Born Into Blue: Dodger Tradition Runs Deep in My Blood
By Scott Andes
On the sacred 50th anniversary of our beloved Dodger Stadium, people are already suggesting ludicrous ideas. With the announcement of the winning bid of the sale of the team, looming by April 1st, we have heard that one of the potential bidders has asked about selling the naming rights to Dodger Stadium. This is something that makes my blood boil over. I’m talking about an article today written by Bill Shakin. Shakin writes that one of the bidders inquired about possibly selling the naming rights to Dodger Stadium.
When Frank McCourt first bought the team in 2004, he had inquired about selling the naming rights, but fortunately he never went through with it. We have seen a few other teams rename their parks, thankfully the Dodgers have never done this. Now I know I may be jumping the gun on this. We don’t know which bid group asked about this, and we will cross this bridge when we come to it, but just the mere thought makes me angry. It ia a disgusting thought. Other bloggers think this is funny, and I do not. Mike Petriello of MSTI, Makes his jokes, however I don’t find any of it funny. Of course I can’t expect someone from New York, who never grew up within the Dodger Culture like Petriello to understand any of this. (no offense Mike) We can’t let this happen.
I have already spoken about our Blue Birthrights as Dodger fans, and I have already written an Open Letter to the Next Dodger Owner, outlining what we expect from the new owner or owners. The most important item to me is the preservation of Dodger Tradition and the Dodger Culture.
So I ask the suits, Why? Why would you do this? Why would you make a change like this that you know hardcore Dodger fans and traditionalists would be against? The answer is simple Money. It is all for the almighty dollar. Disgusting. What the suits do not understand is that the Dodger culture is something that can not be changed or messed with. Life-long Dodger fans like Stacie and myself grew up within the Dodger culture our entire lives, and expect things to stay relatively unchanged.
I always tell people that I was Born into Blue. Our grandfather was buried with his 1988 World Championship Dodger sweatshirt and Dodger hat. Our Uncle Mark’s first Dodger game ever attended was Sandy Koufax’s first no-hitter in 1962 against the Mets. He also attended Koufax’s perfect game in 1965 against the Cubs. He sat in the bleachers after saving up his money from his paper route as a 13-year old paper-boy. He was present for two more no-hitters, for a total of four, yes four no-hitters attended at Dodger Stadium, which is almost unprecedented. (He also attended Bill Singer’s no-hitter and Kevin Gross’s no-hitter)
Stacie and I always knew we were born to be Dodger fans. It is in our blood. My deep love for the Dodgers and all things blue was ingrained into my DNA at an early age. That deep passion for Dodger Baseball is just there. It will never change. We grew up in the aftermath of the 1988 World Series and Kirk Gibson’s home run. I can remember as a nine year old boy celebrating with my sister after the Dodgers won the World Series. We remember getting our World Series rings the following year in 1989. We remember the pain of losing the division to the Braves on the second to last day of the 1991 regular season. We remember Mike Piazza. We remember the five straight rookies of the year: Eric Karros, Mike Piazza, Raul Mondesi, Hideo Nomo, and Todd Hollandsworth. We remember knocking the Giants out of the playoffs on the last day of the 1993 regular season, thanks to two home runs by Mike Piazza. We remember Hideo Nomomania, during the 1995 season. We remember the forfeit game in August of 1995. We remember back-to-back playoff years in 1995 and 1996. I remember game 1 of the 1996 NL Division series against the Braves. I remember May 17, 1998 and the trade of Mike Piazza and how devastated I was. I remember the FOX years. I remember the sale to Frank McCourt. I remember the division run of 2004. I remember Steve Finley’s grand slam home run to beat the Giants. I remember Lima Time. I remember 2006 and the four homer game. I remember Mannywood and the 2008 NLCS run. I remember the 2009 season and the second NLCS run. I remember the pain of watching the Dodgers blow game four of the NLCS to Philadelphia in the 9th inning. That loss was soul-crushing.
I Remember the divorce, and the bankruptcy, and Matt Kemp, and Clayton Kershaw, and the sale, and that brings us to the present day. All the while we have never stopped loving our team. We have never stopped rooting for Dodger Blue with the same love and passion that our grandfather did, that our Uncle Mark does. We are Dodger fans, and our past and traditions are so important to us that when these out of town suits try to take over our beloved team they better respect our traditions and customs.
So I ask the suits, what would Nancy Bea Hefley think about changing the name of Dodger Stadium? Hey suit, what do you think Roger Owens, famous peanut man, thinks of this? Hey suit, what would legendary Dodger fan Danny Kaye think? Better yet, what would Peter O‘Malley think? Better yet what would Vin Scully say?
I remember when I was a kid, going to a Dodger game was a tradition in of itself. Our Uncle Mark would pick us up normally around two and a half hours before game time. We all loved to watch batting practice. Back in those days, we would enter through the back entrance gate of Dodger Stadium, off of Alvarado and Scott St. Yes the street behind Dodger Stadium has my name. We would always joke that the street was mine. We always parked close to the gate in order to beat the traffic out of the stadium.
Back in those days we at times would scalp tickets. Back in those days, the ticket scalpers would walk around the parking lots. We knew them by name. We knew what seats they sold, where they sat, who there favorite players were, and where in the parking lot they would patrol. (this was after our Uncle lost his season tickets, which were right behind the Dodger dugout) Once we got our tickets, we would get our Dodger dogs first. I always got mine the same. No ketchup, no mustard, and a little relish. I always liked the natural state of the Dodger dog.
Once we grabbed our Dodger dogs, we would find our way to our seats. We would buy a program and watch batting practice. The pre-game rituals as we would call them. During the game we would do our nightly attendance guesses, and predict what we thought the winning score would be. We always predicted a Dodger win of course. Once the game was over Stacie, our Uncle, and myself would stand for hours behind the player’s parking lot- behind the bleachers, waiting for autographs. Some nights we would get a couple, other nights we would get none. On the way home we would listen to the post-game show and Dodger Talk. It was like clockwork. It was unchanging, just like our beloved Dodger Stadium.
As kids, our Uncle would tell us stories of Sandy Koufax. We were put to bed with visions of Dodger greats in our minds, and Vin Scully’s voice was a household staple. To speak about a name change, or any modifications to Dodger Stadium on this the sacred 50th anniversary of our beloved Dodger Stadium is sacrilegious in my opinion. Minor improvements are ok, but the Stadium is made of concrete and steel, it could stand another 50 years without issues.
You see, Stacie and I feel that Dodger tradition has been slipping away in recent years. We can’t let this happen. Every time some out of town suit changes something, it closes the door on another Blue tradition. We don’t need any luxury suites, or fancy graphics on the diamond vision. The game is all we need.
One day when I have a son, I hope to take him to Dodger Stadium, and tell him of the great Dodger players who have played here. I will tell him of our Uncle, and our grandfather, and I will continue our traditions to the next generation of Dodger fans. I am willing to do whatever it takes to stop the re-naming of Dodger Stadium. Do I need to start a petition? I will go door to door if I have to. Who is with me on this?
I know this may sound strange to people who have not grown up within the Dodger culture. For people who have never eaten a Dodger dog, or waited outside the bleachers for autographs for hours, or shook hands with Roger Owens. However to us, this makes perfect sense. This is why I am so wary of out of town people, that have no connection to Dodger Stadium or it’s culture purchasing the team. Will you preserve Dodger tradition Mr. Suit?
I guess I am just an irrational fanatical Dodger fan, right? You bet I am.