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THE INSIDE TRACK | MORNING BRIEFING

Another Reason to Celebrate at the Peristyle End

October 06, 1998|MAL FLORENCE

The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, site of two Olympic Games, football home of USC, and previously UCLA and the Rams, celebrates its 75th birthday today.

What a grand, diverse tradition it has--a World War II victory celebration, a World Series, a papal mass, the Coliseum Relays, rodeos, auto races and even a ski-jumping competition. The stadium was completed on May 1, 1923, after 15 months of construction, with a capacity of 76,000 and a cost of only $800,000.

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Trivia time: On April 1, 1925, a boxing exhibition was held at the Coliseum. Who was the featured fighter?

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The first event: Oct. 6, 1923--The Coliseum was inaugurated with USC defeating Pomona, 23-7.

The report from The Times' Bill Henry: "The USC Trojans swallowed the Pomona Sagehen, 23-7, yesterday but found the gravel-fed bird from Claremont entirely too tough for easy digestion.

"Some 25,000 of this fair community poured through the concrete tunnels of the Coliseum and comfortably filled the center sections on either side of the field.

"It was football served 'a la King' in the biggest stadium in the world with all the comforts and conveniences imaginable."

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The first touchdown: Gene Dorsey, a USC end from Hollywood High, picked up a Pomona fumble and ran 25 yards for the score. Now, for the trivia-minded, a game between the USC freshmen and Santa Ana High preceded the main event. So Dorsey's touchdown was the first in the Coliseum in a varsity game.

Cheer, cheer . . . On Dec. 4, 1926, the USC-Notre Dame series began at the Coliseum. The Irish won, 13-12, on the passing of Art Parisien, a 148-pound quarterback.

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The Lone Eagle: On Sept. 20, 1927, a reception was held at the Coliseum for Charles Lindberg, who had made the first solo, nonstop flight across the Atlantic in his single-engine plane, the Spirit of St. Louis. He was greeted by about 60,000.

Oh, say, can you see . . . On June 9, 1945, a reception for Generals George Patton and Jimmy Doolittle, American heroes of World War II, attracted a crowd of 93,093 at the Coliseum.

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Campy's night: On May 7, 1959, the Dodgers and New York Yankees played an exhibition game at the Coliseum before 93,103 in a tribute to Roy Campanella, the paralyzed former Dodger all-star catcher.

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Enduring record: On Oct. 6, 1959, the Chicago White Sox defeated the Dodgers, 1-0, at the Coliseum before 92,706--the largest crowd to watch a World Series game. Two days later in Chicago, the Dodgers beat the White Sox, 9-3, to win the World Series.

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Start of something big: On Jan. 15, 1967, the Green Bay Packers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs, 35-10, before 63,036 in the first Super Bowl game.

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Trivia answer: Heavyweight champion Jack Dempsey.

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And finally: On Sept. 15, 1987, Pope John Paul II celebrated a mass at the Coliseum before a crowd of 130,854.

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