Big A still standing proud, 55 years later
ANAHEIM -- The Angels have called Angel Stadium home since 1966 and fans often affectionately refer to it as the “Big A.”
It was a term coined by longtime sports columnist and radio host Bud Furillo, who was then the sports editor at the now-defunct Herald Examiner. It was a fitting nickname, as Angel Stadium opened in 1966 with the Big A sign located beyond the left-field fence, which was built to house the scoreboard and was visible to those in the ballpark.
The A-shaped sign was also white -- and not red like it is today -- and when it was built, it was the tallest structure in all of Orange County, at 230 feet. The $1 million it cost to complete was funded by Standard Oil of Southern California, who sponsored the sign for the first 10 years.
Hall of Fame broadcaster Dick Enberg helped add to the sign's legacy with his call of “and the Halo shines tonight” after each Angels home win during his time as the club’s play-by-play announcer from 1969-78.
In 1979, the Angels made changes to the stadium with the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams set to share the facility with the club beginning in '80. Additional seating was added and the Big A sign was no longer visible from within the ballpark, prompting the move of the sign to the parking lot, nearer to the 57 Freeway.
The 210-ton sign was scheduled to be moved on July 18, 1979, and attracted an estimated 1,000 fans, but there was an issue with one of the dollies and the move was postponed until the next day. It took roughly seven hours to move the sign 1,300 feet to its current location.
The color of the structure has also changed over the years. It went from its original white, to green when the ballpark was named Edison Field from 1998-2003, then changed to red in '04, when the building was renamed Angel Stadium of Anaheim.
The Angels now utilize the Big A sign to display signage and sponsorships to passing motorists on the highway, and it is a popular area for fans to meet before games. And of course, the halo is lit up after each Angels win. It’s why current broadcaster Victor Rojas uses his enthusiastic call of “light that baby up!” after Angels victories.
While nowadays the Big A can refer to both the sign and the ballpark itself, it’s simply that the unique sign inspired the nickname for the stadium, which is now the fourth-oldest in baseball behind only Fenway Park (Red Sox), Wrigley Field (Cubs) and Dodger Stadium (Dodgers).