gang bangers in the bleachers and escalating incidents of violence. The LAPD was out in force, but attendance had dropped off considerably.

A lot of that seemed like a boycott of Frank McCourt’s ownership. But as Spring heralds new beginnings, so too does the recent announcement that Magic Johnson and his Chicago moneymen will buy the team for a record $2.15 billion. That deal is expected to be approved April 13. The Dodgers have always been much more than a baseball team to Southern California. It’s a beloved cultural institution that used to bring people from different backgrounds, races, and classes together in a public place, to celebrate harmoniously.

Will Dodger Stadium finally be returned to baseball fans and families? Will high attendance continue beyond Opening Day? What new security measures will be in place to protect fans?


Nick Roman, KPCC’s Managing Editor

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