Anyone who's known me for the past few years knows that I've become a devoted Dodgers fan.
Growing up, I didn't have many people around me who I knew that loved baseball. I was raised in a house where basketball was the sport, and of course, the Lakers was our team (and still is). But as I stayed local for college and as I went out deeper into the many pockets of the Greater Los Angeles Area, I'd meet people who are Dodger fans. One former boss drove him and a few others to a game all the way from Hollwyood in his GEM car.
It was pretty much inevitable that I became a Dodgers fan, especially when I moved to Lincoln Heights, so close to the stadium where I could see the fireworks from our alley, befriending Dodgers fans and dated a pretty big baseball fan...being a bigger sports fan than I give myself credit for, the Dodgers made it very hard for me not to love them.
Of course, I am more than aware of the history of Elysian Park and Chavez Ravine and what happened to that small, tight-knit community that once lived there. For some, it’s the reason why they can’t support a team that did that to those people. As sad as I am that such a cultural gem of an area is no longer with us, I can’t blame this baseball club for what eventually happened to these people.
And then there’s this book I’m currently reading, Chavez Ravine: 1949 by photographer Don Normark, of the pictures he took of the people and sights of this world that soon ceased to be, and some of the surviving residents and their recollections of living there. These pictures represent a time gone by, of places and people that are no longer there or accessible, including the school that remains intact where it still stands, but is now completely buried beneath one of Dodger Stadium’s parking lots.
As tragic as the residents of that time had to leave their home and their community, the inevitable fact of the matter is that if it didn’t happen to them in 1949, much like every small and tight-knit community in this eternally progressing city, it was going to happen to them eventually. It just so happened that a bunch of Big Leaguers needed to find a new home at the time and the City had some land to sell at the time.
But as most of the people of Chavez Ravine dispersed to other areas of Los Angeles, another community emerged. A community of fans of this baseball team has become a part of this city and plays a part of bringing a fanbase and a different kind of community together.
I’ve had a very crazy week, which has regretfully kept me out of the loop on how my baseball team has been doing. I could kick myself for missing out on some amazing things happening, including my “boyfriend” Andre Ethier maintaining his Comeback Kid posterboy status with is walk-off homer at the bottom of the 9th last night, as well as Dodger Stadium usher William Gomez preventing Milwaukee Brewer’s Prince Fielder from getting into the Dodger locker room, preventing what could have ended the Dodgers’ successful and already drama-filled season.
Reading William Gomez’s story and his history with the team and the ballpark is just a reminder that “When a door closes, another one opens;” as unfortunate that the people of Elysian Park of old was forced out of their homes in such a manner, another community emerged from it - a community that helps, in part, to bring a little part of this metropolis of L.A. closer together, and create a history and legacy of its own, spanning well beyond the hills on which the stadium rests.
Want to be a part of Dodgertown, USA?
Be a fan on Facebook.
Follow them on Twitter.
There’s always their Official Site.