The New York Times wrote a story on May 7, 2023, “The Land Beneath This Stadium Was Theirs. They Want It Back.”
The article written by Jesus Jimenz states: Long before the Dodgers won their first World Series at Dodger Stadium in 1963 and Sandy Koufax tossed the team’s first perfect game in 1965, the land the ballpark was built on was home to hundreds of families living in communities called Palo Verde, La Loma and Bishop.
Those neighborhoods and their residents were displaced in the 1950s by the city of Los Angeles, citing plans to build affordable housing. But eventually the land was given to the Dodgers to build a ballpark after the team moved to the city from Brooklyn in the late ‘50s. The area is now commonly called Chavez Ravine, a term that has become synonymous with Dodger Stadium.
The Dodgers, of course, were from Brooklyn. The name came from the skill of Brooklynites evading the city’s trolley streetcars. The team also had the lovable nickname of “Dem Bums.”
The Dodgers broke the color barrier by giving Jackie Robinson the chance to prove his skills. Robinson became the first African-American to play major league baseball when he played his first major league game on April 14, 1947. His entry into the league was mainly due to General Manager Branch Rickey’s efforts.
The Dodgers played in Ebbets Field, which had grown old. The team’s owners sought a new location and stadium, but were not satisfied with anything offered. Finally, the team and the Giants moved to the West Coast after the 1957 season.
The New York Times article relates to what happened to the families whose ancestors were displaced by eviction and eminent domain and have formed a land-back-movement, “Buried Under the Blue.”
Chavez Ravine is home to one of the most iconic ballparks in baseball, tucked between the San Gabriel Mountains and downtown Los Angeles. Dodger Stadium hosts dozens of games a year as well as concerts and other events. One of the wealthiest teams in Major League Baseball plays there.
The history of the displacement of residents in Palo Verde, La Loma and Bishop comes as news to some Dodgers fans, especially younger ones. It’s hard for some to believe that a team that has built such a large Latino fan base plays on land that once belonged to so many Latino families.
Most of the former residents of Palo Verde, La Loma and Bishop are now in their 90s. To reclaim the land and effectively push out the Dodgers could be next to impossible. But Buried Under the Blue is hopeful. They also wonder; is it possible? Is it obtainable?