... Dodgers after dark
Long before the crowd came, the sun was dipping redly behind the peristyle of the Coliseum, a stiff westerly was blowing the 48 starred flag straight out toward the mountains, and the sky above was a deep and darkening blue. The temperature was in the 80s. It was, as usual, a perfect night for baseball in Los Angeles.
The Dodgers were at home, and the opposition, this last Friday night of the home stand, was the Chicago Cubs. At this precise moment, in thousands of homes throughout southern California, harassed housewives were shoving the evening meal hastily in front of the men of the house and sometimes the young men of the house. For there would be no work or school tomorrow and the place to be, this balmy evening, was, clearly, at the old ball game.
In San Bernardino two young insurance salesmen poked their sedan cautiously out onto the freeway and. straightened it out for the 75-minute, 60-mile run to the ball park. In mid- Los Angeles a visitor from San Jose piled his wife and 3-year-old son into his station wagon, snatched a supply of blankets and headed to the Coliseum; at a midtown hotel two girls from Connecticut hailed a cab and instructed the driver to take them to the game. In Hollywood a Czech-born chemist and his Irish-born wife phoned friends and invited them to share their box.
Before they—and the rest of the swarm of spectators—got to the turnstiles, the Coliseum was ready for them.
"Remember," screamed Head Usher Gino Creasmen at his crews of red-jacketed hirelings, "these are your paying guests. But it will be a light night. So see to it they don't move down on you. See to it they get what they are paying for and no more. And no lateral traffic. It blocks the view of those on the aisle."
In his office over the ticket windows, Ticket Manager Harold Parrott cast an appraising eye out over the ocean of empty seats, glowing orange in the fading sunlight. "We should do 18,000 tonight," he said expertly. "There'll be plenty of box and reserved seats. Everybody wants box seats. Everybody's got money." Behind him, his daily operations manager, Gordon Gerster, offered an opinion. "It's because of television. Television makes everybody a front-row customer." A skeptic disagreed. "It's because of LA," he said flatly. "LA makes everybody a front-row customer. How many people call up they want seats? In a stadium that seats 90,000, they're worried?"
In the counting room 15 sacks of money ($200 in change in each) were rushed out to the 25 ticket booths that would be open this night. Sixty-five ushers fanned out to their stations, 30 washroom attendants disappeared from view, and 35,000 tickets were placed in the box offices just in case. At $7 per night per usher, $9.15 per ticket taker and $12 per ticket seller plus $1.80 an hour for washroom attendants and the 60-man crew of sweepers who scour out the stands after the game (they once found a toupee), the Dodgers have a healthy investment in the evening's proceedings even before the high-priced athletes take the field.
NIGHTS AND DAYS
In the concessions office Manager Tom Arthur also calculated his gamble on the evening. "This heavy night schedule hurts us," he admitted. (The Dodgers play only 12 day games, all but one of them on Sunday.) "For one thing, people have already eaten by the time they get to the game. For another, daytimes are better because your cold stuff moves. At night only the hot stuff sells."