There's no "New York Giants of East Rutherford," or a "Boston Patriots of Foxboro," or a "Washington Redskins of Landover," or a "Miami Panthers of Sunrise," or a "Tampa Rays of St. Petersburg," or a "Milwaukee Packers of Green Bay," or a "Detroit Pistons of Auburn Hills," or a "Dallas Rangers of Arlington," or a "Phoenix Cardinals of Glendale," or a "San Francisco Athletics of Oakland," or a "San Francisco 49ers of Santa Clara," or a "San Francisco Sharks of San Jose," or an "Ottawa Senators of Kanata."
There was never a "Cleveland Cavaliers of Richfield," or a "Dallas Cowboys of Irving," or a "Detroit Lions of Pontiac," or a "Minneapolis Twins of Bloomington."
With the establishment of a "Minnesota Twins," renaming the team the "California Angels" was okay. But "Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim"?
In their history, this team has been 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.
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 high 50s for evenings throughout the series. The region' (and indeed the Western U.S.') largest newspaper, the Los Angeles Times, mostly concurs. Therefore, short-sleeve shirts should be all that's necessary.
Anaheim is in the Pacific Time Zone, 3 hours behind New York. So there will be some clock & watch fiddling.
Tickets. Unlike the A's and Mariners, the Angels usually do very well at the box office. Last season, their average of 37,194 was 5th in the majors. This season, they're averaging 38,076, 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 83 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 1/5th as many), is very strong in baseball. So this may be one where it helps to order your tickets beforehand.
Field Box seats (lower level) will be $65, Field Reserved $29, Terrace Boxes (middle level) $55, Terrace Reserved $43, the Outfield Pavilions $18, View Boxes (upper deck) $15, and View Reserved $11.
Getting There. It's 2,789 miles from Yankee Stadium to Angel Stadium). In other words, if you're going, you're flying. You could get round-trip fare on American Airlines from Newark to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) for about $550, but you'd have to change planes. For only about $100 more, you can go nonstop on United.
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.
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 and Amtrak. Greyhound will take about 65 1/2 hours, you'll be changing buses at least 3 times, and it could cost $528 round-trip, though it can drop to $426 with advanced purchase.
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 42-minute trip on Amtrak or a 45-minute trip down the Metrolink Orange County Line from L.A.'s Union Station to the Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center, a.k.a. ARTIC, a.k.a. The Iceberg, at 2626 East Katella Avenue, a short distance from center field at the ballpark.
Anaheim Station, a.k.a. the Iceberg
If you follow this advice, you'll be taking Amtrak's Lake Shore Limited out of New York's Penn Station at 3:40 PM Eastern Time on Friday, arriving at Chicago's Union Station at 9:45 AM Central Time on Saturday, leaving Chicago on the Southwest Chief at 3:00 PM on Saturday, and arriving at L.A.'s Union Station at 8:15 AM Pacific Time on Monday. That's $523 round-trip.
The last train from L.A. that will get you to Anaheim in time for a 7:00 start on Friday night leaves at 5:46 and arrives at 6:31. The fare is $8.75 one-way. Unfortunately, Metrolink is a rush hour-only service, and you'll have to find another way to get back to L.A. An Amtrak Pacific Surfliner leaves Anaheim at 11:10 and gets back to Union Station at 11:52. Unlike the Northeast Corridor, this Amtrak train is relatively cheap: $15 each way. So, round-trip, $23.75. Considering what New Jersey Transit, Metro-North, or the Long Island Rail Road would be to Manhattan, and then the $5.50 round-trip Subway fare to Yankee Stadium or Citi Field, this doesn't sound so bad.
A Metrolink train
Once In the City. The sales tax in California is 7.5 percent, although it's an even 8 percent in Orange County. The Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) sells daily bus passes for $5.00.
Orange County, California is home to 3 million people, about 340,000 of them in the City of Anaheim, a city founded in 1857 and, since its first settlers were German, named it "Anaheim," German for "home by the Ana," meaning the Santa Ana River.
That total of 340,000 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 (like the Angels, replacing a PCL team of the same name), 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 change of name to "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.
ZIP Codes in Orange County start with the digits 925, 926, 927 and 928; while the Area Code is 714, overlaid by 657.
The Big A scoreboard today, as seen over the right field stands
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. Arthur "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) and the Dodgers (including when they moved from Brooklyn to Los Angeles), 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).
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 52-season history is fairly recent, a 484-footer hit by outed PED user Nelson Cruz in 2012.
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 12 seasons, while the Dodgers have done so in 5 out of 10, the Angels have become the more successful team recently.
In addition to the Angels and the Rams, Angel Stadium, under the Anaheim Stadium name, was the home field for the Southern California Sun of the World Football League in 1974 and '75, the California Surf of the old North American Soccer League from 1978 to '81, and college football's Freedom Bowl from 1984 to '94. It has hosted 2 games by the U.S. soccer team, within 4 days of each other in January 1996, both wins, over Trinidad & Tobago and El Salvador.
The StubHub Center, home of the Galaxy, is 24 miles away; the Staples Center, home of the Lakers, Clippers and Kings, 30; Dodger Stadium, 31; the Los Angeles Coliseum and the Sports Arena, about to be demolished for the new soccer stadium for Los Angeles F.C., 32; the Forum and the proposed site of the new L.A. football stadium in Inglewood, 33.
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 Stadium scoreboard, which, during the scoreboard's electronic rotation, would occasionally remind you to not drink and drive.)
A recent Thrillist article discussed the best food at each MLB stadium. What's the best in Anaheim? Fish, specifically trout, in honor of Mike Trout? Nope: They named Chronic Tacos, a local chain with a stand at Section 223. The article calls them "Five-tool tacos (delicious, cheap, pork, spicy, for sale)." Sounds like typical suburban Southern California: They want the benefits of Los Angeles multiculturalism without actually having to be around large numbers of people in said cultures.
Team History Displays. A series of flagpoles beyond the left-field fence has pennants for the Angels' 2002 World Series win and their AL West titles of 1979, '82, '86, 2004, '05, '07, '08, '09 and '14.
The team has an Angels Hall of Fame, although I don’t know where in the ballpark the display is. Members include:
* From the 1960s: Autry, Fregosi, pitcher Dean Chance (Number 31), 2nd baseman Bobby Knoop (Number 1).
* From the 1979 Division Champions: Autry, Fregosi, Reese, Knoop (now a coach), Ryan, Carew, 2nd baseman Bobby Grich (Number 4), outfielder-DH Don Baylor (Number 25), and catcher Brian Downing (Number 5).
* From the 1982 Division Champions: Autry, Reese, Knoop, Carew, Grich, Baylor, Downing, and pitcher Mike Witt (Number 39).
* From the 1986 Division Champions: Autry, Reese, Knoop, Downing (by this point, a left fielder), Witt, and pitcher Chuck Finley (Number 31).
* From the 1995 team that led the Division most of the way, but had an epic collapse and lost a Playoff to the Seattle Mariners: Autry, Knoop, Finley, Salmon, and left fielder Garret Anderson (Number 16).
* From the 2002 World Champions, and the 2004, '05 and '06 Division Champions: Salmon and Anderson.
* From the 2007 and '08 Division Champions: Anderson. As yet, no players who played on the 2009 or 2014 Division Champions has been elected.
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 ('82 & '86 Division titles), Dave Winfield and Rickey Henderson. Nor is 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 that 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, near the front entrance. It shows him removing his cowboy hat, and bending down and reaching out, as if to shake hands with a child.
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. I do not know if they sell plastic halos or stuffed Rally Monkeys, but it would understandable (if silly) if they did.
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 Salmon's recently-released memoir Always an Angel: Playing the Game With Fire and Faith.
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. A recent Thrillist article on "Baseball's Most Intolerable Fans" ranked Angel fans 16th, right in the middle. The article suggests that Angel fans aren't particularly smart: "Deep down they all know 'Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim'" is the dumbest shit ever, but none of them will actually admit it."
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.
Before the Saturday game, the Angels will induct Garret Anderson into their team Hall of Fame. After it, there will be fireworks. After the Sunday game, they will let kids run the bases.
The Angels take the field to the song "Calling All Angels" by Train – not to be confused with "Trouble In Paradise" by the Brooklyn doo-wop group Johnny Maestro & the Crests, which starts with the words "Calling all angels." I like that song, but I don't like the Train song. They hold auditions for National Anthem singers, instead of having a regular.
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. If the Angels win, he returns to the video board, holding up a sign saying, "ANGELS WIN!"
The damn thing
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.
During the 7th Inning Stretch, after playing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," they play "Build Me Up Buttercup" by the Foundations. I don't like that song, either. (Remember, just because it's an old song doesn't necessarily mean I like it.) Their postgame victory song is "Celebration" by Jersey City's Kool & the Gang.
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. is the home of the local fan club of the New York Giants football team. Rick's Tavern On Main is at 2907 Main Street. And West 4th & Jane, at 1432 4th Street, is owned by a New Yorker and is an L.A.-area haven for Met fans. But all 3 are in Santa Monica, all the way across the L.A. metro area, 43 miles away from the Big A. Even further is On The Thirty, at 14622 Ventura Blvd. in Sherman Oaks, home of the L.A. area Jets fan club. And, after 9 innings (or more) of baseball, do you really want to deal with L.A. area traffic?
Anyway, by public transit: O'Brien's and Rick's can be reached by Bus 733 to Main & Marine; West 4th & Jane, by the Metro Expo Line, to Broadway & 4th station; and On The Thirty by Bus 150 to Ventura & Cedros.
If your visit to Los Angeles is during the European soccer season (which is about to get back underway), the best soccer bar in the L.A. area is The Fox & Hounds (that's plural), 11100 Ventura Blvd., Studio City. Metro Red Line to Universal/Studio City, then Bus 150 or 240 to Ventura & Arch.
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. The NCAA held its hockey Frozen Four there in 1999. 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. (Angel Stadium 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 groundshared with the Angels from 1962 to 1965, although the Angels, not wanting to promote the Dodgers, printed tickets that gave the name of the neighborhood, "Chavez Ravine," instead of "Dodger Stadium." Fed up with O'Malley, Gene Autry had the Anaheim stadium built, and got out.
It has never hosted a pro football or soccer team, but there have been college football games played there. The Beatles played their next-to-last concert here on August 28, 1966.
1000 Vin Scully Avenue (formerly 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.
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 2/3rds sold -- the only Super Bowl that did not sell out. Super Bowl VII (Miami Dolphins 14, Washington Redskins 7) was also played here.
It has hosted 20 matches of the U.S. soccer team -- only Robert F. Kennedy Stadium in Washington has hosted more. The U.S. has won 9 of those games, lost 7 and drawn 4.
Officially, the Coliseum now seats 93,607, and will be the stopgap home for the returned Rams in the 2016, '17 and '18 seasons, until their new stadium is built in Inglewood. Oddly, since both teams moved away after the 1994 season, the Oakland Raiders seem to be the most popular NFL team in Los Angeles County, but the much closer San Diego Chargers, 90 miles away, are the most popular team in Orange County. Both teams have been rumored to be among those moving to Los Angeles. The Jacksonville Jaguars have also been mentioned as a possibility.
* 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 there 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 even though it was USC's home court, the 1st over North Carolina, the 2nd over Florida State), 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 was often 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 were held here, and Bruce Springsteen, on its stage, called the building "the joint that don’t disappoint" and "the dump that jumps."
Bruce played the Sports Arena's last event. It is about to be demolished, so that the home of the Major League Soccer expansion team, Los Angeles F.C., can be built on the site.
3900 Block of S. Figueroa Street, just off the USC campus in Exposition Park. The California Science Center (including the space shuttle Endeavour), 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. Metro Expo Line to Expo Park/USC. 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 19, the "home" field advantage not helping the Hornheads). And it hosted the 1983 Army-Navy Game, with Hollywood legend Vincent Price serving as the referee. The transportation of the entire Corps of Cadets, and the entire Brigade of Midshipmen, was said to be the largest U.S. military airlift since World War II.
It's hosted 17 games of the U.S. soccer team, the most recent being a 3-2 loss to Mexico in last year's CONCACAF Gold Cup. It's hosted several games of the 1994 World Cup, including a Semifinal and the Final. It also hosted several games of the 1999 Women's World Cup, including the Final, a.k.a. the Brandi Chastain Game.
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 Bus 720, 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.)
* City of Champions Stadium. The site of the Hollywood Park horse racing track in Inglewood was cleared to make way for a 70,000-seat retractable-roof stadium that will become home to the Rams in September 2019. The designers planned for expandability to 100,000 seats for events like the Super Bowl, the Final Four, the Olympics (L.A. is America's bidding city for the 2024 Games), and the World Cup. Super Bowl LV will be held there on February 7, 2021. Same access as for the Forum.
Before the Rams, the Los Angeles Buccaneers were admitted to the NFL in 1926, but were a "traveling team," and never played a game in Los Angeles. They were made up of players from California colleges, but were based in Chicago. The Los Angeles Wildcats of the 1st American Football League were the same deal, a traveling team made up of West Coast athletes, naming them for George "Wildcat" Wilson of the University of Washington. Both teams folded the next year.
That same year, Abe Saperstein would found a basketball team in Chicago, but, like the Bucs and the Cats, make them a traveling team, and name them for a place that wasn't their real home: Since they were all-black, he named them the Harlem Globetrotters.
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.
* Titan Stadium. On the campus of California State University, Fullerton, this 10,000-seat facility is better known for soccer, having been used for NCAA Tournament games, U.S. Open Cup matches by the Los Angeles Galaxy, and 8 games by the U.S. national team -- which is undefeated there, winning 4 and drawing 4. 800 N. State College Blvd. Metrolink Blue Line from L.A. to Buena Park, then Number 24 bus. Or Number 57 bus from Angel Stadium.
* StubHub Center. Formerly the Home Depot Center, this 30,500-seat stadium opened in 2003 as the home of MLS' Los Angeles Galaxy. Chivas USA also played there from their 2005 founding to their 2014 folding.
It's hosted 12 games by the national team, winning 8, losing 2 and drawing 2. The last was a 2-0 win over South Korea on February 1, 2014. It hosted 6 games of the 2003 Women's World Cup, including the Final, in which Germany beat Sweden.
18400 Avalon Blvd. in Carson, adjacent to Cal State-Dominguez Hills. Metro Silver Line to Avalon/Victoria, then Number 130 bus.
* 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; November 14 and 15, 1972; and April 25, 1976 (300 E. Ocean Blvd.); the Pan Pacific Auditorium on October 28 & 29, 1957 (7600 Beverly Blvd near CBS and the Gilmore stadiums, 1935-89); the Anaheim Convention Center on April 23, & 24, 1973 and November 30, 1976 (800 W. Katella Avenue, not reachable by public transit); and the Swing Auditorium in San Bernardino on November 12 & 13, 1972, and May 10 & 13, 1974 (1949-81, demolished, 689 S. E Street, 58 miles east of downtown L.A.).
Oh yeah: He also sang at NBC's Burbank Studios, a complex which also includes, among other things, the studio where Johnny Carson from 1972 to 1992, and Jay Leno from then until 2014, hosted The Tonight Show. Elvis taped his "Comeback Special" there on June 24 and 25, 1968. 3000 W. Alameda Avenue. Metro Red Line to North Hollywood, then Bus 501 to Alameda & Olive.
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.
Ronald Reagan's Library is 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 (Ranch in the Sky) outside Santa Barbara, is owned by a private foundation that can be contacted for tours.
The Reagans lived together at 668 St. Cloud Road, in the Bel Air section of L.A., until Ron's death in 2004. Nancy continued to live there until her death earlier this year. 668 St. Cloud Road, in Bel Air. Metro Red Line to Vermont & Sunset, then Bus 2 to Sunset & Bel Air, and then nearly a half-hour walk. It's been remarked that the ranch was his home, whereas anyplace they lived in "Hollywood" was her home.
The tallest building on the West Coast, for now, is the U.S. Bank Tower, formerly named the Library Tower. It stands at 1,018 feet at W. 5th Street & Grand Avenue downtown. The Wilshere Grand Tower will surpass it in 2017, at 1,100 feet -- unless a tower planned for San Francisco the same year ends up taller -- at 900 Wilshere Blvd. at Figueroa.
For Yankee history buffs, Casey Stengel and his wife Edna (they had no children) are buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park. 1712 S. Glendale Avenue, in Glendale, Los Angeles County. Lots of major Hollywood stars are also buried there, including Clark Gable and Humphrey Bogart. Bus 90 or 91 can get you to the corner of Glendale and Cerritos Avenues, then an 8-minute walk east.
Gene Autry and John Wooden are both buried at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills Cemetery. 6300 Forest Lawn Drive, 11 miles northwest of downtown. Not easily reachable by public transportation. New York-born baseball legend Hank Greenberg, considered the 1st Jewish baseball superstar, is buried at Hillside Memorial Park & Mortuary, 6001 West Centinela Avenue. Bus 745 to Broadway & Gage, then Bus 110 to Bristol & Centinela.
Among the sports-themed movies set and/or filmed in or around Los Angeles is the 1976 kids' baseball film The Bad News Bears, whose home field was Mason Park, 10500 Mason Avenue in Chatsworth, 29 miles northwest of downtown (Bus 92 to 1st & Olive, then Bus 164 to Victory & Woodman, then Bus 158 to Mason & Devonshire); and the basketball hustlers' film White Men Can't Jump, filmed at the courts at the Boardwalk in Venice Beach (Bus 733).
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.
Also nearby is another theme park, Knott's Berry Farm, which preceded Disneyland by 15 years (opening in 1940). With its association with the Peanuts characters such as Charlie Brown and Snoopy (much as Disneyland and Disney World have Mickey Mouse and friends, and Six Flags uses the Warner Brothers cartoon characters such as Bugs Bunny), it remains one of the top 15 most-visited theme parks in North America. Its Supreme Scream rollercoaster, 312 feet tall, is currently the tallest structure of any kind in Orange County.
8039 Beach Blvd., Buena Park. About 6 miles due west of downtown Anaheim, 9 miles northwest of Angel Stadium, 22 miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles. From Anaheim, Number 50 bus to 29 bus. From Los Angeles, Number 707 to Number 460.
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.