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True Blue tattoo parlor owner is a Dodger fan on and under his skin
TOMMY LASORDA may not be the prettiest face in the world, but for Dodger fans, the mug belonging to the man who won the last World Series for the team back in 1988 is nothing less than gorgeous. So don't be alarmed if it starts showing up tatted on the skin of a few die-hard fans hoping their devotion to the past might break the current drought. It's already there for Landon Heying.
For Heying, representing is all about the ink, and the ink is all about the Dodgers. He's the owner of True Blue tattoo studio in Los Feliz, where for $8, a discounted rate down from around $50 (he charges $100 an hour), he's offering Dodger tattoos. Of course not everyone is ready for the Lasorda treatment, so the simple Dodger script may have to do. Still too hard-core? There's also a selection of studs and rings for piercings emblazoned with the club's logo.
Affiliation has gone to a whole new level. Once it was enough to wear the cap. Or the jersey. Or to take a glove to the park. For real fans, just showing up plain-clothed has never been an option. You have to prove your cred above the level of mere spectator. You have to represent, and if Heying's right, there's no better way than indelibly. It's something sweethearts, gangs and the Maori have known for years. Today it's Lasorda, tomorrow Kobe (if he isn't already out there).
Heying is confident that his fanaticism is shared and that he's just a step ahead of the curve. "It's like in 'Field of Dreams,' " he says. "If you build it, they will come." So far, around a dozen super-fans have answered the call.
Heying's offer has been extended to the team, and though no one has taken him up on the offer -- it's on the house for a player -- club bigwigs have dropped by, giving him seats behind home plate and a 50th anniversary jacket.
Step inside the True Blue studio, which opened in January, and you'll find an off-kilter shrine -- punk and Norman Rockwell all rolled into one -- to the team that since 1988 has been shut out from a national championship. But Heying -- with "true" and "blue" tattooed across his fingers -- is forever hopeful. The 28-year-old, who looks like he should have a bass guitar slung down around his knees, gets strangely reverential when talking about the action up in Chavez Ravine.
"The Dodgers are, like, my religion," he says.
Here, in the open space of the shop -- with walls painted a perfect white and blue -- is a Duke Snider jersey and signed ball; a Don Zimmer signature glove; baseballs signed by Sandy Koufax and Fernando Valenzuela; game bats from Mike Piazza and Mike Scioscia; a framed laundry sack from 1965 that says "Murder the Minnesota Twins"; a black-and-white photo of Kirk Gibson pumping his fist in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series, along with a Gibson-autographed ticket stub; and even a plastic vial of grassy soil, which Heying collected from the playing field.
"I know, I'm a nerd," he said with a smile. "The stadium is my church."
And for anyone who doubts? Just inside the front door is Heying's mascot: a Hydra-like monster painted on the wall, wearing a Dodgers catchers mask and wielding in its four arms a tattoo machine, a pencil, a ball and a bat.
No one's asked for that tattoo. Perhaps it's just a matter of time.