Dodger Thoughts

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

Tag: Branch Rickey

Brothers in Arms prologue: Dazzy Vance and the days before the Dodgers pitching tradition began

Hi there! To get you warmed up for the May 1 release of Brothers in Arms: Koufax, Kershaw, and the Dodgers’ Extraordinary Pitching Tradition (pre-order now!), from time to time I want to share some behind-the-scenes tidbits about, for lack of a better phrase, “The Making of Brothers in Arms.” Think of these as if they were the DVD extras. Ideally, you’ll find them of interest even without the book in your hands.

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All avenues lead to Vin Scully

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

At the end of the street formerly known as Elysian Park Avenue, we witnessed today what happens when an unstoppable force meets a moved city.

In the driveway of his home away from home at Dodger Stadium, a broadcaster without equal acknowledged the formal dedication of Vin Scully Avenue, thanking the grateful fan base that has hung on his words since 1950.

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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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In case you missed it: Baseball and ‘Fantasy Life’

Unique Tintype 16659 (8x10 inches): Sandy Koufax, Brooklyn Dodgers, by Tabitha Soren

Unique Tintype 16659 (8×10 inches): Sandy Koufax, Brooklyn Dodgers, by Tabitha Soren

By Jon Weisman

“Fantasy Life,” an exhibition by photographer Tabitha Soren (the former MTV journalist for people of my generation) that opens Saturday and runs through June 6 at the Kopeikin Gallery on La Cienega Boulevard, explores the fantasies that define America through the lens of baseball.

“In a nutshell, my artwork visualizes psychological states, and ‘Fantasy Life’ is what it looks like to  try to touch greatness,” Soren said of the exhibition, which was 12 years in the making. “I’m using baseball as a metaphor to explore the American Dream.”

Images of Clayton Kershaw, Sandy Koufax and Yasiel Puig are among the 92 in the exhibition, for which an opening reception is being held Saturday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Here’s more …

This series explores the fantasies that define America: Manifest Destiny, the romantic idea of the restless wanderer, the hopeful idea that failure is just a step on the road to greatness, the notion that the pursuit of fame and fortune is also the pursuit of happiness, the belief that to secure one’s identity, one must seek to stand apart from the community. Fantasy Life expands upon these beliefs thought to be truths through a captivating series of portraits that engage the audience and shift their perspective of baseball.

Soren’s use of baseball is ingenious in its familiarity. In spite of the growing diversity and the ever-changing landscape of America’s demographics, the national pastime is relatable to everyone. The mystical nature of Soren’s work adds to its nostalgic appeal and to its representation of the myths and fantasies of a nation. This exhibit includes 92 images, including gelatin silver and C-print, plus 26 tintypes and 3 installations – one involving human bones.

For more information, visit Soren’s website.

Now, let’s take a trip around the web …

  • Since giving up the first two of Adrian Gonzalez’s three homers on April 8, San Diego’s Andrew Cashner has thrown 12 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run, notes Alex Espinoza of Cashner, whom the Dodgers face tonight in San Diego, has allowed six unearned runs in that span, however.
  • Fun story: Yasiel Puig gets his bats from Dove Tail Bat Co. in smalltown Maine, writes Mike Lange in the Piscataquis Observer (link via Sons of Steve Garvey).
  • Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs has an interesting look at Dodger pitching and rising fastballs. Almost tangential to the story: Clayton Kershaw, despite his supposed rocky start to 2015, has a 1.93 xFIP.
  • If you made up an All-Star team from each of the six MLB divisions, the National League West would come out on top, concludes David Schoenfield at’s Sweet Spot.
  • “Branch Rickey’s Residual Legacy” is the subject of this thoughtful piece by Bill Felber at the National Pastime Museum (via Baseball Think Factory).
  • Tommy John’s elbow and ticket stubs from two Dodger-Giant games are part of Josh Leventhal’s “A History of Baseball in 100 Objects,” reviewed by Tom Hoffarth at the Daily News’ Farther Off the Wall.
  • Hoffarth also writes about “Gil Hodges: A Hall of Fame Life,” while Bruce Markusen had an interview with writer Mort Zachter at the Hardball Times.
  • The New Yorker has a baseball-themed cover this week (but no, I’m not suggesting there are Dodgers on it).
  • A history of the color line and the Pacific Coast League is authored by Ronald Auther at Our Game.
  • Why are baseball games nine innings long? Mental Floss provides the answer (link via Hardball Talk).



Letter to Jackie, February 1947: ‘As I see it you are definitely going to get a chance’

WS to JR excerpt

Thanks to official MLB historian John Thorn for sharing this February 1947 letter from sportswriter and Jackie Robinson confidant Wendell Smith, addressing Robinson’s concerns for the coming year. An excerpt appears above, the full letter is below (click to enlarge) and at this link.

Also linked here: Branch Rickey’s January 1946 letter to Smith on the issue of making plans for Robinson to go to Spring Training in Florida.

— Jon Weisman

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In case you missed it: Farewell, Stan Chambers

By Jon Weisman

The only broadcaster with a longer tenure in Los Angeles than Vin Scully was Stan Chambers. Chambers, who joined KTLA in December 1947, mere weeks after the station opened, was a direct connection to the origins of television in this city.

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Rickey descendant to sing at Dodger Stadium on Monday

Singing the National Anthem at Dodger Stadium on Monday for Jackie Robinson Night will be Branch Rickey’s great-granddaughter, Kelley Jakle.

“Mr. Rickey, do you want a singer who’s afraid to do all sorts of vocal tricks during the anthem?”

“No. I want a singer with the guts not to do all sorts of vocal tricks during the anthem!”

Dodgers at Diamondbacks, 1:10 p.m.

Carl Crawford, LF
Mark Ellis, 2B
Matt Kemp, CF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Andre Ethier, RF
A.J. Ellis, C
Luis Cruz, SS
Nick Punto, 3B
Josh Beckett, P

Update: Apparently the information the Dodgers sent this morning was incorrect, and Jakle is singing “God Bless America,” not the anthem.

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