As I looked at the up coming schedule to decide which game I wanted to attend on my first day covering the Dodgers for LASplash , my eye caught what I thought would be an ideal beginning. Sunday afternoon, 1;10 pm first pitch vs the Cubs, another storied franchise. I was looking forward to getting this inside look at the Dodgers, an iconic MLB franchise, and this storied ballpark. Dodger Stadium, celebrating its 50 year anniversary, is currently the third oldest ballpark in Major League Baseball (behind Fenway Park in Boston and Wrigley Field in Chicago) and is the largest ballpark by seating capacity.
I arrived at the stadium 3 hours before the first pitch. I found my way to the press parking lot and media entrance on this beautiful Sunday afternoon. I was told my credential would be waiting for me at the security desk. I asked for my host Garrett and was told he’d meet me in the press box. I found my way down to the press box and found my seat. What a seat!! It was actually the best seat in the house right behind home plate. I looked out at the empty stadium and started to image all the games I’ve seen over the years…I could still see Kirk Gibson rounding the bases after his magical home run in the 1988 World Series. A moment later Garrett, my contact in the Dodger PR department, arrived and offered to give me a quick tour of the stadium before the first activity of the day which would be the pre game interview of coach Don Mattingly. I’ve followed coach Mattinglys professional career my whole life. Being a Red Sox fan, he was an integral part for many years of torture brought upon Rex Sox nation. It was great to see him in person as he answered the beat writers questions for a bout 30 minutes. Putting up with these writers on a daily basis would drive me crazy, however the coach handled them like the professional he is. After the interview, I made my way up to the press box and found my seat once again. The stadium was coming alive as the concessionaires, press people, fans and players started to get into their pregame routines. I wondered around the press box and was intrigued by all the activity going on. Local, national and international radio and television stations getting ready to go live broadcasting the game. As I walked by one of the rooms I heard a voice that I’ve listened to for as long as I can remember. The voice was legendary…was I daydreaming again? NO…It was none other than Vin Scully. Are you kidding!! Hall of Fame announcer Vin Scully! The master like no other. Watching him prepare for the game and listening to him tell a quick story about a meeting he recently had with Tommy Lasorda was really unbelievable. I wondered down the hall a little further and came upon another interesting booth. The sign on the wall said Jr Dodgers. I looked in this booth and saw three teenagers preparing for the game just like the professionals. I started to strike up a conversation with the gentleman heading up this program. The program is a way for kids who are looking to get into the broadcasting field to get a chance to call the game live over the MLB radio network and interview the players just like the real journalist do. It’s a fantastic program. If anyone is interested in supporting the program just google the Jr Dodgers for more information.
The game was about to start as I made my way back to my seat. The game turned out to be an exciting one that the Dodgers won in the bottom of the 9th when newly acquired infielder Hanley Ramirez singled home Dodger super star Matt Kemp. As the players and the crowd were going crazy I began to make my way back down to the locker room for the post game interviews. A few moments later I found myself in the managers office listening to a very happy manager talk about the exciting game we just witnessed. We then were allowed to go into the main locker room and interview the players. Obviously the man of the hour was Ramirez who graciously answered one question after the next until all the reporters were finished with him and made their way over to another newly acquired pitcher, Joe Blanton , who was just brought in from the Phillies and was the days starting pitcher. Once all the interviews were done I made way way back to the field to get one last look at this historic ballpark from ground level. As I walked outside I saw hundreds of fans running the bases and getting a chance to be on a major league field, I’m sure for the first and only time. It was great to see that after a number of years of mismanagement and neglect the new Dodger owners were really make things right for the fans and the organization.
It was truly a great experience being at the ballpark and getting my first inside look at the Dodgers. I can’t wait to go back once again and continue to relive so many great memories of this iconic franchise. I recommend everyone get out to the ballpark and enjoy the wonderful experience.