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Dodgers to return to Memorial Coliseum
11/26/2007 3:17 PM ET
LOS ANGELES -- As part of the celebration of their 50th anniversary in Los Angeles, the Dodgers announced today that they will return to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for an exhibition contest against the Boston Red Sox on March 29, 2008 in a game that will benefit ThinkCure, the official charity of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

"Fifty years after moving to Los Angeles, the Dodgers are returning to their California roots at the Coliseum for one historic game," said Dodger Owner and Chairman Frank McCourt. "Giving back to the Los Angeles community is a core value of the franchise and we're thrilled to be able to host an event of this magnitude to benefit ThinkCure."

"How fitting, that in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Dodgers, the team will take to the field next March in the Memorial Coliseum, the stadium where they first played baseball in Los Angeles," said Senator Mark Ridley-Thomas. "Frank and Jamie McCourt have made a masterstroke for our community by paying homage to our city's sports history and showing respect and regard for the enduring greatness of our city's most historic sports venue."

The exhibition game marks the return of the Dodgers to their original Los Angeles home, as the franchise played there from 1958-1961 during the construction of Dodger Stadium. In four seasons at the Coliseum, the Dodgers posted a 330-288 record (.534), including the 1959 World Championship, their first of five titles in Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum will long be remembered as one of the most unique venues in which Major League Baseball has ever been played and the exhibition contest is expected to include similar dimensions on the playing field. Due to the oval shape of the stadium, the left field fence was only 251 feet from home plate, causing the team to erect a 42-foot high fence to avoid an excess of home runs. Dodger outfielder Wally Moon took advantage of the short porch, clubbing 56 home runs - dubbed "Moon Shots" - during the four-year span in which the team played at the Coliseum. While the dimensions will be altered as a result of physical improvements made to the Coliseum in recent years, the fence in left field will remain.

"There are generations of Angelenos who have grown up as Dodger fans and never had the opportunity to experience a game at the Coliseum," said McCourt. "This will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for fans to connect with the history of their beloved franchise and support an incredible cause."

The Dodgers will be donating net proceeds from the game to their official charity, ThinkCure. Launched in July by the Dodgers, the McCourt Family, City of Hope and Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, ThinkCure is dedicated to raising funds for critical cancer research and ultimately finding a cure for cancer. The non-profit organization follows in the footsteps of The Jimmy Fund, which was started in 1948 and is one of the most enduring and successful charities of its kind and is supported by the Red Sox. The McCourt family has been associated with The Jimmy Fund since its inception when Frank McCourt's grandfather, Francis McCourt, was a part owner of the Boston Braves.

Due to its size, the Coliseum has played host to the largest crowds in Major League history. On May 7, 1959, the Dodgers and Yankees played before an exhibition crowd of 93,103 in honor of Roy Campanella, the highest single-game attendance mark for a big league game. The most poignant moment occurred when former shortstop Pee Wee Reese pushed Campanella's wheelchair toward home plate in the fifth inning as the stadium lights were dimmed. Patrons struck matches in silent prayer for the paralyzed Campanella, who outlived his doctors and passed away at age 71 in 1993.

In addition to the record-setting attendance of Roy Campanella night, each of the three games of the 1959 World Series played at the Coliseum drew more than 92,300 fans, a World Series record which is unlikely to ever be broken.

The first game in Los Angeles Dodger history took place on April 15, 1958 in San Francisco and three days later, Carl Erskine started and won the first game at the Coliseum in front of 78,000 fans on April 18, 1958.

The Coliseum played host to the second 1959 All-Star Game in which 15 future Hall of Famers participated - starting pitcher Don Drysdale, Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks, Luis Aparicio, Yogi Berra, Nellie Fox, Al Kaline, Mickey Mantle, Eddie Mathews, Willie Mays, Stan Musial, Frank Robinson, Hoyt Wilhelm, Ted Williams and Early Wynn as well as three other Dodger players, Jim Gilliam, Moon and Charlie Neal.

Among the other Hall of Famers to play at the Coliseum during its four-year run as the Dodgers' home field were Sandy Koufax, Duke Snider and Reese as well as Dodger legends Tommy Davis, Willie Davis, Carl Furillo, Gil Hodges, Johnny Podres, Johnny Roseboro and Maury Wills.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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