If only the Dodger players had done their jobs as well as the team representatives, maybe they wouldn’t have been humiliated like they were in front of nearly 2,000 Santa Clarita residents.
On May 8, the team hosted the 33rd Annual Santa Clarita Dodger Day — our community’s longest-running event – only to lose 8-2 to division foes the Colorado Rockies.
Upon arrival, our KHTS crew was whisked through various areas of Dodger Stadium by team radio consultant Erik Braverman. As we walked passed the Vin Scully Press Box and bumped elbows with higher-ups, I was immediately taken by the sense of “access” within the ballpark that played a significant part of my childhood.
As the pre-game festivities were about to begin, Erik led us through the bowels of the stadium, past billboard snapshots from various World Series and up to the door of the actual Dodger clubhouse. I quickly assessed the situation at hand: When would I ever again get the chance to snoop around the team’s locker room? Probably never. Thoughts were racing, and rather than compromise decorum by asking Erik to let me in, I stood there awestruck and wasted an opportunity.
Time to get moving, and before I could grasp the significance of my immediate surroundings, we were speaking with veteran Dodger broadcaster Charley Steiner. I was on the field – the field of my favorite sports team – within earshot of an individual who I’ve listened to on the radio for years.
Looking around, it was clear the other participating Santa Clarita residents also understood the weight of the exciting experience.
Among them was Andrea Lewis, the graduating senior at Hillcrest Christian School chosen to sing the National Anthem. Minutes before her big moment, she admitted, “I’m very nervous, but I know I will calm down and do my best.” (She nailed it by the way, as well as her rendition of “God Bless America.”)
Nevertheless, the most anxious person was standing behind home plate, SCV Chamber of Commerce John Shaffery. Given the daunting, yet welcoming honor of throwing out the first pitch, Shaffery said, “I’m a little nervous, but looking forward to it. Hopefully I’ll live up to the good reputation of our community and get that ball over the plate.”
Santa Clarita Arts & Events committee member Pat Downing, however, was calm and collected, citing the event’s pleasant success. With 1,772 tickets sold Downing expected to raise over $10,000 for several non-profits and schools in Santa Clarita. “It’s a great opportunity for the community to come together – sit with your neighbor, watch the game.”
After various introductions including the Community Benefits Funding Committee and the SCV Boys & Girls Club, Shaffery took the mound. Though the pitch was clearly not a strike, it was a proud moment for all Santa Clarita residents in attendance.
As for the Dodgers, who knew they would be the ones to put a damper on the evening? Starting pitching Charlie Haeger was pounded for six runs in the top of the first, and was justifiably pulled by manager Joe Torre. From then on the Dodgers were playing catch-up, but failed to get anything going.
I left the ballpark in a sour mood, angry with the Dodgers for spoiling a fine time. At least Charley Steiner has the right perspective. As he so calmly stated before the game, “Pitching, for us, has been an issue to this point. Then again, it’s so early. We’re 20-something games into the season. Before everybody gets too crazy, relax, take a deep breath.”