Apr 6, 2020
LA’s Dodger Stadium – opened in April 1962, and now the third-oldest home ballpark in Major League Baseball – is an American icon. But the story of how it came to be goes far beyond baseball.
The hills that cradle the stadium were once home to three vibrant semi-rural Mexican American communities – Palo Verde, La Loma and Bishop – collectively known as Chavez Ravine. In the early 1950s, all was condemned via eminent domain to make way for a utopian public housing project called Elysian Park Heights. Then, in a remarkable political turn, the entire idea of public housing in Los Angeles was defeated amidst a Red Scare conspiracy.
Instead of getting their homes back, the area’s remaining residents saw the city sell the land to Brooklyn Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley – in an opportunistic effort to finally lure big league baseball to the City of Angels – and definitively confirm its status as a “major league” American metropolis.
But before the Dodgers’ new home could be built, municipal officials would have to face down the neighborhood's last holdouts – including the defiant Aréchigas family, who fiercely refused to yield their home.
Author Eric Nusbaum (Stealing Home: Los Angeles, the Dodgers, and the Lives Caught in Between) joins to discuss the sordid backstory of Dodger Stadium’s birth, the ensuing confrontation that stunned the nation, and the divisive outcome that still taints the team’s legacy and haunts the city’s modern history.