March 2007

Happy Birthday, Ruth Smith…

A great story today by Ben Platt about native Angeleno, Ruth Smith, who turns 107 today. Seriously. Born in 1900, she is just 10 years younger than the Brooklyn Dodgers.

The Today Show, Tomorrow

For anyone interested in tuning in, the Today Show on NBC is scheduled to have a feature on Spring Training tomorrow morning at 8 a.m. The feature is all about the rite of passage that Spring Training has become for families across America and they are using Dodgertown as the setting to tell the story.

Be sure to tune in or set your TiVo!

Addicted to Glove

Today’s post focuses on fielding, which is often overlooked in the game of baseball but obviously a huge part of a winning team. The Dodgers have had their struggles in the early going during spring, but no one seems terribly concerned that it will carry over into the regular season.

Still, one of the really cool things about working at Dodger Stadium is how often Dodger legends wander in and out of the offices. Yesterday alone, while I was sitting in a meeting, I saw two Gold Glovers, Willie Davis and Wes Parker walk by my office, which is a regular occurence. Between the two of them, they had nine Gold Gloves from 1967-73, which is pretty impressive.

While catching up with Wes, we got to discussing how he is one of the six finalists for the Best Fielding First Baseman in Major League history, according to Rawlings. This is quite an honor and I’m sure that anyone who watched him in his heyday would agree that he is very deserving of the honor. So, if you’d like to vote for him (and you should!), go to this link.  Other former Dodgers on the ballot include Greg Maddux and Devon White.

Staying with the defense theme, I asked Elias Sports Bureau to help us out with some fielding stats for our media/information guide and while it took them some time to compile it, we are grateful for the info they sent us. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get it in the guide this year, but thought you might find this interesting. There are definitely some surprise names on the lists below. (Sorry if it looks a little strange. I’m still new at posting charts on this system).

And for those of you with more time, check out the new guide which is printed and now available for purchase at the Top of the Park Gift Store and free if you want to check it out online.

DODGERS ALL-TIME FIELDING LEADERS BY POSITION

FIRST BASE
                                    PCT    TC    E    G
Garvey, Steve                .996 14781   63 1470
Parker, Wes                   .996 10380   45 1108
Murray, Eddie                 .995  4224   23  458
Brock, Greg                    .994  4081   26  447
Karros, Eric                     .993 14614  103 1579

SECOND BASE
                                    PCT    TC    E    G
Robinson, Jackie             .983  3992   68  751
Grudzielanek, Mark          .983  1958   34  428
Cora, Alex                       .981  1427   27  335
Neal, Charlie                   .980  2718   55  577
DeShields, Delino             .980  1674   34  355

THIRD BASE
                                    PCT    TC    E    G
Cox, Billy                       .964  1914   68  663
Wallach, Tim                  .964   937   34  384
Cey, Ron                        .963  4486  166 1468
Stripp, Joe                     .961  1732   68  589
Gilliam, Jim                    .952  1888   90  760

SHORTSTOP
                                    PCT    TC    E    G
Izturis, Cesar                  .980  2329   47  553
Anderson, Dave               .970  1691   50  410
Cora, Alex                      .969  1259   39  338
Griffin, Alfredo               .964  2165   77  472
Wills, Maury                     .963  7366  272 1497

OUTFIELD
                                    PCT    TC    E    G
Butler, Brett                  .996  1708    6  745
Rosen, Goody                .991  1058    9  388
Baker, Dusty                  .987  2073   27 1092
Buckner, Bill                  .986  1143   16  577
Bordagaray, Frenchy       .985   687   10  314

CATCHER
                                    PCT    TC    E    G
Haller, Tom                   .991  2721   25  444
Lo Duca, Paul                .991  3787   35  498
Roseboro, Johnny          .990  8547   87 1218
Piazza, Mike                  .989  5237   58  700
Torborg, Jeff                 .989  1948   22  350

PITCHER
                                    PCT    TC    E
Fitzsimmons, Freddie     .985   267    4
Davis, Curt                    .985   329    5
Perez, Odalis                 .980   205    4
Ruether, Dutch               .979   238    5
Vance, Dazzy                  .979   665   14

Minimum: 300 games for each position except pitcher.
Pitcher minimum: 200 total chances.

DODGERS SINGLE-SEASON FIELDING LEADERS BY POSITION

FIRST BASE
                               YEAR    PCT   TC  E   G
Garvey, Steve           1981   .999 1075  1 110
Parker, Wes              1968   .999 1009  1 114
Garvey, Steve           1976   .998 1653  3 162
Karros, Eric               2002   .997 1285  4 142
Parker, Wes              1965   .997 1534  5 154

SECOND BASE
                               YEAR    PCT   TC  E   G
Reed, Jody               1993   .993  698  5 132
Robinson, Jackie       1951   .992  832  7 153
Neal, Charlie             1959   .989  808  9 151
Grudzielanek, Mark    2002   .989  626  7 147
Cora, Alex                 2004   .987  612  8 138

THIRD BASE               YEAR    PCT   TC  E   G
Beltre, Adrian            2004   .978  452 10 155
Cey, Ron                   1979   .977  397  9 150
Wallach, Tim             1995   .976  211  5  96
Cey, Ron                   1980   .972  457 13 157
Stripp, Joe                1936   .968  316 10 106

SHORTSTOP
                               YEAR    PCT   TC  E   G
Izturis, Cesar             2004   .985  674 10 159
Izturis, Cesar             2002   .979  471 10 128
Wills, Maury               1971   .978  720 16 144
Reese, Pee Wee         1949   .977  788 18 155
Izturis, Cesar              2003   .977  695 16 158

OUTFIELD
                               YEAR    PCT   TC  E   G
Butler, Brett             1991  1.000  380  0 161
Butler, Brett             1993  1.000  375  0 155
Roberts, Dave           2002  1.000  257  0 117
Grissom, Marquis       2001  1.000  233  0 123
Landreaux, Ken         1981  1.000  214  0  95

CATCHER
                               YEAR    PCT   TC  E   G
Ferguson, Joe           1973   .996  817  3 122
Owen, Mickey           1941   .995  597  3 128
Lo Duca, Paul            2004   .995  558  3  81
Campanella, Roy        1952   .994  721  4 122
Roseboro, Johnny      1965   .994  884  5 131

PITCHER
                               YEAR    PCT   TC  E
Vance, Dazzy            1928  1.000   72  0
Casey, Hugh              1939  1.000   67  0
Davis, Curt                1942  1.000   67  0
Hatten, Joe               1947  1.000   67  0
Fitzsimmons, Freddie 1939  1.000   65  0
Ruether, Dutch          1922  1.000   65  0

Minimums: Played at least two-thirds of team’s games for
          each position except catcher and pitcher.

Catchers minimum: Played at least half of team’s games.

Pitchers listed by most total chances, no errors.

Oh Say Can You Sing…

I have no clue if any of you guys have any singing ability, but if you do, here’s your chance to sing the National Anthem before a game at Dodger Stadium. Maybe we can get the Daily News’ Tom Hoffarth to do it (yesterday, he blogged about ESPN’s Steve Mason’s anthem last year).

And while we’re on the subject of fan participation, I found one of the funniest videos ever on YouTube.

New Kid on the Block

No, the headline doesn’t refer to any of the rookies at Dodgertown but rather, Diamond Leung of the Riverside Press Enterprise, who continues to find interesting new angles during his first month on the Dodger beat. This morning, he wrote a fantastic piece about Hong-Chih Kuo and his journey to the Majors. For those of us who watched Kuo rehab here at the stadium year over the past few years, it really is cool to see him back on a mound and healthy, given all that he’s been through. And to top it all off, you couldn’t find a nicer person in the big leagues.  It’s hard to believe he’s only 25 years old…Kuo, that is. Then again, Diamond is 25 also, and both are of Chinese descent, which makes for an interesting coincidence. Their paths to the Major Leagues have been different but today their stories kind of came together.

And then we go from the new kid on the block to the veteran, Kevin Modesti of the Daily News, who arrived in Dodgertown and penned an awesome first column that recounted some his fondest memories of Vero Beach.

The rest of the news today was mostly rehashing the J.D. Drew story, which I understand has to be done because we were playing the Red Sox but I have to admit, is getting a little tired. I’d like to think that with this game now in the past, both sides can move on peacefully and that maybe sometime in the next five years, the Dodgers can be playing against him in the postseason, as that would mean that it worked out for both J.D. and more importantly, for the Dodgers.

Two million and growing…

I’m sure that many of you were a part of the huge crowd at Dodger Stadium yesterday. While I was in the air from Vero Beach, almost four thousand fans were buying tickets for the first time in 2007 and Opening Day sold out in less than 15 minutes. Plus, at one point during the morning, we passed the two-million mark in tickets sold faster than at any point since 1993. That says a lot about the excitement there is for this year’s team and from all of us, a big thank you for coming out and being a part of the festivities.

For those who didn’t get Opening Day tickets but are planning on coming out a decent amount this year, you can still be at the stadium on April 9 by purchasing one of the mini plans available now. You can actually purchase as few as 15 games and still get the most coveted ticket in town – Opening Day. I know I sound like a salesman, but I know there are people who really wanted to come to Opening Day and might not have gotten their tickets, so I figured I’d point out the best way to do so.

Meanwhile, back in Vero, we had a couple of losses in split squad action today, but several guys had good days, including Brett Tomko, Jason Repko and Jeff Kent. For Tomko and Repko, every game is a little more important, as Brett is hoping to crack the rotation and Jason is looking to solidify his spot as a fourth outfielder, if not as an everyday player.

I meant to point this out a few days ago, but in case you missed it, here’s Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospects entering 2007.

And finally, be sure to listen to DodgerTalk tonight on KFWB 980 at 8 p.m. Ned Colletti will be the guest and it’s one of the best ways to keep up with everything that’s happening in Vero.

First win and a tough loss

It was a nice come-from-behind win today at the home opener here at Holman Stadium, yet there’s still a sense of loss over the passing of Clem Labine. So many people here in Vero Beach knew Clem from his many years as an instructor at Fantasy Camp and our deepest thoughts and sympathies are with his entire family today and in the coming weeks.

I’m heading back to Los Angeles tomorrow morning so that we can prepare Dodger Stadium for Opening Day and I’ll be back in Vero Beach later in the month. I’ll continue to post from LA with updates on what’s going on in both places.

It's really a national league now…

It was a tough first day for the Dodgers, as they lost in Orlando and from what I hear, there were not many highlights to speak of. But, I was actually back in Vero Beach today because we became truly "national" league team today – at least one of us did.

As I mentioned just a week ago on this post, Ken Gurnick unearthed a story about Matt White that all die hard Dodger fans now know very well.  It immediately dawned on me that this story was something different than most and so our department set out to try and let people know just how interesting this journeyman left-hander was. As stories began to run on KCAL and FSN Prime Ticket, we reached out to a few different "non-traditional" media outlets like CNBC and the Today Show, which both had immediate interest in the story. (CNBC will air a piece tomorrow at 8:40 and 11:30 ET).

But it wasn’t until I mentioned it to John Nadel from the Associated Press that this thing really began to take off. His version ran yesterday and today this thing really became not only a national story, but a global one. In addition to coordinating features on ABC World News Tonight and CNBC, we’ve been fielding requests from news outlets that never cover baseball or the Dodgers because of this unique story. CNN, CBS News with Katie Couric, Inside Edition…you name it, I think we’ve spoken with them today about a possible story on Matt.

All the while, he really just wants to focus on making the team, which is extremely admirable. I should make this clear – he’s definitely not a billionaire, nor does he act like one. Around here, he seems like just another guy trying to reach the big leagues while living on a minor leaguer’s salary. His good fortune has certainly given him some fame that he never asked for or expected and it’s definitely given the PR Department some extra work these days, albeit as a positive news story. With requests pouring in, we’re hoping to help him cut this off with one more "media conference" that will keep everyone happy, but that’s not an easy task.

So, while the enormity of this is a little overwhelming for everyone involved, I thought it was interesting enough to write about because it shows a little bit about what our department does on a daily basis.

Tomorrow’s the first home game at Holman Stadium. I know some of you had some issues with Gameday Audio and I’m sorry to say that it is not available for free during Spring Training. But, $14.95 for 190-plus games is pretty reasonable, I’d say.

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