Today, the Los Angeles Dodgers are being saluted on their 50th anniversary in town. The Hollywood Historic Trust and Chamber of Commerce is presenting the team with an Award of Excellence star at 11 a.m. at the Hollywood and Highland complex.
If it seems a bit strange that the Hollywood area is honoring an organization based in downtown L.A. (okay, just a bit north of downtown if you want to be particular), keep in mind that Hollywood, as in show business, and the Dodgers have had a close relationship since the team moved west in 1958. Cary Grant, Frank Sinatra, Nat "King" Cole and many other notables have been season-ticket holders. In one season finale, Don Rickles received a fan appreciation day gift from then-manager Tom Lasorda -- he got to dress in a Dodger uniform and sit in the dugout. Rickles even was sent to the mound to take out the pitcher!
This explains why today's issue of Variety includes a special section on the Dodgers, with plenty of stories. Subjects feature the likes of broadcast icon Vin Scully (whose tenure with the team dates back to 1950 and Brooklyn days), Dodger memories from entertainment notables (including a few who were there the night Sandy Koufax pitched a perfect game in 1965!) and more.
That's how Dodger Stadium looked in 2007, before an afternoon game against the New York Mets. However, Hollywood's ties to baseball go way back before the Dodgers arrived. Los Angeles had a great tradition with the Pacific Coast League, a top minor league whose talent often rivaled that of the majors back east.
The Los Angeles Angels (not to be confused with the later American League team that now plays in Anaheim) were around for more than 50 years and won a dozen pennants. There was also a franchise called the Hollywood Stars -- actually, two of them. The first version shared Wrigley Field (which had ivy on the walls like its Chicago counterpart, but had lights for night games dating back to the 1930s) with the Angels, but left for San Diego after the 1935 season. A few years later, the Mission Reds team from San Francisco moved south, called themselves the Hollywood Stars, and after a year in Wrigley actually moved to Hollywood...Gilmore Field, to be precise, where part of CBS Television City stands today. Carole Lombard and Clark Gable regularly saw the Stars play:
The good news is that the Variety stories (more than a dozen) on showbiz, baseball and the Dodgers can be found online at http://www.variety.com/index.asp?layout=hottopic&id=3174. Play ball!