Opening Day Preparation
An estimated 2,000 fans attended the outdoor luncheon as civic leaders and baseball officials celebrated the end of the project — at least its frantic final hours as Teddy Buckner’s Dixieland band played alongside the sounds of Yount’s construction crews.
“When O’Malley, Frick and the rest of the dedication committee arrived at the stadium for the ceremonies, workmen were still scurrying around all four tiers, hammering, welding, plastering and painting,” Sports Illustrated reported. “A huge orange crane stood in left field lifting sections of the electronic message board into place. The grass, which had been grown outside the stadium and then carted inside in squares a few weeks before, was uneven and splotchy. Half of it had been dyed a rich green, but the other half was an unhealthy yellow. Delivery boys raced wildly about with bunches of flowers asking ushers where such-and-such a place was. The ushers could only shrug. Even the Dodgers’ batting cage got lost, preventing the team from taking batting practice.”Sports Illustrated, April 23, 1962
When a reporter noticed misspelled stadium signs (“Lounge” instead of “Loge”; “Pavillon” instead of “Pavilion”), O’Malley roared with laughter. Those typos were mere blips on the radar screen as the cranes were lifting the final pieces of the scoreboard in place and furniture was being moved into vacant spaces.
“We’ll undoubtedly have a lot of glad moments in the new ballpark,” Snider said. “But we’ll probably have some sad ones, too.”
Snider suffered the season’s first injury on his way to the ceremonies. When the tailpipe on his car fell off in traffic, he picked up the loose piece of metal — not realizing it was still hot. Snider wore a golf glove over his hand to hide the burn during the ceremonies and keep himself in the next day’s starting lineup.
There were warnings about Opening Day traffic snarls and Los Angeles Police Chief William Parker urged fans to carpool and to arrive early after studying maps of new stadium access roads.
Dodger starting pitcher Johnny Podres took the advice and left his headquarters at the Mayfair Hotel at 8:55 a.m. The cab ride lasted just 10 minutes, leaving Podres plenty of time before the first pitch.
Alston nearly didn’t make the big event after waking up with a 100-plus temperature. When the Dodgers played their first game at the Coliseum in 1958, Giants Manager Bill Rigney was out of commission due to a sinus condition that prevented him from riding an airplane. Rigney was now the skipper of the Los Angeles Angels.
According to Los Angeles Times columnist John Hall, Moon hit the first home run in batting practice, “a 370-foot bolt into the right field bullpen.” Players who marveled at the beautiful grass during batting practice noticed the baseballs were turning green. At the suggestion of Mervyn LeRoy, the groundskeepers had sprayed the turf with a deep green dye the previous night.
Kay O’Malley, wife of the Dodger President, threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Also honored was Mrs. James (Dearie) Mulvey, Dodger stockholder who traveled from her New York home to visit Los Angeles. Mrs. Mulvey had also witnessed the Dodgers’ first game at Brooklyn’s Ebbets Field in 1913.