Sunday was a historic day in the NFL. The Seattle Seahawks were engineering a potential game-winning drive, but running back Christine Michael fumbled it away, giving the Los Angeles Rams their first win in 22 years. The 9-3 victory wasn’t exactly inspiring, but it was cause for celebration for the announced 91,046 in attendance at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Professional football has returned to the City of Angels.
Of course, the Rams have a long way to go re-endearing themselves to fans. But the area isn’t exactly new to accepting relocated teams. The Lakers made their way from Minneapolis in 1960. The Clippers arrived via San Diego in 1984. The Raiders came from Oakland in 1982 and went back to the bay in 1994. The Rams came to L.A. from Cleveland and stayed from 1946-1994 before returning this year. The pride of Los Angeles sports, the Dodgers, left Brooklyn for L.A. in 1958.
The Dodgers are synonymous with Los Angeles. From the internationally identifiable “L.A.” logo to Chavez Ravine to Vin Scully to the limitless iconic moments, the sacred franchise is the heartbeat of Southern California sports. The Rams can’t replicate the endless love affair the city has for the Dodgers, but the parallels between the franchises’ moves are many.
On May 28, 1957, a unanimous owners vote approved the Brooklyn Dodgers’ and New York Giants’ moves to Los Angeles and San Francisco, respectively. The deal required both teams move together or both stay put. Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley was determined to send his organization west. The franchise was sharing television and radio deals with the Giants and Yankees while suffering in a faded park. O’Malley wanted the chance to capitalize on the L.A. market with one team; that, and to build an extravagant stadium.
In view of the action of the Los Angeles City Council yesterday, and in accordance with the resolution of the National League made Oct. 1, the stockholders and directors of the Brooklyn Baseball Club have today met and unanimously agreed that the necessary steps be taken to draft the Los Angeles territory.
Arthur Patterson, Dodgers official, reads the official statement of Dodgers’ relocation to L.A.
Fans in New York were devastated and Brooklyn wouldn’t have another professional sports team until the Nets in 2012. However, the city still had its beloved Yankees and gained the Mets in 1962. St. Louis saw its Rams leave for a related reason: greed. Owner Stan Kroenke, who Forbes estimated to be worth $8 billion in 2016, saw unlimited potential in the L.A. market. After years of sorting out the details, another unanimous owners vote approved the Rams move back to L.A. As O’Malley, Kroenke has become an ultimate villain. Even some in Southern California feel let down because it wasn’t a Raiders reunion. Either way, the franchise’s permanent Inglewood residence won’t be ready until 2019, so the Coliseum will temporarily host a professional sports franchise – again.
Many moons ago, the Dodgers were in the same boat. While Dodger Stadium was being built, a placeholder home was needed. Negotiations with the Rose Bowl fell apart, prompting O’Malley to turn to the Coliseum, where the Rams were also settled. The Dodgers called the Coliseum home from 1958-1961. The stadium remains the largest venue to ever host an MLB game. For perspective, the 1958 opener welcomed 78,672 people. Los Angeles won the 1959 World Series over the Chicago White Sox, with three games held in the Coliseum. Game 5 drew 92,706 fans, a World Series record.
They called the Mets in 1969 the Miracle Mets, but the Dodgers in 1959 were really the first miracle team.
Vin Scully, per the Los Angeles Times (2008).
While the Dodgers were successful, players criticized the Coliseum for its unique dimensions: 201 feet to left, 360 feet to center, 440 feet to right. On top of that, the high-up stands made it difficult for fans to take in what they were watching. The team was happy to move into its real home in 1962, but made everlasting memories in the Coliseum. In 2008, the venue hosted a Dodgers and Reds exhibition in honor of the 50th anniversary of L.A. baseball.
Jared Goff, throws out the first pitch to Yasiel Puig on June 6. Goff, who grew up a Giants fan, infamously tweeted he hopes Puig gets pegged by a fastball in 2013 (Gabe Burns/DodgersNation).
While the Dodgers were the National League’s premier franchise for a decade before moving, the Rams didn’t leave Missouri with the same reputation. The team missed the playoffs for nine straight years while being snake-bitten by injuries and poor coaching. It doesn’t appear the Rams are capable of even sniffing the early homecoming success of the Dodgers, but they’re being embraced – even if just in the honeymoon period – because L.A. supports its own. Fans in the area should realize the Rams are going through a familiar process to the team they have idolized for so long. Perhaps the Rams can retool quickly enough to join the Dodgers in a new Los Angeles sports renaissance.