Whenever he comes to Le Centre Sheraton, the Dodgers' hotel in Montreal, announcer Ross Porter goes up to the 25th floor and says a prayer in front of Room 2518.
It has been four years since former Dodger Hall of Fame pitcher Don Drysdale, then retired and working as a team broadcaster, was found dead in that room of an apparent heart attack.
"I think about him every time we are here," Porter said.
Drysdale, in seemingly good health, left the broadcast booth at Olympic Stadium on a Friday night, munching on a scoop of strawberry ice cream. He went down to the field, did a postgame interview with first baseman Eric Karros, took the subway train back to his hotel and was never seen alive again.
When Drysdale failed to make the team bus for a game the next day, there was mild surprise, but no alarm.
"We knew he had been a broadcaster here," traveling secretary Bill DeLury said. "We figured he had gone out to a late lunch with somebody."
When Drysdale still hadn't arrived an hour before game time, DeLury called the hotel and asked someone to check on Drysdale. DeLury soon received a call informing him the deadbolt was on the door of 2518.
DeLury got police to take him back to the hotel. By the time he arrived, other policemen were taking the door off by its hinges.
"It was a total shock," DeLury said of finding the body.
Porter remembers he and fellow announcer Vin Scully had to broadcast much of the game without mentioning Drysdale's death because the Hall of Famer's wife, Ann, had not yet been located.
"It was difficult, very difficult," Porter said.
DeLury, who has been in the Dodger organization for 18 years, always had planned to get the autographs of the great players he worked with, such as Drysdale, but had never gotten around to it.
"I took it for granted they'd always be around," DeLury said.
The first time DeLury saw Sandy Koufax after Drysdale's death, he got the legendary Dodger left-hander's autograph.
Dodger third base coach Joe Amalfitano says he thinks about Drysdale's death every time he locks ups for the night in his room at Le Centre Sheraton.
"Every time I grab that latch on the deadbolt," Amalfitano said. "I miss Don a lot. He was real class."
Porter, who still has the rooming list from that 1993 trip, said he always notices who gets room 2518--infielder Nelson Liriano on this trip--but doesn't say anything to them.
"It's kind of eerie," Porter said.
Dodger second baseman Tripp Comer, who is eligible to come off the disabled list Aug. 15, is still not ready to start throwing the ball because of lingering pain in the tendon he strained near his right elbow.
The Dodgers don't plan to let Cromer throw until he tells them the pain is completely gone.
Said Cromer: "I may have to lie."
* Opponent--Cincinnati Reds, three games.
* Site--Cinergy Field.
* TV--Channel 5 tonight and Sunday.
* Radio--KABC (790), KWKW (1330).
* Records--Dodgers 62-52, Reds 48-64.
* Record vs. Reds--3-3
DODGERS' TOM CANDIOTTI (7-4, 3.18 ERA) vs. REDS' MIKE MORGAN (3-9, 5.15 ERA)
* Update--The Dodgers couldn't have picked a better time to visit Cincinnati. The Reds were forced to put two pitchers on the disabled list Thursday, left-hander Pete Schourek because of a sore shoulder and right-hander Dave Burba because of a sore back. As a result, the Dodgers will face two new additions to the Cincinnati starting rotation in this series, Gabe White, who has yet to pitch for the Reds, on Saturday, and Mike Remlinger, who has only two previous starts in his 57 appearances, on Sunday. That only further points up the depth of the Dodger rotation. They have been without their ace right-hander, Ramon Martinez, since mid-June because of a tear in the rotator cuff in his throwing shoulder, but were able to plug in Tom Candiotti without a problem.
* Saturday, 4 p.m.--Dodgers' Ismael Valdes (6-9, 2.90) vs. Reds' Gabe White (first start).
* Sunday, 11:15 a.m.--Dodgers' Pedro Astacio (7-7, 3.76) vs. Reds' Mike Remlinger (4-4, 3.41).