Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Making history come alive

The Yanks embrace their history as well as anyone. Seems that some of the other ancient clubs are also reaching back to their glory days. The Sox did it when they won in 2004 and had that incredible ring ceremony with seemingly every player to don a Sox cap. I love that stuff. I love seeing the old guard honored and cheered. I could only imagine what it must feel like for guys, decades past their last home town cheer, to hear that again. Beyond cool.

Then, thanks to a link in Buster Olney's blog, I read about this taking place in LA, not normally the place to eat up nostalgia. Heck, I got the chills and I'm not a Dodger fan. Said Bill Plaschke: "During a surprising pregame ceremony, the field breathed Dodgers history, exhaling the sweetness of old stars, the smoothness of recent heroes, the shout that was Fernando, the whisper that was Sandy."

Some highlights:

He appeared from behind a blue outfield wall, walked carefully across the deep green grass, startled huge cheers from a stunned Dodger Stadium crowd.

Then, halfway to second base, he stopped, and so did our hearts.

Duke Snider had returned to center field.
From left field marched Don Newcombe, the Dodgers' last remaining living link to Jackie Robinson.
From left field walked Maury Wills, the Dodgers' inventor of the stolen base.
Then, finally, it was the closing stretch of royalty, beginning with Fernando Valenzuela stepping from the dugout, one of the only two players who did not wear a uniform, of course not, he would never wear anything old, right?

His cheers rattled the building, echoing into the entrance of another man from the left-field bullpen, Tom Lasorda, and you knew he was wearing a uniform because he never takes it off.

By now, everyone was standing, folks hooting and stomping and struggling to keep their composure.

"And here came Sandy," said Manager Joe Torre.

Indeed, here came the cleanup pitcher, the final memory, Sandy Koufax, the only other player not wearing a uniform, as if anyone cared.

Koufax has been on this field maybe once in the last 25 years, he's so private, yet he came today because the owners asked, and he understood.

Maybe it's just me, but I swear, it looks as if Koufax could still pitch today (of course, if his shoulder would hold up!).

Nice work, McCourts. Keep it up!

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