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.
So far, it’s been a succesful first day of the annual community caravan. I got to visit the first stop, at the L.A. River cleanup, and lots of Dodger fans were there with Don Mattingly, Andre Ethier, James Loney and a whole crew of former Dodgers, who were doing their best to Think Blue and Act Green.
The caravan continued on to USC University Hospital, followed by King Middle School and will also make a visit to Lopez Tonight, so tune in this evening to see these guys on the late night talk circuit.
We’re back at it tomorrow morning with plenty more stops, so keep your eye out on the roads for a blue bus with the Dodgers Caravan across the side of it. Or follow the caravan virtually on twitter @dodgers, where we’re sending out photos all day.
Also, in response to the question of whether or not we’d wear the Brooklyn uniforms on the road in NY…I’m pretty sure that has to come with MLB approval well in advance and at the request of the home team. So, unless the Mets asked us to do this, I don’t think we can just show up in Brooklyn uniforms for their game. It’s an interesting thought though for down the road and something we can look into. Appreciate the idea…and for those who haven’t voted, check out dodgers.com/throwback and vote…it’s very close between two choices and only four days left to weigh in.
Congratulations are in order to Clayton Kershaw and minor league pitching coach Danny Darwin, who were both honored last night in Dallas.
And serious kudos go out to Casey Blake, who clearly understands the meaning of giving back to the community. He and his family are donating $1 million to their hometown, according to their local paper.
Hopefully we’ll see many of you out and about at the caravan this week. More public stops than we’ve ever had before, so come out and see current and former Dodgers as we gear up for Spring Training (pitchers and catchers report in less than three weeks).
And we’ll leave you with the following photo from Joe Torre, who has a cameo on Jay Mohr’s show Gary Unmarried (seen here with Rob Riggle of The Daily Show fame). It’ll air on March 10 when we’re at Camelback.
It was great seeing some of the ITD faithful out at Canter’s Deli yesterday. I didn’t get to make it over to The Price is Right, but I heard it was awesome and can’t wait to see it on air on March 18.
The caravan heads really far south now, as I’m blogging from an SUV en route to Mexicali, where we’re announcing that we’ll host the two top teams from the Mexican League at Dodger Stadium on May 16. Should be a really unique event and I hope you’ll all be out there. We’ve got Fernando, Jaime and Pepe with us and anytime you can trek into Mexico with Fernando, who is the biggest name in Mexican baseball history, it’s a pretty special event. Tickets go on sale today on dodgers.com and will be as low as $5 for the family section (alcohol free pavilions)…
And congratulations are in order for former Dodger groundskeeper Larry DiVito, who was named as the Twins’ head groundskeeper yesterday. It’s always great to see former Dodgers moving up throughout baseball and our own Guru of the Grounds, Eric Hansen, has proteges around the league, which is why our field is considered by many players to be the best in baseball. Of course, Larry was already the head guy in Washington before making the move, so apparently he likes starting new stadiums! Congrats, Larry.
You’ve all been waiting for this info so please forgive the delay in getting it out. Our eight-day community caravan begins tomorrow, with public events on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week.
All the info you need is here!
Hope to see many of you along the way…