In the afterglow of Thursday’s comeback in Game 2 of the Division Series, a guest in the Dodger offices posed this unique question: “What were you thinking when Mark Loretta was in the batter’s box?” Standing on the top deck and taking photos of a towel-waving crowd at sunset, the obvious hope was for Loretta to drive in a run, which he did with a single to cap a 3-2 victory.
But during his at-bat, I remembered the afternoon of February 28 in Arizona when Loretta introduced himself to broadcaster Vin Scully in the lunch room of the Camelback Ranch spring training facility. Scully arrived a day early to prepare for the telecast of the team’s first exhibition game. Individual players and coaches stopped by with their greetings.
When Loretta approached, Scully stood and offered a welcoming handshake. Loretta said, “My aunt met you …” and Scully happily picked up the story from an offseason charity event in which Scully was being honored. While escorting the award recipient to the stage to a backdrop of applause, the hostess whispered to Scully, “My nephew is Mark Loretta, the new Dodger.”
For a local product who grew up in Arcadia and attended St. Francis High School in La Canada, the 15th season of his Major League career was a chance to play for the hometown Dodgers. He batted .232 in 107 games as a reserve, but with one swing of the bat in October, Loretta suddenly took his place alongside other Dodgers whose hits have won playoff games, including Cookie Lavagetto (1947), Carl Furillo (1959), Bill Russell (1978) and Kirk Gibson (1988).
– Mark Langill