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Dodgers

Dodgers Dugout: When is the season going to start?

Dodger Stadium
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell and I’m guessing the season starts in July.

There are a few things to deal with this week. Let’s get to them.

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Last Thursday, the Dodgers announced their policy on what to do with your tickets for games that have been postponed. Let’s review (and I’m cribbing from Jorge Castillo’s story, which you can read here):

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For a refund, contact your ticket representative or call (866) 363-4377 and choose option 6. If no action is taken, the Dodgers will give the ticket holder an account credit with a 10% bonus that can be used for events in 2020 or 2021.

The policy covers the 19 games scheduled to be played at Dodger Stadium in March and April, including two exhibition games in the Freeway Series against the Angels. It does not include single-game tickets purchased through third-party re-sellers such as StubHub, the league’s official resale partner.

The 10% bonus credit can be used for tickets to any home games at Dodger Stadium, including playoff games, or prepaid parking for any home games, including the playoffs. Season-ticket holders can also use the bonus for food and beverages at most concession stands and restaurants, merchandise at most team stores and kiosks, or a donation to the Dodgers Foundation’s local COVID-19 relief efforts.

OK, I’m done cribbing.

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This seems to be a fair policy for those who bought tickets directly from the Dodgers. One problem though was in the rollout. I got many emails from people who never heard from the team explaining the policy. Some people thought that refunds weren’t being offered because the initial news release on the Dodgers’ website didn’t mention a refund. But once all was explained, everyone seemed relatively satisfied. Readers tell me that it was quite a hassle getting through on the phone, with long waits, but that was to be expected in the first day or two.

It took a while for baseball to get in gear on this, but they finally have come around to do the right thing.

When is the season starting?

There are three scenarios for the season starting that seem to be favored by Major League Baseball at the moment. Let’s review:

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1. Play and practice at home

--Teams would play only within three geographically friendly divisions during the season, which would limit travel to one region of the country.

--The number of people admitted into baseball’s work environments would be limited (likely to team officials and personnel, umpires and other game officials, broadcast crew and stadium staff), and all would be screened regularly for COVID-19 symptoms.

--Players would be able to stay close to their families.

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2. Send everyone to Arizona

Players, team personnel and others essential to baseball’s operation (such as umpires and broadcasters) would be isolated in hotels. They would travel only to Chase Field, the 10 spring training ballparks in the Phoenix area, and other local ballparks.

The problem with this plan is some players (most notably Clayton Kershaw and Mike Trout) are not happy with it, as they don’t want to be separated from their families for such a long period of time.

Also, I believe it was about 322 degrees in Phoenix yesterday, so playing and practicing every day in such oppressive heat will be a concern. There aren’t enough indoor facilities for everyone.

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I say we make the Astros practice outdoors in Arizona regardless of what happens.

3. Host teams in Arizona, Texas and Florida

There are two covered MLB stadiums in Texas and Florida and one in Arizona, as well as multiple spring training and minor league ballparks across all three states. That infrastructure would be used in MLB’s three-state plan.

It is unknown how MLB would place the teams in the states or how it would operate within that setting.

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So there you have it. Let’s hope for scenario No. 1. Actually, let’s hope for something miraculous and that we can have a normal (though shortened) major-league season.

The problem with any of these scenarios is working with multiple government officials on the national, state and local levels and making sure all the proper procedures are followed for this to happen. It goes without saying (so why am I saying it?) that no fans will be at these events.

If we’re lucky, a short spring training will start mid-June with real games being played starting July 1. But is anyone out there feeling lucky lately?

Your first Dodgers memory

Well, I asked you to share your first Dodgers memory and you did. I received thousands of responses, so thank you. Since we have plenty of free time, I’ll continue running multiple “first Dodgers memories.” If you haven’t already, I’d still love for you to send me your first Dodgers memory, and it may run in an upcoming Dodgers Dugout. Include your name. And don’t send only a sentence, tell why that memory sticks out in your mind. You can email me your memory at houston.mitchell@latimes.com. Thanks.

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Jeff Cooper: We were season ticket holders from the 1970s for close to 15 years. Our son and daughter were young enough then that we were able to carry them into the stadium and have them sit on our laps. They were in single digits in age at the time, and they became sort of the mascots of loge Section ‘R’ on the third-base side.

We kept a very close watch on our kids, as did several of the folks around us. Well, one time-–and only one time!--our son wandered off, ending up at the snack bar that was right at the top of the stairs from our section. We had become such great friends with Martha, who worked there, that she knew our kids. This one time, she kept our son with her until we arrived to reclaim him, which was only a few minutes afterward.

It turns out that Martha worked later at the LAPD Academy, across from Dodger Stadium. As ironic a coincidence as it could be, our son eventually became an LAPD officer and became reacquainted with Martha through that connection. Even more, our son is one of the officers assigned security duty at the stadium, and his station is . . . you guessed it: In the same section where our season seats were those many years ago.

Martha is no longer at the snack bar or at the academy store. Those memories, though, are part of our family’s lore and love of the Dodgers.

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Randy Cox of Santa Barbara: In 1957, as a 9-year-old boy living on my grandparents’ farm, Windy Bush Orchards, outside of New Hope, Pa., I was enjoying a successful summer as a pitcher and shortstop on my local Little League team. The previous year I had begun following the Brooklyn Dodgers via the local Philadelphia Phillies radio station and occasional TV broadcasts, possibly even more so from my obsessive collecting and trading of Topps baseball cards. My absolute favorite player from the beginning was the great Dodger slugger Duke Snider, whose No. 4 became my favorite number in practically everything I’ve done since.

My grandfather was a noted cartoonist syndicated by the NY Herald Tribune. His strips,"Penny” and “Our Bill”, ran throughout the U.S., even in parts of Europe. He knew well of my love for the Dodgers, and, though he wasn’t a great fan himself, he had taken me several times during that summer of 1957 to see the Dodgers when they played the Phillies at old Connie Mack Stadium.

One day while we driving down to Philadelphia for another game, my grandfather offered me an extra-special treat -- to use his press pass to allow us to visit the visitors’ locker room after the game. Quivering with anticipation throughout the game, afterward my grandfather and I miraculously passed through to the actual Dodger dressing room. Equipped with my official vinyl “Our Bill/Penny” autograph book, I was able to get autographs of many Dodger stars whose up-close faces I now recognized from my baseball cards collection. Among others are the autographs of Furillo, Hodges, Erskine, Drysdale, Reese, Gilliam, Neal, Podres, and best of all, Snider, all scribbled on the pages of a child’s autograph book with comic strip characters embossed on its cover! This precious book is still stored with care in the attic of my home to this day.

I have many adult baseball memories, yet to this day, the thrill of meeting my Dodger heroes face-to-face in the summer of 1957, nearly 63 years ago, and getting the autographs of so many of them, brings more joy to my heart than any other baseball memory during my lifetime!

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Jack Evans: My Dad was a longtime Brooklyn Dodgers fan. When the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles, he listened to Vin Scully‘s play-by-play every night. My first Dodgers memory is my Dad taking me to a Dodgers game at the Coliseum in 1959. I was only seven and we sat behind the tall screen in left field. I don’t remember any details about the game except the Dodgers lost to the Giants 4-1. What I do remember is the night was windy and the minute hand of the clock on the Peristyle had to fight the wind to get to the top of the hour. That was the start of a lifetime of memories I shared with my Dad. I remember the Carnation frozen malts with the small wooden spoon. The twilight doubleheader at Dodger Stadium when we would take ham-and-cheese on rye to eat between games. I remember being 10, 11 or 12 years old and sitting on the edge of the seat at Dodger Stadium in anticipation of the start of the game. And we never left early! My Dad listened to the game every night at the kitchen table while he read the newspaper. My bedroom was off the kitchen and I remember l would fall asleep listening to the game. So many, fun memories.

Ask Ross Porter

Former Dodgers broadcaster Ross Porter is back for another season of “Ask Ross Porter.” We have a new email address this season for it. Ross will have access to this email address and will get your questions without me having to forward them. So, if you have a message (like thanking him for his years as a broadcaster) and not a question, feel free to let him know. Send your question or comment to rossporterdodgers@gmail.com.

John Phillips of Los Angeles asks: Ross, when is the last time you had conversations with Tommy Lasorda and Vin Scully and how are they doing?

Ross: Delighted to tell you, John, after talking with both of them yesterday that the Dodgers’ two 92-year-old icons -- the oldest living Hall of Famers -- are sharp as ever. Tommy and Jo celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary two weeks ago, and he says he’s feeling better than he did a month ago. Vin is resting at home after falling on his cobblestone driveway 16 days ago.

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As youngsters, Lasorda’s favorite team and player were the Yankees and Lou Gehrig while Scully was a Giants fan and loved Mel Ott. Yesterday was the 89th birthday of one of baseball’s all-time greats, Willie Mays. Tommy and Vin both told me Wednesday that Mays was the best player they ever saw.

One day about 15 years ago, Willie and I sat alone in the Giants clubhouse during an exhibition game in Arizona. He told me the renowned back-to-the-plate catch he made of Vic Wertz‘s drive in the 1954 World Series was not the best he ever made. The best was in a game against the Dodgers. Vin recalled it yesterday. Bobby Morgan hit a ball into left-center field, Mays raced to his right, left his feet, stabbed the ball on the warning track, hit the ground hard, and rolled over. Left fielder Henry Thompson raced to Willie, took the ball out of his glove, and held it up showing the umpire who signaled it was a catch.

On April 30, 1961, Mays became nauseated due to spareribs he ingested the night before in Milwaukee and came to the ballpark not expecting to play. He was in a batting slump at the time. Teammate Joey Amalfitano urged Willie to take batting practice with his lighter bat which had two or three knots in the barrel and a wide grain. Mays did, liked it, and decided to play against the Braves. That Sunday afternoon, Willie slugged four home runs to tie the major league record. The next day in Chicago, Mays cracked the bat which was then sent to Cooperstown.

Peter Alling of Marshall, Mo. asks: If baseball is not played this year, the suspensions of 80 games or less will not be carried over to 2021. I don’t agree. I think the players should be suspended in 2021. What do you think?

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Ross: If you are talking about drug suspensions, I find only two players who will be affected, one of the Twins and one of the Mariners. While I understand your point of view, it’s not worth a fight.

Jacob Jacoby asks: Hi, Ross. Thanks for your contributions. When “Oyster” Burns led the National League in home runs and RBI, what were the actual numbers?

Ross: Tom “Oyster” Burns of the Brooklyn Bridegrooms hit 13 homers and drove in 128 during the 1890 season as his team won the pennant and tied Louisville in the World Series. Burns was nicknamed “Oyster” because he sold shellfish in the offseason. He was described as a “loudmouth” and “noisiest” player on the Grooms. Once he was fined $25 for throwing a baseball at an opposing pitcher.

And finally

Another Dodgers’ zoom party, featuring Justin Turner, Alanna Rizzo, Clayton Kershaw, Cody Bellinger and more. Watch it here.

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Until next time...
Have a comment or something you’d like to see in a future Dodgers newsletter? Email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.


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