Visit to Disneyland
There were reports the Dodgers would have to relocate the 1962 opening series to Cincinnati’s Crosley Field and Milwaukee’s County Stadium. The Angels, scheduled to open their season on April 17, had until April 1 to exercise an option to return to again use the 22,000-seat Wrigley Field, which would also be available to the Dodgers in case of emergency.
“I wouldn’t even consider anything other than Chavez Ravine for April 10 and every date thereafter,” O’Malley said. “I’m a stubborn man. We will hit the target date, no matter what the weather. I have a competent engineer and a good contractor and they assured me within the last hour that we’ll open as scheduled in Chavez Ravine.”Herald-Examiner, February 11, 1962
The first 22 days of February 1962 produced 17 inches of rain and the waterlogged playing field required creative drying solutions. An Allison jet airplane engine from an F-84 fighter plane was mounted on a truck. Moved to various locations on the field, the engine spewed a jet blast of 300 feet of heat estimated at 250,000 BTU’s (British thermal units). Two helicopters were also employed to help dry out the field with their powerful downdrafts of air. The jet engine was also eyed for future use if needed to dry the access-road beds leading into the stadium so they could be blacktopped.
As the stadium began to take shape, sportswriters focused on the makeup of the 1962 ballclub, which included starters Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale and Johnny Podres — all whom might benefit from a “pitcher’s park.” The regular lineup included potential power from Frank Howard, Tommy Davis and Duke Snider. The departure from the Coliseum would also change the fortunes of Wally Moon, the left-handed hitter whose opposite-field home runs over the screen were dubbed “Moon Shots.”
The field itself would be one of the few major league parks with symmetrical dimension — 330 feet down both left and right field foul lines; 380 feet to both left and right center; and 410 feet to dead center.
“If we blow the championship, I’ll take the rap,” O’Malley said. “Maybe right field is too deep for our particular personnel, but I’m a believer that dimensions should be synchronized, and not change from year to year.
“Blame me, if there’s any blame. It was my idea. I’ve always wanted symmetry in a ballpark and some day I’d like to see all the stadiums with identical dimensions. It would mean much more in the record books and in making comparisons.”Herald-Examiner, January 16, 1962
In Houston, meanwhile, team officials took a different approach to the field dimensions as the Colt .45s played in a ballpark noted for its tall infield grass. Said Manager Harry Craft: “When we make any changes in our park, it’ll be to suit ourselves, no one else.”
Dodger Stadium front office personnel visited Disneyland during the preseason, but not necessarily for a vacation. O’Malley wanted his employees to study the customer service at Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom.
In his ballpark, O’Malley wanted to make sure his restrooms were clean, a vital element in the quest of family atmosphere and entertainment. There would be 48 restrooms throughout the park. At Wrigley Field, there were no second-tier restroom facilities.