March 31, 2008 / 11:00 AM / 11 years ago

Record crowd watches Dodgers v Red Sox exhibition

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Baseball fans came out in record numbers to watch the Los Angeles Dodgers play the Boston Red Sox in an exhibition game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Saturday.

Fans fill the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum before the MLB interleague exhibition baseball game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Boston Red Sox March 29, 2008. Almost 115,000 people bought tickets to watch the Dodgers celebrate the 50th anniversary of their move to Los Angeles, setting a U.S. baseball crowd record. REUTERS/Phil McCarten

Some 115,300 paid to see World Series champion Boston beat Los Angeles 7-4 at the stadium where the Dodgers played from 1958 to 1961. The attendance beat the previous one-game record set at the same stadium in 1959 of 93,103.

The record crowd showed fans still have not lost their passion for the game despite an off-season dominated by drug scandals involving some of the biggest names in baseball including Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds.

Edina Hernandez of Colton, California, said she had been coming to Dodgers games since 1974 and was not put off by the issue of drug use in the game.

“Steroids, that’s the players’ problem. I’m here for the game I love,” she said.

Los Angeles Dodgers Esteban Loaiza pitches against the Boston Red Sox during the second inning of their MLB interleague exhibition baseball game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles March 29, 2008. Almost 115,000 people bought tickets to watch the Dodgers celebrate the 50th anniversary of their move to Los Angeles, setting a U.S. baseball crowd record. REUTERS/Phil McCarten

Hernandez and her husband David said they also came for the novelty of seeing the Dodgers play their first game at the Coliseum since Dodger Stadium opened in 1962.

The game was held at the Coliseum as part of a season-long celebration of the Dodgers move from Brooklyn in 1958.

With the 2008 season set to start in earnest for the majority of Major League Baseball’s 30 teams on Monday, Commissioner Bud Selig said earlier this week attendance figures were expected to top 80 million.

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That would break last season’s mark of 79.5 million.

While the Coliseum played host to the 1932 and 1984 Summer Olympics and the 1960 Democratic Convention presidential nomination acceptance speech by John F. Kennedy, it was not built for baseball.

To squeeze a baseball field into a stadium built in 1923 for American football, the Dodgers set the leftfield fence only 201 feet from home plate, compared to a more conventional 330 feet at Dodger Stadium.

The Little League World Series, which is played by 12-year-olds, is contested on a field where the fence is 225 feet from home plate.

Still, only one home run was hit over the short fence in left field on Saturday.

The game raised more than $1 million for cancer research charity ThinkCure! founded by the Dodgers last year.

Editing by Peter Rutherford

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