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A Visit To Dodger Stadium

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The 54-year-old park has a real retro feel to it.

LOS ANGELES -- Dodger Stadium was built in 1962.

That makes it the third-oldest park in baseball. Only Fenway Park (1912) and Wrigley Field (1914) are older.

What made it stand out back then was the fact that in 1962, only one other ballpark (Candlestick Park in San Francisco, which opened in 1960) had been built since the 1930s. The Depression and World War II stopped stadium construction projects (as well as a lot of other building), and Cleveland Municipal Stadium, which opened in 1932, had been the "newest" park opened before the Dodgers and Giants moved to California.

The setting of Dodger Stadium couldn't have been more different than the eastern and midwestern ballparks it followed. Those parks, mostly in urban cores, had been designed for people to walk or take public transit to get there. Some were even constructed before cars even became a commonly-owned item in this country. But Los Angeles was already part of a car culture by the early 1960s and Dodger Stadium reflected that, surrounded by vast acres of parking lots to accommodate the thousands of cars people would have to use to get there. It's been a meme of sorts to make fun of Dodger fans for arriving late and leaving early, but the L.A.-area traffic is the main reason for that.

I took a walk around the stadium -- and make no mistake, this huge structure is best called a "stadium" rather than a "ballpark" -- before Game 4. The photos above are from my stroll around a couple of different levels, and there are five in all. The field is actually below grade; you wind up going in and then down to your seat (except in the uppermost tier) rather than climbing stairs. There are escalators going both up and down, as well as stairwells.

You can see in the photos above that the signage and various other elements are quite "retro." Check out the corrugated roof over the right-field pavilion (so named instead of "bleachers," which is really what they are). That's a very 1960s look -- Phoenix Municipal Stadium, onetime spring home of the Athletics that was built in 1964, has a similar look. The Dodgers could have changed that, I suppose, in the multiple renovations they've done, but instead have embraced the retro look.

A couple of things about the car culture: The parking lot in photo 11 looks like it's just beyond the left-field pavilion. It's not -- there's another lot closer in. The back of the lot in the photo is probably close to half a mile away, the equivalent of walking to, say, north of Irving Park Road to retrieve your car at Wrigley Field.

And with the Cubs blowing out the Dodgers in Game 4, the traditional early backup of brake lights began by the seventh inning (photo 12). Photo 13 shows the look in the seventh; by the ninth it was mostly Cubs fans remaining (photo 14).

And if you choose, you can have your picture taken standing next to a huge photo of a smiling Vin Scully (photo 4). I saw quite a few takers, though I decided to pass.

Dodger Stadium is attractive, the setting is nice, and stadium employees are friendly and helpful, and I even managed to get out of the parking lot without too much difficulty.

But give me Wrigley, any day. Wrigley just feels more like I think baseball should.