June 4th, 2012

Letters to Home

ImageSeveral years ago, Steve Garvey made a surprising discovery when helping his parents move into an assisted living facility. His mother, Millie, had saved every letter Steve had written from Michigan State University and later from his early days as a Dodger minor leaguer. Among the letters was the one from the Dodgers via registered mail, informing Garvey he had been selected in the 1968 Free Agent Draft. Also among the paperwork saved by Millie Garvey was a brochure for the “Third Annual Michigan State University Baseball Coaches Clinic – Feb. 24, 1968.” Among the instructors was Detroit Tigers pitcher Mike Marshall, who also was a MSU Doctoral Candidate. In 1974, Steve Garvey (N.L. MVP) and Mike Marshall (Cy Young Award) would key the Dodgers to the team’s first pennant since 1966.

Introduction by Mark Langill


“How does one become a team historian?”

That is the most common question asked when introduced as a member of the Dodger front office. The answer? In my case, don’t hit the ball in Little League and you’re well on your way to a life filled with reference books, trading cards and anything else related to the sport and the hometown franchise.

When I was in first grade, the local library staged a Saturday book fair and a classmate excitedly announced she had spotted a book that I probably would enjoy. Several minutes later, she returned with the prize: “The Los Angeles Dodgers, by Paul Zimmerman.” The book, published in 1960 on the heels of the Dodgers winning the 1959 World Series, featured biographical sketches of the players of the time (Gil Hodges, Duke Snider, John Roseboro, Don Drysdale) along with a section tracing the franchise roots in Brooklyn.

The back of the book listed the linescores of every postseason game in Brooklyn. So while others in elementary school might remember such historic dates as 1492 and 1776, a young Dodger fan learned 1916, 1920, 1941, 1947, 1949, 1952, 1953, 1955 and 1956 were known as the “World Series years.”

I attended my first Dodger game at age seven on July 15, 1972. The Dodgers lost to the Montreal Expos, 3-2, and I watched with my family from the Field Box section – Aisle 44, Row M, Seat 1. That was nearly 40 years ago, and I still remember like it was yesterday, noticing the numbers change on the third-base auxiliary scoreboard and wondering why the persons in the next row were making pencil notations in the middle of their magazine.

The goal for this Dodger History blog is to offer a variety of stories, mementos and other artifacts relating to the franchise history. The wins and losses run in cycles, but the memories remain for the fans and players, especially those alumni who were lucky enough to reach the Majors. The modern-day Dodgers wear blinders and can’t worry yet about their place in history. A big leaguer’s career can consist of 15 at-bats or 15 years, and trying to guess when it will end makes someone suddenly feel vulnerable in a sport that requires confidence for the moment at hand. There will be plenty of time later to reflect.