Dodgers moments were life moments

Updated: July 7, 2011, 2:04 PM ET
ESPNLosAngeles.com

We asked for your Los Angeles Dodgers stories -- the roots of your fandom, what the team means to you and how you've been affected by the recent play on the field and events off the field. Here is the final installment of those stories.


[+] EnlargeEric Gagne
Stephen Dunn/Getty ImagesEric Gagne knew how to make an entrance into Dodgers games.

Coming from Sweden, the odds that I'd grow up and become a baseball fan were stacked against me. And I didn't really care until the day when I visited a friend in L.A., a longtime Dodger fan, and he brought me along to Dodger Stadium. The one defining moment that made me become a Dodger fan came late in that game. For some reason, that I was perfectly unaware of, people started talking a lot more. Some cheering, some clapping, even though the Dodgers were losing. When the whole stadium finally stood up and cheered as the bullpen gates opened -- Eric Gagne made his comeback. I didn't really understand the significance of that moment, but from that day on I was a Dodger fan. Since then, I've been fortunate to see the Dodgers play eight more times, including two times in the NLCS.

Alexander Rikner, Stockholm


The Dodgers moved to L.A. when I was 2 years old and, other than one unfortunate photo of me, at the age of 5, wearing a Yankees cap (it was to pay off a deal that I made with my uncle, as he bought me some cowboy boots), I've been a Dodgers fan all of my life. My first favorite was Sandy Koufax, and I cried, as a 10-year-old, the day he retired. My Boys of Summer were named Garvey, Lopes, Russell, Cey, Smith, Monday and Baker. Steve Garvey was my favorite of that era, and he broke my heart when he went to San Diego.

Best moment for me was Oct. 15, 1988, when my best friend and I, having lucked into tickets, took our fathers to Game 1 of the World Series. When Kirk Gibson hit The Homer, I knew nothing would ever cause me to change my loyalties. And nothing has. I moved to the East Coast in the '90s, put up with Phillies fans (including my wife) for 17 years, and moved home to Blue Hell. Piazza was traded, Fox disappointed, Manny let me down, but nothing -- not even the current situation -- will ever cause me to turn away from my Dodgers. They've been the heartbeat of my life and, even while it is intensely painful to see what's been happening to this team, I can close my eyes and I'm a child, sitting around the table with my mom and my dad, listening to Vin Scully and Jerry Doggett tell us about my heroes, every night.

Greg Sands, Woodland Hills, Calif.


Everybody knew he was going. I could hear the chant over the radio. "Go! Go! Go!" Wills was aboard for the first time following his return from Pittsburgh. Scully called it as Wills broke for second. There was no safe-or-out call. Scully simply said, "Welcome home!" I took the Dodgers with me as a kid. Now as a dad, I have taken my kids to the park. Three years ago I asked my 11-year-old to invite a friend whose dad had just died after a long battle with cancer. The kid had not been to a game. As we approached past Elysian Park, I heard the kid from the back of van say, "I see it!" I had not heard a happy word from him in a long time. That night, when all were asleep, I found a folded paper of a pencil sketch of the stadium the boy had drawn. The Dodgers are more than a business. More than dollars.

Bill Grewe, Ventura, Calif.


Al Downing
Diamond Images/Getty ImagesAl Downing pitches at Riverfront Stadium in 1971.

My passion for the Dodgers reflects much more than a single moment in time, but rather a bookshelf full of memories. This shelf is capped on one end by a 9-year-old boy who attended his first game as a member of the East Altadena Little League. The $3 seats were so high that my legs were quivering as I reached my seat. Despite the height, the seats were just close enough to tease me with the possibility of a foul ball, but far enough that at times I felt like it was just me, my dad and our Dodger Dogs in the stadium. At the other end of the shelf is a moment with my own son at the 50th anniversary game in the Coliseum waiting patiently for the next opportunity to catch a batting practice home run. The balls came just as close as they had nearly 40 years prior and I can only hope his memory of our time together will be as fond as mine.

In between the end caps is an 11-year-old boy whose raffle number was selected by Al Downing and the gift of tickets handed from one lefty to another. And when many cheered the 715th home run of Henry Aaron, a young boy's heart sank because it was his idol, Al Downing, who threw the pitch. Several years later, as a guest of an O'Malley family member, I sat next to Roy Campanella, listening to the stories of days since past. His courage and pride left me humble yet inspired. As a college student I worked in the Stadium Club where blazers and skirts were the rule not the exception. In 1988, from a back room filled with tired busboys and waiters I cheered with all my might as Kirk Gibson produced his magical World Series moment. Many years later I shared in the pride of a father and mother as their young son, Chad, was introduced to L.A. as the Dodgers' first-round pick.

Today I feel as if the ground has been shaken abruptly, causing each one these precious memories to fall haphazardly to the floor. A collection of treasured works strewn about like a child throws his toys about the room. Of course these precious memories may be gathered and repositioned as they had been moments before, but my immediate focus continues to remain on the creator of this unanticipated shift and the potential for aftershocks.

Brian James, Pasadena


I sold the most chocolate bars for my Little League team and won a trip to see the Dodgers in 1958. Our family drove to see Dodger Stadium under construction in the early '60s. I would take the bus from the Westside to arrive at the stadium in time to see Sandy Koufax drive up. I would sit in the front row of the left-field pavilion next to the bullpen so I could watch the pitchers warm up. I have been a season-ticket holder for many years. I have listened to Vinny wax poetic about my Dodgers for the past 53 years. I have seen great teams and below-average teams fielded. It's a slice of my life that has been apart from politics, economics, divorce, politics, economics, wars, etc. -- until the McCourts. They have soiled this public trust. They must go and must go far, far away. They were supposed to be caretakers and reap the financial and personal rewards of appreciation in value and fan support. They ruined it all in their ego-driven, excessive-living ways.

Steve Abrams, Sherman Oaks, Calif.


My favorite Dodgers story begins during the summer of 1988, when the Boys in Blue began their most recent title run. I was 8 years old and was just beginning to understand the beauty of baseball. Earlier that summer, my sister was diagnosed with Leukemia and my family went through a personal experience that is indescribable. The tiny ray of enjoyment was the David and Goliath story of the '88 Dodger run to a title. I will never forget Orel Hershiser's streak and Scoscia's home run off of Doc Gooden in the LCS. Vinny's call of Gibson's HR off of Eck in game 1 ("High fly ball, into right field, she is GONE! In the year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened!"). The Dodgers gave us hope in 1988. Oh, and the icing on the cake, by the end of 1988, my sister went into remission, and she is alive and well today. Every time I get frustrated with the state of the Dodgers, I always remember how 1988 felt, and I come running back every time.

Mathew, Burbank, Calif.

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