Dodger fever is gripping Los Angeles in ways large and small. The bridge to Dodger Stadium is painted blue, there is a “Go Dodgers” banners hanging from at least one downtown high-rise, the LED lights have been burning blue on the Wilshire Grand for days, and by game time tonight the exterior of City Hall and the First Congregational Church of Los Angeles will be illuminated in Dodger blue.
The L.A. Dodgers have played in seven World Series, two of which (1955 and 1965) made it to a dramatic Game 7. But neither of those matchups was played before the cheering home crowd at Chavez Ravine. Tonight is the first World Series Game 7 ever played in Los Angeles — and if you're on the lookout for a last-minute spot to watch the game that isn't a sports bar or somebody's house, there is a place eight miles south of the stadium off the Harbor Freeway where you can go and cheer the home team, boo Houston Astros villain Yuli Gurriel and feel part of the community.
A vacant home in a residential neighborhood in the heart of South L.A. has transformed over the past five days into #TheDodgerHouse, a public art spectacle with a roof painted Dodger blue and peppered with Dodger cheers (“Viva Los Dodgers!”) and Dodger logos and even a giant mural of ginger-bearded Dodger slugger Justin Turner.
Fans from all over the city have been flocking to the house in recent days to witness the handiwork of South L.A. artist Hector “Tetris” Arias and the house's current Realtor, Sonia Ramirez of Altamira Realty. From the moment they dreamed up the idea of the Dodger House, Ramirez and Tetris told each other if the series goes to a Game 7 they'd host a viewing party open to the general public at the Dodger House.
Altamira buys distressed properties in Los Angeles. The Dodger House is likely either destined for rehabilitation or the wrecking ball, Ramirez isn't sure. She says in the meantime the idea is to celebrate the Dodgers' success. She reached out to Tetris, a friend of hers who has painted Dodger-related art for other businesses in L.A. Tetris started painting the Dodger House at the time of Game 2, on Oct. 25, and the initial public response was so positive that he and Ramirez decided to keep adding elements to it. With a crew of assistants, Tetris painted the roof a deep blue and added a Dodgers logo big enough, he jokes, that helicopters can see it when they fly overhead.
So many people showed up to see the house that Ramirez hired a local vendor to serve them free hot dogs. The media ate it up. La Opinión, KTLA, NBC Los Angeles, ABC — even the national sports blog SB Nation picked up the story. As momentum has built in the last five days, the idea is to keep adding to the spectacle, she says, culminating in tonight's viewing party.
As soon as the Dodgers' victory in Game 6 was in the books, Ramirez, a former Parks & Recreation employee for the city of Huntington Park, set the plan in motion. She reached out to different local vendors to provide free hot dogs, a security detail and a 12-foot inflatable screen, and put in a call to the local watch commander at LAPD.
“South L.A. gets a bad rap,” she says. “So it's encouraging to neighbors and people in the community, they appreciate seeing all the people from outside the neighborhood coming in. Everybody's invited [to the viewing party], but it's really for them.”
A lifelong Dodgers fan, Tetris was a preschooler the last time the home team appeared in a World Series, and he has fond memories of his uncles' jubilation after Kirk Gibson's unforgettable walk-off home run in Game 1 of the 1988 series. He says of the team's chance at a World Series title tonight: “I've been waiting for this my whole life.”
Tetris says they plan to set up the screen around the side of the house and that the Dodger House can accommodate a good view of the screen for a couple hundred people on the driveway and in the yard. The flyer for the viewing party advises attendees to “bring your own chair.” The viewing party officially starts when the game does at 5:20, but when Tetris spoke to the Weekly at 2 p.m. he said people already were arriving. “We probably have like 20 people here right now,” he said. A videographer was flying a drone overhead. One of Tetris' favorite local rappers, MC Kid Frost, had just posted on Instagram that he wanted to film a music video at the Dodger House.
“We're trying to bring the community in and enjoy the house, the art, take selfies and have a good time with the whole community right here,” he says, “bringing different people of different colors and different ages from kids to elderly persons.
“That’s probably the most important thing,” he adds, “the whole community watching the Dodger game together.”