On Saturday, 28,967 fans made their way through the turnstiles at Dodger Stadium for the team’s annual FanFest event at MLB’s third-oldest ballpark. It was the largest crowd to attend the event in its five-year history.
To put this number into perspective, when newly-acquired Dodgers second baseman Logan Forsythe took the FanFest stage, he did so in front of a crowd that was larger than at any game that he played at Tropicana Field during any of his three seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays.
Okay, technically that isn’t entirely true, but it didn’t miss by much. Although the Rays’ average home attendance over the past three seasons has been a paltry 16,379 – last in the MLB – they did draw 40,135 fans on June 17, 2016 during a fund-raiser in support of the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting victims. It was their first regular-season turnout of more than 40,000 at the beleaguered ballpark since Opening Day 2006 when they drew 40,199.
“These fans are incredible. I was expecting it but nothing to this magnitude, it’s been a lot of fun” Forsythe told reporters after stepping off of the FanFest stage on Saturday morning. “I’ve sat in front of this crown before, now they’re going to be on my side.”
Although the 2008 first-round draft pick out of the University of Arkansas by the San Diego Padres is ecstatic to be with a legitimate contender, the move to Los Angeles is going to be a bit of an adjustment for the extremely polite 30-year-old Memphis, Tennessee native, his wife Ally and their three-month-old son Trace.
“My wife and I actually just closed on a farm in Tennessee and I was leaving the property and I got a call from the front offices. And I can just tell that it was kind of news that they kind of didn’t want to tell me,” said Forsythe in his warm southern accent. “‘You’re not trading me, are you?’ And they said ‘Yeah, we are.’ And I was like ‘Where am I going?’ And that’s how we found out.”
It was at this point in the otherwise serious impromptu interview that one “reporter” asked a surprise question of the newest Dodger.
“Have you picked a spot in the locker room yet?” asked Justin Turner, who had snuck up on the scrum unnoticed. “I’m looking for a new neighbor.”
Without missing a beat, Forsythe answered “I’m your guy,” drawing a laugh from the gathered media.
“Alright. That’s all I wanted to know,” added Turner, as he walked off towards the FanFest stage.
After the brief but humorous interruption, Forsythe was asked if he is familiar with any of his new teammates.
“I played with Yaz (Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal), I think Adam Liberatore – we spent a spring training together,” Forsythe said. “A couple other guys I know from just playing against. It’s a great group of guys, I’m excited to be here.”
Although the Dodgers new second baseman has yet to speak with his soon-to-be double play partner – 2016 NL Rookie of the Year Corey Seager – he is very much looking forward to doing so.
“I have not, no,” said Forsythe, when asked if he had met Seager yet. “I’ve seen Justin and a couple other guys down in the lounge area but I hope I can see him.”
Forsythe has, however, spoken with and spent some time with his new manager Dave Roberts.
“Dave called me the night of or the day after. We had a long conversation, it was really nice, welcoming me back to the west and he was really looking forward to it,” Forsythe said. “We spent time in San Diego together. He’s a great man.
“We just kind of caught up. He told me about his family and I told him about our new addition,” added Forsythe. “We were just seeing how everything was going, how the body is feeling, just kind of more baseball-related type stuff, just making sure I was okay mentally and seeing how the trade situation was and if I needed any help and that stuff.”
Since acquiring Forsythe in exchange for extremely popular 24-year-old right-hander Jose De Leon, there has been quite a bit of chatter on social media by fans who aren’t particularly happy about the trade, which came as anything but a surprise. That being said and by every indication, there is zero doubt that Forsythe will quickly become a favorite among Dodger fans.
“I absolutely care. I care about the fans,” said Forsythe, when asked if it might bother him being recognized by fans in Los Angeles when away from Dodger Stadium. “It’s not going to affect me too much at all. I enjoy letting the fans know what’s going on with us and being available for you guys (the media), so you won’t bother me too much.”
How can you not immediately like a guy like this?