Opening Day for the Dodgers at Memorial Coliseum

In its coverage of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ opening game in L.A. on April 18, 1958, the L. A. Times noted that the attendees included: Edward G. Robinson, Jimmy Stewart, Pat Brown, Governor Goodwin J. Knight, Al Hitchcock in section 9, Gregory Peck, Danny Kaye, Chuck Connors, Burt Lancaster, Jack Lemmon, Nat Cole, John Ford, Danny Thomas, Gene Autry, Groucho Marx, Walter Winchell, Mrs. John McGraw, and George Parnassus.

Before the game, when Los Angeles held a big downtown parade for the new team, L.A. mayor Norris Poulson told Walter O’Malley: “When you moved the Dodgers out here, they said you were going out to the sticks. Well, [Juan Rodriguez] Cabrillo discovered California before Hudson discovered Manhattan. So, you’re coming up in the world!”

Read about how the Dodgers got from Brooklyn to Los Angeles here. Attendance for opening day was expected to be around 90,000, which would have beaten the previous major league record of 86,288 for an Indians-Braves World Series game in 1948. Instead, the attendance of 78,672 people set many records, and beat the old opening day Dodger record of 34,530 at Ebbets Field on April 19, 1949, for a game vs. the Giants. Less than a week later, on April 24 for a loss to the Cubs, only 10,194 were at the Coliseum.

But on April 18, the Dodgers won, 6-5, with help from Jim Davenport missing third base while heading home on a Willie Kirkland triple in the top of ninth that could have led to a tie game. After the game, Willie Mays said, “Those rows of seats go so high it’s awful hard to see anything hit but high flies. Line drives, they are murder.”

The farthest seat from the field at the Coliseum was up stairway 29, row 79, at seat 101. The L.A. Times sent a man up there, who called it “a perfect spot, kind of a Greta Garbo seat, for a guy who wants to be alone.” Finally, a few days earlier, the first MLB game on the West Coast was covered by the San Francisco Chronicle.


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