Sunday, June 9, 2013
How to Be a Yankee Fan In Anaheim -- 2013 Edition
Well, not quite, but 2.3 miles away from Disneyland is the Yankees' next opponent, as they conclude their West Coast roadtrip with 3 games against the team officially known as...
The Los Angeles Angels, 1961-65.
The California Angels, 1966-96.
The Anaheim Angels, 1997-2004.
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, 2005-present.
Also nicknamed the Halos.
DISCLAIMER: I have never been to the Pacific Coast, so all of this information is secondhand at best, but much of it does come from the opposing teams' websites.
Before You Go. Unlike the Seattle and San Francisco Bay Areas, the Los Angeles area has very consistent weather. It’s a nice place to visit. If you don’t mind earthquakes. And mudslides. And wildfires. And smog.
The Angels’ hometown (well, home County, anyway) newspaper, the Orange County Register, is predicting low 70s for daylight and low 60s for evenings throughout the series. The region’s (and indeed the Western U.S.’) largest newspaper, the Los Angeles Times, mostly concurs (for those of you who are Met fans, that means they agree), but is suggesting it will be a little warmer in daylight. Therefore, short-sleeve shirts should be all that’s necessary.
Getting There. It’s 2,789 miles from Yankee Stadium to Angel Stadium (known as Anaheim Stadium 1966-97 and Edison International Field 1998-2003). In other words, if you’re going, you’re flying. If you order your tickets now, for the series beginning this coming Friday night, you could get round-trip fare for about $1,200.
Driving all that way, and all that way back, is not a good idea: Even if you get someone to go with you, and you take turns, one drives while the other one sleeps, and you pack 2 days’ worth of food, and you use the side of the Interstate as a toilet, and you don’t get pulled over for speeding, you’ll still need over 2 full days. Each way.
But, if you really, really want to... Take Interstate 80 West across New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska. Just before leaving Nebraska for Colorado, you’ll get on Interstate 76, and shortly before reaching Denver you’ll get on Interstate 70 West. You’ll take that all the way to its end in Utah, where you’ll take Interstate 15 south. You’ll go through a short strip of Arizona before getting into Nevada (where you’ll see THE Strip, Las Vegas), before getting into California.
Assuming you're not going to a hotel first (and you really should, keeping in mind that those near the stadium will be cheaper than those near Disneyland or in downtown L.A.), you’ll get off I-15 at Exit 106, and get on State Route 60, the Pomona Freeway. You’ll get off Route 60 at Exit 24, for State Route 57, the Orange Freeway. Take Exit 1E for Orangewood Avenue, turn right, and soon you’ll be able to turn right on State College Blvd. Right after that, you’ll turn right onto East Gene Autry Way, and there’s the stadium. The official address is 2000 East Gene Autry Way.
Given an average speed of 60 miles an hour, you’ll be in New Jersey for an hour and a half, Pennsylvania for 5:15, Ohio for 4 hours, Indiana for 2:30, Illinois for 2:45, Iowa for 5:15, Nebraska for 6 hours, Colorado for 7:15, Utah for 6 hours, Arizona for half an hour, Nevada for 2 hours, and California for 3 hours; for a total of 46 hours. Factor in rest stops, you’ll need more like 3 full days. And, remember, that’s just one way. And if you end up using Las Vegas as a rest stop, well, you might end up missing the series and end up, yourself, as what “stays in Vegas.”
That’s still faster than Greyhound (about 65 1/2 hours, changing buses at least 3 times, $503 round-trip, station at 100 West Winston Road, 2 1/2 miles from the stadium) and Amtrak (whose Anaheim stop is at 215 E. Katella Avenue, just beyond the left-field stands, 64 hours, 15 minutes, $879 round-trip).
If you do go all the way to Los Angeles for your hotel, it’s a 40-minute drive from downtown L.A. to Angel Stadium down Interstate 5, and a 40-minute trip on Amtrak ($28 round-trip) or a 46-minute trip down the Metrolink Orange County Line ($17.50 round-trip) from L.A.’s Union Station to Anaheim’s Amtrak station.
Tickets. Unlike the A’s and Mariners, the Angels usually do very well at the box office. Last season, their average of 37,799 was 7th in the majors. This season, they're average 36,643, again 7th. They have averaged over 37,000 per home game since 2003, the year after their World Championship. And with a capacity of 45,050, that means the Angels are operating at 81 percent of capacity, which, while not good in the other 3 major league sports (the NBA & NHL having half as many home games in a season, the NFL 1/5 as many), is very strong in baseball. So this may be one where it helps to order your tickets beforehand.
Like the New York ballparks and Fenway, Angel Stadium is expensive. You’ll be lucky to get into the lower level for $74, and most seats in that level are $89 and up. Club (middle) level seats go for $71 and up -- way up -- and even the upper deck goes for as high as $74, with the Right Field Pavilion (bleachers) going for $56.
Going In. Orange County, California is home to 3 million people, about 330,000 of them in the City of Anaheim, a city founded in 1857 and, since its first settlers were German, named for the German for "home by the Santa Ana River." The Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) sells daily bus passes for $5.00.
That total of 330,00 people would make Anaheim smaller than the smallest of New York City's Boroughs, Staten Island; but larger than any city in New York State other than New York City (topped by Buffalo with 260,000), New Jersey (Newark has 275,000) or Connecticut (Bridgeport has 145,000). Add neighboring Riverside County, and there's over 5 million people that are, by the standard I use for each of the various teams' spheres of influence, in the Angels' "market."
The Angels have played with that idea over the years. The change of name from "Los Angeles Angels" to "California Angels" upon their move to Anaheim in 1966 was to suggest them as a team for all of California, as an alternative to the high and mighty Dodgers, much more than it was to ride on the coattails of memories of the old Los Angeles Angels of the Pacific Coast League. This was also before the A's arrived in Oakland and the Padres arrived in San Diego, and when both of those teams arrived over the next 3 years, it pretty much took the wind out of the Angels' pan-California sails.
The 2005 move to call themselves "the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim" was designed to tap into the nearly 10 million people who live in Los Angeles County, and the nearly 18 million people in the L.A. metropolitan area, 2nd in North America behind New York's 19 million. But who's kidding who? Especially now that basketball legend Earvin "Magic" Johnson has bought the Dodgers, there's no way he's going to let Angels owner Arturo "Arte" Moreno outbid his team for the hearts and minds of Southern Californians, let alone Los Angelenos.
Originally known as Anaheim Stadium, built in 1966, the place was known as the Big A (sometimes hyphenated as “Big-A”) because of the A-shaped scoreboard in left field. In 1980, that board was moved out to the parking lot to be used as a message board, and replaced with a smaller A-shaped “crown” over the board on top of the football bleachers, used by the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams when they played at the Big A from 1980 to 1994 – increasing capacity from the original 42,000 to 64,593 and getting the stadium tagged “The Bigger A,” before those bleachers were demolished in 1996 in an effort to restore a baseball-like sense of intimacy.
You’ll most likely be going into the stadium through the home plate entrance. When you do, you’re going to think you’ve been here before, even if you haven’t. Red Patterson, former publicity director for the Yankees (and the man who coined the phrase “tape measure home run” to describe the wallops of Mickey Mantle) worked for the early Angels, and wanted a stadium that would be like Yankee Stadium, but modern – in other words, no support poles, and more bathrooms and concession stands. The result ended up being very much like an updated old Yankee Stadium, and the 1973-76 renovation of the Bronx ballyard made it resemble the Big A in main structure (though not in color).
Like all the West Coast ballparks, the Big A has real grass. The field is not quite symmetrical: It's 330 feet down the foul lines, 387 to left-center, 370 to right-center, and 400 to center. Like all the current West Coast ballparks, it is generally considered to be a pitchers' park. The longest home run in the stadium's 48-year history is fairly recent, a 484-footer hit by outed PED user Nelson Cruz just last season.
Beyond the outfield, installed as part of the 1997 renovation, there is a fountain, “the California Spectacular,” which sends geysers of water down a tree-lined rocky area – and brings up thoughts of Royals Stadium/Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City. And, while the old Big A scoreboard still stands, the biggest scoreboard inside the stadium has is no longer in left field but in right, echoing the home of the original Los Angeles Angels, Wrigley Field. (More about this West Coast version of Wrigley later.)
And on top of the scoreboard is an ad for... the Los Angeles Times, not the Orange County Register. Moreno has decided to do what the owners of the other “second teams” – the Mets, the Chicago White Sox and the Oakland Athletics – have in recent times refused to do: Fight the older, established teams for a majority of fans in the metro area. He won’t move the team into the County, much less the City, of Los Angeles (why waste a perfectly suitable, if not perfect, ballpark), but he was the one who changed the names of the team and the ballpark, so that it would no longer be an Anaheim or an Orange County team, but a team that, theoretically, would represent all of Southern California.
Which was exactly the opposite of what was intended when the Walt Disney Company bought the team from Gene Autry’s widow Jackie: They figured Orange County, growing like gangbusters during the team’s existence, now over 50 years, was enough, and building loyalty to Orange County would work. They were right, it did. But Moreno thinks bigger, and he is fighting the Dodgers for command of the metropolitan area.
It hasn’t quite worked: 2011, the 51st season of combined play by the two area teams, was the first time the Angels had a higher attendance than the Dodgers: 39,090 to 36,236. But with Magic running the Dodgers and heavily committed to restoring their former glory, Moreno -- who went from being the richest MLB owner on the West Coast to being the poorest MLB owner in the Los Angeles area -- is in one hell of a fight for area fans' hearts and minds. Still, the Angels have been seen as a model franchise the last few years, and the Dodgers, under the ownership of Frank McCourt, were not. And since the Angels have reached the postseason 6 times in the last 11 seasons, while the Dodgers have done so in 4 out of 11, the Angels have become the more successful team recently.
Food. Aramark Sports & Entertainment, the successor corporation to the Harry M. Stevens Company that invented ballpark concessions, provides food and beverage services for the Big A. However, there is little that is unusual or special about Anaheim food.
In fact, back in 1985, when the football bleachers were up, Bob Wood, a junior high school history teacher who was going to all 26 ballparks then in the majors, reported for his book Dodger Dogs to Fenway Franks that the main purpose of the Anaheim Stadium scoreboard (the successor to the Big-A board) was not to give you details about the game you were watching, but “to remind you... that Coke is It!” (Hey, at least it wasn’t that giant “This Bud’s For You” sign on top of the Shea scoreboard, which, during the scoreboard’s electronic rotation, would occasionally remind you to not drink and drive.)
Team History Displays. The outfield fence has notations for the Angels’ 2002 World Series win and their AL West titles of 1979, ’82, ’86, 2004, ’05, ’07, ’08 and ’09. The scoreboard shows the team's retired numbers: 11, Jim Fregosi, shortstop 1961-71 & manager 1978-81; 26, Gene Autry, owner 1961-98 (number chosen for him because he was “the 26th Man”); 29, Rod Carew, 1st base 1979-85; 30, Nolan Ryan, pitcher, 1972-79 (obtained in a trade with the Mets for Fregosi, just thought I’d rub that in); 50, Jimmie Reese, coach 1972-94 (also L.A. area native, and Yankee teammate of Babe Ruth); and the universally-retired Number 42 of Jackie Robinson.
The team has an Angels Hall of Fame, although I don’t know where in the ballpark the display is. Members include Fregosi, Autry, Carew, Ryan, Reese, Bobby Grich (Number 4, 2nd base, 1977-86); Don Baylor (Number 25, outfielder-DH, 1977-82, also former Yankee player and Met coach); Brian Downing (Number 5, catcher & left fielder, 1978-90); and Chuck Finley (Number 31, pitcher, 1986-99, the team’s all-time winningest pitcher, once known as a Yankee Killer but now best known for having been beaten up and outed as a steroid user by his then-wife, actress and heavy-metal video vixen Tawny Kitaen – though she may have been lying, and has herself been in and out of rehab, and her past loves have included Tommy Lee, David Coverdale and O.J. Simpson, so who do you believe?).
Oddly, some of the Baseball Hall-of-Famers who played for the Angels are not in the Angels Hall of Fame, including ex-Yankees Reggie Jackson, Dave Winfield and Rickey Henderson. Nor is the recently-elected Cooperstowner Bert Blyleven, who gave up a home run to Mark Grace to give the Cubs a World Series win over the Angels in the 1990 film Taking Care of Business – with Joe Torre playing himself as a broadcaster.
(In 1990, the idea of either the Cubs or the Angels reaching the World Series was “fantasy baseball”: It could only take place in the movies. The Angels also won a Pennant in the 1994 version of Angels In the Outfield, in which they, like the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1951 original version, were considered so bad they needed divine intervention. The Angels were also the home team in the 1988 film The Naked Gun, with Leslie Nielsen doing his deadpan comedy/dumb hero bit, as Lieutenant Frank Drebin trying to stop a brainwashed Reggie from assassinating Queen Elizabeth II: “I... must kill... the Queen.” Drebin stopped Reggie. Of course, this wasn’t in October.)
There is also a statue of Autry, although I don't know where on the stadium grounds it is.
Stuff. The Angels have Team Stores in a few locations in the Big A. Additional merchandise locations and novelty kiosks are open throughout the stadium during all home games.
There haven't been a whole lot of books written about the Angels, in spite of their no longer being an expansion team. Amazon.com lists The Official History of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim as being available, and there are a few generic books about the team, including the recently-released memoir Always an Angel: Playing the Game With Fire and Faith by Tim Salmon, currently the team’s all-time home run leader. There is no team-history DVD available, no Essential Games of the Angels or Essential Games of Angel Stadium DVD collection. But the 2002 World Series official highlight film is available.
During the Game. There is no team, except maybe the Dodgers, that Angel fans hate more than the Yankees, but they do fit the Southern California "laid-back" stereotype. They will not initiate violence against you.
This season, the Angels are wearing sleeve patches in memory of Dr. Lewis Yocum, the team doctor who died on May 25.
The Angels don’t have a guy in a suit to act as a mascot, but they do have the Rally Monkey. Thankfully, the damn thing only appears on the video board if the Angels are losing or tied during the 7th inning, holding a sign saying "RALLY TIME!" and jumping to the song "Jump Around" by House of Pain – whose frontman, Erik "Everlast" Schrody, is a Long Island native who, due to his New York and Irish heritage, sometimes calls himself "Whitey Ford." (He even titled an album Whitey Ford Sings the Blues and another Eat at Whitey's.) I hope both Everlast and the Yankees' Whitey Ford get royalties from the Angels.
The Angels also appear to have been the first North American sports team to give their fans those annoying long plastic balloons called Thunderstix. Like the damn monkey, that, alone, is a reason to be furious with them.
After the Game. Angel Stadium is yet another of those 1960s-70s suburban islands in a sea of parking, so you won’t be in any neighborhood, much less a bad one.
The closest thing I could find to a Yankee-friendly bar near the stadium is the Katella Grill, at 1325 W. Katella Avenue in Orange, about 3 miles away. It’s gotten some praise from New Yorkers as a nice place. O’Brien’s Irish Pub at 2226 Wilshire Blvd. in Santa Monica is the home of the local fan club of the New York Giants football team, but that's all the way across the L.A. metro area, 43 miles away from the Big A. And, after 9 innings (or more) of baseball, do you really want to deal with L.A. area traffic?
Sidelights. The Los Angeles metropolitan area, in spite of not having Major League Baseball until 1958, has a very rich sports history. And while L.A. is still a car-first city, it does have a bus system and even has a subway now.
* Honda Center. Previously known as the Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim, it is across the railroad, the Orange Freeway and Katella Avenue from Angel Stadium. It has been home from the beginning of the franchise in 1993 to the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks – formerly the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, and I still tend to call them the Mighty Dorks and the Mighty Schmucks (and one of my regular readers likes to call them the Lame Ducks). The NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers, with their typical luck, had to move one of their few home Playoff games there in 1992 during the South Central riot. 2695 E. Katella Avenue. Anaheim Metrolink stop.
* Dodger Stadium. Walter O’Malley’s Temple of Greed has been home to the Bums since 1962 -- shockingly, for those of us raised on the myth of the Brooklyn Dodgers, that not only means it's lasted longer than Ebbets Field did, but it's now the 3rd-oldest stadium in the majors, behind only Fenway Park and Wrigley Field. (Anaheim is 4th, a few months older than the Oakland Coliseum.) However, the place is now in the process of being modernized, little by little, and Magic fully intends that, having seen a 50th Anniversary, the Chavez Ravine amphitheatre will see a 100th.
The Dodgers clinched over the Yankees here in 1963 and took 3 straight from them in 1981; the Yanks took 2 of 3 in 1977 and clinched here in 1978. Sandy Koufax & Don Drysdale, Maury Wills, Tommy & Willie Davis, Steve “Not My Padre” Garvey, Don Sutton, Fernando Valenzuela, Orel Hershiser, Kirk Gibson. Just don’t wear San Francisco Giants gear here, or they might try to kill you. No, I’m not kidding: Against all other teams, they show up in the 3rd inning and leave in the 7th Inning Stretch; against San Fran, they turn into Raiders fans. The Angels shared it from 1962 to 1965, printing "Chavez Ravine" (the name of the geological formation previously there) on their tickets instead of "Dodger Stadium." The Beatles played their next-to-last concert here on August 28, 1966.
1000 Elysian Park Avenue, Los Angeles. Too far to walk from the nearest subway stop, and while there is a Dodger Stadium Express bus, it only operates on Dodger home game days.
* Wrigley Field. Yes, you read that right: The Pacific Coast League’s Los Angeles Angels played here from 1925 to 1957, and the AL’s version played their first season here, 1961. The PCL Angels were a farm team of the Chicago Cubs, and when chewing-gum magnate William Wrigley Jr. bought them both, he built the Angels’ park to look like what was then known as Cubs Park, and then named this one, and then the Chicago one, Wrigley Field. So this ballpark was Wrigley Field first. The Angels’ PCL rivals, the Hollywood Stars, shared it from 1926 to 1935. Its capacity of 22,000 was too small for the Dodgers, and the AL Angels moved out after one season.
The PCL Angels won 5 Pennants while playing here: 1926, 1933, 1934, 1947 and 1956. They won these on top of the 7 they won before moving in: 1903, 1905, 1907, 1908, 1916, 1918 and 1921. So that's 12 Pennants total. The Stars won Pennants here in 1929 and 1930.
Torn down in 1966, it lives on in ESPN Classic rebroadcasts of Home Run Derby, filmed there (because it was close to Hollywood) prior to the 1960 season. Mickey Mantle was a fixture, but the only other guy thought of as a Yankee to participate was Bob Cerv (then with the Kansas City A’s). Yogi Berra wasn’t invited, nor was Moose Skowron, nor Roger Maris (who had yet to play his first game in Pinstripes).
42nd Place, Avalon Blvd., 41st & San Pedro Streets. Metro Red Line to 7th Street/Metro Center station, transfer to Number 70 bus. Be careful, this is South Central, so if you're overly nervous, you may want to skip this one.
* Gilmore Field. Home to the Hollywood Stars, this 13,000-seat park didn’t last long, from 1939 to 1957. The Stars won PCL Pennants here in 1949, 1952 and 1953. A football field, Gilmore Stadium, was adjacent. CBS Television City was built on the site. 7700 Beverly Blvd. at The Grove Drive. Metro Red Line to Vermont/Beverly station, then either the 14 or 37 bus.
* Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Probably the most famous building in the State of California, unless you count San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge or the HOLLYWOOD sign. The University of Southern California (USC) has played football here since 1923. The University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) played here from 1928 to 1981, when they inexplicably moved out of the Coliseum, and the city that forms their name, into a stadium that could arguably be called USC’s other home field.
The Coliseum was the centerpiece of the 1932 and 1984 Olympic Games. It was home to the NFL’s Rams from 1946 to 1979 and the Raiders from 1982 to 1994, and to a number of teams in other leagues, including the AFL’s Chargers in 1960 before they moved down the coast to San Diego.
The Dodgers played here from 1958 to 1961 while waiting for Dodger Stadium to be ready, but the shape of the field led to a 251-foot left-field fence, the shortest in modern baseball history. They got the biggest crowd ever for an official baseball game, 92,706, for Game 5 of the 1959 World Series; 93,103 for Roy Campanella’s testimonial, an exhibition game against the Yankees on May 7, 1959; and the largest crowd for any baseball game played anywhere in the world, 115,300, for a preseason exhibition with the Red Sox on March 29, 2008, to celebrate their 50th Anniversary in L.A.
A crowd of 102,368 on November 10, 1957, for a rivalry game between the Rams and the San Francisco 49ers, stood as a regular-season NFL record until 2005. Ironically, the first Super Bowl, held here on January 15, 1967 (Green Bay Packers 35, Kansas City Chiefs 17) was only 2/3 sold -- the only Super Bowl that did not sell out. Super Bowl VII (Miami Dolphins 14, Washington Redskins 7) was also played here. Officially, the Coliseum now seats 93,607, and would likely be a stopgap home for a new or moved NFL team until a modern stadium could be built.
* Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena. Next-door to the Coliseum, it opened in 1959, and hosted the Democratic Convention the next year, although John F. Kennedy gave his acceptance speech at a packed Coliseum, debuting his theme of a “New Frontier.” The NBA’s Lakers played here from 1960 to 1967, the NHL’s Kings their first few home games in 1967 before the Forum was ready, the NBA’s Clippers from 1984 to 1999, the ABA’s Stars from 1968 to 1970, the WHA’s Sharks from 1972 to 1974, the 1968 and 1972 NCAA Final Fours (both won by UCLA), USC basketball from 1959 to 2006, and UCLA basketball a few times before Pauley Pavilion opened in 1965 and again in 2011-12 due to Pauley’s renovation.
Due to its closeness to Hollywood studios, the Sports Arena has often been used for movies that need an arena to simulate a basketball or hockey game, a fight (including the Rocky films), a concert, or a political convention. Lots of rock concerts have been held here, and Bruce Springsteen, on its stage, has called the building “the joint that don’t disappoint” and “the dump that jumps.”
3900 Block of S. Figueroa Street, just off the USC campus in Exposition Park. The California Science Center, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, and the California African American Museum are also there, and the Shrine Auditorium, former site of the Academy Awards, is but a few steps away. Number 40 or 42 bus from Union Station. Although this is on the edge of South Central, you will probably be safe.
* Rose Bowl. Actually older than the Coliseum by a few months, it opened in 1922 and, except for 1942 (moved to Durham, North Carolina for fear of Japanese attack right after Pearl Harbor), it has hosted the Rose Bowl game every New Year’s Day (or thereabouts) since 1923. As such, it has often felt like a home away from home for USC, Michigan and Ohio State. UCLA has used it as its home field since the 1982 season. It hosted 5 Super Bowls, including the first ones won by the Raiders (XI) and Giants (XXI), plus the all-time biggest attendance for an NFL postseason game, 103,985, for SB XIV (Pittsburgh Steelers 31, Rams 31, the "home" field advantage not helping the Hornheads). Rose Bowl Drive & Rosemont Avenue. Number 485 bus from Union Station to Pasadena, switch to Number 268 bus.
* Edwin W. Pauley Pavilion. Following their 1964 (and soon their 1965) National Championship, UCLA coach John Wooden wanted a suitable arena for his ever-growing program. He got it in time for the 1965-66 season, and it has hosted 9 more National Championships, making for 11 banners (10 coached by Wooden). The building was named for an oil magnate who was also a Regent of the University of California system, whose donation to its building went a long way toward making it possible. Edwin Pauley was a friend of, and appointee to several offices by, Presidents Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman, but the student protests of the 1960s led him to switch sides and support Ronald Reagan for Governor.
Pauley Pavilion was the site of the 2nd debate of the 1988 Presidential campaign, where CNN anchor Bernard Shaw asked the question that shattered the campaign of Governor Michael Dukakis – not that the Duke helped himself with his answer. Oddly, he held his Election Eve rally there, despite being a Bostonian. (In contrast, Boston’s JFK held his Convention in the Coliseum complex but his Election Eve rally at the Boston Garden.)
Metro Purple Line to Wilshire/Normandie station, switch to 720 bus, then walk up Westwood Plaza to Strathmore Place. A few steps away is Drake Stadium, the track & field facility that was home to 1960 Olympic Decathlon champion Rafer Johnson and another UCLA track star you might’ve heard of, named Jackie Robinson. On the way up Westwood Plaza, you’ll pass UCLA Medical Center, now named for someone who died there, Ronald Reagan. (John Wayne, Coach John Wooden and Michael Jackson also died there.) The UCLA campus also has a Dykstra Hall, but I’m 99 percent sure it wasn’t named after Lenny Dykstra.
* The Forum. Home of the Lakers and the Kings from 1967 to 1999, built by their then-owner, Jack Kent Cooke, who went on to sell them and buy the NFL’s Washington Redskins. Known from 1988 to 2003 as the Great Western Forum, after a bank. The Lakers appeared in 14 NBA Finals here, winning 6, with the Knicks clinching their last title over the Lakers here in 1973; the Kings appeared in just 1 Stanley Cup Finals here, losing it.
Now owned by the Madison Square Garden Corporation, thus run by James Dolan, which means it’s going to be mismanaged. Elvis Presley sang here on November 14, 1970 and May 11, 1974. The Forum is not currently being used by any professional team, but was recently the stand-in for the Sunshine Center, the arena in the short-lived ABC sitcom Mr. Sunshine. 3900 W. Manchester Blvd. Hollywood Park Racetrack is on an adjacent site. Metro Silver Line to Harbor Transitway station, switch to Number 115 bus. (Be careful, this transfer is in South Central.)
* Staples Center. Home of the Lakers, Clippers and Kings since 1999, and usually the home of the Grammy Awards. The Kings won the Stanley Cup over the Devils here in 2012, and the Lakers have won 5 of their 7 NBA Finals since moving in.
1111 S. Figueroa Street, Los Angeles. Nearest Metro stop is Westlake/MacArthur Park, 8 blocks away. Yes, that MacArthur Park, the one where songwriter Jimmy Webb used to take the girlfriend who ended up leaving him and inspiring the song of the same title recorded by Richard Harris and later Donna Summer, and “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” by Glen Campbell, and “The Worst That Could Happen” by Johnny Maestro's later group, the Brooklyn Bridge. The worst that could happen there now, you don’t want to know: Since the 1980s it’s been a magnet for gang violence, although this was significantly reduced in the 2000s.
* Hollywood Bowl. This 17,376-seat outdoor amphitheater in the Hollywood Hills, with the HOLLYWOOD sign in the background, is one of the best-known concert venues in the world. Opening in 1922, it should be familiar to anyone who’s seen films such as the original 1937 version of A Star Is Born, Double Indemnity, Xanadu, and Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl. The Beatles played here on August 23, 1964, and again on August 29 & 30, 1965. 2301 N. Highland Avenue. Metro Red Line to Hollywood/Highland Station, then walk almost a mile up Highland.
* Academy Award ceremony sites. The Oscars have been held at: 1929, Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, 7000 Hollywood Blvd. at Orange Drive. 1930-43, alternated between the Ambassador Hotel, 3400 Wilshire Blvd. at Alexandria Ave.; and the Biltmore Hotel, 506 S. Grand Ave. at 5th Street, downtown. 1944-46, Grauman's Chinese Theater (more about that in a moment). 1949-60, Pantages Theatre, 6233 Hollywood Blvd. & Argyle Ave., Los Angeles. 1961-68, Santa Monica Civic Auditorium (which also hosted The T.A.M.I. Show in 1964), 1855 Main Street at Pico Blvd., Santa Monica (Number 10 bus from Union Station). 1969-87, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 135 N. Grand Ave. at Temple St., downtown. 1988-2001, Shrine Auditorium, 665. W. Jefferson Blvd. at Figueroa St., Los Angeles. (Metro Silver Line to Figueroa/Washington, transfer to Number 81 bus; Elvis sang here on June 8, 1956.). 2002-present, Kodak Theater (which also hosts American Idol), 6801 Hollywood Blvd. at Highland Ave. (Metro Red Line to Hollywood/Highland).
All of these still stand, except the Ambassador, demolished in 2005. The site of a legendary nightclub, the Cocoanut Grove, and filming site of a lot of movies, the last movie filmed there was Bobby, in honor of the building's most tragic event, the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy on June 5, 1968. (Directed by Emilio Estevez, one of its stars was his father Martin Sheen, who may be the only actor ever to play both Jack and Bobby Kennedy, although not in this film.)
In addition to the above, Elvis sang at the Long Beach Municipal Auditorium on June 7, 1956, the Pan Pacific Auditorium on October 28 & 29, 1957; the Swing Auditorium in San Bernardino on November 12 & 13, 1972, and May 10 & 13, 1974; the Long Beach Arena on November 14 & 15, 1972 and April 25, 1976; and the Anaheim Convention Center on April 23, & 24, 1973 and November 30, 1976.
The Los Angeles area is home to a few interesting museums, in addition to those mentioned at Exposition Park. The Getty Center is an art museum at 1200 Getty Center Drive, off I-405. The Autry National Center, 4700 Western Heritage Way at Zoo Drive, was founded by the Singing Cowboy and Angels founder-owner to celebrate and study the Western U.S. and Native Americans. (Metro Red Line, Hollywood/Western.) Also at Griffith Park, the Griffith Observatory, at 2800 E. Observatory Avenue, should be familiar from lots of movies (including Rebel Without a Cause) and TV shows.
The Hollywood section of town (not a separate city) has a few interesting sites,and the studio tours may be worth it, but do yourself a favor and skip the tours of stars’ homes. You’re probably not going to see any of the celebrities. You’ve got a better chance of seeing one back home on the streets of New York. And stay away from the HOLLYWOOD sign. You might remember the shot of it in the ESPN film The Bronx Is Burning, when the Yankees went out to L.A. to play the Dodgers in the 1977 World Series, their shot of the sign was accurate: In 1977, it was falling apart, a genuine ruin. A year later, it was restored, but it’s still no big deal up close. It was meant to be seen from afar.
Grauman’s Chinese Theater, with its cemented signatures and footprints of stars, is the centerpiece of the Hollywood Walk of Fame at the legendary intersection of Hollywood Blvd. & Vine Street (6931 Hollywood Blvd. at Orange Drive, also at the Hollywood/Highland Metro stop).
If you’re interested in American history, especially recent history, Southern California is home to 2 Presidential Libraries. Richard Nixon’s is not far from Anaheim, built adjacent to the house where he was born in 1913 at 18001 Yorba Linda Blvd. in Yorba Linda, Orange County. (All year long, they are running commemorations of his 100th birthday this past January 9.) Metrolink Orange County Line from Union Station to Fullerton, then Number 26 bus to Yorba Linda. His “Western White House” at San Clemente can be reached by I-5 or by Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner to San Juan Capistrano (the former Spanish mission where, as the song goes, the swallows return on the first day of spring) and then transferring to the Number 191 bus; however, the house, which Nixon called La Casa Pacifica, is privately owned (not by the Nixon family), and is not open to the public.
Centennial celebrations were held in 2011 at Ronald Reagan’s Library at 40 Presidential Drive in Simi Valley in Ventura County. (Reagan was born in 1911, in Tampico, Illinois, about 130 miles west of Chicago, and grew up in various northern Illinois towns before moving to California to start his acting career.) Unfortunately, the Reagan Library is next to impossible to reach without a car. Reagan’s Western White House, Rancho del Cielo outside Santa Barbara, is owned by a private foundation that can be contacted for tours. Nancy Reagan still lives at their post-Presidential home in the Bel Air section of L.A., and while I’m no fan of the Reagans, I’ll respect Nancy’s privacy (she is about to turn 92 and is rather frail) and not list the address (or how to get there) even though it’s been published elsewhere. It’s been remarked that the ranch was his home, whereas anyplace they lived in “Hollywood” was hers. Ron was the cowboy and the Western libertarian conservative; she was the "star" who, upon meeting him in the late 1940s, accelerated his move away from the labor movement and toward anti-Communism (her father was a proto-Bircher/Tea Partier).
Did I forget anything important? Oh yeah, Anaheim's original tourist destination. Most people I've talked to who have been to both Disneyland in Anaheim and Walt Disney World outside Orlando, Florida have said that the Florida one is a lot better. Anyway, the address is 1313 S. Harbor Blvd. in Anaheim, and if you're staying in Los Angeles, just drive down I-5. Public transportation is possible, but it's a mile and a half from the closest bus stop to Disneyland's gates.
So, if you can afford it, go on out and join your fellow Yankee Fans in going coast-to-coast, and enjoy the Yanks-Angels matchup, and enjoy the sights and sounds of Southern California. In spite of the fact that this coming weekend may be one of those rare occasions where New York’s weather will be just as good.