The parade that never was: The lament of the 2020 champion Dodgers
On the Thursday after the All-Star game, the Greyhound Bar in Highland Park was throwing a party. The pandemic had deprived Los Angeles of the communal joy of celebrating the 2020 World Series championship, so the bar advertised a watch party to watch the clinching game: “Hug. Scream. Cry. Pound champagne. Count the outs. This time, as a family.”
On the day before the All-Star game, I asked Justin Turner what he thought about that.
“That’s pretty cool,” he said. “That’s a great idea.”
That was not the particular celebration Turner had in mind, though.
“We’re still holding out hope that we’ll be able to have a parade,” he said.
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In the minutes after the last out of the 2020 World Series, Mayor Eric Garcetti had promised some sort of celebration, if not a parade. The celebration never happened. The 2021 World Series is here, the Dodgers are not in it, and the time for a parade has passed.
In Los Angeles, the hurt from not making this year’s World Series will heal quickly. For the millions who devote their hearts, evenings and dollars to the Dodgers every summer, the hurt from not celebrating last year’s World Series will endure.
For the Dodgers themselves too. They weaved the lure of a parade into their motivation to repeat.
“We want to do it again,” manager Dave Roberts said in spring training, “to ultimately enjoy all the fruits of winning a championship.”
The parade would have been such fun. The last one was.
On parade day in 1988, the movie theaters along Broadway saluted the team on their marquees.
At the Orpheum:
At the Palace:
IT TAKES HEARTS
At the Los Angeles:
NO WAY JOSE
Bulldog was Orel Hershiser’s nickname. Jose was Canseco, a mighty slugger on a mighty Oakland Athletics team the Dodgers supposedly had no chance to beat.
Beneath the movie marquees, and sometimes above them, Angelenos crowded together to cheer their Dodgers. They cheered from the sidewalks and the streets, and from stairwells and windowsills stories high above the street.
Floats proclaimed the Dodgers as World Series champions. The marching band and drill team from Wilson High in Hacienda Heights heralded the champions. Jim Hill stood along Broadway, setting the scene for television viewers. He was everywhere 33 years ago, just as he is today.
In the lead car, a vintage Chrysler Imperial convertible: Mayor Tom Bradley, Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda and Dodgers owner Peter O’Malley.
Atop the lead float: Hershiser, the most valuable player of the World Series, and shortstop Alfredo Griffin, holding the championship trophy high, and toward fans in every direction.
The parade proceeded north along Broadway, to a rally at City Hall. The city anticipated such a crush of fans there, The Times reported, that “workers painted big white numbers on the trees on the City Hall lawn so that officials could quickly be dispatched to the appropriate one in case fans fell to the ground.”
The Dodgers spoke from a podium, with the trophy on an adjacent table, for all the fans to see.
Said Hershiser, dressed in a festive Cosby sweater: “We thank God for the ability, and we thank God for you fans, and we hope we can come back in ’89 and do the same thing.”
Second baseman Steve Sax draped his arm around the shoulder of outfielder Mike Davis, as the duo delivered their riff on the Cowardly Lion’s speech from “The Wizard of Oz:”
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“What puts the ape in ape-ricot? What have we got that packed this lot? Courage!”
They raised their fists to the crowd, and they could not stop smiling.
Lasorda, dressed in a coat and tie, hollered to the masses: “Every game, when we came in the clubhouse, our theme was, ‘How sweet it is to taste the fruits of victory!’ ”
Lasorda demanded that Kirk Gibson, who hit the 1988 home run that lives forever, join him at the podium.
Bellowed Lasorda: “Give it to me! What is our theme at the end of each game? Say it one more time! Say it one more time!”
Gibson, dressed in a white Dodgers T-shirt, relented. He got up from his seat, ambled over to the microphone, and screamed: “How sweet it is! The fruits of victory!”
And then Lasorda danced.
If you are a fan, you cherish players who care as much as you do.
Turner was the player who told the L.A. stories. He told the story of how he watched the Gibson home run in his grandmother’s living room, just shy of his fourth birthday. He told us how his grandmother and her family would drive to Dodger Stadium while it was under construction.
“Her family vacations were to come up here and watch the progress,” Turner said.
Closer Kenley Jansen will officially become a free agent at the end of the World Series and is uncertain if the Dodgers will re-sign him.
He is the heart and soul of the team, its conscience in the community. When his playing days are done, and if he wished, he would be a worthy successor to Lasorda as the Dodgers’ ambassador.
“When you think of L.A. Dodgers,” Mookie Betts said the other day, “you think of Justin Turner.”
Turner was the adult in the city last year, when the Los Angeles City Council approved a resolution demanding that Major League Baseball strip the cheating Houston Astros of the 2017 title and award it to the Dodgers, whom they had beaten in the World Series.
The City Hall sentiment was boosterish and farcical. Turner stepped up and said so.
“We don’t want a fake banner hanging in our stadium,” he said. “We didn’t earn that.”
The Dodgers earned a real banner last year. It hangs on the flag pole in center field.
The Dodgers earned a parade last year. Los Angeles deserved a parade. We look toward the 2022 season, but with a hole in our civic heart.
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