Containing Multitudes Since 2004
Suggestion: Can we have a link to the google maps? I've never even heard of this place.
As far as I know . . . and any Angelenos out there will no doubt correct me if I'm wrong . . . Chavez Ravine as such no longer exists. It (along with its mostly Latino residents) was cleared away to make room for Dodgers Stadium. This photo was taken a few years before that event.
I'm not an Angeleno - nor would I want to be - but I believe that the name is still occasionally used by baseball announcers like the amazing Vin Scully as an alternative to saying Dodger Stadium. Of course, at the time that the photo in question was taken the Dodgers were still in Brooklyn (and everyone thought they'd be there forever) winning their only World Series as the Brooklyn Dodgers. LA's baseball needs were being filled by the Los Angeles Angels playing out of Wrigley Field in South LA and the Hollywood Stars whose stadium was roughly where CBS Television City is today.
Chavez Ravine is the name of the ravine in which Dodger Stadium was built. During the brief period when the American League Angels shared the stadium their announcers called it Chavez Ravine, and it is still sometimes used as a nickname. Chavez Ravine is the location, Dodger Stadium is the structure.The ethnic community in Chavez Ravine was relocated not for Dodger Stadium but for a large scale public housing project that due to changes in the political climate never got built. Ultimately a referendum was passed that barred its residential use. By the time the Dodgers came along only 19 families were still living in the Ravine. The real story of Chavez Ravine is a complex one that would tell you a lot more about the history of Los Angeles and American history of the period than the simplistic fairy tale of heroes and villains that people like to tell themselves.Objectively speaking the three biggest scandals in the history of baseball are (1) the color bar, (2) the Black Sox scandal, and (3) the Dodgers leaving Brooklyn. I myself am not objective. Finding out the history of the Dodgers moving to L.A. is a little like finding out that your grandfather stole the Mona Lisa. ("You mean that? In the living room? That's the real one?") You sort of know in your heart that you really ought to give it back, but it goes so well with the couch . . .What would have been best if anyone had the vision for it at the time would be the Cleveland Browns approach, where Brooklyn could have kept the Dodgers name for an expansion franchise and let O'Malley take his organization to Los Angeles under the Angels name. Brent McKee's apparent belief that minor league baseball was good enough for L.A.'s "needs" is an example of why we felt perfectly justified in stealing anything that wasn't nailed down. (What are you complaining about? Brooklyn has the Cyclones.) On the other hand I find Thomas Sutpen's attitude to be extremely refreshing, and might I add, much more becoming of a cultural capital.
Strictly speaking I'm not the one who was saying that minor league baseball was good enough for L.A.'s needs, it was Major League Baseball. And they weren't entirely closed to the idea of major league baseball on the west coast. PCL ball, which played league games from February to December, was frequently very close to the quality of the major leagues, and many players were the equal of those in "the bigs." In the late 1940s there was a move afoot to make the Pacific Coast League into the third major league. For this purpose the League was actually elevated above AAA status in 1952 to what was known as "open" status. One of the effects of this was supposed to be that MLB teams, like the Brooklyn Dodgers would be severely restricted in their ability to take players from PCL teams. PCL ball, which played league games from February to December, was frequently very close to the quality of the major leagues, and many players were the equal of those in "the bigs." How well the plan would have done is questionable; most of the stadiums in the league would have needed renovation or replacement. Stillof the eight PCL cities only two - Sacramento and Portland - don't have MLB teams today. Moving the Dodgers and the Giants to LA and San Francisco ended any hopes of elevating the PCL to status of third league.
Can't blame the Dodgers. They saw the main chance and took it. Chavez Ravine's demise as a potential suburb was a classic Western land-sale boondoggle result - somebody got rich, more people got the shaft. I daresay every ball park in the U.S. has some similar story behind it. I'm a Cactus League spring-training kinda baseball fan, and other than Koufax and Drysdale, the Dodgers never did mean anything for me. I was impressed with the stadium, tho, it was and is a great place to watch a ballgame, but it was not intimate enough for me. It was so much better to hang over the low outfield wall at Scottsdale Stadium and see 'em up close, and then hang around outside the Pink Pony after the game and try for autographs - it was well worth ditching school on occasion.
I'm surprised no one's mentioned it yet, but Ry Cooder's latest CD is a tribute to the legacy of Chavez Ravine. A copy hasn't come my way yet, but it's got to be worth a listen based on that creepy cover.
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