As part of our next series, we will be featuring ‘Dodger run-in’s’ at Dodgers Nation. These are fan stories submitted of when they ran into a member of the Dodgers organization somewhere random around town. If you would like to be part of our next column of run-in’s, you can submit your story here. For now, enjoy the first installment of this series!
Our Reader Submission ‘Dodger Run-ins’:
Corey V. (Meeting Kikè):
I’ll start by saying I have met many Dodgers and had more personal interaction with some, but this one last year was so random. My family and I drove down to San Diego on a Sunday to catch a Dodger/Padre game at Petco, after their version of kids run the bases we headed back home stoping at a Shell station in Temecula for some gas. Waiting in line to pay I see someone come in and make a mad dash to the bathroom. I thought to myself that look like Kike Hernandez, so I paid for gas and walk to the pump and I see a nice looking white car, I believe a Lexus with a beautiful woman inside and while pumping my gas out comes Kikè relieved that he made it with wetting himself lol, gave him a “Lets Go Dodgers” chant and whats up Kikè he acknowledged me and kept it moving. Just thought that even though San Diego is a short trip thought they all would ride a team bus.
M. Hensley (Encounter with Nomar):
When my son was younger, he played 1st base and his all time favorite player was Nomar Garciaparra. One weekend we had tickets for our family to see the Dodgers play the Cardinals in St. Louis. At the time, my husband was an active duty Marine stationed in Great Lakes, IL. His family lived in Indiana. The plan was to visit his family in Indiana then head to St Louis for the game. So I packed up our Dodgers gear (which included a Nomar jersey that no longer fit my son, but my daughter now wore) and we headed to Indy. Once in Indy, my daughters decided they wanted to stay with their cousins instead of going to the game. OK. I unpacked their things, and my husband, my son, and I headed to St Louis. We arrived in St Louis the night before the game we were going to attend. My son was 12, old enough to stay in the room while my husband and I headed down to the hotel bar. Sitting at the bar, I looked across from us and there was Nomar! (at this time he was announcing for ESPN I believe) I walked up to him, told him he was my son’s favorite player and asked if he would take a picture with him. He said yes. I grabbed my phone, called my son, and told him to grab a baseball and get down there immediately because Nomar was there. My son shows up, in his socks, ball in hand and the biggest smile on his face. Nomar was so great. He signed the ball (which was extremely used because it came out of his baseball bag. Nomar even joked about the condition of the ball) And he posed for a picture with my son. Of course the irony of it all….we had taken the Nomar jersey OUT of the suitcase because my daughters did not go. So we could have been the proud owners of a signed Nomar jersey. Although I make myself feel better by telling myself if the girls had gone, we probably would not have left them in the room and would never have met him at all.
When I was 9 or 10 around 1983 or 1984 I won a hit, run and throw tournament in the city I lived in growing up. It was sponsored by Coke and I got sent to Dodgers stadium to compete with kids all around California. When I got to the Stadium my uniform was hanging in the clubhouse like a regular player, we all got dressed and then Lasorda came in and gave us a speech like we were getting ready to play game 7 of the world series. Before we competed we got a tour of the stadium, had lunch with Peter O Malley then competed in the hit, run and throw tournament. Once the tournament ended we met all the players, hung out in the dugout as they got ready for the game. Before the game started against the hated Giants we were lined up on the First and Third Base line like an All-Star game and each of was introduced on Diamond vision. As our name was introduced, we had to step forward and tip our hats while they told the crowd our name and where we were from. It was an awesome experience that I will never forget. Not many people can say they played in Dodgers stadium and had a uniform waiting for you in the clubhouse.
I was perhaps 6 years old. The Dodgers had moved to Los Angeles from Brooklyn after the 1957 season. The Dodgers were playing an exhibition game in early May against the Yankies at the Los Angeles Memorial Colosseum. The game drew over 93,000 fans. It was one of three early life baseball trips to the big oval. I remember during what was probably the seventh inning stretch, stadium lights were dimmed and the entire crowd lit matches and cigarette lighters as a tribute to the Dodger Great that had been paralyzed in an accident ending his career. I watched from center field.
IN 1959 I also watched a Double header with my dad and brother as the Dodgers played against Cincinnati on the first base side. It was on the day we drove back from San Diego with twin mattresses tied to the roof of out station wagon. I remember 6’7″ tall Frank Howard got cut on his back robbing a Red of a home run when he leaned back over the right field fence right in front of me.
The last game in the colosseum was the 1-0 loss to the ChiSox in the ’59 World Series. It was hot. We sat in the first row behind the Left Field Screen. It was awesome for me. I began my lifelong love affair with Dodger magic and Vin Scully’s voice back then. Now in my 60’s I look back to that era of innocence and smile. My great Dodger Memories are about the experience. Even though later in life I would have professional interactions with several Dodgers, it was my interactions with my brother and father that came of Dodger Baseball that has always meant the most to me.
Later in life towing children to Chavez Ravine I shared similar moments with my own children in the late 80’s. On one of his better drug free days, Darryl Strawberry launched I think one of only three hits over the right field wall as Orel Hersheiser won 1-0 decision overy St. Louis. My girls wanted Red Cardinal hats because they liked the “birdie logos.”
It was then it occurred to me that baseball is called the national pastime for a reason. It binds families to each other, generation to generation. The Dodgers are my team. Growing up on my own personal sandlot, Vin Scully’s voice was the transistor radio equivalent of a harbor lighthouse. Whenever I felt uneasy in rough waters, Scully’s and Dogged made me feel safe. The Dodgers were not religion for me, but they made an evolving culture fit as I matured through the course of the turmoil-laden 60’s and when facing prospects of war in Vietnam.
My life looking back, has simply been enriched for my love of baseball. I watched Rick Monday rescue a flag because he understood what it meant. Today’s athletes are disrespecting the nation and flag. Do they not realize that a hundred years earlier, white privilege was 383,000 almost entirely northern #REPUBLICANS leaving blood, limb and life on Civil War battlefields to end the abomination of slavery. Rick Monday understood. Today’s pampered athletes are often clueless. The Dodgers remind me of why MY America is great.
Roy Campanella went from championship athlete to ADA overnight. We wept, we prayed and we loved him. We didn’t care he was Black. He was one of us, familia, part of our lives. We loved him. We loved Walter O’Mally, loved the fact that the history of the Dodgers was the story of defeating racism.
As nany other teams, the Dodgers can claim a few pennants, a few WS wins and a pantheon of superheroes named Kofax, Moon, Wills, Davis, Drysdale, Valenzuela, etc. But only the Dodgers pushed the cultural envelope by daring to conquer institutional bigotry? The Dodgers have always represented the better part of America, of who we either are, or could be. That is why it is easy to be a Dodger fan.
Luis G. (Meeting Walker Buehler):
So on Friday, June 8th, as I left the park at night after a softball game, I said bye to my longtime friend, Markus. I didn’t know that would be my last goodbye. 10 minutes later, he was involved in a fatal motorcycle accident. I found out the next morning and I couldn’t believe I was never going to see him again, especially since I was his last goodbye. He was 21. Noon comes around and a buddy of mine who knew what I was going through, invited me to the mall so I can distract myself. As we were leaving the mall, walking in was Walker Buehler and his girlfriend. He had just pitched the day before and had to be taken out with rib pain. After making eye contact, he saw I had a Dodger shirt on and I went up to him for a picture. He gladly said yes. This changed my whole day around and it almost felt as if my Markus had done this to cheer me up. Thank you Walker Buehler.
Rockstar (Meeting Tommy Lasorda):
Early 80’s flying into LAX and I’m probably 6 or 7. I’m pestering my Dad “you know that guy, I know that guy” he just keeps smiling at me and pointing at my hat. Finally my dad after traveling with 2 kids turns and “ who the hell im I going to know on this bus?” Tommy Lasorda just smiles and says “come sit with me”. He asked me where I was from and who my favorited team was. A five minute ride was like an eternity for a kid from Vancouver who had the dodger team poster on his wall. The ride ended and he look me dead in the eye and said “ who you going to cheer for?” I responded “only the Dodgers”. He signed my hat, my dads TV guide (hey it’s was she early 80’s) and until this day this house only reps the boys in blue.
K. Hennessey (Dodging for Tommy):
Please note my dad is a die hard dodgers fan and has been since his dad was a Brooklyn dodgers fan back in the day. I was like 8/9 and my dad took me to one of my first games. I played softball so I brought a giant white softball with me hoping for an autograph. I got nothing pregame. During the game my dad says let’s walk around. We find ourselves in some backstage stairwell and run into none other than Tommy himself! This was 20 years ago and I remember it vividly. My dad said what a fan he was, how I played softball and he saw my blank ball and signed it no hesitation. I have it to this day. One of my fave dodgers memories.
D. Parks (Ron Cey Encounter):
In the early 80s, the Rose Bowl hosted the Army/Navy game. I was working the beer concession and was loading kegs to each of the stands. As I was Finishing one of my rounds, I was unloading the last three kegs by myself. At the time I was 6’4 180 – basically a walking fence post – I heard this voice from behind me “Can I help you with those?” – turned around and it was Ron Cey. He helped me unload the last three kegs. I thanked him and I insisted That I give him 4 cold beers. He is a champion.
Aaron C. (Andre Ethier Encounter):
Andre and his lovely, and then pregnant wife came into my restaurant a couple of times. The first time they came in my sous chef had to lock me in the walk-in fridge until I calmed down. Both Andre and Maggie were incredibly genuine and kind people who took a little time after their meal to chat and take a photo. Other than my grandmother being able to eat at my restaurant having a Dodger come in was by far the coolest experience I’ve had as a restaurant owner.
I love to read people’s random encounters with different members of the Dodgers organization, past and present. It’s important to remember while these players and figures are larger than life, they’re often just everyday people who laugh at their own fame and are happy to be treated as such.
Please keep those stories coming for volume two of this column! You can submit your own story right here.
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