The 2021 Los Angeles Dodgers home opener was 32 years in the making.
Not only was it the first game at Dodger Stadium with fans present in 18 months, but it was a banner-raising ring day.
Before the game against the Washington Nationals to open their first home stand of the season, the Dodgers passed out their 2020 World Series rings to staff and players.
It was the culmination of the team’s efforts in navigating the strange 2020 season that was shortened due to COVID-19. The Dodgers dealt with the specter of testing results, a sprint to the playoffs, and then an extra round of Fall baseball to finally be crowned champions after a 32-year drought.
As a fan, there was the personal joy of seeing the players finally be celebrated; lest we forget the traditional post-championship parade was postponed due to the ongoing pandemic. This writer couldn’t help but be happy as the players were given special congratulations from their favorite greats of the game.
My biggest smile was reserved for Clayton Kershaw, the Dodgers’ future Hall of Fame ace who smiled like a kid on Christmas as he collected his championship bauble. Kershaw, who is the longest-tenured member of the team, who suffered yearly October disappointments, heard the loudest cheers from those in attendance when he finally got his ultimate prize.
The World Series ring one of the oldest traditions in baseball. The first ones were passed out to the 1922 New York Giants, and this year’s is the tie that will always bind the 2020 Los Angeles Dodgers together.
For Dodgers fans, the ring symbolizes what this team meant to the city during the difficult 2020 year. The ring ceremony marking the return of fans to Dodger Stadium is poetic justice for all the fans who missed out on seeing a Dodgers title won on the Dodgers’ mound. The fans on Friday got to see their conquering heroes finally celebrated.
The ring is an eternal symbol. Long after we’re gone, it will continue to shine either on display at the National Baseball Hall of Fame or in some capacity at Dodger Stadium. Fans will always recognize it and point to it, symbolizing a time in 2020 when things looked so bleak.
Instead of folding, the Dodgers organization pulled together to accomplish something 32 years in the making.