Last year the Dodgers unveiled Jackie Robinson’s Dodger statue in the left field reserve plaza. It is an image of him stealing home during his rookie season. Another team that plays in LA with a rich history, the Lakers, have 5 former player statues outside Staples Center. The obvious question here is:
Who else should the Dodgers immortalize in bronze outside Chavez Ravine?
While doing research for this, I bounced as many as 15 names on the list. Not being a fan of laundry lists, even while going grocery shopping, I knew I had to narrow the list down. If the name that stands out to you didn’t make the cut–save your tomatoes, I didn’t want to cut Dodger legends off the list either. In no particular order, here are the Dodgers I thought could be forever remembered in Bronze:
Don Newcombe: Don Newcombe was the first player to win Rookie Of The Year, Cy Young, and MVP in his career. He won a World Series with the Dodgers in 1955. During this time of furious debate on pitchers hitting, it’s also nice to note that Don was NO slouch at the plate–he once hit 7 homers IN ONE SEASON and finished his career with a 271 career batting average. The numbers and accomplishments probably stand in pale comparison to how groundbreaking he was. He came to the league after Jackie, but he was the first black pitcher to start a World Series game, and the first black pitcher to win 20 games. He won the first annual Cy Young award, too. No big deal right?
Fernando Valenzuela: As a Mexican-American, this one holds a special place in my heart. I could write an entire editorial on “El Toro” as far as his influence. His statistical numbers (though impressive) don’t paint the full picture of context. For an entire summer, Fernandomania engulfed the entire country. If you look at an average Dodger games attendance these days, the Mexican-American community has an enormous presence. From first hand experience, so many of those are 2nd generation (or 1st) Dodger fans because of Fernando Valenzuela. The headline I often remember from The New York Times read: “Etchohuaquila-1, New York-0.” You’ll still see a lot of Valenzuela jerseys at Chavez Ravine every game.
Roy Campanella: One of the greatest catchers of all time–his career was tragically cut short. From 1948 to 1957 though, he managed to collect 3 MVP’s, 8 All-star selections, 242 dingers, and a World Series ring in 1955. A tragic car accident in the winter of 1958 cut short his career, but he still managed to put together a career to last the ages.
Orel Hershiser: I already wrote a retrospective piece on the majestic 1988 season “The Bulldog” had, and that one season alone could arguably be worth his statue. It’s also relevant because at present, it was the last time the Dodgers won the World Series. He set a record that year of 59 consecutive scoreless innings, and in the World Series, he absolutely shut down the high-octane offense of the Oakland Athletics. He is the only player to win the Cy Young Award, the championship series MVP award and the World Series MVP award in the same season.
Duke Snider: The original “Silver Fox,” Duke Snider is the Dodgers all-time home run leader, with 389. He made 8 all-star teams, and was on an absurd 6 World Series Dodgers teams. He took home 2 World Series rings. He probably should have won an MVP in 1955, but it at least went to Roy Campanella. That year, he hit 42 dingers and walked 104 times, and only struck out 87 times. That’s a 42 home run season with an OBP of OVER 400. The Duke was a true Dodger slugger.
Tommy Lasorda: 2018 will mark his very nice 69th season with the dodgers organization, the longest tenure anyone has had with the team, edging even Vin Scully by 2 seasons. The man and the legend has stories and memories in Dodger lore that few people can forget. He lead the Dodgers to two World Series championships (81, and 88) and has two manager of the year awards under his belt. I met this man just two years ago–he was still full of vigor and knowledge, and a mouth that always makes people laugh.
Clayton Kershaw: Yes. He already deserves this consideration. Don’t cut the marble yet–but Clayton Kershaw has earned the consideration. A 7 time all-star, an MVP award, 3 Cy Young awards, the pitching triple crown, 3 time NL strikeout leader, a Roberto Clemente Award, a 5 time ERA leader, AND a no-hitter. These accolades alone are worthy of his consideration.
Don Drysdale: The “Big D” set a template for what power pitchers were supposed to be. He may have been (understandably) over-shadowed by the superhuman Sandy Koufax, but he was as dominant. He posted wins in the 59, 63, 65 World Series, and he was absolutely fearless of hitters. A 9 time all-star with 3 championship rings, Don Drysdale was a pillar on the mound both literally, and figuratively.
Sandy Koufax: I had to really cut a lot of what I wrote for Sandy Koufax’s candidacy in this article. There’s just too much. His perfect game is even better than that superlative suggests–and his meaning to the Jewish community is (like Valenzuela) worthy of it’s own literature. He famously chose not to pitch game 1 of the 1965 World Series because it fell on Yom Kippur. This speaks volumes when you consider he often pitched in agony because he pitched so much. You want accolades? How about a 7 time all-star, 4 World Series championships, 3 Cy Young Awards, 2 World Series MVP’s, 3 pitching Triple Crowns, 5 ERA titles, and a 4 time Strikeout leader. He is absolutely the legend his name suggests.
Vin Scully: Dodgers fans voted Scully the “most memorable personality” in Los Angeles Dodgers history–in 1976. That was 42 YEARS AGO. I can barely write this one without getting a little emotional, but that’s because of a very specific reason. He already has the road leading into Dodger Stadium named after him, and even that feels inadequate. Endless things written about Vin Scully’s greatness–and they pale in comparison to the poetry the man himself could give just by opening his mouth. That said, I leave you with this: “It’s time for Dodger baseball! Hi, everybody, and a very pleasant good (afternoon/evening) to you, wherever you may be.”
The concept of this started with 15 names because of the Dodgers rich history. I cut the names down, and as a Dodger fan–I still have to give love to the names I didn’t include. They are: Steve Garvey, Branch Rickey, Walter O’ Malley, Kirk Gibson, Ron Cey, Davey Lopes.
Who’s Your Pick For A Dodger Statue?
Perhaps it’s an obvious pick, or a wild card that I may have not even mentioned. Dodger fans have a rich history to choose from, which is something we should all be grateful for. Tomatoes don’t bother me–throw them if you think I egregiously left someone off the list. You’re probably right. More importantly, go Dodgers.
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