World’s Largest Scoreboards
The scoreboards at Dodger Stadium were designed for baseball information and public announcements instead of the “bells and whistles” style of the famous “exploding scoreboard” at Bill Veeck’s Comiskey Park in Chicago.
The “world’s largest scoreboards,” which were 75 feet by 34, featured 17,000 lights, using enough electricity to light up 200 houses or 100,000 Christmas trees. The field scoreboard was installed by Olen Williams of the Fair Play Manufacturing Co. of Des Moines, IA, builder of the equipment. The left field message board was operated by Tom Seeberg, an assistant to Dodger publicity director Red Patterson. Seeberg sat at a machine modeled on a typewriter and could relay Patterson’s information using eight rows of words or numbers, each row having a space for 31 characters. By comparison, the Yankee Stadium scoreboard had eight rows with room for eight characters.
The Dodger Stadium messages could be delivered in four different ways: taped for eventual transmission; flashed instantaneously letter by letter; delayed line by line or delayed until completed and flashed in total.
O’Malley and Praeger also dreamed up a safety precaution pertaining to the outfield wall. Wary of Brooklyn’s Pete Reiser and others who were injured crashing into brick, concrete, hardwood or steel fences, the Dodger Stadium outfield walls were constructed with “tissue thin” plywood. There was also a cinder track inside the fence to warn an outfielder he was approaching the wall.
“If baseball is dying, as so many Cassandras have lamented, somebody forgot to tell Walter O’Malley,” wrote New York sports columnist Bob Considine. “The arena he has built with the cooperation of the City of Los Angeles is a temple, indeed a shrine, to the old game. No rich doting patron of the past, including (former Yankees owner) Jake Ruppert, ever made a contribution of such scope and imagination.”Bob Considine, Herald-Examiner, February 2, 1962
On March 29, O’Malley sent the following Western Union telegram to Praeger and John Waterbury in New York: “WOULD LIKE WALL BEHIND DUGOUT BOX SEATS RUNNING FROM ONE DUGOUT TO OTHER TO BE PAINTED IN THE RAINBOW SPECTRUM.” Overall, the ballpark’s color scheme features six different pastel shades.
The Dodger players who spent spring training in Florida finally had a chance to see the new ballpark on April 9, the day before the season opener with the Cincinnati Reds. A citizen’s committee sponsored a “Grand Opening” event for the Dodgers and Angels.
“This is a thrilling day for Los Angeles,” Baseball Commissioner Ford C. Frick said. “We should have nothing but praise for the man who imagined a city on the side of a hill and moved mountains to accomplish it — Walter O’Malley.”