Four Dodgers who have left their marks on the organization were born on this date…
The youngest of those four turns 30 years old today and he’s the current “Dean of the Dodgers.” Remember that term from the 80s, which often referred to the player who was with the team the longest? Well, Hong-Chih Kuo is that guy, having been in the organization since he was drafted as an 18 year old in 1999. His perseverence through physical injuries and this year, mental anguish, have earned him the respect of hundreds of thousands of baseball fans around the globe and he couldn’t be a better representative of this team.
Eight years before Kuo entered the world in Taiwan, Nomar Garciaparra was born and raised here in Los Angeles. He got to play for his hometown team for several years and became an immediate fan favorite. Arguably his most memorable day as a Dodger was the “four-homer game” when the team trailed by four in the bottom of the ninth and hit four consecutive solo shots to tie it, only to lose the lead in the 10th and win it on a Nomar walk-off in the bottom half.
The other two are no longer with us, but far from forgotten.
Don Drysdale would have been 75 today. He won World Championships, set Major League records and reached the Hall of Fame, long before being known to another generation as a Dodger broadcaster. He passed away far too young, in 1993, while on the road with the team. Tonight, more than 50 of his family and friends (plus thousands of his admirers) will be on hand as we celebrate his career and life as a Dodger. His sons, D.J. and Darren, will throw out ceremonial first pitches and his wife (a legend in her own right) Ann Meyers Drysdale will also be on hand.
And coincidentally, another Hall of Famer and Dodger whose number is retired, Pee Wee Reese, was also born on this day in 1918. He played in the third-most games in franchise history (1,918), scored more runs than anyone who ever wore a Dodger uniform (1,338), had more hits than everyone other than Zach Wheat and will always be remembered as one of the original Boys of Summer. He passed away in 1999 and not only did he wear No. 1 on his jersey, but in so many people’s minds, he was No. 1 in their heart, too.
With all that’s gone wrong this season on and off the field, it’s important for us to take a moment and think about four Dodger All-Stars, all born on the same day, all accomplished in their own right, and all who wore (or wear) the uniform with dignity and pride.
On behalf of Andre and everyone at the Dodger organization, we can’t thank you all enough for trying to get Andre to Phoenix for the All-Star Game next week. It was arguably the biggest push we have ever made, and our All-Star campaigns go back to the days of Cesar Izturis, Russell Martin, Nomar Garciaparra and many more. But what made this one the best is how much you all embraced it.
Andre was downstairs in the clubhouse earlier today and telling people how grateful he was that you all took this to heart. Seeing some of the chatter on this blog, Twitter and Facebook, there were some of you that literally voted thousands of times, which is unfathomable. From the #VoteAndre TweetSuite to the clubouse t-shirts and the various celebs who threw their Twitter endorsements behind him, it was a fun four days. Ideas came from clubhouse attendants, team execs, fans and just about everyone who wanted to see him play in front of his home crowd.
So thank you! And let’s keep pulling for Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw, who will be there to represent your team.
In the meantime, hope many of you are at Andre’s Throwback Bobblehead tonight…should be a crowd over 50,000.