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|| News Item: Posted 2007-04-25

Baseball's Back! Opening Day at Dodger Stadium
By Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News

Photo by Keith Birmingham / Pasadena Star-News

Photo by Keith Birmingham / Pasadena Star-News

In the VERY crowded outside third photo well at Opening Day at Dodger Stadium you will find Jeff Gross (front), Matt Brown (right), Jeff Lewis, John Cordes (still bitter about his bad parking situation) and others enjoying the day.
Opening Day. Dodger Stadium, grey skies, cool weather, the Colorado Rockies. Yes, I said the Rockies. I know what you're thinking: It's not the hated Giants? Not even the not-so-liked Padres? But it's baseball and there is nothing, I mean nothing better then that. And with all the pre-season talk of an Angels vs. Dodgers World Series, well, I just couldn't wait…

It was almost like Christmas morning; I got up early and was on my way. I got into the stadium at 8 a.m. to set up my remotes, walked the stadium look for early features, and said hello to Vicky. (For those who don't know her, she has been an usher at the first base photo well gate for over 25 years she brings us water, rosters has gone on hot dog runs and just generally takes care of us.) My anticipation of the day allowed me to steer clear of the new parking system at Dodger Stadium. Problems were bound to happen and, oh yes, they did happen.

Stadium security had a parking list for opening day, which allowed media to park in its usual lot, which is now called Lot P (formally lot 2). John Cordes who was on assignment for Sporting News was stuck on the freeway off ramp to the stadium for over an hour, he called the LAPD, Stadium operations, but no one could help, then although he had a credential his name was somehow left off the list.

He had to pay $15 to enter the stadium lot, and then was forced to park near the hill that sits beyond center field. Not only did he have to walk to the opposite end of the stadium to enter, he had to do it while lugging his gear.

Others, like Michael Zito of SportsChrome and has a season pass couldn't even get into the stadium's parking lot. He had to park outside of the stadium and ride a shuttle bus packed in with all the stadium employees. Fans coming into the park had to show their tickets to the parking usher and be routed accordingly, which created more delays. Some didn't get to their seats until the third or fourth inning.

Needless to say, opening day was memorable to many employees, photographers, writers and fans, but for all of the wrong reasons.

The game was a sellout, with more than 56,000 being accommodated. There were flyovers, Navy parachutists, award ceremonies, singers, doves, and way to many people on the field, Steve Sax threw out the first pitch, and surprisingly did it without hitting anyone in the stands. The names of the Dodger players were back on their uniforms - where they belong - and the team was able to extend their world record, as recorded by Guinness, for having the highest cumulative attendance for a baseball franchise since 1901.

We still have the sardine-can photo wells. Some photographers had more than enough after only a few innings and went for the overhead positions.

Others like Getty Images' Jeff Gross and the Register's Matt Brown could only laugh. I think we all thought John Cordes' head was going to explode at some point but at the end of the day, after I drove John back to his truck surrounded by a piles of beer bottles and trash, it was baseball …Oh yea there was a baseball game too…sort of. The Rockies beat up on the Dodgers, 7-1, but with 80 more games at home it doesn't get any better then that, well at least until October…

(Keith Birmingham is a staff photographer with the Pasadena Star-News and life-long baseball fan. He has chronicled Opening Day for the past three seasons:; . You can see his work at his member page:

Related Links:
Keith's member page

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