Dodger Thoughts

Jon Weisman's outlet for dealing psychologically with the Los Angeles Dodgers, baseball and life

Category: History (Page 6 of 31)

The devastating Pedro Guerrero slip-and-slide

GuerreroBy Jon Weisman

Pedro Guerrero’s slide that wasn’t into third base still haunts me. And it was 30 years ago.

Guerrero was at his peak — in fact, he was at everyone’s peak. Having hit 15 home runs in June 1985 alone, finishing the year with a National League-leading .999 OPS and 182 OPS+, Guerrero was the rightful NL Most Valuable Player, even if voters didn’t see it that way.

When Guerrero arrived at Spring Training in 1986, he seemed more than a little aware of his stature. But the media played into that. Some of the coverage bears a striking resemblance to that of Yasiel Puig over the past 2 1/2 years, in that things that should have been unremarkable were treated as the opposite.

According to Gordon Edes of the Times, there was a pool among the beat writers, players and even “a certain manager,” betting on when Guerrero would actually show up in Vero Beach. (Bob Hunter of the Daily News won.) But Guerrero wasn’t late to Spring Training. He was more than on time. He just wasn’t as early as others.

Guerrero did admit to Edes that if it were up to him, he would skip Spring Training entirely. “But if I do that and hit .210, you guys (reporters) would be all over my butt,” he said.

So Guerrero arrived. He had one hit in his first 16 at-bats, then suddenly smacked six doubles and a triple as Grapefruit League play heated up. No one worried about Pedro Guerrero, the player who was, as I’ll never tire of quoting Bill James as saying, “the best hitter God had made in a long time.”

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How Dave Roberts won Spring Training in 2002

Dave Roberts and Jim Tracy (Photos by Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Dave Roberts and Jim Tracy (Photos by Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

By Jon Weisman

It’s easy to see now what the Dodgers have in Dave Roberts, just as it was easy by the end of 2002, when Roberts had a .353 on-base percentage and 45 stolen bases in his debut Dodger season.

At the start of 2002, maybe it wasn’t so easy. Here’s what Bill Plaschke of the Times wrote that March …

The dispatches have arrived from Vero Beach in fits and starts, surrounded by static, as if the strange late-night rantings of a distant radio station.

ZzzzzzzCesar Izturis is starting at shortstop and batting secondzzzz.

ZzzzzzzEric Gagne is the closerzzzzzz.

ZzzzzzDave, Leon, Bip, Robin, Somebody Roberts is the center fielderzzzzz. …

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Bridges to history: Last links to retired numbers

Reese Fairly

By Jon Weisman

With the Dodgers celebrating their 10 retired numbers in a pin series this year, I was curious who was the last active player to take the field with each of these legends. Here’s what I found:

1 Pee Wee Reese
Ron Fairly, who was 19 when making his debut with the 40-year-old Reese as a teammate on the 1958 “Welcome to Los Angeles” Dodgers, was 40 himself when he played his last big-league game in 1978. Years between Reese’s first game and Fairly’s last: 38

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Hodges, Garvey, Karros … Gonzalez


By Jon Weisman

Andre Ethier is the dean of Dodger position players, but Adrian Gonzalez is about to enter his fifth calendar year as the Dodger first baseman, and it’s showing on the franchise leaderboards for his position.

Gonzalez is essentially the fourth-most prolific first baseman in Dodger history, which isn’t breaking news, but is still impressive for someone who joined the Dodgers after his 30th birthday …

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That time Greg Maddux kinda threw a no-hitter for L.A.

[mlbvideo id=”541520083″ width=”550″ height=”308″ /]

Greg Maddux averaged 12 pitches per inning in his first Dodger start. (Al Behrman/AP)

Greg Maddux averaged 12 pitches per inning in his first Dodger start. (Al Behrman/AP)

By Jon Weisman

News of “Greg Maddux III: This Time, It’s Tutorial” unavoidably brought back memories of his first appearance in a Dodger uniform — one that almost became the most memorable of his 740 career Major League starts.

Ten years ago this August, pitching for the Dodgers three days after they traded Cesar Izturis to the Cubs for him, Maddux took the mound on a humid night in Cincinnati after a 65-minute rain delay.

The 40-year-old then needed only 72 pitches to complete his first six innings, walking three (two of whom were eliminated by double-play grounders, including only the second 3-5-1 double play in the past 50 years) and striking out three.

He had allowed exactly zero hits.

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‘Lost L.A.’ episode features Dodger Stadium

By Jon Weisman

Wednesday’s 8:30 p.m. episode of the KCET series “Lost L.A.” will explore the history of the view of Los Angeles from Chavez Ravine before Dodger Stadium was built, and how the Dodgers now plan to help restore the original view.

In this episode, Lost L.A. explores the various ways Southern California’s inhabitants have used the hills around Dodger Stadium. The Elysian Hills once stood where the now-iconic Dodger Stadium hosts legendary baseball. Raised up by tectonic forces andcarved into deep ravines by the ancient precursor of the Los Angeles River, these highlands meant many things to many people long before Sandy Koufax threw Dodger Stadium’s first pitch, and even before the first residents moved into Chavez Ravine. The region’s native Tongva Indians escaped floods there, and later settlers quarried stone in the hills to build what would become an American city.

Viewers will discover a lithographic view of nineteenth-century L.A. as drawn from an Elysian hilltop, the vanished neighborhood of Chavez Ravine, and a massive construction project that reshaped the land into a modern baseball palace. Created by filmmakers Ben Sax, Javier Barboza, and Amy Lee Ketchum.

Dodger senior vice president of planning and development Janet Marie Smith is among those interviewed. The episode will also stream at KCET’s “Lost L.A.” website.

Dodgers Love L.A.: A special day connecting the dots between Jackie Robinson and Dave Roberts

Jorge Jarrin, Dave Roberts and Mark Langill address students at Muir High School.

Jorge Jarrin, Dave Roberts and Mark Langill address students at Muir High School.

By Jon Weisman

It’s no exaggeration to say that Jackie Robinson is the pride of Muir High School, just as he is the pride of the Dodgers and, for that matter, the United States.

A tribute to Jackie Robinson in the Muir High School museum.

A tribute to Jackie Robinson in the Muir High School museum (click to enlarge)

So it was a special day for everyone today when this week’s Dodgers Love L.A. community tour (presented by Bank of America) made a stop at Muir, with a screening of portions of Ken Burns’ upcoming “Jackie Robinson” documentary, followed by a Q&A featuring manager Dave Roberts and team historian Mark Langill, moderated by broadcaster Jorge Jarrin.

Many of the four score students in attendance today will graduate from Muir exactly 80 years after Robinson did. But not to worry — his story still resonates.

“I loved the documentary,” said Bryan Barrios, senior captain of the Muir baseball team. “It was very inspiring (and) emotional. I walk around this campus just thinking about Jackie Robinson all the time. Sometimes I can’t believe he came here.”

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Talking shop with Dodger photogapher Jon SooHoo

Fernando Valenzuela, pitching against USC in an exhibition game before the 1981 season. (Jon SooHoo)

Fernando Valenzuela, pitching against USC in an exhibition game before the 1981 season. (Jon SooHoo)

Dodger photographer Jon SooHoo, who last year completed his 30th season chronicling the team, will be part of a Samy’s Photo School seminar with Angels photographer Matt Brown on February 13 at the Petersen Automotive Museum. (For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.)

SooHoo looked back at his career, which began in some ways with the above photo of Fernando Valenzuela, in this interview.

— Jon Weisman

Martin Luther King and Jackie Robinson: A collection of connection

mlk jackie

By Jon Weisman

For Martin Luther King Day, here are some tidbits celebrating the civil rights leader’s connection with Jackie Robinson the Dodgers.

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Youth in rotation: A bevy of Dodger starting pitchers under 30

By Jon Weisman

With the signing of Kenta Maeda, 11 of the 13 Dodgers on the active roster with MLB experience as starting pitchers will be under 30 when Spring Training begins.

The names of the youth brigade: Brett Anderson (28), Brandon Beachy (29), Mike Bolsinger (28), Carlos Frias (26), Clayton Kershaw (28 in March), Zach Lee (24), Maeda (28 in April), Frankie Montas (23 in March), Hyun-Jin Ryu (29 in March), Ian Thomas (29 in April) and Alex Wood (25).

The only starting pitcher over age 30 on the 40-man roster scheduled to take the mound this spring is Scott Kazmir, and he will be only 32, the same age as Brandon McCarthy, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery and won’t pitch until the summer at the earliest.

Smaller Under 30 chartWhile these Dodgers could have one of the highest percentages of under-30 starters since the franchise moved to Los Angeles in 1958, they won’t set a record.

In 1962 — a season that went to 165 games because of the three-game tiebreaker playoff with the Giants — every single game the Dodgers played was started by an under-30 pitcher except the 165th, which came three days after Johnny Podres’ 30th birthday.

(Click on the chart below for more detail.)

Under 30 starts

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Happy New Year: 16 for ’16

Los Angeles Dodgers vs Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

By Jon Weisman

  1. Andre Ethier (2006-present) has worn No. 16 as a Dodger player longer than anyone except Ron Perranoski (1961-72).
  2. Van Lingle Mungo also wore No. 16 for 10 Dodger seasons, from 1932-41. It would have been longer, but Brooklyn didn’t wear uniform numbers before 1932.
  3. Yasmani Grandal hit 16 homers and into 16 double plays for the Dodgers last season.
  4. Rick Monday, arguably the most famous Dodger No. 16, struck out exactly 16 times in his first big-league season (1966) and his last (1984).
  5. The last ’16 Dodgers — more accurately, the 1916 Brooklyn Robins — went to the World Series but lost in five games to Boston.
  6. Clayton Kershaw has won 16 games two of the past three years.
  7. Los Angeles hasn’t scored exactly 16 runs in a game since May 25, 2009, most recently topping that figure with the 17-0 shutout of the Giants in September 2014.
  8. When he was first acquired from St. Louis in 1976, Reggie Smith wore No. 16, before switching to No. 8.
  9. On the other hand, Hideo Nomo was originally No. 16 in his first stint as a Dodger, before taking No. 10 the second time around.
  10. Nomo is the last Dodger to strike out 16 in a game (June 14, 1995) — as well as the last to strike out more than 16 (April 13, 1996).
  11. Two Dodgers have been hit by 16 pitches in a season: Lou Johnson (1965) and Mike Kinkade (2003). Only Alex Cora (18 in 2004) has had more.
  12. New manager Dave Roberts was hit by a pitch 16 times in his MLB career.
  13. Last season, the Dodgers used 16 starting pitchers, but that wasn’t a franchise record. The 1944 Dodgers used 19.
  14. In 12 seasons as a Dodger, Ron Fairly stole 16 bases.
  15. Willie Davis is the last Dodger with 16 triples, in 1970.
  16. In the past 16 seasons since 2000, the Dodgers have had winning records 14 times, trailing only the Yankees (16) and Cardinals (15).

Happy New Year from Dodger Insider!

One more look at the 1965 Dodgers

1966 yearbook cover

Having spent this year celebrating the 50th anniversary of the 1965 World Series champion Dodgers — review all the posts here — I thought I’d take one last look at the season through some selected pages of the 1966 Dodger yearbook.

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Jackie Robinson statue to grace Dodger Stadium


By Jon Weisman

A statue of Jackie Robinson, approximately nine to ten feet tall, will be unveiled at Dodger Stadium in 2016 at a location to be determined.

California-based sculptor Branly Cadet will create the Robinson statue, which will be followed in the future by other such pieces, according to Dodger president and CEO Stan Kasten.

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Valenzuela, Scioscia in special event January 21

Scioscia congratulates Fernando

By Jon Weisman

There are limited spaces available for “An Epic Evening with Mike Scioscia and Fernando Valenzuela,” taking place January 21 and hosted by Art of the Game at a vintage hotel in Hollywood.

The evening includes:

  • On-stage Q&A with Scioscia and Valenzuela
  • Professional 11″ x 14″ photo of you and your guest, along with Scioscia and Valenzuela
  • Limited edition, licensed photo canvas signed by both greats
  • Valet parking, buffet dinner and open bar

For more information, visit Art of the Game.

Also: See below for Valenzuela’s responses in today’s live #Ask34 Twitter chat …

[tweet 677573676997316608 hide_thread=’true’]

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Dave Roberts and the Dodgers’ lost 2002 season

roberts & dreifort

By Jon Weisman

Dave Roberts made his Los Angeles debut with the 2002 Dodgers, a mostly forgotten squad whom a couple of weeks ago I called the best third-place team in Dodger history.

Those Dodgers won 92 games but finished behind Arizona and San Francisco in the National League West. Under the current playoff format, they would have made the NL wild-card game against the Giants, who ended up in the World Series against the Angels.

Instead, the ’02 Dodgers missed the postseason entirely, so their record as a team has largely been ignored. But in addition to the arrival of Roberts, there were these individual memories:

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