With apologies to Mr. Scully, in a year that been so difficult, an amazing thing has happened.
The last 24 hours are the ultimate reminder of why we love the Dodgers.
It started around 4 p.m. yesterday when we first touched base with Vin Scully about how he planned to let the masses know he was coming back for 2012. Of course, that’s not the sort of secret that stays quiet for very long and you always worry that it’s going to leak out on its own. But sure enough, it stayed quiet and he found a creative and classy way to tell the fans directly that he’ll be back for another season. Immediately, Los Angeles was buzzing…14 hours later, he’s still a trending topic on Twitter and our Facebook post got 4,500 likes, more than anything else all season long. What more can really be said about Vin?
Shortly after that first conversation with Vin, we had another special moment. A woman in our department came up with the idea of having Fernando Valenzuela call Team Mexico before the international championship game at the Little League World Series and it was a memorable moment for both them and him.
Then, of course, there was the game. Trailing 1-0 up until Vin made his announcement, the team turned it on and not only broke out for a big victory, but Matt Kemp reached 30/30 faster than any other player in franchise history — which means faster than Raul Mondesi, the only other guy that’s ever done it as a Dodger. The fans went crazy and it was obviously a moment that Matt — or the fans who were here — will never forget.
The night ended with Friday Night Fireworks on the field (set to the Beatles music in honor of tomorrow’s 45th anniversary of their show at Dodger Stadium). And then early this morning, we invited our season ticket holders who have had seats here for three decades or more to take part in a photo shoot for the cover of the September Dodgers Magazine. It’ll be a keepsake and hopefully a morning that they’ll remember for years to come, too.
Making it all even better, yesterday happened to be the day that the winning bidder for ThinkCure spent the day trailing me in my job, so a wonderfully sweet young Dodger fan got to experience it all first-hand and meet everyone from Vin Scully on the day he made the announcement, to Clayton Kershaw, Matt Kemp and so many others.
So sure, things aren’t quite where we all want them to be on and off the field. We’d all prefer that we be right in the thick of a pennant race right now. But we’ve got the game’s broadcaster, best young pitcher, best young position player and the best fans around. I’ll take that any day.
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.
Fernando Valenzuela participated in yesterday’s 10th Annual Dodgers Dream Foundation Charity Golf Invitational at Trump National Golf Club in Rancho Palos Verdes. His foursome included representatives from MillerCoors, a Dodger partner. Valenzuela’s group got off to a fairly slow start on the front 9, only 3 under par. The breathtaking view on the course that overlooks the Pacific Ocean might have been a distraction to a couple men in the foursome who were playing Trump National for the first time. However, after a Morton’s catered lunch, the team caught fire and birdied 5 of the last 9 holes to finish 8 under for the round.
Below is a Q&A conducted while riding around the course with the legendary lefty:
How long have you been golfing?
A long time. About 20 years. I started in the late 80s. One of my first times, I went out with Rick Honeycutt in Atlantic City, New York. When I was still playing, I golfed mostly in the offseason.
You took to the game quickly. Any attempts to go pro?
(Laughs) No, but when I stopped playing (baseball) in 1997, for about 4 to 5 years, I played (golf) almost every day.
Did you ever play with other teammates? Who was the best golfer?
I played with many of my teammates like Bob Welch, Alejandro Peña and Orel Hershiser. Orel was the best.
Which PGA pro would you most like to golf with?
I played with Arnold Palmer once at the Bob Hope Classic. I played a round with Peter Jacobsen in the late 80s.
What is your favorite course?
Riviera in Pacific Palisades
What’s your favorite club in your bag?
My driver, but I can’t tell you what it is.
What was the best prize you’ve won at a golf tournament?
Three years ago here at the Dodgers Dream Foundation tournament, I won the prize at hole 15 and it was an autographed photo of myself. (Laughs)
Which course would you like to play that you haven’t already?
How many rounds of golf do you player per week?
About 2 rounds per week
What was the best game you’ve ever golfed?
I’ve had a few good games. I shot 74 at Riviera which is 3 over par there.
This season, the Dodgers celebrate the 30th anniversary of “Fernandomania” all season long in 2011. Valenzuela’s “Fernandomania” bobblehead giveaway is July 26 (vs. COL). Below is a first look at the bobblehead!
Tickets are available here or by calling 866-DODGERS.
First, as has hit the wires earlier today, we signed veteran left-hander Ron Mahay to a minor league deal with an invite to big league Spring Training. He had a lot of success against lefties last year, allowing just two extra base hits and two walks to 66 lefty hitters last year in Minnesota. Obviously he’ll compete with guys like Scott Elbert as the potential “second lefty” out of the bullpen.
Meanwhile, speaking of southpaws, a pretty good one stopped by our office earlier today. We interviewed him for a bunch of features down the road and gave him the award he won last week at the Southern California Sports Broadcasters luncheon. Recognize this guy?
Each year, one of the highlights of January is the Southern California Sports Broadcasters awards luncheon. The organization, which recently launched a website, has members that are a who’s who of media members and those in the So Cal world of sports. It was truly a room full of legends.
At today’s luncheon, among the attendees and/or honorees were SCSB Hall of Famers Vin Scully, Jaime Jarrin, Bob Miller, Tom Kelly, Nick Nickson, Mike Walden, Rich Marotta and Ross Porter. Others with incredible backgrounds include Charley Steiner, Steve Lyons, Jim Fox, Luc Robitaille, Ken Levine, Josh Suchon, John Ireland and so many others.
Lifetime achievement awards went to Bill Sharman and Louis Zamperini whose histories will blow your mind. If you don’t know about them, check out the links on each guy. It’s mind boggling. Al Michaels won the President’s Award and told a really funny story about being “groomed to replace Vin Scully” and 40-something years later, the odds are even that he’ll retire before Vinny.
Among the Dodger folks who won awards today were Vin, Fernando Valenzuela, Rick Monday, Eric Karros and the sports crew at KCAL/CBS.
Our sincere congrats go out to everyone involved in putting on this event and hopefully you’ll spend a little time looking through the site of this great organization.
Tonight at the Stadium Club, we’re hosting a private premiere of the ESPN 30 for 30 series “Fernando Nation” which debuts on ESPN Deportes this Sunday night at 6 p.m. PT and on ESPN on Tuesday, Oct. 26 at 5 p.m. PT.
Here’s a recap of the film:
“‘The Natural’ is supposed to be a blue-eyed boy who teethed on a 36-ounce Louisville Slugger. He should run like the wind and throw boysenberries through brick. He should come from California.” – Steve Wulf, Sports Illustrated, 1981. So how was it that a pudgy 20-year-old, Mexican, left-handed pitcher from a remote village in the Sonoran desert, unable to speak a word of English, could sell out stadiums across America and become a rock star overnight? In Fernando Nation, Mexican-born and Los Angeles-raised director Cruz Angeles traces the history of a community that was torn apart when Dodger Stadium was built in Chavez Ravine and then revitalized by one of the most captivating pitching phenoms baseball has ever seen. Nicknamed “El Toro” by his fans, Fernando Valenzuela ignited a fire that spread from LA to New York–and beyond. He vaulted himself onto the prime time stage and proved with his signature look to the heavens and killer screwball that the American dream was not reserved for those born on U.S. soil. In this layered look at the myth and the man, Cruz Angeles recalls the euphoria around Fernando’s arrival and probes a phenomenon that transcended baseball for many Mexican-Americans. Fernando Valenzuela himself opens up to share his perspective on this very special time. Three decades later, “Fernandomania” lives.
Getting swept is never fun, so there’s not much that can be said after a weekend like that. Let’s just hope the team got it out this weekend and will turn it back on this week against the Reds and Red Sox…
On a more gracious note, thanks to everyone who contributed to ThinkCure Weekend…more than $300,000 was raised for cancer research and the online auction is still going through tomorrow.
Among the things that tend to happen on a daily basis if you purchase the Insider Clubhouse Tour are interactions with numerous current and/or future Hall of Famers, access in areas of the stadium where even the most fortunate fans never get to go and a chance to watch the game from the press box.
I believe last year, the person who purchased this item wound up meeting Vin Scully, Jaime Jarrin, Tommy Lasorda, Joe Torre, Ned Colletti, Fernando Valenzuela, Charley Steiner, Rick Monday and several players, among others. Trust me…we make it worth your while because it’s such a great cause so bid now before someone else gets this lifelong memory (have I talked it up enough).
Tomorrow’s an off day and likely no post, but we’ll be back to posting almost daily starting on Tuesday. Hang in there, Dodger fans. It’s been a tough weekend, but the Dodgers still have the third-best record in the NL and there are still several guys waiting to hit their strides.
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.