The last time that the Dodgers hosted an old-timers’ game at Dodger Stadium was 1995 – the same year that Hideo Nomo made his major league debut and won the National League Rookie of the Year title. So as you might expect, the decision by Dodger President and CEO Stan Kasten to resurrect what was once an annual event was extremely well received not only by Dodger fans, but also by the many former Dodger (and Yankee) players themselves.
“I’m really excited to see the great Dodgers that made this franchise what it is and made it so special,” said Kasten. “It’s fantastic to have them here.”
Having been blessed to cover the pre-game activities prior to Saturday’s exhibition game from the field, I had an opportunity to speak briefly with several of the former Dodger greats participating in the event and asked them what it was like returning to Dodger Stadium and visiting with old friends and former teammates:
Bob Welch – RHP – 1978-1987: “You can’t say enough about the game of baseball. It has evolved into a whole new avenue now and just to be able to be a part of it in my life is special. And to be a part of it here in Los Angeles to start off, and a group who confronted me on my life, that really is the only reason why I’m alive today and it had nothing to do with the baseball game itself. (The Dodgers) offered a lot more than what was happening on the field.”
Ken Landreaux – OF – 1981-1987: “It’s not old-timers, it’s alumni; we’ve got the alumni game going on. It’s fun to see all the guys we grew up playing against and getting back together with them and reminiscing about all of the good times. It’s just fun.”
Jerry Reuss – RHP – 1979-1987: “It’s all fun, it’s fun to get in the uniform and it’s fun to visit with guys that I played with, against or watched play. It’s a special time to come out here even though those days are gone. What’s missing is the competition and that feeling I used to get whenever I took mound. Those days are gone and it belongs to a whole new group of people. I did it a long time and I worked my ass off to do it so that I could play that long and I enjoyed ever minute.”
Sandy Koufax – LHP – 1955-1966: “It’s great.” (Sandy truly is a man of very few words).
Don Sutton – RHP – 1966-1980, 1988: “From my standpoint it’s nice to see some folks here who care about the history and the tradition and who are working hard to continue to help people remember Newcombe and Drysdale and Alston and Robinson and Campanella and others.”
As you might imaging, I took hundreds of photographs during the pre-game activities. Here are several of them: