Bare-chested, with his goatee dyed blue and a blue margarita clutched in his hand and staining his tongue, Fernando Vera had goosebumps dotting his arms as he described what it was like to be watching his Dodgers play in Game 3 of the World Series.
“I was born and raised in L.A.,” he said proudly at Dodger Stadium. “This is what I grew up with. This is what I live for.”
His Dodgers had lost the first two games in the best-of-seven series with the Boston Red Sox. But like so many Dodgers fans at the ballpark Friday, he held on to a stubborn hope. Fans have to be loyal, even with the team trailing in the series, because this is more than a team and a fan base, Vera said. It’s a family.
“You’re in the stands. They’re losing, they’re winning, I’m representing,” he said. “It’s euphoria.”
Tens of thousands wearing blue poured into the stadium for the first home game of World Series on a mild Los Angeles night.
They had gotten so achingly close last year, with their Dodgers losing to the Houston Astros in Game 7. And here they were, back again. Still cheering. Still hoping for an end to a 30-year World Series drought.
They braved standstill traffic. They stood in long lines for World Series merchandise. They filled the concourses. They shelled out for Dodger Dogs, garlic fries and, in an homage to their Boston opponents, clam chowder and lobster pizza.
As one woman shuffled through the crowd on the reserve level, she lifted a giant “going yard sausage” — a 16.5-inch jalapeño bacon cheddar sausage — above her head like a trophy.
One of these days, Jason Leong of Chino Hills will tell his son Zachary he was here. But not quite yet.
“I’ll have to have an alibi for my 7-year-old,” Leong, 44, said as he and his own father, James Leong, watched batting practice from the field level before the game. The men had sneaked off to Dodger Stadium and couldn’t bear to tell Zachary, a first-grader and huge L.A. fan, who had spent his day in school.
Jason Leong has loved the team since he himself was 7, when his teacher in Highland Park turned on the radio so the kids could hear the 1981 World Series between the Dodgers and the New York Yankees.
“I’m anxious, a little worried, but hopeful,”Leong said before Friday’s game. “This team is resilient. They’ve had their backs against the wall. If any team can bounce back, it’s them.”
As far as Zachary knows, Dad watched Game 3 at Grandpa’s house in Arcadia.
“I paid off the cameraman” to not be shown on TV, James Leong, 74, said jokingly. “I’m here under an assumed name.”
When Joc Pederson hit a solo home run in the bottom of the third inning, the faithful jumped out of their seats, waved their blue rally towels, high-fived strangers, lifted their beers and cheered as the Dodgers took the lead.
Maria Aguilar, 28, of Alhambra stood with the raucous crowd as her 2-month-old son, Lorenzo, slept peacefully strapped to her, wearing noise-cancelling headphones. He didn’t know if the team was winning or losing, but some day, she said, she will tell him he was here. His first Dodgers game. His first World Series.
“I’m going to bring him to as many games as I can,” she said. “I’m going to make him love baseball.”
When Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. homered off Kenley Jansen in the top of the eighth inning to tie the game 1-1, a collective groan echoed through the stadium.
One man in a Clayton Kershaw jersey stood up on the loge level, displaying his affinity for swear words.
“That’s [Dodgers manager Dave] Roberts’ fault!” he yelled at no one and everyone as the ball cleared the fence. “You put Jansen, a closer, in. He’s not ready for six outs!”
Fernando Vera Jr., the son of the man with the blue goatee, clutched a blue margarita just like his father.
If his team lost Friday, would he still have faith?
“Of course,” he said. “After a few more drinks.”