When we were kids, my younger brother, Tim, and I would spend hours well past our bedtime wrapping tin foil and tying silverware to our radio in the bedroom. We were constantly fiddling with the antenna in order to hear the game through the static. While other kids our age did just fine reading classic fables before going to bed, those stories didn’t quite capture our attention the way Vin Scully and the Dodgers could.
We loved baseball. We played the game all day in our cul de sac. We played every weekend for our little league team and when it was time for the sun to set, we listened to Vin tell us stories over the radio.
Baseball season has always been special to us. No matter what was happening in our lives, whether we were happy or sad, there was one unwavering constant: Vinny and the Dodgers would be playing that evening like an extension of the family we could check in on nightly.
There were some turbulent times in our teenage years when I wondered how my brothers and I were going to make it. Life at home was quickly falling to pieces. Beset with adversity, we had to grow up fast. Between school, sports and life at home, we had to lean on each other to overcome the burden of stress.
It was always easier during baseball season, though. Vin was a guest in our home almost every night, chatting with us through the television as we watched the Dodger game together.
There are some moments that fade in and out of our memories. There was the time when my favorite player, Eric Karros, became the all time L.A. Dodgers home run leader. There was a frightening moment when Alex Cora slid head first into second base, but his head collided with the knee of the middle infielder covering the bag. Tim and I watched as he remained motionless on the field, praying that he’d be okay. When he finally came to, we both had a collective sigh of relief.
There are those first memories, too: The time Dad pulled my brother and I out of school to see our first Dodger game. Or our first tour of Dodger Stadium. Getting to walk onto the field and sit in the dugouts. Those are images forever engrained into our very essence.
Then there are some moments I could never forget. Moments that occur when you need it the most.
September 18th, 2006, the Dodgers were in the middle of the pennant race with the Padres. Tim and I felt growing anxiety with every pitch. Then the Padres lept out to a 9-to-5 lead in the 9th inning. Thinking it was pretty much over, we began looking ahead towards the next series.
Jeff Kent led off the bottom half of the inning with a solo home run.
“At least the score won’t look so bad on SportsCenter,” I thought to myself.
It was now 9 to 6.
J.D. Drew was next up. Drew worked into a hitter’s count when he tagged one deep into the right field pavilion.
“No outs, dude,” Tim said. “We’re not done!”
The score was 9 to 7 when Russell Martin came up, but in came closer Trevor Hoffman to shut the door. First pitch swinging, we saw the ball fly off the bat.
“No way… No… Way… NO WAY!!!”
Three straight bombs. We were now walking on air in our own living room as Vin, along with us, tried to recall ever seeing something like this before.
The Dodgers cut the Padres’ lead to 1.
Marlon Anderson was now at the plate and on the first pitch, he hit an absolute skyscraper.
Vin had the call. “And another drive into high, right-center! At the wall, running and watching it go out! Believe it or not!”
The Dodgers, through sheer tyranny of will (and a little help from tinkerbell) tied the game on four straight home runs. When they fell behind once again in the 10th inning, it would be Nomar Garciaparra to the rescue as he blasted the Dodgers into first place with a 2-run walkoff homer.
It’s hard to explain to people how we could love a sport or a team so much. The best answer I can come up with is this; moments like that can still happen, even when you feel like your life is falling apart. When there was sadness around us, I knew that as long as the Dodgers played that night, there was still a chance for the utmost joyousness. But even at the very least, Vin could stop by for a few hours and tell us a few stories as we watched our Dodgers.
So, on a holiday where people across the country list things they’re grateful for they go as such for me:
I’m thankful for my amazing brothers, my parents, Vin and The Dodgers.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
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