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Dodger Stadium

MLB should recognize Dodger Stadium’s painful history

History of Mexicans displaced from Chavez Ravine should be told at MLB All-Star Game

The Los Angeles Dodgers released a limited number of tickets for next month’s Home Run Derby and All-Star Game, the first at Dodger Stadium since 1980. 

The tickets, all in either reserve level or in the outfield pavilions, ranged from $622 to $722 for seats for the July 19 game and from $497 to $522 for the home run derby on the 18th. 

The All-Star Game will fill the Dodgers’ and Major League Baseball’s coffers. Dodger Stadium is an annuity. It’s the money tree. It always generates cash, and it has been that way since opening in 1962. 

Dodger Stadium sits a few miles away from “the 110,” the Pasadena Freeway, the first freeway in the Western United States. The stadium is also just a few miles from the Dodgers’ first Los Angeles home, the historic  Memorial Coliseum in the shadows of Downtown. 

Dodger Stadium history

Late last season, protestors disrupted Dodgers games to bring attention to the fact that the site where Dodger Stadium sits was illegitimately acquired by the city and the team. There was a forced and violent removal of a long standing, tight-knit mostly Mexican-American community for the stated purpose of building public housing that was never built. 

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It was a land grab under the auspices of civic improvement and human welfare at the expense of Mexican-Americans. 

The destruction and subsequent creation of Dodger Stadium made Los Angeles a “major league city.” 

The Dodgers organization has had the most to benefit from this theft. Dodger Stadium attendance is consistently among MLB’s best. The stadium is privately owned by the Los Angeles Dodgers and Guggenheim Baseball Management. They reap the current rewards. 

The franchise has been sold a number of times, each time for record profits. It has gone from the O’Malley Family to Rupert Murdoch and the Fox Corporation, to the Bostonian McCourt Family and their parking lot empire, and now this current group headed by financiers. 

Everyone made and currently makes money while the Mexican-American community suffered. The rich got richer and the poor got poorer. 

Cash cow at Chavez Ravine

It’s an inglorious history. Certainly the organization knows this. The organization of course doesn’t address this directly. After all, when do you recognize this history?

You really can’t when you have to sell tickets for Taco Tuesday Nights presented to you by Delta Airlines. (That’s a real promotion.)

Even though they pushed the Latino community out, they know it’s important to maintain a superficial relationship with the community. At every possible turn they’ll tell you about Fernando Valenzuela and Fernandomania

Hall of Famer Jaime Jarrin retires at the end of this year. The Dodgers will give him his well-deserved flowers. There are many Latino themed giveaways and theme nights each year. This of course, isn’t altruism, but the recognition of the necessary business decisions they need to make to capture the hard-earned dollars of the types of Latinos who had their homes razed for Dodger Stadium. 

There are important stories to tell. Fortunately, authors such as Eric Nusbaum in “Stealing Home: Los Angeles, the Dodgers, and the Lives Caught in Between” and musicians such as Ry Cooder, who in 2005, produced the album, Chávez Ravine, both that tell the story of the demolition of the community. 

This erasure of the story is an easy one when you’ve got Mexican-Americans so happy to drive up Vin Scully Avenue to go to a game. You’ll see others though most assuredly. 

Latino community shouldn’t be ignored

Similarly, I anticipate that the Los Angeles Latino community will be ignored during All-Star Game promotion. In Los Angeles, Major League Baseball is attempting to promote the game in commercials by showing red carpet events.

There’s always a celebrity softball game, but in contrast to last year’s All-Star game in Denver, MLB made sure to highlight the participation of Latin music stars El Alfa and Jhay Cortez, there’s not one Latino celebrity promoted in the celebrity softball game in significantly Latino Los Angeles.

Currently there’s a greater concerted effort to attempt to accurately portray events from yesteryear as best as possible as well as to be more inclusive. That’s slightly understandable. I’m sure it’s a hard pill for Mexican-American fans to swallow, especially when one attempts to overcome social conditioning and the balance of their fanhood. 

Progress and development has significant costs with groups of people – in this case Mexican-Americans – enduring the sacrifice and sharing in none of the benefits. 

The Dodgers’ inclusivity efforts without mention of the razing of the barrio makes other Latino-themed outreaches seem hollow. Perhaps addressing this on a national stage is an approach the Dodgers should take to have their words and actions mean more.

The All-Star Game would be a perfect stage to recognize the true story of Chavez Ravine.

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