The Dodgers have been so fortunate over the years to have such incredible players wear the uniform and eventually reach the Hall of Fame. Yet there are just 10 who have left such an indelible mark on the franchise that their number is retired and of course, one of those 10 is Duke Snider.
So when he passed away earlier this year, it was an obvious decision to wear a patch in his memory all season long and yet, there was so much more we wanted to do to honor one of the greatest players to ever wear the uniform – and the franchise’s all-time home run leader.
One thing we had never really done as an organization was to put a logo or symbol in the grass and the idea was posed that we put his #4 in center field, where he once roamed. With lots of hard work from our grounds crew, they made it look just right.
We also wanted to pay tribute to the Brooklyn club, with which he spent so much of his career, so the players wore their Brooklyn hats, a fitting tribute.
Of course, we also wanted the family to be involved in the tribute, so not only did we have nearly 40 of them here at the game, we were able to incorporate many of them in the pregame ceremony. Several of Duke’s great grandchildren took the field with the Dodgers, while one of his granddaughter’s sang the anthem and his four kids threw out the ceremonial first pitch. His nephew uttered Vin Scully’s famous words “It’s Time for Dodger Baseball” and Tommy Lasorda was there to present a gift on behalf of the organization.
But it was just as important to involve the fans, so we distributed Duke Snider bobbleheads as a keepsake and we lobbed a call into the Hall of Fame, which rarely lets the plaques leave Cooperstown but immediately said ‘yes’ and allowed us to give fans the opportunity to photograph themselves with the historic piece.
When it was all said and done, we’re hopeful that you all, and his family, found this to be a fitting tribute to a man who meant so much to this organization and who was so beloved by so many. Were any of you on hand for the ceremonies and did you get a chance to take a photo with the plaque? What did you think of the event overall? Would love your feedback to see if it’s something we might do again with our friends in Cooperstown.
There are people in this world who are seemingly put here to inspire others and the Los Angeles Dodgers were fortunate enough to meet one of those people today.
Anthony Robles, the much-heralded ASU wrestler who won a national championship this year despite being born with just one leg, had a room full of tough-guy big leaguers in awe this afternoon when he spoke to them before batting practice.
This came about after Ted Lilly saw Anthony’s story back in Spring Training. Anthony was not in town when we were here last month, but he was gracious enough to come by for the first game of the series and offer his inspiring words. His entire story was amazing, but you could hear a pin drop in the room when he finished his talk by reciting a poem he wrote and later read at the ESPYs.
“Every soul who comes to earth with a leg or two at birth, must wrestle his opponents knowing its not what is, but what can be that measures worth. Make it hard, just make it possible and through pain, I won’t complain. My spirit is unconquerable. Fearless I will face each foe for I know I am capable. I don’t care what’s probable, through blood, sweat and tears I am unstoppable.”
He finished his chat and nearly every player on the team came over to shake his hand or take a picture with him. It was a truly humbling moment for everyone in the room.
Given that he’s now seeking to make a career as a motivational speaker, I jokingly told him afterward that it would help his cause if the Dodgers came out and won, 15-0. If we lost, we’d have to tell people he spoke to the team on a different day.
Sure enough, in the third inning the Dodgers scored six runs, equaling their most on the season and had seven hits, their largest total in an inning in exactly two years.
Suffice to say, he’s welcome back any time.
For more info, visit his website anthonyrobles.com or follow him on Twitter @arobles125
Hope you’ll be tuning in tonight to the All-Star Game. Kemp batting third and playing CF with Kershaw and Ethier ready to contribute and hopefully extend the NL’s “winning streak.”
Matt had a tough time last night at the Home Run Derby, hitting just two longballs and both came with nine “outs” already but it seems he enjoyed it quite a bit and hopefully he’s saving his pop for the second half of the season.
You guys came through big time for Matt Kemp, vaulting him into the starting lineup at the All-Star Game so your help is needed once more this week.
With 10 teams in baseball starting to put on a campaign to vote for their respective player in the Final Vote, we want to use every advantage we can and that’s how the Dodgers and White Sox (and Inside the Dodgers and Inside the White Sox) have teamed up to help our players.
When the Final Vote players were named yesterday, we immediately heard from Scott Reifert, the VP of Communications at the White Sox and the guy behind Inside the White Sox. His blog was the inspiration for this one and he’s always thinking creatively, so we immediately set out to join forces and help our guys. It works out great that not only do we share a Spring Training complex at Camelback Ranch, but both guys are Arizona natives.
Many of you probably remember Konerko from his days as a top Dodger prospect who was traded back in 1997 for Jeff Shaw (who, coincidentally, joined the Dodgers during the All-Star Break and wore the Dodger uniform for the first time at the All-Star Game). This game clearly means a lot to both guys, as you can imagine what it might be like to grow up and have the opportunity to play an All-Star Game in front of your home crowd.
Both guys recorded videos today for one another and there’s all sorts of campaigning going on this week, so please help Andre and vote as often as possible at dodgers.com.
If you’re not yet on Twitter, or you are but don’t follow @dodgers, today would be a good day to start.
Going forward, we will be posting a Random Photo of the Day there from the treasure trove of archived photos we have here at the Stadium. Some will be baseball photos (action and non), others will be from pre or postgame events, concerts or behind-the-scenes, never-before-seen candid photos that have been taken over the years with unprecedented access.
To organize it and make it easy to share, we’ll use the hashtag #RPOD (Random Photo of Day…not very creative, sorry). From what I can tell, that hashtag is only being used by someone speaking Russian (or perhaps it’s Greek…I can’t tell on my computer and unfortunately, I don’t speak either language). If you’ve got a cool #RPOD, feel free to share it and use the hashtag for fellow Dodger fans to see.
On occasion, these photos will be relevant like today’s first one, which features Fernando Valenzuela (he’s throwing out tonight’s first pitch against the Angels). It’s a candid shot taken in the early 1980s with the late Steve Howe, Jerry Reuss and Terry Forster.
These photos will come from the great Dodgers photographers over the years, from Herb Scharfman, Andrew Bernstein, Richard Kee, Mark Malone, Darryl Norenberg, Andy Castle and Art Foxall, to the last quarter century of Jon SooHoo and his talented colleagues, Juan Ocampo, Jill Weisleder, Larry Goren and Amber Matsumoto. Surely there are others who have contributed photos to our archives over the years, so hopefully you’ll enjoy their work.
And as always, please let us know what you think of these shots.
There’s just about one day left for you to help propel Matt Kemp or Andre Ethier into the starting lineup for the National League All-Star team and you can vote up to 25 times at dodgers.com and take part in the “Meet Matt” sweepstakes for a chance to meet the Dodger center fielder.
Even Matt and Andre are getting into the fun of voting…
It’s a very busy day and weekend at Dodger Stadium…
The ThinkCure weekend is underway, with programming on Prime Ticket, KABC, KCAL, KLOS and in Stadium. For all the information, visit dodgers.com/thinkcure.
Then at 2 p.m. PT, @therealmattkemp will take your questions on Twitter. Follow him and @dodgers to see all that he has to say and he’ll answer questions that have the hashtag #AskKemp.
And of course, the Freeway Series starts at 7:10 p.m., with 1:10 games tomorrow and Sunday.
Hope you’ll make the Dodgers and ThinkCure part of your weekend plans.
On the recently completed road trip, the Dodgers scored 61 runs and had 115 hits in just 10 games. For the non-math majors out there, that’s 6.1 runs and 11.5 hits per game. Overall, the team hit .311 with a .370 OBP, which is hopefully a positive sign that they can start to turn this thing around while the pitching gets back on track at Dodger Stadium.
Jamey Carroll hit .500 on the trip (15-for-30), Matt Kemp batted .472 with 7 homers and 16 RBI and Aaron Miles hit .438 (14-for-32) with several clutch hits. And of course, James Loney hit a key grand slam yesterday.
Entering the road trip, the Dodgers had batted around in an inning four times and during the 10 games, they did it five times!
The longest homestand of the season starts tonight – three games each against the Reds, Astros, Tigers and Angels. As Vin always says, hope you’ll make your plans to be part of it!
Another solid win for the Dodgers, who have taken seven of their last 11 games and tonight, look to win their fourth consecutive series for the first time in over a year. Of course, we aim to provide something a little different here at Inside the Dodgers, so we switch gears for a moment to basketball.
With the NBA Finals in full swing and Dee Gordon getting called up yesterday, it sparked a dugout conversation during Don Mattingly’s pregame interview about Dee’s athleticism on the court. He played primarily basketball until high school, when he finally started playing baseball. And it got me thinking – who would be the best basketball team made up of current or former Dodgers?
Of course, you’d have to include Sandy Koufax, who went to the University of Cincinnati on a basketball scholarship. And Matt Kemp, who had offers to play collegiately, who probably be your forward. Dee Gordon would be a nice point guard and our center would have to be Mark Hendrickson, who was the tallest Dodger at 6-foot, 9-inches and also played in the NBA as a power forward. Perhaps Billy Ashley could fill that role for the Dodgers – he was a house, but I have no idea if he could hoop. I guess that’s my starting five, without much research.
Honorable mention as a sixth man goes to Double-A manager John Shoemaker, who never played in the bigs but was the captain of the Miami (OH) basketball team and was selected in the sixth round of the 1978 NBA draft by the Bulls. Stories of his shooting exploits on the court at Dodgertown in Vero Beach are legendary. And from what I hear, Donnie Baseball was actually a pretty good player growing up in Indiana.
Anyone know any good stories about Dodger players who could pass, shoot or dribble?
Just a fun little diversion from the everday stuff on ITD. As promised, I’m trying to post more often and this popped into my head yesterday watching Dee fly around the bases in his first big league start.
The Hall of Fame released a statement this morning regarding one of their own, Harmon Killebrew. I can’t imagine what it must be like to pen something like this, but it certainly shows a level of class and dignity rarely seen in the world. In fact, few people ever get the opportunity to share a thought like this with so many and therefore, it was worth sharing with you all.
“It is with profound sadness that I share with you that my continued battle with esophageal cancer is coming to an end. With the continued love and support of my wife, Nita, I have exhausted all options with respect to controlling this awful disease. My illness has progressed beyond my doctors’ expectation of cure.
I have spent the past decade of my life promoting hospice care and educating people on its benefits. I am very comfortable taking this next step and experiencing the compassionate care that hospice provides.
I am comforted by the fact that I am surrounded by my family and friends. I thank you for the outpouring of concern, prayers and encouragement that you have shown me. I look forward to spending my final days in comfort and peace with Nita by my side.”
Anyone who has grown up as a baseball fan has heard about Harmon Killebrew and anyone I’ve ever spoken to who knows him says he was the ultimate gentleman. The way he has handled the most difficult situation in his life certainly confirms that for anyone who has never met him.
All of us at the Dodgers wish him and his family the strength they’ll need in the coming days and weeks to deal with this very sad news.
Photo credit: AP