Caravan ends, Spring Training begins…
As the final stop of the two-day Community Caravan came to an end yesterday, a TV reporter asked me simply, “What’s the goal of this whole thing?”
It was a fairly basic question but the answer is worth noting. The goal of the community caravan is to bring our players, former players and staff into the community to do good work and get the city excited about baseball season again. To that end, I think the last two days have been wildly successful.
And in this case, it literally ended just as Spring Training begins. Immediately after yesterday’s five-stop caravan, I headed straight for Burbank airport to hop a flight to Arizona, where pitchers and catchers reported this morning. In fact, this blog post was written from the airplane (though I couldn’t post until this morning). Meanwhile, your intrepid Dodgers.com beat reporter, Ken Gurnick, actually started driving to Glendale as soon as he got back to Dodger Stadium from the caravan and yet, was still at Camelback by 8 a.m. this morning to start bringing you all the news and information you’ve come to expect from Spring Training.
Tomorrow, we’ll write about Spring but for today, it’s really all about the Caravan. A huge thank you goes to the players who turned out in great numbers over the last two days (Furcal, Kemp, Ethier, Loney, Gwynn, Gibbons, Kapler), former players (way too many to list), broadcasters Charley Steiner and Steve Lyons and of course, new manager Don Mattingly and GM Ned Colletti. The Community Relations department put together a really cool two-day event and for those of you who made it out to the L.A. River cleanup yesterday or the Heal the Bay event in Santa Monica today, thanks to each of you, too.
In addition to those two stops, today we got to take Gabe Kapler back to his old high school, Taft High, to surprise the baseball and softball teams with some up-close-and-personal instruction. We stopped at the West valley Police Station to pay tribute to those who protect and serve and they were extremely gracious hosts. We dedicated the 10th Dodgers Dreamfield at Northridge Park, which was especially cool because I grew up playing there (and no, I didn’t pick the site!). And the day started early with a stop at the downtown Fire Station, where Rafael Furcal was on hand to see the firetruck that will be heading to his hometown in the Dominican Republic, which has never had a firetruck.
Think about that. When a fire breaks out here, we take for granted that calling 911 will bring a crew of yellow-clad firefighters on a giant red truck to help extinguish the fire. In Loma de Cabrera, they have no such thing…until now. Raffy seemed genuinely moved by all the people who came together to get this done and all of our players were gracious participants.
And now, it’s all Camelback, all the time. We’ll be blogging, tweeting, facebooking and just about every other imaginable form of communication possible with the fans, including good ol’ fashioned face-to-face chats, with unmatched access to the players and staff that anyone who has ever visited has come to expect.
We hope many of you will make it out here to see us.