I was probably 8 years old (circa 1988) when I remember going to my first baseball game at Chavez Ravine. We got to the stadium and ascended somewhere mid-level. As the green, lush field came into view for the very first time I was overwhelmed. There was so much going on. The white chalk lines were perfect, players were warming up, news reporters were interviewing, fans were everywhere, the smell of Dodger Dogs were in the air. I was amazed. I was hooked.
Just as soon as it all came into view it was taken away. We headed back into an elevator and descended down below where we started. When we exited this time the mood was much more intense. Somehow we were indoors. We headed for the light of day but were stopped when I was stopped and instructed to greet a very tall man in a suit. He called me by name and offered to sign a baseball for me. The signature read – Don Drysdale.
Not really realizing what had just happened we made way for our seats. To my surprise, we emerged from the clubhouse area to the seats directly behind home plate. In those days seats behind home plate at Dodgers Stadium were still slightly below ground – dugout level. We sat to the far left of the section on the 3rd base side near the Dodgers bench.
If I stood up against the grated fence that separated the spectators from the players I was about eye level with the field. I rested my arms on a small ledge soaking in the environment. I felt like I was in the game!
During the top of the 6th inning, my then favorite player and Dodgers catcher, Mike Scioscia (I always wanted to be #14) sprung up from behind the plate to chase a foul ball. He ran right towards me. He grew larger and ran faster. He throw his mask to the ground and dug his cleats deep in the moist dirt for greater propulsion. It seemed as though he was gonna run right over me when he slid, spikes aimed right for my face.
slightly a lot as a mound of dirt came flying at me. Mike Scioscia collided with the fence with such force that I wouldn’t have been surprised if he broke through and landed in my lap. But he didn’t. Instead, he leapt up, retrieved the caught ball from his mit and hustled back to the dugout having recorded the third and final out of the inning.
Later that season I watched in awe as Tommy Lasorda put in Kirk Gibson who limped up to bat in the 9th with 2 outs and the Dodgers trailing 4-3 in Game 1 of the World Series against the Oakland A’s and powerhouse closer Dennis Eckersley. As you know, Gibson hit a home run to win the game.
A few games later, I also distinctly remember, Orel Hershiser falling to one knee after throwing a complete Game 5 to beat Jose Canseco, Mark
McGuire McGwire and the A’s. I can still hear Vin Scully declaring the Los Angeles Dodgers the 1988 World Series champions. It was nothing short of inspiring and I won’t soon forget it.
For an 8 year old the summer of ’88 was a quintessential childhood baseball dream come true and couldn’t have been more complete. This how I became a fan of the Los Angeles Dodgers and why I always will be.
-This article was inspired by Arash Markazi’s recent ESPN article, “Why I Can’t Quit On The Dodgers“.