Thursday, August 30, 2018

August 30, 1918: Teddy Ballgame


"My name is Ted Fucking Williams, and I'm the greatest hitter in baseball!"

Ted Williams would shout this, to no one in particular and to anyone who could hear, as he took batting practice.

And while he was slightly off on the nomenclature, he was frequently right on the description.

*

August 30, 1918, 100 years ago: Theodore Samuel Williams is born in San Diego, California. His father, Samuel, was a photographer from New York -- as was my grandfather, George Golden, who had been born on August 30, 1906. Ted's mother was May Venzor, a nurse in the Salvation Army. She was from El Paso, Texas, and of Mexican descent.

Ted rarely mentioned this, once saying, "If I had my mother's name, there is no doubt I would have run into problems in those days, considering the prejudices people had in Southern California." Although he appeared "white" enough to be allowed to play in what was then known as "organized ball," if he had embraced this side of himself, he could have been remembered as the 1st great Hispanic player in the major leagues. There had been white Cubans before him, such as the All-Star pitcher Adolfo "Dolf" Luque, but nobody anywhere near Ted's status. That would change after integration.

He was taught to play baseball by his uncle, Saul Venzor, who had played semi-pro ball, pitching to Yankee legends Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Joe Gordon in an exhibition game. Long after his retirement, Ted said, "All I wanted was the make the Herbert Hoover High School varsity." He did -- although it's odd that a school would have been named for Hoover during his Presidency.

It opened in 1930. Despite the Great Depression, its name has never been changed, and it is still open. Other famous graduates include another Red Sock, 1965 no-hitter pitcher Dave Morehead; 1988 World Champion Los Angeles Dodger Michael Davis; former NFL quarterback Tony Banks; 1948 Olympic long jump Gold Medalist Willie Steele; Mary "Mickey" Wright, one of the greatest female golfers; and Ted Giannoulas, a.k.a. the San Diego Chicken.

The Yankees and the St. Louis Cardinals both scouted Ted in high school, but his mother thought it was too soon for him to leave home. Fortunately, at this point, the Pacific Coast League was nearly on the same talent level as the major leagues -- or, as PCL fans called them, "the Eastern leagues." Ted signed with his hometown team, the San Diego Padres. (When San Diego got a major league team in 1969, it took the Padres name.)

For the 1st time, but not the last, Ted took a back seat to a member of the DiMaggio family: His position was left field, and the Padres' starting left fielder was Vince DiMaggio, the oldest of the brothers. Once Vince was acquired by the Boston Braves, Ted got the starting job, and the Padres won the 1937 PCL Pennant.
Eddie Collins, one of the greatest 2nd basemen who ever lived, and by this point the general manager of the Boston Red Sox, had been scouting 2nd baseman Bobby Doerr of the San Francisco Seals. But watching a game between the Seals and the Padres, he saw Ted. As he said later, "It wasn't hard to find Ted Williams: He stood out like a brown cow in a field of white cows." The Red Sox sent the Padres 2 major leaguers and 2 minor leaguers, none of whom would be easily remembered today, and $35,000 for Ted.

He spent the 1938 season with the Sox' top farm team, the Minneapolis Millers of the American Association. They didn't win the Pennant that year, but Ted won the AA Triple Crown, batting .366, hitting 46 home runs, with 142 RBIs.
He made the big club, and debuted on April 20, 1939, against the Yankees, at Yankee Stadium. It was a Hall of Fame pitching matchup: Charles "Red" Ruffing for the Yankees, and Robert "Lefty" Grove for the Red Sox. Ted played right field, batted 6th, and wore Number 9, the only one he would ever wear throughout his major league career. Ruffing struck him out in the top of the 2nd, but he ripped a double to right-center in the 4th. Ruffing struck him out again in the 6th, and popped him up to 2nd in the 9th. The Yankees won, 2-0, thanks to a home run by Bill Dickey.

There was no Rookie of the Year award in 1939. If there had been, Ted, who turned 21 late in the season, would have won it easily, batting .327, hitting 31 home runs, and leading the American League with 344 total bases and 145 runs batted in -- the 1st rookie ever to lead the AL in RBIs.

He soon developed nicknames. He seemed really young, so they called him "The Kid." He was thin, but could hit, so they called him "The Splendid Splinter." He hit hard, so they called him "The Thumper." And, at some point in his career, he became so much the symbol of baseball in New England, that he was known as "Teddy Ballgame."

Sometimes, he would call himself "Ol' TSW" for his initials. Or, as I said, "Ted Fucking Williams." Or "Teddy Ballgame of the MFL." Asked to explain, he said, "That's the Major Fucking Leagues."

No, he was no angel. He wasn't a boozer, but he was a womanizer. He supposedly spit at fans once. On more than one occasion, he gave fans the middle finger. And, after making an error in left field in a 1940 game, he got booed so badly that he swore he would never tip his cap to the fans for as long as he played.

His prickly personality didn't endear him to the Boston media, either. One of the city's leading sportswriters was Dave Egan of the Boston Record, considered so authoritative that he was known as the Colonel. Early in his career, he was following the team on the road, and in the hotel lobby, saw Williams come in, and asked him for an interview. Williams saw that Egan was drunk, and knew better than to give an interview to a drunk.

But that may not have been the lesser of two evils, as Egan slammed Williams in his column every chance he had. Soon, Ted had a reputation of being arrogant and aloof, never caring whether the Red Sox won or lost, so long as he got a hit.

Ted's magnum opus was the 1941 season. It's worth pointing out that, for most of the season, he was 22 years old, turning 23 late in it. At the All-Star Game at Briggs Stadium (later renamed Tiger Stadium) in Detroit, he hit a home run in the bottom of the 9th of Claude Passeau of the Chicago Cubs, turning a 5-4 National League lead into a 7-5 American League win.

Going into the last day of the regular season, which included a doubleheader with Connie Mack's Philadelphia Athletics at Shibe Park, his batting average was .39955. This would have been rounded up to .400, an average not achieved in the major leagues since Bill Terry of the New York Giants hit .401 in 1930.

The Sox manager and shortstop, Joe Cronin, told Ted that he could sit the doubleheader out if he wanted to, to protect his ".400 batting average." Ted knew the truth, and he refused to take the coward's way out.

The 1st time he came to bat in the opener, the A's catcher, Frankie Hayes, told him, "Ted, Mr. Mack told us to pitch to you." As in, we will try to get you out, but we won't try to stop you from getting to .400 by walking you, intentionally or "not."

Ted singled to right in the 2nd inning, hit a home run leading off the 5th, singled to right in the 6th, hit an RBI single to right in the 7th, and reached on an error in the 9th, by the A's 2nd baseman -- Lawrence Columbus "Crash" Davis of Durham, North Carolina, for whom the Kevin Costner character in the movie Bull Durham would be named. So the one time he didn't get a hit, he got on base anyway. Despite a 9-run A's outburst in the 5th inning, the Sox won 12-11.

Ted's batting average was now .404. Even if went 0-for-4 in the nightcap, he would still have finished at .4004 -- but going 0-for-5 would have made him .39956. He played anyway. He singled to right in the 2nd, doubled to center in the 4th, and flew to left in the 7th.

Because Pennsylvania had only legalized professional sporting events on Sunday in 1934, and had a 7:00 PM curfew for them on Sundays, the A's were already up 7-1, and Ted's .400 was secure, it was agreed between the umpires and the managers, Cronin and Mack, that the 2nd game would end after 8 innings, thus denying Ted a 4th at-bat in the game.

He finished the season with 185 hits in 456 at-bats, for a batting average of .405701754, rounded off to .406. He also finished with a league-leading 37 home runs and 120 RBIs -- not surprising, since, for 1940, the Sox had fenced off an area in right field at Fenway Park, and moved the bullpens there, to make it easier for Ted. The pens, and the seats behind them, became known as Williamsburg.

The Sox pitcher in the 2nd game was former A's star Lefty Grove. It was the last appearance of a Hall of Fame career in which he went 300-141.

Joe DiMaggio of the Yankees was awarded the American League MVP for 1941. Red Sox fans, now 3 generations removed, remain angry about this. They say Ted's .406 average was a greater achievement than DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak the same season. They forget that the award is Most Valuable Player, not Most Outstanding Player. Ted's great season did not get the Red Sox above 6th place. Joe's great season put the Yankees on a run that led to them winning the World Series.

There would be another MVP controversy in 1942. Ted batted .356, hit 36 home runs, and had 137 RBIs. Each of these led the League, giving him the Triple Crown. But the Sox finished 2nd to the Yankees, and the MVP went to their 2nd baseman, Joe Gordon. How do you deny a Triple Crown winner the MVP? Again: Most Valuable Player, not Most Outstanding Player.

Incidentally, the American League runners on base when Ted hit that walkoff homer in the '41 All-Star Game? Joe DiMaggio and Joe Gordon. (DiMaggio did get a hit in that game, but it didn't count toward his hitting streak, which was then 49 games.)

*

World War II was already underway. In January 1942, Ted was classified 1-A: "Available for unrestricted military service." In other words, the next time there was a draft, Ted could be chosen. A friend reminded Ted that he was now the sole support of his mother, and should appeal. He was reclassified 3-A: "Registrant deferred because of hardship to dependents."

Boston fans, no longer caring that he was a .400 hitter the year before, booed him throughout his Triple Crown season. Opposing fans booed him, too. Quaker Oats dropped him as a spokesman. He had loved their products, but never ate their products again.

Ted had had enough. He joined the Navy Reserve, missed the entire 1943 season on active duty as a pilot trainee, and on May 2, 1944, was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps, as a flight instructor.

Ted didn't see combat in World War II, but would also miss the 1944 and 1945 seasons. He rejoined the Sox for 1946, and hit 3 home runs with 8 RBIs in the 1st game of a doubleheader against the Cleveland Indians. Lou Boudreau, the Indians' manager, invented the infield shift -- in his case, it was called the Boudreau Shift or the Williams Shift. He moved the shortstop (himself) to between 1st and 2nd base, daring Ted, a noted pull hitter, to hit to he opposite field. Did it work? Sort of: Ted grounded to Boudreau twice, but also doubled and walked.

On June 9 of that year, against Fred Hutchinson of the Detroit Tigers -- later to manage the Cincinnati Reds to the 1961 NL Pennant -- hit a drive 502 feet into the center field bleachers. Joe Boucher, a construction engineer from Albany, sat there, and it hit him on the head, wrecking his straw hat. The wooden bleachers were replaced by plastic seats in 1976, but the location was noted: It is Section 42, Row 37, Seat 21. In 1984, it was painted red, and it remains "The Red Set" today.

That year, the All-Star Game was held at Fenway. Ted hit a home run off Kirby Higbe of the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 4th inning. In the 7th, the National League brought in Rip Sewell of the Pittsburgh Pirates. He had a blooper that he called the "eephus pitch." It had been hit, but no one had yet hit it for a home run. Ted did it, and Sewell, in his 4th All-Star Game, was never the same pitcher.

This time, the Red Sox ran away with the Pennant, led by Ted, Doerr, Dom DiMaggio (Joe's brother, also a center fielder), shortstop Johnny Pesky (Cronin was still the manager, but had retired as a player), and pitchers Dave "Boo" Ferriss and Cecil "Tex" Hughson. It was their 1st Pennant since 1918, before selling several players to the Yankees, including Babe Ruth. This time, there was no denying Ted: He batted .342, hit 38 home runs, and had 123 RBIs (oddly, none of these led the AL), and he was an easy choice for MVP.

Then came the World Series. The opposition was the St. Louis Cardinals. Led by the NL's answer to Ted, Stan Musial, the Cards were in their 4th World Series in 6 years, having won in 1942 and 1944, and lost in 1943. But Ted was nursing an elbow injury, and only batted .200, 5-for-25. Stan didn't hit well, either, and neither would end up the big story of the Series.

The Series went to a Game 7 at Sportsman's Park in St. Louis. It was tied 3-3 in the bottom of the 8th. It should be noted that Dom DiMaggio had been injured earlier, and Leon Culberson was now in center field for Boston. Enos Slaughter was on 1st base, and took off with a pitch to Harry Walker, who hit a drive to right-center. Mel Allen, the Yankees' main broadcaster, was covering the Series for NBC despite the Yankees not being in it, and his surviving radio broadcast shows him saying, "Culberson fumbles with the ball momentarily."

Slaughter turned his head, saw this, and realized he could score all the way from 1st. Culberson threw the ball back to the infield. Pesky got it, and... Well, I've seen the film a few times. I can't really say he "hesitated" or "held the ball," as people have been saying for the last 72 years. I don't think it would have mattered, as Slaughter probably would have been safe at the plate anyway. It was 4-3 St. Louis, and that's how it ended.

The Sox had won 104 games, a record for a Boston baseball team that still stands, but had lost the World Series. It was a crushing defeat for Ted, who had gone 0-for-4 in the finale. And, as it turned out, neither Ted (28 years old) nor Stan (25) would ever appear in another World Series game.

*

Ted won the Triple Crown again in 1947, and he and Rogers Hornsby remain the only 2 men to win it twice: He batted. .343, hit 32 home runs and had 114 RBIs. But, again, the Sox didn't win the Pennant. The main reason they won it the year before was that their stars adjusted to civilian life better than the Yankees' stars had, including Joe DiMaggio. In 1947, DiMaggio was back, and he won the MVP by 1 point in the voting over Ted -- because 1 writer, whose name has never been revealed, left Ted off his ballot completely. If he had even listed Ted 10th, Ted would have won it.

In 1948, the Sox tied the Indians for the Pennant, but lost a 1-game Playoff at Fenway. Ted went 1-for-4, but had no RBIs. In 1949, the Sox and Yanks battled for the Pennant all the way to the final weekend. The Sox led the Yanks by 1 game with 2 to go, against each other, at Yankee Stadium. All the Sox had to do was win 1 of the 2. The Yankees won them both, 5-4 and 5-3. Ted went 1-for-3 with a walk in the Saturday game, and 0-for-2 with 2 walks in the Sunday game.

In spite of the Sox not winning the 1949 Pennant, the Yanks didn't have any single player who stood out above the others -- DiMaggio being hurt much of the year, keeping his power stats down -- so Ted got his 2nd MVP. But he had also begun to get a reputation as coming up small in big games. This ignores the fact that, in those 3 end-of-season games in '48 and '49, he did reach base 5 times. But, in those days, you rarely heard the cliche, "A walk is as good as a hit."

The Korean War began in 1950, and, much to Ted's dismay, he was called back to service by the Marines. His last game before rejoining was April 30, 1952, and it was Ted Williams Day at Fenway Park. He received several gifts, including from already-wounded veterans of that war, and it choked him up. He even broke his own taboo about tipping his cap. He still managed to hit a home run in the game.
Captain Williams turned down all offers for a cushy service job, and was soon flying again, in an F9F Panther jet fighter, as a wingman for Major John Glenn -- yes, the future astronaut and U.S. Senator. Glenn said Ted was one of the best pilots he knew, but his wife Annie said he was the most profane man she had ever met.
Major John H. Glenn Jr. and Captain Theodore S. Williams, USMC

On February 16, 1953, Williams and Glenn were part of a 35-plane raid against a military training school outside Pyongyang, the North Korean capital. Ted's plane was hit, knocking out his hydraulics and his electrical systems. He managed to get his plane back to its base, and get out, right before it burst into flames.

He ended up flying 39 combat missions, before developing pneumonia, during which an inner ear infection was discovered. This disqualified him from further service, and eventually left him hard of hearing.

Ted remained a lifelong Republican. Hated beatniks, hated hippies, hated feminists. He said he would make one except when it came to voting Republican: If Glenn would ever have gotten the Democratic nomination for President, he'd vote for him. Glenn only ran for President once, in 1984, and didn't come close.

*

He returned to the Red Sox late in the 1953 season, and, despite some nasty injuries, he just kept plugging along. That was also the year the Braves had left Boston for Milwaukee. The Braves had been the sponsors of the Jimmy Fund, run by the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute since 1948.

The Institute's founder, Dr. Sidney Farber, turned to the Red Sox, and Williams volunteered to become the face of the Fund, becoming close friends with Farber and raising money all over the country, especially after his retirement as a player gave him more time to do so, until becoming too ill to do so late in life.
Ted Williams, Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey, and Sidney Farber

In 1956, Ted just missed out on another batting title, as Mickey Mantle of the Yankees won the Triple Crown. To this day, Mantle is the last player to lead both Leagues in all 3 categories.

Ted loved to talk about hitting, and it delighted Ty Cobb in his old age, at a time when he didn't have many friends, that this younger great hitter wanted to talk about hitting with him. Ted and Joe DiMaggio may have had a professional rivalry, but it wasn't personal in the slightest, and they remained friends for the rest of Joe's life.

But Ted seemed to have a particular interest in Mickey, because there had never been a switch-hitter with Babe Ruth's power lefthanded and Jimmie Foxx's power righthanded. Most previous switch-hitters had been slap hitters, like Pete Rose, and the man Rose succeeded as the all-time hit leader among switch-hitters, Frankie Frisch.

Ted wanted to know Mickey's secret. Before a 1957 game at Yankee Stadium, he asked Mickey all kinds of questions. How do you shift your weight? Which hand do you lead with? Do you prefer swinging up or down? Mickey wasn't flat-out stupid, but he never gave much thought about why he was a good hitter. He just knew he was quick enough to get the bat on the ball, and strong enough to hit it far. He later said Ted had confused him, and he went into a slump, until he decided to stop thinking about hitting and just do it.

That season, just before turning 26, Mickey hit .365, the highest average of his career. But he didn't win the batting title. Ted, who turned 39 near the end of it, hit .388. In 1958, he batted .328, .060 lower than the year before, but good enough to win him the batting title for the 6th and last time -- keeping in mind, he missed the entire seasons in which he turned 25, 26 and 27, and most of the seasons in which he turned 33 and 34.

It also would have helped him if he could have run better. In 19 seasons of play, he stole just 24 bases, hit just 1 inside-the-park home run despite wide-open territory in center and right field at Fenway Park and some other expansive fields in the AL in the 1940s and '50s, and only hit for the cycle once. And he never got 200 hits in a season, topping out at 194 in 1949. He said it himself: "If I coulda run like Mickey Mantle, I'd a-hit .400 every year."

He wasn't known for his defense, either. The Gold Glove award wasn't instituted until late in his career, and it's unlikely he would have won one anyway. But he did become an expert at playing the ricochets off the big left field wall at Fenway, nicknamed the Green Monster.

After retiring, he would teach his successor at that position, Carl Yastrzemski, everything he knew about it, and Yaz became a great fielder -- a better one than Ted, a better runner, and, while not as good a hitter, as good a hitter as just about anybody else. It can be argued that, for all Ted's hitting skill, Yaz was the better all-around player.

Like Babe Ruth, Ted was noted for having great eyesight, supposedly to the point where he could see the stitches on a pitched ball before most players could even see it. He also had a sensational memory. Long after he retired, he met comedian Billy Crystal, who said, "Ted, I have home movies of you, striking out against Bobby Shantz at Yankee Stadium, 1957, first game of a doubleheader." Ted thought for a moment, and said, "Curveball, low and away."

I looked it up, and the story is true: The Yanks hosted the Sox on the 4th of July in 1957, and in the 1st inning of the 1st game, Shantz struck Ted out, but Bob Grim blew the save by giving up a home run to Mickey Vernon, and the Sox won 3-2. The Yankees won the nightcap 4-1, despite Vernon hitting another homer.

In 1959, the Red Sox, the last major league team that hadn't yet integrated, finally did so, with infielder Elijah "Pumpsie" Green. Ted was pleased that it had finally happened. But his own performance that year was unsatisfying: For the 1st time in his career, he failed to bat .300, dropping to .254.

So he decided he couldn't go out like that, and chose to play 1 more year. He batted .316, and made his 19th All-Star Game. On June 17, 1960, he hit the 500th home run of his career, off Wynn Hawkins of the Cleveland Indians, at Municipal Stadium. At this point, only Ruth, Foxx and Mel Ott had gotten to 500.

Ted may also have hit the longest home run at Municipal Stadium. Officially, Luke Easter, who had been a star in the Negro Leagues, hit one 475 feet there. But Mantle may have hit one there that went 490. And I once had a teacher who was from the Cleveland area, and he told me that, in order to keep a reasonable run distance, a chain-link fence was installed that limited center field to 410 feet, whereas the bleacher wall was about 490. The teacher told me Ted was the only player he'd ever seen hit one into the bleachers. When I met him again years later, he stuck to his story.

On September 28, 1960, 19 years to the day after Ted became the last man to bat .400, the Red Sox played their last home game of the season. They had 3 more against the Yankees in New York, but it was already decided that Ted would sit them out.

It was a Wednesday afternoon, the Sox were well out of the race, and their opponents, the Baltimore Orioles, had been in their 1st serious race, but were now out of it as well. The weather wasn't good: Ted later described it as "Lousy day, damp." And Ted's retirement had not been officially announced. So only 10,454 fans came out.

It was 4-2 Baltimore going into the bottom of the 8th. Jack Fisher was pitching in relief of Steve Barber, whose arm might have been sore, or maybe just a little stiff. (Fans of Jim Bouton's book Ball Four will get that joke.) Fisher grooved a pitch, and Ted slammed it into the center field bleachers. It was career home run Number 521. It was also career hit Number 2,654 -- a total which surprises people, to whom it hasn't occurred that Ted Williams is in the 500 Home Run Club, but not the 3,000 Hit Club.
Ted came around to score, and shook the hand of the on-deck hitter, Jim Pagliaroni. (Like Barber, he would be a 1969 Seattle Pilot, and would be mentioned in Ball Four.) And he walked back to the dugout. Sox fans chanted, "We want Ted!" Some fans wondered if he might come out, or even if he'd finally tip his cap.

He did not. John Updike, that most New England of 20th Century upper-crust writers, was there that day. As he put it in "Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu," his classic essay that appeared a few weeks later in The New Yorker, "Gods do not answer letters."

The Sox won the game 5-4 in the bottom of the 9th, as Fisher gave up a single to Marlan Coughtry, a double to Vic Wertz (see the 1954 World Series), and a walk to Pumpsie Green, completed by Willie Tasby grounding into what looked like a game-ending double play, but 2nd baseman Marv Breeding threw the ball wide of 1st base, scoring Coughtry and Tom Brewer, who had pinch-run for Wertz.

Ted liked to say, "All I ever wanted was to be able to walk down the street, and hear people say, 'There goes the greatest hitter who ever lived.'" And he achieved this dream: Not that he became the greatest hitter who ever lived, but that people said he was.

Is he? In 1995, he published a book, Ted Williams' Hit List, in which he ranked the top 25 hitters ever, based on his own formula. He notably did not include himself in the rankings. His choice for Number 1 was Babe Ruth, whom he met at Fenway in 1943, for a special game to raise money for war bonds.
Why Ted was wearing a Red Sox road jersey,
and the Babe the Yankees' home Pinstripes, I don't know.

His lifetime batting average is .344, the highest of any player in the post-1920 Lively Ball Era; Ruth is right behind, at .342. Ted's on-base percentage is .482, the best ever; Ruth is right behind, at .474. Ted's slugging percentage is .634; Ruth is the all-time leader, at .690. Ted's OPS+ is 190, meaning he was 90 percent better at producing runs than the average player of his time; Ruth is the all-time leader, at 206 (106 percent better).

Ted hit 521 home runs, despite missing what amounted to 5 full seasons in his prime, due to 2 wars and a couple of injuries. He hit 36 home runs in 1942, and 38 in 1946, despite playing home games in a park that favored righthanded hitters and hurt lefthanders. (The right field pole at Fenway, then as now, was 302 feet from home plate, but the fence curves, and straightaway right is 380, furthest in the majors.) In 1950, his last full season before going to Korea, Ted hit 30 homers. In 1954, his 1st full season after coming back, 29.

So if we presume that Ted would have averaged 37 home runs over 1943, '44 and '45, and would have hit 30 in '52 and again in '53, minus the 14 he actually hit in those seasons, then we're talking an additional 157 home runs -- giving him 678, just 36 short of what was then the career record, Ruth's 714.

So the 2 greatest hitters who ever lived are Babe Ruth and Ted Williams. Which one was the greatest? Look at the numbers, consider the mitigating factors, and decide for yourself. I say it's Ruth, but is that because he actually was, or is that because I'm a Yankee Fan? How about because Ted said it was, and, if not the greatest hitter who ever lived, certainly, he was the greatest expert on hitting who ever lived.

*

Ted could relax. He enjoyed fishing, and spent time doing so in Central Florida, to which he'd moved, and on the Miramichi River in the Canadian Province of New Brunswick. I've often compared Ted to Maurice Richard, the great Montreal Canadiens scorer: Both wore Number 9, both were known for their eyes and their burning temper, and both liked to fish. They did fish together a few times, as Ted always appreciated greatness, no matter what the sport, or the line of work.

From 1961 to 1966, he was a Spring Training instructor for the Red Sox. In 1967, Dick Williams (no relation) became the manager, and saw Ted talking to one of the players. When the player said, "Well, Dick wants us to do it this way," and Ted said to do it his way, Dick had Ted thrown out of the camp.

And Sox owner Tom Yawkey, who loved Ted like a son, did nothing about it. That showed the players something: If Dick was willing to defy the team's greatest legend, and could get away with it, then they knew he was the boss. The Sox won the Pennant that season. Ted was not invited back to Spring Training until 1978, by which point Yawkey was dead and Dick was managing his 4th different team.

In 1966, Ted and Casey Stengel were elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, in each case in his 1st year of eligibility. At the induction ceremony at Cooperstown, New York on July 25, Ted said, "I've been a very lucky guy to have worn a baseball uniform, and I hope some day the names of Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson, in some way, can be added as a symbol of the great Negro players who are not here only because they weren't give a chance."

Eventually, the Hall overseers listened to Ted: In 1971, a special committee was cnovened, to research the records of Negro League players. Paige became the 1st player they elected. In 1972, Gibson and Buck Leonard joined them. By 1977, 9 players had been elected based on their Negro League play. Over the years, others who had played in the Negro Leagues were elected, but on the basis of their major league performance, including Jackie Robinson, Willie Mays and Hank Aaron.

No longer officially affiliated with the Red Sox, in 1969, Ted was offered the job of managing the Washington Senators. He got them to an 86-76 record, the 1st winning record for a Washington-based baseball team in 24 years. Several of the Senators' hitters showed remarkable improvement under Ted's tutelage.
It's not Johnny Unitas with the San Diego Chargers,
or Joe Namath with the Los Angeles Rams,
but it looks strange enough.

But they dropped off in 1970, and Ted never did get through to the pitchers. He always thought pitchers were dumb, which is hardly the case: Of the ballplayers generally considered intellectuals, a majority of them seem to be pitchers. The team moved to become the Texas Rangers for the 1972 season, and Ted was fired after it, and was never in uniform for another competitive major league game.
Even stranger.

You've heard the expression, "(Person's Name) wrote the book on (subject)?" Well, Ted Williams wrote the book on hitting: The Science of Hitting. Dictated to Sports Illustrated writer John Underwood, excerpted in SI in 1968, and published in book form in 1971, it's still the foremost textbook on the subject, and no human being, living or dead, ever knew more about the subject than Ted Williams.
A first edition, with the famed 77-ball chart of how well
Ted hit balls at each spot of his strike zone,
which now rests in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
As you can see, and as Bobby Shantz and few others figured out,
the way to pitch Ted was, "Curveball, low and away."

Ted always said, "Hitting a baseball is the hardest thing to do in sports." Of course, while he would talk to anyone about hitting, and go into the minutest detail, whenever anybody asked him, "What's the first thing to know?" he would say, "Get a good pitch to hit." It was what Rogers Hornsby had taught him as a young player.

Ted was married 3 times: To Doris Soule, from 1944 to 1954, and they had a daughter, Barbara Joyce, a.k.a. Bobbi Jo; to Lee Howard, from 1961 to 1967, and they had no children; and to Dolores Wettach, from 1968 to 1972, and they had a son, John Henry, and a daughter, Claudia. From 1973 to 1993, Ted lived with Louise Kaufman at his home in Hernando, Florida, on the Gulf Coast, north of Tampa. He later moved to nearby Citrus Hills.

In 1986, I attended the Hall of Fame's induction ceremony for the first time. I also went in 1988 and 1994. I won't do it again: Cooperstown is too small a town to take on that many visitors at once and remain comfortable. If you want to go to the Hall of Fame, unless it's your favorite player of all time that's going in, go any other time.

It was the first time I got to see Ted in person. He sat next to Ralph Kiner, and kept talking to Kiner all through the speeches, including the one given by his former teammate Bobby Doerr. At one point, Kiner turned to talk to the player next to him, and Ted literally bent his ear, as if to say, "Ralph, I'm not finished, and you're going to listen!"

In his speech, Doerr remembered Ted giving advice, and he refused it, saying he didn't need it. "Okay," Bobby remembered Ted saying, "if you want to be a lousy .280 or .290 hitter, that's your choice!" We all laughed, as .280 is a fairly good average. Bobby finished with a .288 lifetime average, including 223 home runs, a good total for a 2nd baseman in his era.
Bobby Orr, Ted Williams and Larry Bird,
brought together by Boston sportscaster Bob Lobel,
Sports Final, WBZ-Channel 4, December 7, 1992.
It happened to be Bird's 36th birthday.
Williams and Orr had fished together a few times.

In addition to his election to Cooperstown, Ted had many other honors. In 1954, while still active, he was elected to the San Diego Hall of Champions. In 1984, his Number 9 became the 1st to be retired by the Red Sox. In 1991, the Sox held another Ted Williams Day, in honor of the 50th Anniversary of his .406 season, and he finally tipped his cap to the fans. Lansdowne Street, behind left field, was renamed Ted Williams Way.
Later that year, President George H.W. Bush, a fellow World War II pilot, presented him with the nation's highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 1995, when Ted opened the Ted Williams Museum and Hitters' Hall of Fame in Hernando, he invited Bush, who called him "John Wayne in a baseball uniform." Except Ted really was what Wayne only pretended to be: A great athlete and a genuine war hero. The museum would be moved to the Tampa Bay Rays' Tropicana Field after his death, and is still there.

In 1992, San Diego County renamed its stretch of California State Route 56 the Ted Williams Parkway. In 1995, a new tunnel extending the Massachusetts Turnpike under Boston Harbor to Logan International Airport was named the Ted Williams Tunnel.

In 1999, The Sporting News listed its 100 Greatest Baseball Players, and Ted was ranked 8th, the highest-ranking left fielder. For the sake of perspective, here are the 7 players ranked ahead of him: Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Hank Aaron, Lou Gehrig and Christy Mathewson. That's 4 of the 1st 5 guys elected to the Hall (Ruth, Cobb, Johnson and Mathewson, but not Honus Wagner), a .340 lifetime hitter (Gehrig), and the guys who used to be the top 3 home run hitters ever (Aaron, Ruth and Mays). Although it probably pleased him that only 2 of the guys ahead of him were pitchers.

That year, Ted was named a finalist for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team, to be chosen in All-Star-style balloting by the fans. Many of the finalists were introduced before the 1999 All-Star Game, which was held at Fenway Park. After the other finalists were introduced, Ted was driven onto the field in a golf cart, and tipped his cap to the fans.

When the cart stopped, all the greats, current and former, crowded around him, like he was the Pope about to offer blessings. A path had to be cleared for them so he could be eased to a spot in front of the pitcher's mound, where he would throw out the ceremonial first ball to another finalist, former Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk. The man then thought of as the best pure hitter in the game, a modern San Diego Padre, Tony Gwynn, helped steady him so he could properly throw.
When he finished his throw, he was led back to the cart, and the players were still crowding around him. It might have been the first time people had come to a baseball game, and were hoping it wouldn't be played, that the pregame could go on forever.

The fans voted, and, naturally, Ted was elected to the final All-Century Team. Every player elected to it and still living showed up at Turner Field in Atlanta, to be introduced before Game 2 of the World Series between the Braves and the Yankees. Ted tipped his cap again, and Atlanta fans, who never got to see him play (never mind Interleague play, the Braves didn't move to Atlanta until he was already elected to the Hall of Fame), gave him a standing ovation.

It was his last time in a major league ballpark. He'd had a stroke, and his famous vision had already gotten so bad, he couldn't see Fisk from the mound during the Fenway pregame, and was heard to ask, "Where is he?" And he was nearly wheelchair-bound. He had another stroke, and was practically immobile after that. He died on July 5, 2002, at age 83, at Citrus Memorial Hospital in Inverness, Florida.

The tributes flowed. Fenway Park draped the Green Monster with large pictures of Ted's life, and the Sox wore black armbands and black Number 9s on their sleeves for the rest of the season. Every game played that night was preceded by a moment of silence. The All-Star Game was played in Milwaukee 3 days later, and a moment of silence was held.

The less said about what happened to his remains, the better.
Ted has 2 statues outside Fenway Park. One shows him giving his cap to a young fan. The other shows him with Bobby Doerr, Johnny Pesky and Dom DiMaggio, and is named "The Teammates," which was also the title of a book that David Halberstam wrote about them and their friendship.
Left to right: Dom, Johnny, Ted, Bobby

"The man's a saint!" Bob Costas once said. No, Ted Williams was not a saint. An avenging angel, maybe.

Was he the greatest hitter who ever lived? Does it matter?

Ted Williams was one of the few players who can legitimately be said to have given more to baseball than the sport gave to him. And for that, all fans of all teams should thank him.

How to Be a Met Fan In Los Angeles -- 2018 Edition

Next Monday, Labor Day, the Mets go to Los Angeles to play one of the teams whose place in New York they took, the Dodgers.

Perhaps Met fans should be glad that the Dodgers left Brooklyn after the 1957 season, and that the Giants left Manhattan at the same time.  After all, if they hadn't, the Mets never would have been created, and the fans of the 2 former clubs, the Capulets and Montagues of baseball (or the Hatfields and McCoys, if you prefer), would not have been united in the love of a new club, the canonization of the National League, and hatred of the Yankees.

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. (Okay, the smog problem isn't as bad as it was in the Seventies. And New York had smog issues then, too.)

Check the weather forecast on the Los Angeles Times' website before you, so you'll know what to bring. Currently, projections for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday are in the low 80s in daylight, and the high 60s at night.

Los Angeles is in the Pacific Time Zone, which is 3 hours behind New York. Adjust your timepieces accordingly.

Tickets. With basketball legend Earvin "Magic" Johnson having bought the Dodgers, settling their ownership situation, and injecting some much-needed cash into what had been one of the wealthiest baseball teams from their last few years in Brooklyn until owner Frank McCourt's spectacularly messy divorce, the Dodgers are again perennial Playoff contenders.

And, as in days of old (specifically, the 1960s through the 1980s), they again have the best attendance in baseball, averaging 46,773 fans per home game this season, at the stadium with the largest current capacity in the major leagues, an even 56,000 seats.

(In recent times, there have been a few stadiums with larger capacities that hosted Major League Baseball teams, including the old Yankee Stadium, but all have been replaced, except for nearby Anaheim/Angel Stadium, which has been remodeled and now has a much lower capacity.)

So getting tickets could be tough. Infield Boxes are $140, Infield Loge Boxes $85, Preferred Loge Boxes (down the baselines) $73, Infield Reserve $44, Pavilion (what they call Bleachers) $49 in right field and $37 in left field (the difference being Sun issues). The top deck -- infield-only seats, although they may be the highest in baseball history, even higher than the upper decks at the old Yankee Stadium and Shea -- go for $29.

Getting There. It's 2,779 miles from Times Square in New York to City Hall in downtown Los Angeles, and 2,789 miles from Citi Field to Dodger Stadium. In other words, if you're going, you're flying.

After all, 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 drive... 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), either in Los Angeles or near the stadium or Disneyland in Anaheim), you'll get off I-15 at Exit 109A, and get on Interstate 10 West, and almost immediately onto U.S. Route 101 North, the San Bernardino Freeway.  Take that road's Exit 3 to State Route 110, the Pasadena Freeway, and Exit 24 will drop you off at Dodger 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 and a half hours hours; for a total of 46 hours and 30 minutes. 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 68 hours, changing buses twice, $806 round-trip, although it could drop to as little as $526 on advanced purchase. The station is at 1716 E. 7th Street, at Lawrence Street.

If you go by Amtrak, it's about 67 hours. You'd leave Penn Station on the Lake Shore Limited at 3:40 PM Eastern Time on Friday, arrive at Union Station in Chicago at 9:45 AM Central Time on Saturday, transfer to the Southwest Chief at 3:00 PM, and arrive and Union Station in Los Angeles at 8:15 AM Pacific Time on Monday. It's $663 round-trip. Union Station is at Alameda & Arcadia Streets).

UPDATE: Due to track work at Penn Station, you'd instead have to take the Pennsylvanian out of Penn Station at 10:52 AM on Friday, arrive in Pittsburgh at 7:59 PM, then switch to the Capitol Limited at 11:59 PM, arriving in Chicago at 8:45 AM Central, and then take the Southwest Chief. The fare is the same.

Flights could be more expensive, and you'll almost certainly have to change planes at least once, probably in Chicago or Dallas. But if you play your cards right, you can get a round-trip nonstop flight for a little under $600 -- just a little more than the train, and a hell of a lot faster. The LAX2US bus will take you, as its name suggests, from Los Angeles International Airport to Union Station, taking 45 minutes and costing $8.00; from there, bus and subway connections can be made to downtown. 

Once In the City. Los Angeles was founded in 1781 by Spain as a Catholic mission, and means "The Angels" -- and so, that was the name of the Pacific Coast League team, and the subsequent American League team: The Los Angeles Angels. The city continues to grow by leaps and bounds, and is now just under 4 million people, making it the 2nd-largest city in North America, behind New York. (Unless you count Mexico, and thus Mexico City, as "North America" instead of "Central America.") The metro area has about 18.6 million people.

The "centerpoint" of the city, where east-west and north-south addresses begin, is 1st Street and Main Street. Numbered streets are east-west.

The Los Angeles Times is the leading (most-circulated) newspaper in the Western United States, and has long been known for a great sports section. The legendary columnist Jim Murray has been dead for some time now, but if you watch ESPN's Around the Horn, you'll recognize the names of Bill Plaschke and J.A. Adande.

The population of the City of Los Angeles is about 47 percent Hispanic, 32 percent white, 11 percent Asian, and 10 percent black. For the County of Los Angeles, it's roughly the same: 47 percent Hispanic, 30 percent white, 14 percent Asian, 9 percent black.

The sales tax in the State of California is 7.5 percent, in the City of Los Angeles 9 percent. ZIP Codes in Los Angeles start with the digits 900 and 901, and the suburbs 902 through 918. The original Area Code was 213, but it is now used only for Downtown, and 323 now overlays it. 310 and 818 are used for the Western suburbs, 562 for the Southern suburbs, and 661 and 747 for the Northern suburbs. Despite its extensive freeway network, Los Angeles does not have a "beltway." The Los Angeles Department of Power and Water (LADPW) runs the electricity and the water.
A single ride on an RTD (Rapid Transit District) bus or Metro subway is $1.75. A 1-day pass is $7.00, and a 7-day pass (which might be a better value even if you're only staying for the 3 games of the series) is $25. Yes, L.A. has a subway now, with Red, Blue, Green, Gold, Purple and Expo lines. (Expo? It goes from Los Angeles all the way to Montreal? No.)
Going In. The official address of Dodger Stadium used to be 1000 Elysian Park Avenue. In honor of the legendary broadcaster, now retired after calling 67 seasons with the franchise, an all-time major league record, it has been officially changed to 1000 Vin Scully Avenue.

It's about 2 miles north of downtown, in the Elysian Park neighborhood. Public transportation in L.A. is a lot better than it used to be, with the addition of the Metro -- and now, the Dodger Stadium Express bus. It will pick up fans at the Patsaouras Bus Plaza, adjacent to the east portal of Union Station, and continue to Dodger Stadium via Sunset Blvd. and Cesar Chavez Avenue.

Service will be provided starting 90 minutes prior to the beginning of the games, and will end 45 minutes after the end of the game. Service will be provided every 10 minutes prior to the start of the game and run approximately every 30 minutes throughout the game. Dodger tickets will be honored as fare payment to ride the service. Those without a ticket will pay regular one-way fare of $1.75.

Thankfully, Dodger Stadium is not one of those 1960s or '70s stadiums that was built as a multipurpose facility for any event for which a promoter willing to pay Walter O'Malley's rent. But a major similarity it shares with those stadiums is that it is an island in a sea of parking. Parking will cost you $15 at the gate, but only $10 if you purchase online.

Dodger Stadium points away from downtown, but -- all jokes about L.A.'s infamous smog aside -- on a clear day, you'll get a view of the San Gabriel Mountains. Nicknamed Chavez Ravine for the former name of its location, Blue Heaven and O'Malley's Taj Mahal (or Taj O'Malley), by starry-eyed Dodger fans, and O'Malley's Temple of Greed by me, it was built in 1962, and is thus more than half a century old -- meaning it has now lasted quite a bit longer than Ebbets Field, which hosted 45 seasons of baseball.

But its age is hidden well, with its architectural style (that zig-zaggy roof over the bleachers can be seen on a few New Jersey public schools built in the JFK years) giving it away much more than its condition.
The Dodgers have usually been nuts on maintenance, including cleanliness. The old saying is, "You can eat off the floor at Dodger Stadium." Begging the question, "Even if you can, why would you want to?"

You'll most likely be going into the stadium through the home plate entrance. From this angle, the stadium may look odd, due to not being very tall. This is an illusion, as it was built into the side of Chavez Ravine. Along with the Oakland Coliseum, up the coast, this is the only active MLB stadium where you can walk in the front gate and go downstairs to your seat. (Ironically, this was once true for the Dodgers' arch-rivals: It could be done for Giants games at the Polo Grounds.)
The home plate entrance. Note the flags
representing the home countries of the players
that the Dodgers had at the time.

Being in the California sunshine, the natural grass field has nearly always looked good. But O'Malley's old policy of no advertising inside the stadium, save for the two Union 76 logos (for the gasoline station chain now owned by ConocoPhillips) on the scoreboards, is long gone. It doesn't make the place look tacky, though. (Tommy Lasorda can do that, if he shows up.)

The field points northeast, and is symmetrical: 330 feet to the poles, 360 to "Medium Left-Center" and "Medium Right-Center," 375 to "True Left-Center" and "True Right-Center," and 400 to center. That 400 mark is not shown: Instead, there are markers reading 395 to either side of dead center.
For a long time, the stadium's status as a pitcher's park, aiding such stars as Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Tommy John, Don Sutton, Fernando Valenzuela and Orel Hershiser, led to suggestions that the Dodgers were cheating: That the pitcher's mound was really closer than the required 60 feet, 6 inches, perhaps as much as 4 feet closer.

This has never been proven, and the fact that the Dodgers' pitching hasn't been as good the last 30 years (even with Clayton Kershaw) suggests 1 of 2 things: Either something happened to change the park's conditions to make it less unfriendly to hitters (what that would be, I don't know); or the Dodgers realized that, sooner or later, someone was going to prove the too-close-mound claim, and the game was up, and they had to move it back.

Oddly, from the park's opening in 1962 to 1970, there were 5 no-hitters pitched there, 3 by Koufax, and all by home pitchers (including Angel Bo Belinsky in '62 and Dodger Bill Singer in '70); from 1971 to 1989, none at all, in spite of all the good Dodger pitching; from 1990 to 1995, 5 more, 3 by Dodgers (Fernando, Kevin Gross and Ramon Martinez) and 2 by opponents (Dennis Martinez and Kent Mercker). Then, none until June 18, 2014 (Kershaw), and another on August 30, 2015 (Jake Arrieta of the Chicago Cubs).

In spite of its pitcher's park status, 5 home runs have been hit completely out of the stadium. Willie Stargell of the Pittsburgh Pirates did it twice, in 1969 and 1973, the 1st of these measured at 507 feet, which still the park's longest home run. Mike Piazza (then still with the Dodgers, not the Mets) hit one all the way out in 1997, Mark McGwire roided one out for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1999, and Giancarlo Stanton cranked one while with the Miami Marlins in 2015.

Because of its proximity to Hollywood, Dodger Stadium can be seen in lots of movies, including Superman Returns, where the Big Red S safely deposits a distressed airliner on the field. (A skyline for Metropolis was CGI'ed in behind the bleachers, where one would normally see the San Gabriels.) A space shuttle wasn't so lucky in The Core, crashing into the stadium.

It filled in for Anaheim Stadium in The Naked GunReggie... must kill... the Queen. Rookie of the Year had a scene set at Dodger Stadium, but because they were doing all their filming in Chicago, they used the White Sox' ballpark, how named Guaranteed Rate Field, as a stand-in for Dodger Stadium.

It hosted an NHL Stadium Series game on January 25, 2014, a local rivalry game, with the Anaheim Ducks beating the Los Angeles Kings 3-0. In 2013, it hosted games of the International Champions Cup soccer tournament, featuring hometown team Los Angeles Galaxy and renowned European soccer teams Real Madrid (of Spain), Everton (Liverpool, England) and Juventus (Turin, Italy). London's Arsenal hasn't played there, but in the film Rock of Ages, set in L.A. in 1987, Tom Cruise played the lead singer of a band named Arsenal, who played the stadium in the film's closing scene.
Landon Donovan taking a corner kick for L.A. Galaxy, August 3, 2013

The Beatles played their next-to-last concert at Dodger Stadium on August 28, 1966, before concluding their last tour up the coast at Candlestick Park the next night. It didn't host another concert until October 21 and 22, 1975, when Elton John sold it out on back-to-back nights (during the Reds-Red Sox World Series), wearing a sequined Dodger jersey designed by Bob Mackie).
"This boy's too young to be singing the Dodger Blues!"

Other concerts include the Bee Gees in 1979, the Jacksons' Victory Tour in 1984, Elton again and U2 in 1992, the Three Tenors in 1994, the Rolling Stones in 1994, Bruce Springsteen in 2003, Madonna in 2008 (she brought Britney Spears on, and they didn't kiss this time) and
BeyoncĂ© in 2016. Pope John Paul II delivered a Mass there in 1987.

Food.  The Dodger Dog has long been renowned as one of the best hot dogs in baseball. (You are, of course, free to disagree. Personally, the best hot dog I've ever had at a ballgame was at Tiger Stadium in Detroit.) A recent Thrillist article on the best food at each Major League Baseball stadium got more specific: While the Dodger Dog, a steamed blend of beef and pork, is available at every concession stand, the grilled all-beef Super Dodger Dog is "available only at select vendors."
Honestly, it looks rather ordinary,
although I do like a lot of relish on my hot dog.

In 2013, they introduced the Brooklyn Dodger Dog. After what O'Malley did to Brooklyn, the Borough's natives old enough to remember 1957 could say, "Youse got some noive, pal!" (Translation: You are showing a considerable about amount of nerve, sir.) This variation has lots of garlic and spices, so an Italian Brooklynite (or otherwise New Yorker, or New Jerseyan) could appreciate it.

Keeping with the "Dodger Blue" motif, they also have the Big Blue Burger. Despite the name, there isn't bleu cheese on it. Rather, it has tomatoes, caramelized onions (so far, so good), chipotle aioli and pasilla chili peppers (you had me, and then you lost me). They serve classic grilled cheese, and "Street Style Carne Asada Tacos" (presumably in the style of L.A. taco trucks).

As for team-themed stands: Campy's Corner (named after Roy Campanella) is behind Section 4, Think Blue at 5, Brooklyn Dodger Pizza (because you can't get a decent pizza in L.A., "California Pizza Kitchen" be damned) at 8 and 130, and Dodgertown Deli (named for their longtime spring training home in Vero Beach) at 47. Tommy Lasorda's Trattoria is on the right field concourse: As the man himself says, his favorite food is "anything ending in a vowel."

Fast-food chain Carl's Jr. is at 10 and 140. And while their arch-rivals, the Giants, were the first to sell them at a ballpark, the Dodgers have stands seling garlic fries. As you might imagine in California, they have Veggie Dogs at Sections 22, 23 and 108, and Healthy Cart at 30.

Roger Owens has been a peanut vendor for the Los Angeles Dodgers for as long as there's been a Los Angeles Dodgers, starting at the Coliseum in 1958 and having been at Dodger Stadium since it opened in 1962. He is renowned for his accuracy in tossing peanut bags, still managing to toss a bag 30 rows despite his age. Indeed, now that Vin Scully is retired, he might be the Dodgers' seniormost employee.

When the stadium opened, O'Malley had it built without water fountains, so there would be no free water. The old bastard didn't want to give anything away. The team website says that they have been installed since.

Team History Displays. The facade of the upper deck in left field has notations for the Dodgers' 10 retired numbers: 1, Harold "Pee Wee" Reese, shortstop, 1940-58; 2, Tommy Lasorda, pitcher, 1954-55, and manager, 1976-96; 4, Edwin "Duke" Snider, center field, 1947-62; 19, Jim "Junior" Gilliam, 3rd base, 1952-66, and coach, 1967-78 (making him the 1st black coach in MLB); 20, Don Sutton, pitcher, 1966-80 (with a brief comeback in 1988); 24, Walter Alston, manager, 1954-76; 32, Sandy Koufax, pitcher, 1955-66; 39, Roy Campanella, catcher, 1948-57; 42, Jackie Robinson, 2nd base (mostly), 1947-56; and 53, Don Drysdale, pitcher, 1956-69. The Dodgers do not have a team Hall of Fame.
Note the difference in Robinson's 42,
showing its universal retirement.

Although Jackie's Number 42 was retired for all of baseball on April 15, 1997, the 50th Anniversary of his major league debut, in a game at Shea Stadium between the Mets and the Dodgers, his number was previously retired by the Dodgers, on June 4, 1972 (as it turned out, not long before his death), along with Campy's 39 and Sandy's 32, the 1st such ceremony by the Dodgers.
For perspective, the only numbers already retired in MLB at that point were: 3, 4, 5, 7 and 37 by the Yankees for Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle and Casey Stengel; 37 by the Mets for Casey; 4 and 11 by the Giants for Mel Ott and Carl Hubbell; 36 by the Phillies for Robin Roberts; 21 and 41 by Atlanta for Warren Spahn and Eddie Mathews; 20 by Baltimore for Frank Robinson (even though he was still active); 1 by Cincinnati for Fred Hutchinson; 5 and 19 by Cleveland for Lou Boudreau and Bob Feller; 32 by Houston for Jim Umbricht; 1, 20 and 33 by Pittsburgh for Billy Meyer, Pie Traynor and Honus Wagner; and 6 by St. Louis for Stan Musial.

(Willie Mays and Hank Aaron were still active, but while the Red Sox hadn't given Ted Williams' 9 out, there had not yet been a formal retirement ceremony.)

Jackie grew up in nearby Pasadena, but he never actually played for the Dodgers in Los Angeles. Neither did Campy, who was paralyzed in a car crash in the off-season when the move happened, although he was kept employed by the Dodgers until his death in 1993. 

Reese barely played in L.A. But Snider, born in L.A. and raised in adjoining Compton (that's right, the Duke of Flatbush was straight outta Compton), was a member and indeed a key cog of their 1959 World Championship team in his hometown, as were Brooklyn "Boys of Summer" Gil Hodges and Carl Furillo.

Aside from Gilliam, who died while he was their 1st base coach (they wore black Number 19 patches on their sleeves in the 1978 World Series against the Yankees), all of these men are in the Hall of Fame. Aside from team owner Walter O'Malley (at least part-owner 1942-79, sole owner 1950-79), all of the Dodgers' Hall-of-Famers from the Los Angeles move onward have had their numbers retired.

This could be why they have not officially retired Number 34 for Fernando Valenzuela (pitcher 1980-91, number not issued since), or Number 6 for Steve Garvey (1st base 1969-82, only briefly issued since, including for Joe Torre while he managed the Dodgers), neither of whom is in the Hall, and to be fair each is at least a step short of it. Oddly, while 23 is not retired, Don Mattingly chose to wear 8 instead when he became a Dodger coach under Torre -- presumably, in Yogi Berra's honor -- and continued to wear it as a manager (and still does, now that he manages the Miami Marlins). 

The Dodgers' 6 World Series Championships are shown on the facade of the right field Stadium Club: 1955 (in Brooklyn), 1959, 1963, 1965, 1981 and 1988. As with the Yankees, Pennants and Division titles without going all the way are not shown; unlike their rivals up the Coast, the Giants, they do mention a World Championship won in New York.
They've won 23 Pennants. In Brooklyn: 1889, 1890, 1899, 1900, 1916, 1920, 1941, 1947, 1949, 1952, 1953, 1955 and 1956. Since moving to Los Angeles, 10: 1959, 1963, 1965, 1966, 1974, 1977, 1978, 1981, 1988 and 2017.

Since the establishment of Divisional Play in 1969, they've won the National League Western Division 16 times, including the last 5: 1974, 1977, 1978, 1981, 1983, 1985, 1988, 1995, 2004, 2008, 2009, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017. They also lost a Playoff for the NL West title to the Houston Astros in 1980, were in 1st place when the Strike of '94 hit, and reached the Playoffs through the Wild Card in 1996 and 2006.

Robinson and Koufax were named to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team in 1999. The same year, they, Snider, Campanella, and 1890s Brooklyn star Willie Keeler were named to The Sporting News' 100 Greatest Baseball Players. At 5-foot-4 and maybe 140 pounds, Wee Willie was the earliest and smallest player so honored. In 2006, Robinson, despite not having played for Los Angeles, was chosen by Dodger fans in the DHL Hometown Heroes poll.

When the 1st All-Star Game was played in 1933, only 1 Dodger was selected: Tony Cuccinello. This was after Dazzy Vance, their great pitcher of the 1920s, was traded and before their stars of the 1940s arrived.

On April 16, 2017, to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of Jackie Robinson's major league debut (they were on the road on the 15th), the Dodgers unveiled a statue of him behind the left field pavilion, the side if the stadium facing both his hometown of Pasadena and the UCLA campus. It shows him stealing home plate, and includes the quote that also graces his tombstone in a Brooklyn cemetery.
The Dodgers-Giants rivalry goes back to a postseason series in 1889, when the New York Giants were the Champions of the National League, and the Brooklyn Bridegrooms (so named because several players had gotten married in the 1887-88 off-season) were the Champions of the American Association. The Giants won, 6 games to 3.

The team that would become the Dodgers (for dodging Brooklyn's trolleys) was admitted to the NL the following season. Under the 154-game schedule of 1904 to 1957 (well, 1960, but they moved after 1957), they faced each other 22 times a season (but nobody ever called these regular-season games a "Subway Series"), and the fans were all over the New York Tri-State Area, not confined to their respective Boroughs (in the Giants' case, Manhattan).

It was more intense than Yankees-Red Sox, because of the proximity. You lived next-door to a rival, or worked alongside one, or even became part of an intermarried family. And even if it was peaceful, you always talked about it -- never more so than in 1951, when a Giant surge forced a tie for the Pennant, and a Playoff won by a home run by Bobby Thomson.

But with the Polo Grounds, and the neighborhood around it, falling apart, and not having enough money to maintain the ballpark, Giant owner Horace Stoneham planned to move after the 1957 -- to where they had their top farm team, in Minneapolis. But when Dodger owner Walter O'Malley decided to move to Los Angeles, he needed another team on the West Coast to save travel costs, so he talked Stoneham into San Francisco instead.

Suddenly, the rivalry, which was 13 miles of Subway, became 380 miles of Interstate 5. In the 60 years since the move:

* The were Dodger-aided and/or Dodger-benefiting Giant chokes in 1959, 1965, 1966, nearly in 1971 (but the Giants won the Division anyway), 1978, 1993, 2001, 2004 and 2014 (but the Giants won the Wild Card and then the World Series anyway).

* There were Giant-aided and/or Giant-benefiting Dodger chokes in 1962 (including a West Coast sequel to the 1951 Playoff series), 1980, 1991, 1997 and 2012.

* And they knocked each other out of the NL West race on back-to-back days of the final series of the season in 1982, benefiting the Atlanta Braves.

Overall, the series between them is close: The Giants have won 1,243 games, the Dodgers 1,212. That includes both coasts. Since moving to California, the Dodgers lead 547-527. The Dodgers have won the season series 56 times, the Giants 53, with 24 splits. Since moving to California, the Dodgers lead 30 to 18 with 17 splits. There is no trophy for winning the season series.

Stuff. The Dodgers have a "Top of the Park Gift Store" in the upper deck behind home plate. On non-game days, it's open 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

Contrary to its image as a city whose "idea of culture is yogurt," there is a Los Angeles literary tradition. Much of it is in the "hard-boiled detective story," as pioneered by Raymond Chandler through his creation of the private eye Philip Marlowe. Writers influenced by the city include Nathanael West, Charles Bukowski, James Ellroy, Michael Connelly, Walter Mosley, Bret Easton Ellis and (he counts, especially with the "hard-boiled" part) Quentin Tarantino. And the Los Angeles Times has produced many fine sportswriters.

But as for books about the Dodgers? Uh...

Lasorda and Scully recently collaborated on The Dodgers: From Coast to Coast, as they are 2 living links to the club's Brooklyn days. (Lasorda pitched for them there, although not well; and Scully began at Ebbets Field in 1950.) Plaschke wrote I Live For This: Baseball's Last True Believer for Lasorda. Robinson (I Never Had it Made), Campanella (It's Good to Be Alive), and Drysdale (Once a Bum, Always a Dodger) all wrote good memoirs, although you should remember that Jackie and Campy never played for them in Los Angeles.

Arnold Rampersad's Jackie Robinson: A Biography is highly regarded, and Jane Leavy's Sandy Koufax: A Lefty's Legacy is fantastic. So is Tom Adelman's Black and Blue: The Golden Arm, the Robinson Boys, and the World Series That Stunned America, which covers the 1966 season (and its leadup), culminating in the shocking World Series upset of the defending World Champion Dodgers by the then-upstart Baltimore Orioles, and is an excellent examination of both cities in that turbulent time, and is nearly as superb as Leavy's work in its discussion of Koufax.

(In this case, "the Robinson Boys" has nothing to do with the already-retired Jackie: They were the Orioles' Brooks Robinson, the white 3rd baseman from Little Rock, and Frank Robinson, the black right fielder born in Texas and raised in Oakland, who showed a racially-divided city that they could get along and win.)

Another book about the 1960s Dodgers, published last year, is The Last Innocents: The Collision of the Turbulent Sixties and the Los Angeles Dodgers, by Michael Leahy -- born in Newark, New Jersey, grew up in L.A., graduated from Yale, and now a longtime writer for The Washington Post.  

Paul Haddad, who grew up in the Seventies and Eighties like I did, recently published High Fives, Pennant Drives and Fernandomania: A Fan's History of the Los Angeles Dodgers' Glory Years. 

He was referring to 1977 to 1981, including outfielder Glenn Burke and his claimed invention of the high five -- and Burke's struggle as the closest thing MLB has yet had to an openly gay player, drummed out of the team by Lasorda, who has never been Catholic enough to curb his foul mouth, nor Christian enough to accept that his own son, model Tommy Lasorda Jr., was gay, or that his son's death was due to AIDS.

Also published in the 2017 season was Jerald Podair's book City of Dreams: Dodger Stadium and the Birth of Modern Los Angeles. And Michael Fallon has published Dodgerland: Decadent Los Angeles and the 1977-78 Dodgers. It's not an official sequel to The Last Innocents, but I read them back-to-back, and that combination pretty much covers the team's 1st 20 years in L.A., including what the City of Los Angeles was like at the time. Unlike Haddad's book, Fallon's Dodgerland only touches on the eventual title of 1981 briefly, at the end. It does, however, expose Lasorda for the phony that he has always been.

If you decide to read any of the books that try to justify O'Malley's move of the team out of Brooklyn, you have only yourself to blame when your head explodes due to the ingestion of bullshit through your eyes. The truth is, O'Malley did have a choice. If he was "visionary" enough to see that Los Angeles was a great baseball market, he wasn't the first to have that vision (though he was the first to truly act on it), and he should also have had the vision to get around New York's Mayor Robert Wagner and construction boss Robert Moses, to get the stadium he claimed he really wanted in Brooklyn.

As for videos, of particular interest to Met fans is Gil Hodges: The Quiet Man, one of several hourlong videos about the Brooklyn Dodgers that were narrated by David Hartman, about the Dodger 1st baseman who became the Mets' first baseman and the manager who brought them the 1969 "Miracle." The Dodgers also have a collection of the official World Series highlight films of their 5 L.A. titles, a collector's edition DVD set of the 1988 World Series, which remains their last Pennant. (This drought, currently 28 years, is their longest period out of the Series since the Series began in 1903. The previous longest was 1920 to 1941.)

Los Angeles Dodgers: From Coast to Coast - The Official Visual History of the Dodgers is available on DVD. So are various pieces on Jackie Robinson, including the recent film 42 starring Chadwick Boseman as the pioneer and Harrison Ford as Branch Rickey. Ken Burns' new film Jackie Robinson should be available on DVD soon. However, as yet, there is no Essential Games of the Los Angeles Dodgers or Essential Games of Dodger Stadium.

During the Game. On April 3, 2016, Thrillist published an article titled, "Baseball's Most Intolerable Fans, Ranked." To my shock, Dodger fans came in at Number 1 -- meaning they were the least tolerable fans in the major leagues.

I was flabbergasted. I thought Dodger fans were only bad when the Giants were in town, carrying over the rivalry from New York. Their fans go from laid-back Southern Californians to rabid dogs when the Giants are in town.

But I thought  they had no ill will toward anyone else, including the Mets. Sure, they want to beat New York. Los Angeles always wants to beat New York -- doesn't everybody? It comes with the territory of being the greatest city in the world. So, I figured, "Just don't speak well of the Giants, or ex-Dodger owner Frank McCourt, and you should be fine."

Thrillist begs to differ:

Unlike a Lakers game, which is really just an excuse for plastic narcissist actors and the power grubbers who fund their films to figure out a different way to be on camera, Dodger Stadium is less about the flash, and more about two very real, very different elements:

A) The people in the expensive seats really do get there late, take off their shirts to reveal smaller, tighter shirts, stay four innings, knock around six to eleventy thousand beach balls they mostly bring in themselves, eat a crappy Dodger Dog, tell a made-up Vin Scully story they heard from their uncle, leave early, and listen to the You Must Remember This podcast on the way home instead of the game. And yes, we get that this is because the traffic is horrible, and parking at the stadium is an exercise in self-flagellation, and the entire idea of L.A. was founded on the idea that it would be a majestic series of villages for no more than 35 people with cars to travel around, but still, maybe just don't go?

B) The people in the cheap seats really do beat up opposing fans. Or call them horrible things until they leave. Every single person we talked to who is either a Dodgers fan, or has been to the game as a visitor, recalled some of the most uncomfortable, unprintable stories of fights, or things being poured on women, children, and the like, just to provoke a fight. Cool, guys. Way to show your passion.

Oh also: your beloved Dodger Dogs are basically limp, under-salted, un-snappy Slim Jims that no one would ever consider eating were they not trapped in an enclosed space four miles from their car surrounded by people hitting beach balls and trying to fight their children.


Indeed, after Game 1 of the 2015 National League Division Series, a Met fan living in Bakersfield was put in the hospital by a vicious beating -- allegedly, by not a father and son, but by a mother and son. And yet, it was reported that "Good Samaritans" were using the rally towels that the Dodgers had given out to stanch his bleeding.

So, now, I don't know who to believe. Well, you're New Yorkers, and, while they may be Southern Californians, they will almost certainly not be gangbangers from Crenshaw, Inglewood, Compton or Long Beach. If push literally comes to shove, I think you can take them. Then again, you're Met fans, so, who knows?

Listen, in spite of my usual jokes about Met fans' brainpower and toughness, I'm going to trust you to be intelligent for 4 days: The 1 on which you're reading this, and the 3 you're in L.A. So I need you to trust me, and follow the advice that I give to Yankee Fans going to Boston:

If the fans around you are okay, and are willing to talk baseball with you, by all means return the favor; but don't provoke anybody. And if someone provokes you, walk away. It's better to be an uninjured coward than a hospitalized tough guy, especially far from home.

The Dodgers are wearing sleeve patches commemorating their 60th Anniversary in Los Angeles, featuring City Hall and palm trees. The Monday game is Labor Day Cooler Bag Night. It's a 5:10 PM Pacific Time start, not an old-style holiday matinee. Tuesday night, the usual 7:10 PM start, features the last in their series of 60th Anniversary Collector's Card Sets, featuring the Dodger stars of the current decade. Wednesday, a getaway day with a 4:35 PM start, does not feature a promotion.
The Dodgers hold auditions for National Anthem singers, instead of having a regular. They don't have a guy in a suit to act as a mascot, not even unofficially, as the Dodger Sym-Phony Band dressed like "Dodger Bums" in the last 20 or so years in Brooklyn. The Dodgers don't really need a mascot, as long as Lasorda is still alive.

Like the Yankees, the Dodgers play "God Bless America" before "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" during the 7th Inning Stretch. In the middle of the 8th inning, they play "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey. This pissed off Journey lead singer Steve Perry, who is from Hanford, about halfway between L.A. and San Fran, and is a big Giants fan. He got the last laugh, as the Giants invited him to sing the song during their 2010 victory parade.

After a win, the Dodgers play "I Love L.A." by Randy Newman. This is typical of L.A., and particular Dodger fan, obliviousness: The song both praises and mocks Los Angeles.

After the Game. The situation is roughly the same as at Citi Field: Because it's an island in a sea of parking, you won't be in any neighborhood, much less a bad one. That's the good news. The bad news is, if you're looking for a postgame meal, snack, or even a pint, you won't find any nearby, unless you want to count The Short Stop, at 1455 Sunset Blvd., half a mile to the west. At least, as I said, there will be cabs waiting in Parking Lot G.

In and around Los Angeles proper, there's some places that may interest you. A recent Thrillist article called Big Wangs the best sports bar in the State of California. In this case, "Wangs" is a countrified version of "wings," as in chicken wings. (Although a male rooster is sometimes called a "cock.") 801 S. Grand Avenue, downtown, near the Staples Center.

West 4th & Jane is owned by a New Yorker and is an L.A.-area haven for Met fans. 1432 4th Street, Santa Monica. Bus R10. Rick's Tavern On Main is the home of the L.A. area's Yankees fan club. 2907 Main Street in Santa Monica, 2 blocks in from the beach. Bus 733 from downtown L.A. (While the 1970s sitcom Three's Company was set in Santa Monica, close to the beach, I cannot confirm that Rick's was the basis for the bar across from the apartment building, the Regal Beagle.)

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. Bus R10. (Although it's also in Santa Monica, it's 3 miles in from the beach and Rick's.) On The Thirty is the home of L.A. area Jets fans. 14622 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks. Metro Red Line to Universal/Studio City, then transfer to Bus 150.

If your visit to Los Angeles is during the European soccer season (which just ended, but will get back underway in mid-August), 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, so you can get around. You'll need it if you visit L.A. during the 2028 Olympics, which it has been awarded.

UPDATE: On November 30, 2018, Thrillist published a list of "America's 25 Most Fun Cities." As you might guess, the country's 2nd biggest metropolitan area came in 2nd, behind the biggest, New York.

* Site of Wrigley Field. Yes, you read that right: The Pacific Coast League's Los Angeles Angels played at a stadium named Wrigley Field 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 won 12 PCL Pennants, the last 5 at Wrigley: 1903, 1905, 1907, 1908, 1916, 1918, 1921, 1926, 1933, 1934, 1947 and 1956. Their rivals, the Hollywood Stars, shared it from 1926 to 1935. It hosted a U.S. soccer loss to England in 1959 and a draw vs. Mexico the next year.

Its capacity of 22,000 was too small for the Dodgers, and the AL Angels moved out after 1 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 just been acquired by the Yankees and whose 61 in '61 season had yet to happen). And while Willie Mays, Duke Snider and Gil Hodges were on it, and all did briefly play for the Mets, the Mets hadn't gotten started yet, so no one on the show wore a Met uniform.

This Wrigley Field hosted 2 fights for the Heavyweight Championship of the World, both won by the defending Champions: Joe Louis knocking Jack Roper out in the 1st round on April 17, 1939; and Floyd Patterson defeating Roy Harris by decision on August 18, 1958.

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. A football field, Gilmore Stadium, was adjacent. The Stars won 5 Pennants, the last 3 at Gilmore: 1929, 1930, 1949, 1952 and 1953. 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. This is probably the most famous building in the State of California, unless you count San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge or the HOLLYWOOD sign as "buildings." 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 the Rose Bowl, 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.
The 2008 exhibition game

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 1st 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. In 1967, as 2 separate leagues bid for U.S. soccer fans, it hosted the Los Angeles Wolves and the Los Angeles Toros. Those leagues merged to form the original North American Soccer League, but the Coliseum only hosted that league in 2 more seasons, for the Los Angeles Aztecs in 1977 and 1981.

Officially, the Coliseum now seats 93,607, and the Rams returned last year, and will remain through the 2019 season, before their new stadium in Inglewood is ready. Oddly, since both they and the Raiders moved away after the 1994 season, the Raiders seem to be the most popular NFL team in Los Angeles County, but the much closer Chargers, 90 miles away, were the most popular team in Orange County. Now, the Chargers have also returned. More about that in a moment.

* Banc of California Stadium and site of Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena. Next-door to the Coliseum, the Sports Arena 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, the former over North Carolina and the latter 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 prizefight (including the Rocky films), a concert, or a political convention. Lots of rock concerts were held there, and Bruce Springsteen, on its stage, called the building "the joint that don't disappoint" and "the dump that jumps."

The Sports Arena jumps no more: It was torn down late last year, so that Banc of California Stadium, a soccer-specific stadium for the new Los Angeles FC, could be built on the site. It is now open, and LAFC have begun play in it, including having hosted an "El Trafico" derby with the Galaxy.

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. Number 40 or 42 bus from Union Station. Although the Coliseum and the Sports Arena are on the edge of South Central, you will probably be safe.

* Galen Center. In 2006, USC basketball finally had a home it owned, and at which it had first choice of scheduling -- ironic, considering their having first choice at the Coliseum infuriated the Rosenblooms of the Rams, the Hiltons of the Chargers, and Al Davis of the Raiders, and made the Spanoses of the Chargers decide not to use it until the Inglewood stadium opens.
Seating 10,258, it is named for Louis and Helen Galen, bankers and longtime USC fans who donated $50 million, which turned out to be 1/3rd of the building's cost. The Jim Sterkel Court is named for a USC basketball player who died of cancer. On May 10, 2014, the vacant WBC Heavyweight Championship was awarded there when Bermane Stiverne knocked Chris Arreola out there.

3400 S. Figueroa Street, 5 blocks north of the Coliseum, and to the east of USC's main campus. 

* 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 attacks on the Pacific Coast 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.

At the Rose Bowl stadium, the Rose Bowl game has hosted 20th Century de facto, and 21st Century actual, games for college football's National Championship in the seasons of 1954-55, Ohio State over USC; 1962-63, USC over Wisconsin; 1967-68, USC over Indiana; 1968-69, Ohio State over USC; 1972-73, USC over Ohio State; 1991-92, Washington over Michigan; 1997-98, Michigan over Washington State; 2001-02, Miami over Nebraska; 2003-04, USC over Michigan; 2005-06, the thriller won by Texas over USC; 2009-10, Alabama over Texas; and 2013-14, Florida State over Auburn.

It hosted 5 Super Bowls: XI, Oakland over Minnesota; XIV, Pittsburgh over the Rams (despite almost a home-field advantage for the Rams); XVII, Washington over Miami; XXI, the Giants over Denver; and XXVII, Dallas over Buffalo. Super Bowl XIV remains the all-time biggest attendance for an NFL postseason game, 103,985.

The Rose Bowl 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 18 games of the U.S. soccer team, most recently a loss to Mexico in 2015; and several games of the 1994 World Cup, including a Semifinal and the Final, in which Brazil beat Italy on penalty kicks. It also hosted several games of the 1999 Women's World Cup, including the Final, a.k.a. the Brandi Chastain Game. It was home to the Los Angeles Galaxy from their 1996 inception to 2002, including the 2000 CONCACAF Champions League and 2002 MLS Cup wins.

In NASL play, it hosted the Los Angeles Wolves in 1968, and the Los Angeles Aztecs in 1978 and 1979. They played at Weingart Stadium at East Los Angeles College in 1974, their 1st season, when they won the NASL title; and Murdock Stadium, at El Camino Junior College, in 1975 and '76. Yes, the defending champions of America's top soccer league played their home games at a junior college. This was what American soccer was like in the Seventies. Hopefully, it will be bigger by the 2026 World Cup, for which the Rose Bowl has been chosen as a finalist as a venue by the U.S. Soccer Federation.

UPDATE: It has, indeed, been selected by the U.S. Soccer Federation as a finalist to be one of the host venues for the 2026 World Cup.

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 National Championship (they would win it again in 1965), 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 parties and support Ronald Reagan for Governor.

Speaking of politics, 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, Dukakis chose to hold 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 the 720 bus, then walk up Westwood Plaza to Strathmore Place. "Westwood" is the name of the neighborhood that UCLA is in, and Coach Wooden was known as "the Wizard of Westwood."


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. And also his brother Mack Robinson, 1936 Olympic Silver Medalist.

On the way up Westwood Plaza, you'll pass UCLA Medical Center, now named for someone who died there, Ronald Reagan. Wooden, John Wayne and Michael Jackson also died there. The UCLA campus also has a Dykstra Hall, but 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. From 1988 to 2003, it was named 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, in 1993, losing it to the Montreal Canadiens.

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 ABC sitcom Mr. Sunshine. 3900 W. Manchester Blvd. 


* City of Champions Stadium. This is the current name (which will almost certainly be tossed aside for a corporate one) for the project to build a new stadium for the Rams in Inglewood, on the site of the Hollywood Park horse racing track.

Set to seat 70,240, it will have a retractable roof, and be expandable to 100,000 for Super Bowls and NCAA Final Fours. It is scheduled to open for the Rams in time for the 2020 NFL season, and, by then, may host another NFL team as well. It has been awarded Super Bowl LVI, to be played on February 6, 2022; and the College Football National Championship Game for the 2022-23 season. If the U.S. ever gets to host another World Cup (the next available one is 2026), it would likely be a site, possibly even for the Final (as the Rose Bowl was in 1994).

Hollywood Park Racetrack stood at the site from 1938 to 2013. Citation, the 1948 Triple Crown winner, won his last race there in 1951, becoming the 1st horse to win over $1 million. It hosted the Breeders' Cup in 1984, 1987 and 1997.

3883 Prairie Avenue and Arbor Vitae Street, across Pincay Drive from the Forum. For both facilities, use Metro Silver Line to Harbor Transitway station, switch to Number 115 bus. (Be careful, this transfer is in South Central.)


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.

* Staples Center. This new downtown arena has been home to the Lakers, Clippers and Kings since 1999. The Lakers have won 5 Championships here, to go with the 6 they won at the Forum, and the 5 they won in Minneapolis. The Clippers, as yet, have won 2 Division Championships, but have never reached a Finals in any city since their founding in 1970 (as the Buffalo Braves, San Diego or L.A.). The Kings finally won a Stanley Cup in 2012, although, as a Devils fan, I'm trying to put that fixed Finals out of my mind. They've now won another, although, if you're a Ranger fan, you may want to do the same.

According to a recent New York Times article, there is not one place where the Clippers are more popular than the Lakers. Not in the City of Los Angeles, not in the County of Los Angeles, not in Orange County, not even in the Clippers' former home of San Diego (City or County). In fact, there are places in Southern California where the Chicago Bulls, as a holdover from the 1990s, have almost as many fans as the Clippers -- but not, despite all that LeBron James achieved, the Miami Heat or the Cleveland Cavaliers.

On 3 occasions, Vitali Klitschko fought for the WBC edition of the Heavyweight Championship of the World at the Staples Center. On June 21, 2003, he was knocked out by Lennox Lewis. But after Lewis vacated the title by retiring (there hasn't been an undisputed Heavyweight Champion of the World since), Klitschko was awarded the title by knocking Corrie Sanders out there on April 24, 2004. On September 26, 2009, he won a decision over Chris Arreola.

The Staples Center holds the Grammy Awards every other year (alternating with New York), and hosted the 2000 Democratic Convention, which nominated Al Gore. 1111 S. Figueroa Street, Los Angeles. The 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. Their relationship also inspired Webb to write "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" and "Where's the Playground Susie" 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 the park has been a magnet for gang violence, although this was significantly reduced in the 2000s.)

* Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Home of the Angels since 1966, and of the Rams from 1980 until 1994, it was designed to look like a modernized version of the old Yankee Stadium, before that stadium's 1973-76 renovation. The football bleachers, erected in 1979, were demolished in 1997 and replaced with a SoCal-esque scene that gives the place some character. Unfortunately, the old "Big A" scoreboard that stood in left field from 1966 to 1979 was moved out to the parking lot, and now stands as a message board.

It was known as Anaheim Stadium from 1966 to 1997, and Edison International Field of Anaheim from 1998 to 2003. 2000 E. Gene Autry Way at State College Boulevard. Metrolink's Orange County Line and Amtrak share a train station just to the north of the stadium.

* 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. It also hosted the NCAA's hockey version of the Final Four, the Frozen Four, in 1999. 2695 E. Katella Avenue. Anaheim Metrolink stop.

* Anaheim Convention Center. With the Angels having opened house in Orange County in 1966, prospective owners of teams in other sports began to consider the area. This complex opened in 1967, and includes a 7,500-seat arena.

That year, it became the home of a charter team in the American Basketball Association, the Anaheim Amigos, who couldn't even come close to filling the small capacity, averaging just 1,293 fans per home game. I've been to many a high school basketball game with more attendees than that. So the team moved up the freeway to the L.A. Sports Arena, and became the Los Angeles Stars. They were no more successful there, and moved to Salt Lake City, where, as the Utah Stars, they won the 1971 ABA title.

The ACC was home to the Anaheim Oranges of World Team Tennis in 1978, the California Surf of the indoor version of the old North American Soccer League in 1979-80, the wrestling matches of the 1984 Olympics, and the Big West Conference basketball tournaments (men's and women's) from 2001 to 2010. But if you don't count the ABA, then it's hosted exactly 1 major league sporting event ever, and then only as an emergency: On May 3, 1992, with the South Central riots still raging mere blocks from the Sports Arena, the Clippers moved Game 4 of their Playoff series with the Utah Jazz to the ACC, and won 115-107.

The Los Angeles Kings have never played at the Anaheim Convention Center. Nor have the Sacramento Kings. But the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley, sang here on April 23 and 24, 1973 and November 30, 1976.

The ACC is now the largest exhibit facility on the West Coast. 800 W. Katella Avenue, across the street from Disneyland, about 2 miles west of Angel Stadium, and about 2 1/2 miles west of the Honda Center. Bus 50 goes down Katella between the venues.

* 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 has been home to MLS' Los Angeles Galaxy since it opened in 2003, and Chivas USA from its formation in 2004 until it went out of business in 2014. Now, through the 2019 season, it will be the home field of the Los Angeles Chargers, until the City of Champions Stadium opens.

UPDATE: With the turn to calendar year 2019, it's been renamed Dignity Health Sports Park.

Aside from the regular-season title of the Western Conference in 2007, Chivas USA, a subsidiary of the legendary Guadalajara, Mexico-based Chivas, won nothing. But the Gals -- yes, they get that feminized nickname -- have won more MLS Cups than any other team, 5: 2002, 2005, 2011, 2012 and 2014, all but the 1st while playing here. They also won the CONCACAF Champions League, in 2000, and the U.S. Open Cup in 2001 and 2005.

It's hosted the MLS Cup Final in 2003, 2004, 2008, 2011, 2012 and 2014. It's hosted 12 games by the national team, most recently a win over Canada on February 5, 2016, winning 8, losing 2 and drawing 2. 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. Public transport is difficult. You'd have to take 2 buses: First, the 910 or 950 Silver Line from downtown to the Harbor Gateway Transit Center, then the 246 San Pedro-Point Fermin line. That will get you to the corner of Avalon Blvd. and Victoria Street, the northwestern corner of the stadium's property. 


* Veterans Memorial Stadium. This 11,600-seat stadium, opening in 1948, was the home field for the football program at California State University at Long Beach, a.k.a. Cal State-Long Beach, CSU-Long Beach or Long Beach State, from 1955 until the program was folded in 1991.

On April 28, 1957, it was the site of the 1st game for the U.S. soccer team against Mexico on home soil. Of the 10 previous meetings, starting at the 1934 World Cup, 1 (the 1st ) was in Italy, 1 was in a tournament in Cuba, and the rest were in Mexico City. It was a qualifier for the 1958 World Cup, and it didn't go so well: About 12,500 fans attended, most of them Mexicans coming over the border or Mexican-Americans choosing heritage over homeland, and Mexico won 7-2. Aside from that 1st match in 1934, the U.S. would not beat Mexico until 1980.

Like the old Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia, it is locally known as simply "The Vet." 5000 E. Lew Davis Street, about 19 miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles. Not easy to get to by public transportation: Bus 910 or 950 to Harbor/Century Transitway Station, then Metro Green Line to Lakewood Blvd., then Bus 266 to Lakewood & Michelson, then Bus 112 to Clark & Lew Davis.

* Gersten Pavilion. This 4,156-seat arena opened in 1981 as the home court for Loyola Marymount University, best known for their 1990 postseason run that included the death of Hank Gathers. For this reason, it is known as Hank's House. 1 LMU Drive. Bus 733 to Venice & Lincoln, then Bus 3 to Manchester & Loyola.

* Site of Naud Junction Pavilion. Naud Junction was the site of a warehouse built by Edouard Naud, including a signal tower at Alameda and Ord Streets. It lasted until 1940, when Union Station was built.

From 1905 to 1913, the site also included the Naud Junction Pavilion, also known as the Pacific Athletic Club. At this building, 4 fights for the Heavyweight Championship of the World were held, all successful defenses for Champion Tommy Burns: Against Marvin Hart, from whom he'd won the title the year before, on February 23, 1906; against Fireman Jim Flynn on October 2, 1906; against Light Heavyweight Champion Philadelphia Jack O'Brien on November 28, 1906; and against O'Brien again on May 8, 1907.

* Santa Anita Park. Opening on Christmas Day 1934, the West Coast's premier thoroughbred horse racing track annually hosts the Santa Anita Derby, one of the warmup races for the Triple Crown. It has also hosted the Breeders' Cup more times than any other track. How many times, Ed Rooney? "Nine times!": 1986, 1993, 2003, 2008, 2009, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2016.

It's yet another location which, due to its proximity to Hollywood, has frequently served as a filming location for its usual subject: The Marx Brothers' A Day at the Races and the original version of A Star Is Born in 1937, and The Story of Seabiscuit in 1949. Seabiscuit had famously won his last race there, the 1940 Santa Anita Handicap. The ill-fated 2012 TV series Luck was also filmed there.

It also includes statues of several horses, including Seabiscuit, John Henry and Zenyatta; and jockeys such as Johnny Longden, Bill Shoemaker and Laffit Pincay Jr. 285 Huntington Drive in Arcadia, about 13 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles. Metro Gold to Arcadia.

* 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 the original 1937 version of A Star Is BornDouble 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.).
** 1930-43, alternated between the Ambassador Hotel, 3400 Wilshire Blvd.; and the Biltmore Hotel, 506 S. Grand Avenue, downtown.
** 1944-46, Grauman's Chinese Theater (more about that in a moment).
** 1947-48, Shrine Auditorium, 665. W. Jefferson Blvd., Los Angeles (Metro Silver Line to Figueroa/Washington, transfer to Number 81 bus). Elvis sang here on June 8, 1956.
** 1949-60, Pantages Theatre, 6233 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles.
** 1961-68, Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, which also hosted the legendary televised rock concert The T.A.M.I. Show in 1964, 1855 Main Street, Santa Monica (Number 10 bus from Union Station).
** 1969-87, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 135 N. Grand Avenue, downtown;
** 1988-2001, Shrine Auditorium again.

** 2002-present, Kodak Theater (which also hosts American Idol), 6801 Hollywood Blvd (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 real-life 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 he didn't play either 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); 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, 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 you don't need to see the 44-foot-high 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., also at the Hollywood/Highland Metro stop).

Jackie Robinson grew up in Pasadena, at 121 Pepper Street. In a bit of foreshadowing, Pepper Street and Claremont Street are connected by an alley named Progress Lane. Pepper Street extends from Sunset Avenue, and at its foot is Brown Memorial AME Church, which the Robinsons attended. Gold Line from Union Station to Del Mar, then Bus 260 to Fair Oaks & Claremont. Be advised that this is still a private residence, not a museum dedicated to Jackie, and the people living there now will not want to be bothered.

Casey Stengel, the 1st manager of the Mets and the greatest manager of the Yankees, retired to Glendale, in Los Angeles County, and after his death on September 29, 1975, he was buried in Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery. So was Don Drysdale, and early 1950s Brooklyn manager Chuck Dressen.

Also laid to rest there are Lou Gehrig's successor Babe Dahlgren, football star turned actor Johnny Mack Brown, 1930s boxing champion Jimmy McLarnin, Chicago Cubs owners William Wrigley Jr. and Philip K. Wrigley, Laverne and Maxene Andrews of the Andrews Sisters, James Arness, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, Clara Bow, Lon Chaney Sr., Nat King Cole and Natalie Cole, Sam Cooke, Sammy Davis Sr. and Jr. and Sammy's widow Altovise, Walt Disney and other members of his family (he was not cryogenically frozen), W.C. Fields, Larry Fine (the other members of the Three Stooges are buried elsewhere in Los Angeles County), Errol Flynn, Clark Gable and Carole Lombard, Jean Harlow, Rex Harrison, Phil Hartman, Michael Jackson, Ted Knight, Harold Lloyd, Chico and Gummo Marx (but not Groucho or Harpo), Aimee Semple McPherson, Tom Mix, Lone Ranger star Clayton Moore, Mary Pickford, Will Rogers, David O. Selznick, Norma Shearer and Irving Thalberg, Red Skelton, Jimmy Stewart, Elizabeth Taylor and Spencer Tracy. 1712 S. Glendale Avenue. Bus 90, 91, 92 or 94 from downtown.

Roy Campanella is interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in the Hollywood Hills. So is another Hall-of-Famer associated with the Dodgers, Leo Durocher. So is John Roseboro, who succeeded Campy as Dodger catcher. So are John Wooden, Gene Autry, longtime Lakers owner Jerry Buss, Steve Allen, Lucille Ball, David Carradine, Bette Davis, Annette Funicello, Marvin Gaye, Andy Gibb, Batman creator Bob Kane, Buster Keaton, Jack LaLanne, Dorothy Lamour, Charles Laughton, Stan Laurel (but not Oliver Hardy), Liberace, Ed McMahon, Ozzie Nelson, Harriet Nelson, Ricky Nelson, Freddie Prinze, John Ritter, Telly Savalas, Lee Van Cleef, Dick Van Patten, Paul Walker and Jack Webb.

Despite his connections to L.A., Jackie Robinson is buried in Brooklyn, at Cypress Hills Cemetery, which is bisected by the Interborough Parkway, now named the Jackie Robinson Parkway. Gil Hodges is also buried in Brooklyn, at Holy Cross Cemetery. Pee Wee Reese is buried in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. Duke Snider lived in Fallbrook, California during his retirement, and is buried there, at Masonic Cemetery, about 100 miles southeast of Los Angeles. New York-born baseball legend Hank Greenberg, often called the 1st Jewish baseball star, is buried at Hillside Memorial Park & Mortuary, 6001 West Centinela Avenue. Bus 45 to Broadway & Slauson, then Bus 108 to Bristol Parkway & Green Valley Circle.

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). 

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. Metrolink Orange County Line from Union Station to Fullerton, then Number 26 bus to Yorba Linda.

Nixon's "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 (no longer by the Nixon family), and is not open to the public. So unless you're a major Tricky Dick fan, I'd suggest skipping it, as you'd only be able to stand outside it.

Ronald Reagan's Presidential Library is at 40 Presidential Drive in Simi Valley in Ventura County. (Reagan was born in Tampico, Illinois, about 130 miles west of Chicago.) 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. 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 in Los Angeles, and the tallest building west of the Mississippi River, is the newly-completed Wilshere Grand Center, at 1,100 feet, at 900 Wilshere Blvd. at Figueroa. It surpassed the 1,018-foot Library Tower, a.k.a. the U.S. Bank Tower.

However, the two most famous tall buildings in Los Angeles are 444 S. Flower Street, at 5th Street, famous as the location for the law firm on L.A. Law; and City Hall, recognizable from LAPD badges, the early police series Dragnet, and as the stand-in for the Daily Planet building on the George Reeves Adventures of Superman series in the 1950s. 200 S. Spring Street at Main Street.

Did I forget anything important? Oh yeah, Southern California's original tourist destination, outside of the Hollywood studios. 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 Met fans in going coast-to-coast, and enjoy the Mets-Dodgers matchup, and enjoy the sights and sounds of Southern California. Just don't yell out, "Go back to Brooklyn where you belong!" After all, if the Dodgers had never left Brooklyn, there never would have been a New York Mets.