Dodgers Fan Feature: In Dad’s Arms

It’s July 7, 2016. The Dodgers are 48-40 and sitting in 1st place in the NL West. Vin Scully in his bittersweet last season as Dodgers announcer, as was his custom, is keeping the audience engaged in the game. Never mind that the Padres would go on to shut out the Dodgers 6-0 at Dodger Stadium.

AJ Gonzalez and his 1-year old daughter Elena pose with a photo of Vin Scully at Dodger Stadium on July 7, 2016

For lifelong Dodgers fan AJ Gonzalez (@AJontheguitar), the night would prove to be special despite the score. Unbeknownst to him, his then 1-year old daughter Elena was making her television debut and being welcomed to Dodger Stadium by the one and only Vin Scully.

I mean, WOW! I remember watching this game and shedding a few tears myself just listening to Vin’s impactful words, likely feeling troubled by some then seemingly important problem I may have been having at work or in my day-to-day life. In all of Dodgers Nation, it’s quite likely that there were many others who can relate to hearing Vin’s counsel. More  often when we needed it the very most.

For AJ Gonzalez and his 1-year old daughter Elena, this sweet message from Vin proved to be the thrill of a lifetime. One that Elena will be able to remember thanks to another Dodgers fan, Bryan Kephart (@thundercrat). Bryan provided AJ with the video that he has been able to save.

“My family bleeds Dodger blue. Mom and Dad met in LA, where my Mom grew up. My Dad was born and raised in Mexico, and moved to the states in the late 70’s. He always says he learned English reading the newspaper, and hearing Vin Scully calling Dodger games. My mom’s family has season Dodger tickets every year,” AJ told me recently.

Gonzalez, who moved to Nashville in 2007, took then 1-year old Elena to California for the first time in July 2016 for a week long visit with family in Rosarito, Baja, California. With the family living so far apart, AJ was thrilled to be able to spend time with his grandparents and his sister for the week.

The Game

“We were going back for a few more days to Northern California where my parents live now, so stopping in LA was ONLY because I INSISTED on going to a Dodger game. I missed it, as it had been a few years since I’d been there, and I wanted to take my daughter, even if she was too young to remember. We all went. Mom, Dad, my wife, my sister, my nephew, myself and Elena. I also enjoyed that my Dad and I were spending time together, that had been a while, and he was the reason I loved baseball,” he recalls.

Then, at some point during the game, as AJ and Elena were watching the game from the field level seats his cousin and her husband had kindly let them use, the texts started coming in.

Dude. DUDE. We Just saw you and Elena on KTLA!!!!!!”

“I was confused for a moment, then ecstatic. I had seen the cameraman behind me, but hadn’t thought much of it. Almost immediately, I texted my Nashville friends to tell them, we keep in touch via a group text a lot. Then 5 minutes later, my friend from Nashville, who’s only a casual baseball fan, tagged me in an Instagram comment saying, “DUDE YOU WERE ON TV WITH A  LEGEND.” I watched it, for the first time…and I don’t remember my heart beating. Vin Scully, the GOAT, reciting Dr. Seuss for my daughter, on live TV.”

“I cried that night, probably a few times, I didn’t care that we got shut out. I thought to myself, ‘my daughter is so damn cute, that the first and only Dodger game we go to ALL year, she winds up on TV, with Vin Scully reciting a Dr. Suess poem to her.’

“It felt surreal. It still does,” AJ recalls fondly.

“It’s a memory and story I can pass down to my daughter, who I hope also chooses to be a Dodger baseball fan. On our way out, walking through the exodus of Dodger blue around me, I stopped and asked my wonderful wife to take a photo of Elena and I next to Vin’s photo. I somehow managed not to cry.”

“I still often wonder what the odds are that I go to ONE Dodger home game over a few years span. And the one I go to, this happened. This was one of the greatest moments of my life, and true to fatherhood, it was because of my daughter. There’s no better analogy for the joys of being a parent, for me, than that.”

July 7, 2016, Elena Gonzalez’s first game at Dodger Stadium, would prove to be a very special night indeed.

“It’s a troublesome world. All the people who are in it are troubled with troubles almost every minute. You ought to be thankful, a whole heaping lot, for the places and people you’re lucky you’re not.”

— Dr. Seuss

You’re in Dad’s arms, and life is good. Welcome to Dodger Stadium, honey…” – Vin Scully

Thank you, Vin, for always being there for Dodgers fans just when we need you the most.

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Gail Johnson

Biggest Dodgers fan north of the border, living about 3,500 miles from my beloved Boys In Blue, in Moncton, NB, Canada. I think Dodger Stadium is the happiest place on Earth. I'll catch up on my sleep in the off-season.

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