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Greatest moments in Dodger history, No. 22: Cody Bellinger’s catch in 2020 NLDS

Cody Bellinger's home-run robbing catch on a ball hit by San Diego's Fernando Tatis Jr. in Game 2 of the NLDS on Oct. 7.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and the greatest moments countdown continues

In December, I asked you to send me your list of the 10 greatest moments in Dodgers history, and boy did you all respond, as I received 7,237 ballots.

The way it works: You listed your moments in order, and I assigned points, with first place getting 12 points, second place nine, third place eight, all the way down to one point for 10th. Add up the points and we get a top 25. We will be counting down the moments over the next few weeks, with No. 1 being revealed on or around opening day.

So without further ado, let’s continue the countdown.

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No. 22: Cody Bellinger’s catch in Game 2 of the 2020 NLDS (21 first-place votes, 3,447 points)

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I’m going to let Dylan Hernández, and the words he used in the column written after the game, take this one:

The moment Cody Bellinger reached over the center-field wall at Globe Life Park on Wednesday night will be played over and over for generations. The image of reliever Brusdar Graterol throwing his glove in celebration will become part of Dodgers folklore.

That was the kind of play that saves a game. That was the kind of play that wins championships.

“It’s going to take a while to wind down from that one,” Bellinger said. “That’s postseason baseball right there.”

Game 2 of this National League Division Series was recorded as a 6-5 victory for the Dodgers to extend their lead in the best-of-five series to two games to none.

What the box score won’t show is how close the Dodgers were to disaster.

Literally, inches.

The Dodgers were holding on to a 4-3 lead when Graterol replaced Blake Treinen with two outs in the seventh inning.

Standing on first base was Trent Grisham, who was plunked by Treinen. Stepping into the batter’s box was Fernando Tatis Jr.

Graterol was promptly called for a balk that advanced the runner to second base.

His first pitch was his signature sinker, one traveling at 99 mph to the outer half of the plate. Tatis connected.

The baseball soared into the Texas night.

Bellinger retreated quickly to the warning track in center field and leaped. With the left side of his torso brushing up against the wall, Bellinger raised his right arm.

Instead of clearing the padded divider, the baseball dropped into Bellinger’s opened glove.

“In my head, I was like, ‘All right, that’s gone off the black screen or I’m going to get to the wall and maybe have a chance to catch it,’ and I just kind of turned it around as fast as I could,” Bellinger said. “I got to the fence and saw that it was robbable, so I just tried to time up the jump.

“It was weird, but I knew I caught it.”

Turns out he caught the 22nd greatest moment in Dodger history.

Up next: Another great catch from a different era.

Two-way player

The Dodgers signed third baseman Matt Davidson to a minor-league deal last month, and some were concerned they viewed him as a replacement for Justin Turner. Turns out the Dodgers may view him more as a bullpen arm. In addition to playing in 68 games at third base and 66 games at first in his major league career, Davidson has also pitched in six games.

“The first day I got here, I talked to Dave [Roberts], and he brought it up right away,” Davidson said. “I was very excited about that. I was going to say something if it wasn’t brought up, but we kind of hit the ground running with it.”

“I’m listening to my arm, making sure I do it the right way,” Davidson said. “It feels very comfortable to be on a mound. It’s not foreign whatsoever. It definitely doesn’t seem like extra work to me after a full day of fielding and hitting.”

Whoops!

So there I was, writing about Justin Turner in the last newsletter and the date of his 2017 NLCS home run. But before I typed in the date, I figured out what year anniversary of the Kirk Gibson homer it was. It was the 29th, which put 29 in my brain, which led me to write “Oct. 29, 2017, the 29th anniversary...”

Of course, Turner’s home run (and Gibson’s) was on Oct. 15. Just a little insight into how dumb mistakes are made. My apologies.

Random quotes from Spring Training

Trevor Bauer, on those who say his great numbers last season have to be taken with a grain of salt since it was a short season: “I know what kind of pitcher I am,” said Bauer, who had a 1.73 earned-run average in 73 innings last season. “I know how hard I work, how much knowledge I’ve amassed and how far I’ve come. So, if I have something to prove, it’s to myself, always. I hold myself to a much higher standard than anyone else holds me to. So, people can say what they want to say.”

Dave Roberts, on whom he considers the Dodgers’ backup catcher: “If you look at timeshare, I guess [Barnes is] a backup, but I don’t see it as such,” Roberts said. “I think it’s a 1 and 1A. They’re both very valuable, and I think that we’ve done a good job of using both of them and exploiting strengths and things to help us win baseball games. I just don’t want Austin to come into this season as a backup because, clearly, in the postseason, yeah, we leaned on him.”

Andrew Friedman, on bringing pitcher Brandon Morrow, a mainstay of the 2017 bullpen, back to the team: “If he’s healthy, I will bet on him helping us. And so now it’s just being around him again and doing everything we can to put him in the best position to go out and compete and be able to bounce back and stay healthy through the season. And that if Brandon Morrow is healthy in October, I would bet on him.”

Your first Dodgers memory

Since I still have a lot of these, “Your first Dodgers memory” returns this season. If you haven’t already, I’d still love for you to send me your first Dodgers memory, and it might run in an upcoming Dodgers Dugout. Include your name and where you live. 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.

Charles Barber: My father became a Dodger fan when they signed Jackie Robinson, so he was overjoyed when the Dodgers moved to L.A. in 1958. He kept a few hives of bees as a hobby and was registered with the L.A. County Beekeepers organization. As Opening Day was approaching someone in the Dodger organization thought that they should check out the pennant boxes attached to the flagpoles around the top of the Coliseum. These flagpoles would hold the flags of the other seven National League teams. A swarm of bees had set up housekeeping in one of the boxes. So he called the L.A. County Beekeepers organization and my Dad’s name was next on the list. I was in school when my Dad got the call. When I got home he told me about crawling up a ladder to get to the flagbox above the rim of the Coliseum. He was hanging on 10 or 15 feet above the rim as he smoked out the swarm and got them into a temporary hive and headed home. I asked my Dad if the Dodgers gave him anything for getting the bees. He said, “No, I just got the bees.” I said, “What? No tickets to Opening Day?” “No, I just got the bees.”

So if it wasn’t for my Dad, the Dodgers might not have opened up their first season in L.A. on time. I should have sent this story to Vinny years ago. It’s the kind of story he loved to tell when things were going slow during a game.

Matt Friedlander of Riverside: July 1973, I was 11, walking through double doors into Dodger Stadium with my Dad. The vast expanse of the bright green field, the baby blue outfield wall rising out of a rich red clay warning track. The five levels of seats, 56,000 of them, climbing into the sky: yellow, orange, blue, red. Two hours early, batting practice. The sound of ball on bat reverberating throughout the half-empty place. The crisp white uniforms adorned by azure blue script with a splash of red numerals. The scents, an amalgam of grass, hot dogs, and sunshine. I was hooked. It had me by the throat and it hasn’t let go yet.

Jerry Fonseca of Oxnard: One of my very first memories was riding in my dad’s old white station wagon in the late 1970’s and driving up Elysian Park. My dad always placed our tickets on the dashboard and to this day, I can recall seeing the reflection of those tickets on his windshield. No seatbelts back then, so we would hang on to the back of the front seats. Then we would arrive to the ballpark and sit in the Reserve section above third base. This memory is so close to my heart, because ever since my girls were old enough to walk, I too made that same drive and continue to do so. And now we have season tickets right at about the same section we sat at as kids. I always remind my daughters about this story and the fact that ‘grandpa’ use to buy us our seats in the same vicinity where our seats are now located.

And finally

Mr. Ed tries out for the Dodgers. Watch it here.

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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