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Strike Victims : If the Baseball Players Go on Strike, They Won’t Be the Only Ones Not Getting Paid : Dodger Stadium’s ‘Real’ Workers Will Feel Pinch

TIMES STAFF WRITER

In his wood-paneled office, surrounded by framed pictures of his famous friends, Tom Lasorda stood midway between the Frank Sinatra wall and the Don Rickles wall, a few steps from Jilly’s Corner.

It’s obvious even in Pooh’s Corner that a strike is bearing down on us like a high inside fastball. Lasorda said it’s just as clear there is probably going to be enough hurt to go around.

There are people besides players who work at Dodger Stadium, such as food service and souvenir stand employees, ushers and parking lot attendants.

Lasorda said they will discover something about a strike they do not like: “They’re going to be unemployed.”

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It was business as unusual Thursday, mainly because it might have been the Dodgers’ last home game of the season.

After the game against the Padres, the Dodgers went on the road and don’t get back until Friday, which is supposed to be the first day with no games.

For Marcia Natelborg, it would also be her first day without a job.

Natelborg, husband Bob and daughter Heather sell souvenirs in a booth on the box seat level down the first base line.

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“I am looking for other jobs,” she said. “Either that, or collect unemployment.”

This is Bob Natelborg’s 30th season selling souvenirs at Dodger Stadium. He began when he was 16.

A junior high teacher in San Marino, Natelborg works the baseball season at Dodger Stadium. He hopes the impending strike is no worse than the 1981 strike, when the Dodgers did not play 52 games, 26 of them at Dodger Stadium.

“That was a killer,” he said.

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Marcia Natelborg said a strike by the players will prompt some serious reshuffling of family finances.

“What we’re going to lose is what we save up for the winter months,” she said. “We need it for tuition for school for our kids. We’re really hurt. I don’t know how we’re going to make it up.”

Workers at the concession stands were instructed by Dodger officials not to talk to reporters.

According to a Dodger spokesman, club policy requires that interview requests be channeled through the public relations department.

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Outwardly, there didn’t seem to be much different going on at the concession stands.

The air was filled with the familiar smell of popcorn and Dodger Dogs--and the all too familiar smell of a season going up in smoke.

Lasorda said there are victims in any strike.

“That’s what strikes do,” Lasorda said. “When strikes occur, people become unemployed. That’s the tough part about it.

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“Look at these little clubhouse kids. I feel bad for them. They’re going to be unemployed and since they’re not full-time employees, they won’t be paid.

“All I know is that nobody wins in a strike. And it isn’t the first time it’s happened and it sure won’t be the last.”

Dave Dickinson is an attendant in the Dodger clubhouse. He works 80 hours a week when the Dodgers are at home and earns $5.15 an hour, plus occasional tips.

He might have worked his last game this season.

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“I don’t know if they’ll keep me or not,” he said.

Pete Sandoval, who works alongside Dickinson, is in his 10th season with the Dodgers.

“I have no idea what I’m going to do,” he said. “I have a house payment and two kids, one on the way.”

Many Dodger Stadium employees are like Mike McDermott, who has pitched batting practice at home games for 26 years.

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McDermott and Tom Aloi, who also pitches batting practice, have regular jobs. McDermott works with the Los Angeles Unified School District, Aloi for Pacific Bell.

“I won’t say I won’t miss it,” McDermott said. “The extra money is nice.”

Sue Evans has sold souvenirs at Dodger Stadium since 1978, but she also works for Prudential Insurance in Woodland Hills.

Even though she has another job, Evans said a baseball strike will be costly.

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“There goes the bedroom furniture I won’t buy,” she said.

The list of losers is a long one. The casualties will be many. For instance, if there aren’t going to be any more games at Dodger Stadium this season, it also means an end to such special events and promotions as:

--The Dodger Family Game on Aug. 16.

--Backpack Night on Aug. 18.

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--Trading Card Night on Aug. 21.

--Fireworks Night on Sept. 3.

And, of course, a prolonged strike would wipe out the last scheduled promotion of the season, on Oct. 2--Fan Appreciation Day.


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