You may obsessively watch every inning of every game, or you only catch the scores the next day. Perhaps you worship the very ground that Clayton Kershaw walks on, or instead, prefer to live in a world where Sandy Koufax is still the greatest Dodgers pitcher who ever took the mound. You can recite the names of every man on the current 40-man roster, or you know only that the starting shortstop is some kid named Seager and was pretty good in his rookie year. You live in Los Angeles and attend all of their games, or you live several time zones away and only hope to one day get out to Dodger Stadium.
It doesn’t really matter, for wherever your level of depth of Dodgers fandom resides, you are welcome here. Whatever your path, it is likely that your journey to the Dodgers is unique, as each of us has our own story about the the circumstances that led us here.
The Dodgers organization is a storied one, and its generations of fans come from not only California, but also from across the country and beyond. Ask anyone who calls the Dodgers “their” team, and we will tell you: one can be a “Real Fan” and not live in LA, California, or even the United States.
Here are a few of our stories.
Jason Davidson (@JasonD79) of Toronto, Ontario, the proud “2nd biggest Dodgers fan in Canada”, grew up in Montreal playing Little League ball and cheering for the Expos. He fondly recalls his mother, who had grown up as a Dodgers fan, taking him to see the Dodgers play the Expos at Olympic Stadium in the late 80’s, and once having Pedro Guerrero wave to him. His Mom had loved Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale growing up, and she had been one of the very few Montrealers cheering on October 19, 1981, when Rick Monday hit his now infamous HR off of Steve Rogers to take the Dodgers into the World Series. Jason had fond memories of the Dodgers growing up, watching them with his mother when they were on TV, well before the internet/all-access age, and it was his mother’s love for her Dodgers team that eventually led to Jason’s decision to get back to the game he had loved as a youngster in Montreal and start cheering for them himself, after losing interest in the game like many other bitter Expos fans after the strike-shortened 1994 season.
“As a child, I remember Kirk Gibson’s walk off homer to win Game 1 of World Series and of course, Orel Hersheiser’s complete game in Game 5 to secure the World Series in Oakland. I remember Lasorda having Youppi! ejected during 22-inning game in ‘89, and of course, ‘El Presidente, El Perfecto!’. The Dodgers fans showed nothing but pure class that day”, Jason recalled recently, about Dennis Martinez’s perfect game against the Dodgers on July 29, 1991, punctuated perfectly by Dave Van Horne’s now legendary call.
On other reasons for choosing the Dodgers as His Team, Jason goes on to add the following: “The Jackie Robinson angle with the Montreal Royals and the affiliation with Brooklyn Dodgers seemed cool. Walter O’Malley was always a proponent of baseball in Montreal. He was a supportive voice for the Expos being granted an expansion franchise for 1969. The Dodgers did so much for baseball in Montreal, more than any other team. Also, the Dodgers are one of the most progressive-minded franchises in sports. Very inclusive. I love that.”
Peter Schlarb grew up in Ottawa, Canada’s beautiful capital city, about an hour’s drive to Montreal, and was a young Canadian Dodgers fan on Blue Monday. He recalls proudly being the only kid in his school (and likely in the city) wearing his Dodgers jersey to school while the rest of the kids were all cheering for the Expos to become the first Canadian team to make it to the World Series. Peter now lives in Moncton with his wife and 2 daughters and is fortunate enough to have met the only other known Dodger fan in the city, this author, so that he has someone else to talk Dodgers baseball with at parties. Peter works overnight shifts as an air traffic controller and is busy with his family, so not able to catch many games, but considers himself a loyal fan just the same.
Andy Lane Chapman (@DodgerGirlInPA) of Lake Ariel, Pennsylvania (“the other LA”) was the first Dodger fan I met through Twitter back in 2014, and all because she had sent out a short tweet saying “I like Tim Wallach’s glasses”. Through Andy, I have become acquainted with several other equally as fanatic Dodger fans, and we watch most games along with the ever-growing “Dodgers Fam” on Twitter. Living on the East Coast, 3 hours ahead of Los Angeles time, Andy is a proud, vocal, passionate fan as well as a knowledgeable writer, and has her own unique answer to the inevitable “Why the Dodgers?” question.
She explains: “My mother used to visit Ebbets Field in the early 1950’s, and continued to follow the Dodgers all through her life. My first Major League Baseball game was at Dodger Stadium at the age of 1, as we lived in Arizona when my Dad was stationed at Ft Huachuca. We moved to PA in 1979, and I’ve been a fan from afar ever since.” Growing up, she would spend many mornings reading the recap in the paper, or watching highlights on Sportscenter because the game ended too late to make the morning paper. I recently asked Andy to share any tips and tricks she has learned on how to make the most of being an East Coast Dodgers fan. “Don’t drink when you’re already tired, or you’ll pass out in the fourth inning (which I may or may not have done last night)”, she offered.
Hunter Thompson, fellow Dodgers Nation contributor who live tweets most games, lives a few hours away from Andy, near Harrisburg. “I come from a family of Dodger fans, but mostly my Grandpa. He became a Dodger fan as a kid when they were in Brooklyn, and when I was little he always told me stories about the Dodgers growing up. I’ve loved the team pretty much my whole life, but always had everyone give me a hard time about my favorite team not being local. It never bothered me because I always loved the team and wanted to learn all I could about them.
“Last year when I was hired by Dodgers Nation, it was a dream come true getting the opportunity to work with something related to my first and still strongest love”, Hunter added. “My first favorite player was Adrian Beltre but my all time favorite is Matt Kemp because I met him his rookie year in Philly, and he gave me a ball. I would always go to one game a year in Philly and it was hard only getting to see them that much, but then MLB.TV gave me the chance to watch them every day.” Hunter believes that even without his live tweeting for DN, he’s be up watching the Dodgers every night anyway, and that baseball is most definitely better than sleep.
My journey as a young baseball fan in Canada was also what eventually led me here. I grew up admiring Expos third baseman Tim Wallach, and eventually followed his playing and then coaching career to the Dodgers organization. When, like Jason, I was inevitably drawn back into the game I had loved in my teens, the Dodgers were a natural choice, since I was still pulling for Tim to get the World Series ring he never got in his 12-year career as an Expo. I like to think this was fate, as although Wallach has since moved on, I now proudly bleed Dodger blue, and am here to stay for better or for worse. Ever since staying up until 3:30am my time to watch Clayton Kershaw’s masterful no-hitter vs the Rockies on June 18, 2014, I haven’t missed a game. It is now part of who I am, and I accept the late nights and lack of sleep as just a small part of the privilege of being able to do what I do. As I like to tell people who may question my sanity: “I’ll catch up on my sleep in the off-season”. Though life has taken me down a few wrong turns and back again, Dodger baseball has become the home I come to at the end of the day.
Of course, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy the occasional afternoon or Eastern Standard Time game, just to catch up a little on my sleep, though if I had to choose, I most definitely prefer home games. There is just something about the energy at Dodger Stadium – from the way it looks under the lights, to the pristine white of the jerseys at first pitch, to the clever organ riffs of Dieter Ruehle and the booming voice of PA announcer Todd Leitz – that makes it unique, and very special. I’ll gladly sacrifice a few hours of sleep to stay up late any night to watch a home game over watching a road game that happens to end before midnight.
“But how can you be a real fan if you’ve never seen them play in person?”, some may wonder. I can tell you from personal experience that one can be a proud fan and never even set foot in the stadium of their beloved team, although I was fortunate enough to scratch an item off of my bucket list when I finally visited Dodger Stadium in September 2016, meeting up in person with Andy and several other Dodgers fans I am now proud to know. Some people are not as lucky and have never been able to see the team play in person, but that doesn’t mean they are any less devoted. Media coverage makes team info and players more accessible than ever, so if your answer to the “Who is your favorite team?” question is “Dodgers”, then that is the only answer you need to be sure about.
So what have I learned in my time as a true blue Dodgers fanatic living in the Atlantic Time Zone? Be proud, have faith, develop an addiction to coffee (necessary for next morning survival)…and don’t go to bed during the game, even if the Dodgers are down 5-2 going into the bottom of the 9th and have looked lifeless at the plate all night. Firmly believe that right now, baseball is better than sleep, or you just might miss out on some “Absolute Madness!”.
These are our stories, now hit the comments and tell us about yours, long-distance Dodgers fans!