Dodgers World Series Ring Walter O'Malley The Official Website

The Early Years
Entering The...
The Dodger Saga
A New Era Begins
Ebbets Field Revisited
The Memorable...
Searching for New...
L.A. Sends a Message
This is Next Year!
Putting Their Domes...
Page 25
Page 26
The Political Game
Los Angeles Bound
Where to Play in L.A.
Curveball Right...
The Red Head is a...
1959: A Year of...
Home Sweet Home
Construction of...
L.A.'s Sparkling New...
1963: A Taxing Year...
The Business of..
Growing the Game...
Moving to Chairman...
The Last Inning
The Biography of Walter O'Malley

Putting Their Domes Together
The domed stadium was to be supported by a lightweight truss structure and would be 750 feet in diameter. No seat would have been obstructed, as no posts were to be erected in the first-of-its-kind domed ballpark, which was to sit 300 feet above the pitcher’s mound, or high enough to cover a 30-story building. According to the July, 1956 issue of Mechanix Illustrated, “Kleinsasser’s design is more detailed than Fuller’s and includes such novelties as a small sightseeing tramway over the top of the dome.” The article continued, “The dome design makes feasible the demand for a ball park big enough to hold the enormous Dodger following. It would also be an all-weather, year-round sports palace capable of pulling in big money as a showplace for every kind of sporting event and exposition...The Dodger Dome would certainly become an object of pride in Brooklyn. It might even rival the borough’s ball team in public esteem. In any case, no club could be more deserving of such a fabulous park than the Fabulous Flock.”
After reviewing the Princeton students’ display on November 22, 1955, O’Malley was “thrilled with the work”47 and more than convinced that Fuller could achieve the impressive domed stadium that the Dodger President was looking for. However, newspaper accounts reporting that O’Malley immediately retained the inventor to begin engineering calculations on the 52,000-seat stadium at Fuller’s Synergetics, Inc. laboratories in Raleigh, NC and Cambridge, MA were incorrect.48 O’Malley’s correspondence shows his concern about this error, because he had a fine relationship with engineer Praeger of Praeger and Kavanagh who was at the ready to design the stadium. Fuller wrote O’Malley a letter on December 1, 1955, “you had authorized me to say that ‘my friend, Walter O’Malley, has authorized me to undertake an informal study of the adaptation of the Geodesic dome to a theoretical new Dodgers stadium,’ and several weeks later that I had been authorized to carry out that informal study during my Princeton seminar. After this careful phrasing, I have always gone on to say that this is Walter O’Malley’s show and that any misstatement of these facts could be offensive to him or could even damage his potential realization of such a facility, should it develop into an actively desirable potential.”
For those who suggest that “you can’t throw stones at glass houses,” O’Malley firmly believed that you could throw baseballs (and maybe footballs) in them. Actually, O’Malley and several friends took on that challenge, requesting permission to throw rocks at one of Fuller’s plastic structures, a 1/2 geodesic sphere of 55-foot clearspan diameter dome at Huntington Station, Long Island, NY in August 1955. According to a Dodger press release on October 2 of that year, “They were granted permission and despite the explosive sound of the impact no damage to the dome resulted.”
Interestingly, O’Malley likened the translucent domed structure to that of a greenhouse, where he and his wife, Kay, spent many pleasant hours in their backyard in Amityville. Both he and Kay cultivated exotic and award-winning orchids in a family greenhouse. It was a source of enjoyment for them and O’Malley found it a soothing hobby, relieving him from the hustle and bustle of day-to-day work responsibilities. “A dome constructed of a translucent material would eliminate shadows and give a pleasant interior effect of the sort one finds in a greenhouse,” O’Malley said in a Dodger press release (November 23, 1955) regarding his proposed domed stadium. “Such a structure would make it possible to have controlled temperature inside.”
He also thoroughly enjoyed planting and watching everything grow...not only in the greenhouse, but in business, as well. The seeds sown, if properly cultivated and watered, would one day blossom and produce.

47 New York Herald-Tribune, November 23, 1955
48 New York Post, November 23, 1955

Walter O’Malley visits Princeton University’s School of Architecture where he meets with inventor R. Buckminster Fuller (second from right) regarding the design of a domed stadium for the Dodgers in Brooklyn. Fuller’s graduate architecture students worked on the project at the request of O’Malley. The large scale model all-weather dome structure with a translucent roof was one possible design, while T. William Kleinsasser, Jr. (left) also tried to resolve the design problem as part of his master’s thesis with a different domed model. Robert W. McLaughlin, Jr., director of the school, reviews the work on Nov. 22, 1955.

© Bettman/Corbis

R. Buckminster Fuller’s idea of a geodesic dome intrigued Walter O’Malley, who envisioned year-round use of the New York facility.

Photo by Wil Blanche. Copyright © 1955. All Rights Reserved.

Inspired by a geodesic domed stadium model, Walter O’Malley asked R. Buckminster Fuller about the strength of one of his plastic structures at Huntington Station in Long Island, NY.

Photo by Wil Blanche. Copyright © 1955. All Rights Reserved.

Walter and Kay O’Malley with orchids at their greenhouse in Amityville, NY.

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