The Dodgers and Yankees relieve the 1963 World Series while discussing issues of today's game.
By JOE McDONNELLFS West
LOS ANGELES — — The old and the new from the history of Dodgers baseball gathered at Dodger Stadium on Saturday for the team’s first Old-Timer’s Game since 1995.
Before the main attraction, Hall of Famers and stars from the Dodgers and Yankees got together to revisit some of the 1963 World Series with the game ending — appropriately — in a 1-1 tie.
The Dodgers swept the Yankees in 1963.
A rematch — of sorts — was enough to bring a sentimental smile to former Dodgers first baseman Steve Garvey, who faced the Yankees in three World Series, in 1977, 1978 and 1981.
“The Dodger and the Yankees reliving a World Series — now that’s baseball,” said Garvey, who recently revealed that he is a prostate cancer survivor. “Having these two teams get together anywhere to compete against each other is what baseball is all about. The game really needs another Dodgers-Yankees World Series to put a major focus back on the game and its history.”
A week ago, that might have seemed implausible, as Don Mattingly’s crew seemed determined to to struggle despite their $200 million payroll. But with the arrival of 22-year old outfield sensation
Yasiel Puig, optimism is once again the theme in Chavez Ravine.
“It’s still early,” Garvey pointed out, “but it does have that Fernandomania feel to it. You can just feel his presence every time he (Puig) steps onto the field. (Like Fernando Valenzuela) he’s a fan favorite already, and if he continues to play well and they can turn around their season, he’ll quickly become one of the most popular Dodgers ever.”
The Dodgers lost to the
Braves 2-1 on Saturday night but still hold a single-game advantage going into Sunday’s series finale.
Hall of Famers Sandy Koufax, Don Sutton, manager Tommy Lasorda and announcer Vin Scully were part of the Dodgers squad, joined by their HOF counterparts from the Yankees — Goose Gossage and Rickey Henderson. And the longest-running infield in the history of baseball — Garvey, Davey Lopes, Ron Cey and Bill Russell played together for 8-1/2 seasons — were back together again, teaming up the first inning.
One of the more interesting sights of the evening was Darryl Strawberry — who played for both the Dodgers and the Yanks — wearing a number 44 Dodgers uniform and walking around with a huge smile on his face.
Strawberry, of course, was one of the most-sought-after high school players ever, drafted by the
Mets in the first round of the 1980 amateur draft. He then helped lead them to world championship in 1986, before joining the Dodgers as a free agent in 1991. Drug problems derailed his career, as he never played more than 101 games in a season again, after never playing fewer than 111 games in the initial nine years of his career. He did win three more world titles as a member of the Bombers in 1996, 1998 and 1999, but his career was never the dynamic one it could have been.
Now, though, Strawberry says he finally found his calling as a minister and that he’s never been happier or more fulfilled with his life.
“It took a while, but I finally figured out what my purpose here is — ministering to people who need help,” said the 1983 National League Rookie of the Year. “Life is wonderful, and life is fun again. My life has changed so much in the last 10 years, and I’m just so grateful that I figured out what life is all about.”
Nevertheless, the man of the cloth hasn’t forgotten how to speak his mind — especially when it comes to issues confronting the game he still loves passionately.
Straw addressed the apparent ongoing PED problem in baseball and said his hope is that the younger players coming into the game right now will avoid the easy way to stardom and just put in the hard work that it takes to become a star. A wealthy star, at that. But he said he was somewhat distressed when he heard some current members of the baseball player’s union — like Arizona pitcher
David Hernandez propose that anyone caught using steroids should be banned from the game for life.
“Players should never go against players,” Strawberry said, “because the baseball player’s union is one of the most powerful in the world and has helped protect a lot of player’s rights.
“No one is perfect, and again — players need to back up other players. Do things constructive to help them and not just say they’re gone.”