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A little Dodger blue

Jeff Tully

None of the 242 Burbank Little League baseball players ever saw

former L.A. Dodger Steve Yeager play.

In fact, the youngsters weren’t even born when Yeager was starring

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as a strong-armed catcher for the Blue Crew from 1972 to 1986.

But that fact didn’t seem to matter to the young boys and girls

who hounded Yeager for autographs and photos Saturday morning at the

opening ceremonies of the Burbank Little League at Brace Canyon Park.

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Yeager was in attendance to kick off the third season of the

city’s first Little League.

“I got Steve Yeager to sign my baseball hat, can you believe it?,”

said George Gonzalez, who plays for the Major Division Bulldogs. “I

am going to wear the hat every time that I pitch this season. Because

he was in the major leagues, I hope maybe his autograph will bring me

good luck.”

Another player, Jeremy Hysen of the Major Division Diamondbacks,

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said he was excited to see a former major league player up close.

“It’s really neat that he is here today,” Hysen said. “It’s just

so cool because he’s played before in the pros and you don’t get to

see someone like that.”

Along with the players, a fair amount of fathers, mothers -- and

even grandparents -- also lined up to talk and get photos and

autographs from Yeager.

“I think some of the parents are enjoying the visit by Steve

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Yeager more than the players,” Burbank Little League President Roger

Koll said. “The parents are the ones who remember him from his

playing days and all the great Dodger teams he played for.”

Yeager said he was thrilled to be invited to the opening-day

ceremonies. He spoke to the players and told them along with

concentrating on baseball, they should also put a great deal of time

into their education.

“It’s always nice to come out and see the youth get started in the

great game of baseball,” Yeager said. “This is a great place for

young athletes to be. It’s a lot better than having them running in

gangs and things like that.”

“This Little League is only three years old and it has done a

great job working with the Burbank Park [Recreation and Community

Services Department] and the city of Burbank to put together a great

organization. I know in years to come, this Little League will get

bigger and bigger.”

Yeager played 15 seasons in the major leagues, 14 with the

Dodgers. In 1981, he helped lead the Dodgers to a World Series

championship, sharing the series most-valuable-player honor with

teammates Ron Cey and Pedro Guerrero.

A lifetime .228 hitter, Yeager was a leader on six Dodger

pennant-winning teams and was once called “the best throwing catcher

in the game” by legendary St. Louis Cardinals base-stealer Lou Brock.

Recently, Yeager has coached in the Dodgers’ organization and for

the independent Long Beach Breakers.


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