Saturday, May 31, 2008

Vintage Pics From Dodger Stadiums Grand Opening

We now have some brand news photos from Richard featuring the Grand Opening of Dodger Stadium from April 10, 1962. It looks like it was a typical beautiful Tuesday afternoon in Los Angeles as we see the Dodgers taking batting practice below. The Reds players are warming up in foul territory. The stadium is brand-spanking new with the seats showing off their freshly painted colors. Get a look at the lady on the left with the hat. It looks like she put a giant straw flower pot upside down on her head.
Below is a great shot of the color guard in the outfield during the National Anthem. The stadium is slowly filling up as the Southland tradition of arriving late has its roots to the very first game. Richard mentioned that traffic that day was horrendous as the parking lot was much smaller than it is today. In the background the hills are freshly carved and cars are packed in like sardines. The building with a Spanish tile roof in the distance is believed to be a old schoolhouse, a reminder of the community that once resided in Chavez Ravine.
It is minutes before the start of the game. Both teams have been introduced as they stand to gaze at the still growing crowd.
Play Ball! Johnny Podres is on the mound. The photograph below captures the very first pitch. The field above is in pretty poor shape as the grass appears to be still filling in. That winter was very wet and caused delays in the stadiums construction. They were almost forced to postpone the grand opening.
The nearly 2 hour and 47 minute match is over as the first Dodger game in their new home has ended. Unfortunately, they lost to the Reds 6 to 3. Cincinnati left fielder Wally Post hit the first homerun at the stadium which also happened to be a 3 run game winner that put the Reds up front for good in the 7th inning.

Card of the Week: Turk Wendell

In celebration of Baseballs contribution to superstition and eccentricities I bring you this weeks "Card of the Week" in the form of Turk Wendell's rookie card from the 1992 Upper Deck Baseball set. I remember way-back-when opening up packs of these cards and pulling this gem with some curiosity. What is this guy doing? Did he forget to brush his teeth that morning and decide to catch up by taking some time during the game to remedy his hygiene faux pas? Maybe the stadiums plumbing is out of whack and this is the only sink available? Nope. It's something that only Baseball can foster with incredible regularity. This is an act of superstition. Turk would often brush his teeth between innings in games he pitched and Upper Deck photographers were able to capture the craziness to my delight.
If you think that's weird get a hold of his other habits. He would chew black licorice instead of tobacco. The umpire would have to roll the ball to him otherwise he would let a thrown ball land on the field or bounce off his chest. At the beginning of each inning he would go to the mound and wave at the centerfielder and wait for him to wave back before proceeding. When the catcher stood, Wendell would crouch. He would draw crosses on the mound and high jump the baseline. His necklace was made of animal teeth from creatures he hunted and killed. My favorite thing, though, is that he wore number 99 in honor Rick "Wild Thing" Vaughn from Major League and once negotiated a contract for $9,999,999.99.