MUSIC - In Memory of Elizabeth Reed by The Allman Brothers
Photographed in 1976, 1977 and 1986 using film.
Anaheim Stadium - Opened in 1966, has been refurbished in 1979 and 1996, and is still in use. Known as Anaheim Stadium 1966 - 1997, Edison International field of Anaheim 1997-2003, Angel Stadium of Anaheim 2003 - present.
Location: 2000 Gene Autry Way Anaheim, California -- Bounded by Katella Ave., S. State College Blvd., Orangewood Ave., and 57 Freeway.
Anaheim Stadium, the big A. These were the monikers of the ballpark where I spent my youth. Having seen over 300 different events at the big A in 40 years, I have many fond memories. I have seen well over 200 Angel games, numerous Rams games, huge rock concerts (ELO and Boston) and even one WFL game. Does anyone remember the Southern California Sun with those God awful uniforms? My first memory of the big A was the 1967 all-star game. I remember sitting in our living room in Buena Park watching it on TV. Back in those days, NO home games were ever televised. But this was the all-star game! I was 8 years old and can still remember the green grass on our color TV. My first experience going to a game was in 1968 as the Angels took on the Baltimore Orioles. My older brother took me to helmet day. Each kid got a blue helmet with the interlocking CA on the front. The score was 10-4 Baltimore, but I was hooked. My hometown heroes were not as good as the 3 hall of famers the Orioles had, but I didn't care. From my high school days, till my adult years, many a day and night was spent inside the stadium. Getting a $4.00 box seat was a treat. Paying $4.00 for two hot dogs and a coke is unheard of today. Everyone has their special place as a youth. This was mine.
Located about 2 miles east of Disneyland, Anaheim stadium sits at the corner of Katella Avenue and State College Boulevard. When ground was broken for the stadium in 1964, it was literally in the middle of an orange grove. The 57 freeway was 10 years away, and the Honda center (Arrowhead pond) was not even a pipe dream. Orange county was still rural in the early 60's. The main attraction besides Disneyland was Knotts berry farm and the beaches. The big A opened with an exhibition game against the San Francisco Giants on April 9, 1966. The official opening happened 10 days later against the Chicago White Sox. Tommy John of the White Sox opposed Marcelino Lopez of the Angels. Ironically, John would later pitch for the Angels. The final was 3-1 Chicago, but the Angels Rick Reichardt hit the first ever home run in the new stadium. The Angels would get their first win the next night with a 4-3 victory over Chicago.
The stadium has hosted 2 all star games, with the first one in 1967 and the next one in 1989. The all star game is set to return again in 2010. The early Angels of the 60's and 70's were not very good teams. Things began to change with probably one of the worst trades in baseball history. In 1971 the New York Mets shipped an erratic young righthander to the Angels for local hero Jim Fregosi. The Mets thought they had a steal of a deal. What they didn't know was that righthander would go on to a hall of fame career with 3 other teams. Jim Fregosi spent 2 very mediocre years in Queens, while Nolan Ryan went on to pitch 21 more years in the majors. This ranks up there with the Cubs dealing of Lou Brock to the Cardinals for Ernie Broglio and the Reds trading Frank Robinson to Baltimore for Milt Pappas.
The Angels finally reached the playoffs in 1979, but lost to the Baltimore Orioles in the ALCS. They made the post season again in 1982, but lost this time to the Milwaukee Brewers (after being up 2 games to 0). In 1986 the halos were playing the Boston Red Sox in the ALCS. They led the Red Sox 3 games to 1 and were literally one strike away from going to their first world series. With two out in the top of the 9th and a runner on first, Donnie Moore gave up a two run home run to Dave Henderson to put Boston ahead. The Angels did tie the game in the bottom of the 9th, but lost in 11 innings 7-6. Although they were still up 3 games to 2, the air was out of the balloon and they lost the next two games at Fenway park. The cowboy, Gene Autry, was denied going to the series again. Sadly, when the Angels did make the world series in 2002, Autry had already passed away.
1980 and Anaheim stadium had changed forever. September 7th, 1980 was the first regular season Rams home game in the revamped Anaheim stadium. The Detroit Lions were the visitors and beat the crap out of the Rams that hot September day by the score of 41 to 20. For the next 14 seasons, the Rams would call Anaheim stadium home. The finale would come on December 24, 1994 as the Washington Redskins would beat the Rams 24 - 21. The final Ram touchdown was a pass from Chris Miller to the infamous Jermaine Ross. The final touchdown ever would be scored by the Redskins James Jenkins on a 1 yard pass from Heath Shuler. With their 1994 record of 4 - 10, the Rams and Madame Ram "Georgia" (thanks Jim Healy) left town for St. Louis. Football was gone from Anaheim stadium, probably for good. The Rams were not the first football tenants of Anaheim. That distinction goes to the WFL and the Southern California Sun. They played in the original big A from 1974 thru the 1975 season. The WFL was a joke league and folded after two lackluster years.
After the 1996 season, Anaheim stadium was rebuilt again. Gone was the football additions of the late 70's. Gone was also the old cookie cutter feel to the park. About 23,000 seats were removed during demolition. Disney stepped in and did their best (or worst) to make the place fan friendly. I wish they would have brought back the original scoreboard and put it in either right or left field. It still sits in the parking lot adjacent to the 57 freeway. True, the new version is MUCH better than the football version.
I am an old softie and still have visions of the old stadium of my youth. I grew up with the big A scoreboard in left field. You could see out beyond the fences to the 57 freeway, the foothills to the East, and the San Gabriel Mountains to the North (when it wasn't TOO smoggy). In the late 70's the football Rams brokered a deal with the city to expand Anaheim stadium so it could host NFL football. MOST locals hated the new configuration, me included. It enclosed the stadium and made it a cookie cutter feel. True, the city had NFL football, but during baseball season the 66,000 seat stadium was 3/4 empty. Now I know what Cleveland Indians fans felt all those years at old Cleveland stadium. Fortunately, the Rams bolted for St. Louis in 1994 and left the stadium to the Angels. Now the bad part. Disney bought the Angels and the expansion Mighty Ducks of the NHL. In my opinion, Disney cheapened the Angels with cheerleaders and these hideous pin striped blue uniforms with an Angels wing and an A on the hat. True, they did remodel the big A but they added their own weird touch in the outfield. I speak of the rockpile in centerfield that we call big thunder mountain. The stadium is much better since the remodel, but it is not the stadium I grew up with in my youth. Thru the name changes, starting with Edison International field of Anaheim, to the name it has now, Angel stadium of Anaheim, it is and will always be the big A to me.
Another shot of the big A. 1/77
The Detroit Tigers in pregame warmups. 1976
The old pressbox at Anaheim stadium. 1976
A good shot of the big A scoreboard. 1976
The first base stands and Angels dugout. The old football pressbox is at the top. 1976
The goofball running behind the pitcher to the left is Mark "the bird" Fidrych. 1976 Sadly, Mark passed away on April 13, 2009. Rest in peace Mark.
A symbol of my youth. The massive big A scoreboard. 1976
Another shot of Mark Fidrych. 1976
When the Angels won, the scoreboard lit up, and the halo blinked on and off all night. As Dick Enberg used to say "the halo shines tonight!" 1976
The new 57 freeway is visible in back of the stadium. 1/77
Looking down the third base side and the old football pressbox. 1/77
Yaz in the cage. I had a photo pass that night. 5/77
Another shot of Yaz, and the lower stands and visitors dugout. 5/77
Jim Rice takes a hack in the cage. IMO, he should be in the hall of fame, along with Andre Dawson, Bert Blyleven, and Lee Smith. 5/77
A shot of the Angels dugout and Rick Burleson in the cage. 5/77
Dwight Evans and an empty Anaheim stadium. 5/77
Yaz at bat, with the Angels dugout in the background
Dwight Evans after hitting a 3 run home run. I was sitting in the photographers well next to the dugout. 5/77
The next 20 photos were shot during the 1986 playoffs between the Red Sox and Angels.
Jim Rice during game 5, the one bleeping strike game....
IMO the greatest scoreboard ever in sports..the ORIGINAL Big A.....