The secret's out on 'hidden' speakeasy under Dodger Stadium pavilion

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In an age of bat flips, pitch clocks and instant replay, a lot of the traditions of baseball are going, going, gone.

Tucked away in the corner of Dodger Stadium, however, a blast from the distant past.

An hour before first pitch of a Thursday evening game against the Texas Rangers, the Vivid Seats Speakeasy is bustling. Under the right-field pavilion, behind a door guarded by ushers, is a cozy bar with capacity for 99 people and a wall of windows with an up-close, ground-level view of the visitors’ bullpen.

“I like to come in here when I get to the game early, get a few drinks, eat and then just walk around the stadium,” said Jose Barragan, a high school math teacher and longtime Dodgers season-ticket holder. “It’s got good ambiance.”

It doesn’t take a G-man to sniff out this speakeasy. The door is right next to a prominent display, a row of locker stalls behind glass that are filled with Tommy Lasorda artifacts. The family donated the contents of his office after his death in 2021.

“When you’re out there as a fan and you see those lockers, we wanted it to be, `Oh cool, locker, locker, locker, locker…’ and then, `Oh, there’s a blank one,’ ” said Dodgers executive Janet Marie Smith, the nation’s foremost ballpark designer. “And you walk through the blank one and you’re in this little surprise speakeasy.”

It was all part of the center-field plaza built before the 2020 season. In part because of the pandemic, fans are still stumbling upon the speakeasy for the first time.

Back in the 1920s, it took a special knock or secret password to gain entry into a speakeasy. It’s more straightforward now. This one requires an online reservation secured by a season-ticket holder using points acquired by spending money on food and merchandise.

Typically, people don’t stay in the speakeasy all game because beyond seeing pitchers warm up in the bullpen, there’s no live view of the game. It’s on the TVs over the bar, though.

“They only allow a certain number of people in here, so even if you have a reservation you can wait in line for a long time during the game waiting for it to clear out a little bit so you can get in,” said season-ticket holder Todd Renfro of Lakewood, who brought a group of friends.

“This is nice and cool and dark a little bit, so on hot summer days we’ll stay in here in the air conditioning the whole game.”

There’s a nostalgic charm to it all, from the poster-sized, black-and-white photos of legendary manager Lasorda on the walls — the original idea was to call the bar “Tommy’s” — to the Midcentury Modern furniture that looks straight out of “Mad Men.”

From the ceiling hang ball-shaped gold chandeliers that look like exploding fireworks or maybe a Kirk Gibson moon shot blasted into the bleachers.

The menu is a little fancier than in other parts of the stadium, with blackberry bruschetta, cheese fondue and shrimp cocktail among the items. The premium spirits include bourbons ranging from $15 to $48 per glass.

Virtually everyone in the place is wearing a Dodgers T-shirt, sweatshirt or jersey, and most are clutching boxed Yoshinobu Yamamoto bobbleheads, the stadium giveaway of the night.

The Dodgers used to pipe in old-time music, and there was a 1970s TV that showed replays of classic games. Those elements are gone now.

“I’ve learned over the years that not everything works the way you hope it would,” Smith said. “As long as we had our sort of geeky techie friend in there to fix the TV every time it stopped working, life was good. But I guess he couldn’t sit in the bar forever.”

It’s not uncommon for visiting players in the bullpen to peer through the windows at the TVs to check other games, or even slip through the fence and step inside the speakeasy for a quick look. Some have asked if their wives can watch from there the next day.

Even in an age of new traditions, Dodgers fans can still raise a glass to a bit of hidden history.

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