LOS ANGELES — Angie Varela was 13 when she went to her first Dodgers game, in 1975. She took a bus by herself from her home in East Los Angeles, and sat in the bleachers on a sunny day in Chavez Ravine.
It was a different era, and Varela, who is of Mexican descent, recalled how she stood out amid a sea of white faces. But nothing could dissuade her from her blossoming devotion to the team.
Since that day, she has been going to Dodger Stadium regularly, thanks to season tickets in the upper deck in some years. And now when she goes she is a part of a crowd that is considerably more diverse and includes many fans who are Latino. And all of them are united in their Dodger blue.
“In the ’70s, I didn’t feel the love so much,” she said before a recent playoff game. “Then, in the ’80s, there was a huge number of Mexican-Americans that came out because of Fernando Valenzuela. But now? This is the most I’ve ever seen.’’
Across baseball, the crowds at major league stadiums are often not so diverse, reflecting the overwhelmingly white makeup of fans in general, according to studies, though a quarter of the players are from Latin America. Interest in other sports and high ticket prices, among other factors, tend to suppress Latino turnout.
Latino attendance can be seen in other ballparks, including Minute Maid Park in Houston, but the scene at Dodger Stadium seems to stand apart.
“The diversity is fantastic,” said Jaime Jarrin, the Dodgers’ longtime Spanish-language radio announcer. “When I first started in this job, the Latinos coming to the ballpark were about 8 to 10 percent.’’
Now, he said, he believes the figure to be around 45 percent. “It is the most of any park,’’ he added. “Oh, by far. But we have also seen many Japanese people and Korean people here, too.”
Jarrin, who is originally from Ecuador, has been broadcasting Dodgers games since 1959. He said he has seen a steady uptick in fans at Dodger Stadium who come from various backgrounds.
Assumptions about someone’s ethnic identity can prove false, and much of the available evidence about the diversity at Dodger Stadium is anecdotal. Stan Kasten, the Dodgers’ president, said he had no statistical data regarding the ethnic composition of the fans at Dodger Stadium. Still, he said the team cherished that its fan base was noticeably diverse.