Inside the Dodgers blog addition…
As you’ve seen over the last four years, we’ve had various people contribute to this blog, including myself, Ned Colletti, team historian Mark Langill and Team Travel Manager Scott Akasaki. Well, we’ve got another one who is going to be dropping by to share some thoughts throughout the season and it’s another Josh!
Josh Lukin of our marketing department is quite often taking part in the same things you guys do…visits to Spring Training, DodgerLIFE events, Bleacher Beach, etc. So, we’ve asked him to provide an inside look at some of these sorts of things that the diehard fans would want to hear about.
Here’s his first post from a visit this week to Camelback Ranch.
“Sandy Koufax just drove by me in a golf cart.”
There is no better way to describe the Spring Training experience than that. The proximity to heroes, past and present, is unparalleled in the modern day sports world. A world full of agents, security, scrutiny and press conferences create barriers between players and the people who praise them.
At Camelback Ranch, those barriers are whittled down to a few thin ropes, creating lines rather than walls. Fans are afforded the opportunity to watch the Dodgers take batting practice, field grounders, run down fly balls, review base running rules of thumb, and train for the season ahead, all from only a few feet away. The interaction creates a lighter atmosphere than what you would expect at any other sporting event and gives players the chance to see other sides of their fans too. In one short week, I watched as men, women and kids of all ages and ethnicities showed up to see their Dodgers and in turn, watched the boys in blue take kindly to these not-so-strangers. Matt Kemp wore one fan’s oversized Manny headpiece on to the field. Russell Martin signed for just about anyone he saw. Hong-Chih Kuo even said hello to me and my guests as walked out to one of the practice fields and he has no clue who I am.
However, the pinnacle of player interaction came during a two-day visit from one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history – Sandy Koufax. The three-time Cy Young Award winner, former MVP and by far the most accomplished Jewish athlete in American sports, made a stop in Glendale to teach our pitchers a thing or two. And as excited as all Dodger fans are at the prospect that some of our prospects may pick up a tip from the great Koufax, the biggest thrill came between innings of a “B” game one of the side fields as Sandy proceeded to walk along the fence to sign autographs for a few lucky onlookers. The buzz began to build as just about anyone on the sprawling campus caught wind of the impromptu signing. Fans gathered to try and take a piece of history home as they took mobile pics, videos and more in an attempt to remember the time they saw Mr. Koufax in person- its what Spring Training is all about.