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
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.
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
Another player, Jeremy Hysen of the Major Division Diamondbacks,
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
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.