A couple years after I retired from being manager, Willie Mays was in the Giants clubhouse at Candlestick Park, which I still think was one of the worst places to play baseball. He heard I was with the team, so he called and told me to come over to their clubhouse. I told him I would never, ever go into a Giant clubhouse even if God told me to.
In his high-pitched voice, he said, ?What?s the matter, you ain?t the manager no more.?
?No I?m not,? I told him, ?but I?m still a Dodger which means I hate the Giants, so what do you want??
Willie just wanted to visit and talk about the rivalry between the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants. And what a tremendous rivalry it was. Depending on which borough you were from, you either loved the Dodgers or the Giants, or the Yankees of course. Both sets of fans were beyond passionate about winning, and about hating their opponent.
When Walter O’Malley moved to Los Angeles, the Giants followed us west and landed in San Francisco. The rivalry followed, and to show you how serious the hatred was, when Jackie Robinson was traded to the Giants at the end of his career, instead of reporting, he just quit. He would rather walk away from the game he loved instead of entering the Giants clubhouse. He had spent so many years with the Dodgers hating the Giants, and trying to beat them at all costs, that he just couldn?t come to putting on their uniform. Now that is a rivalry.
As a player in the Dodger farm system, we were brought up to hate the Giants. Years later, when I was a manager in our farm system, I taught my players to hate the Giants. By the time any player reached the big leagues, he hated the Giants and wanted to beat them real bad.
When I started managing the Dodgers in 1977, 17 of the 25 players on the team had played for me in the minors, and another four had come up through our system, so 21 of the 25 players were signed by the Dodgers, developed by the Dodgers and learned from day one about the rivalry. The Giants had teams in every league the Dodgers did, so at every stop we made our players learn to hate the Giants.
Now, with so much turn over in Major League Baseball, the rivalry isn?t what it used to be because most players did not come through our system. It is still fun beating the Giants. In fact, the all-time series record is 1251-1235 in favor of the Dodgers. Most importantly, the fans still enjoy the rivalry and everyone has fun pulling for their team.
I want all Dodger fans to tune into this series with the Giants and to keep pulling for the Dodgers; I will be. Remember, there is a saying in this country; if you don?t pull for the Dodgers, there?s a good chance you may not get into heaven.
This is LA baseball.
My father had five sons, and one day he called a family meeting, sat us down, and told us he wanted to bring his brother?s son, Mario, to America. He told us to treat him as an equal because he was family. When Mario arrived, my father told Mario he could live with him so while he worked hard, he could save his money and eventually bring his own family to America too.
Mario was lazy; he did not work hard, he did not save any money and his trip to America was a failure. When he returned to Italy, he blamed his failure on my father instead of taking responsibility for his own actions.
I was so mad at Mario, I wanted to go to Italy, find him, and throw him into the Adriatic Sea for ruining my father?s name.
Later, my father sat us brothers down again and told us he wanted to bring his sister?s son to America. I immediately jumped up and shouted in protest that I did not want to bring any more relatives to America. I said I didn?t want to support any more lazy Greenhorns. My father, in broken English, told me to sit down and shut up. He said because Mario was bad should not deprive his sister?s son from coming to this country.
Well, he came to America and lived in my father?s house. He worked hard and raised a beautiful family with two sons of his own, who eventually became professors in Rome.
The same principle is at work at Dodger Stadium. I do not want Frank McCourt to deprive families of the $2 True Blue Tuesday promotion because of two bad guys who ran across the outfield, and one bad sports columnist who unfairly criticizes the McCourt?s.
Under his promotion, a family of four can come to beautiful Dodger Stadium for only eight dollars! We can not let two bad apples ruin the expereince for everyone else.
I want Dodger fans to know we are committed to making Dodger Stadium the most fan-friendly, family oriented environment in Major League Baseball. We began a security upgrade program at the end of last season. Below are few highlights of our enhancement plan:
The most visible of the improvements will be the presence of uniformed Los Angeles Police officers at Dodger Stadium, which will begin at the start of the homestand on Friday, May 13.
The Los Angeles Police Department approved a new policy that enables the Dodgers to have a police presence at the Stadium. In the coming weeks, we will be working with LAPD on a full deployment of resources. In the meantime, we have taken steps to ensure that we will have a police presence at Dodger Stadium starting this homestand.
An increased number of security personnel and ushers available will also be on hand in the stands to assist Dodger fans.
The Dodgers? plan to take steps to better promote their longstanding guidelines regarding fan behavior, known as the Fan Code of Conduct, which is displayed in English and Spanish on www.dodgers.com. The guidelines state that any fan violating the team?s code of conduct will be immediately ejected from the ballpark and/or subject to arrest and prosecution.
To heighten fans? awareness of the official code of conduct, there will be increased signage displayed at entrances and throughout the Stadium concourses, as well as new public address announcements and brochures.
Fans who run on to the field are a disgrace to the game of baseball! They have no respect for themselves, other fans who want to see a game, the players on the field, and the game in general. They should be arrested and penalized. All they are trying to do is impress their friends, but they do not impress anybody.
We can?t let two bad guys ruin the experience at Dodger Stadium, thus degrading the reputation of Dodger fans. I have said this time and time again; we have the greatest fans in all of baseball. I want all of our fans to know that as an organization, we need our fans, and we believe they are part of our team.
The Dodgers run a special promotion called $2 True Blue Tuesdays. Frank and Jamie McCourt want people who can?t usually afford to take their families to a ballgame to be able to come to Dodger Stadium and enjoy themselves. Now, because of what two foolish youngsters did, the McCourt?s may be forced to end the promotion.
Frank, Jamie and the entire staff want fans to enjoy baseball at its best, at beautiful Dodger Stadium, which I call Blue Heaven on Earth. We won?t let two bad guys ruin our efforts, or to take an outstanding opportunity away from the rest of the fans who take advantage of the great deal.
The Dodgers are committed to providing the best, most fan-friendly, family environment in all of baseball. Our fans must understand how hard we work on that goal, and how serious our organization treats their safety.
All-Star voting began yesterday in Major League Baseball. I want all Dodger fans to vote for our Dodgers as often as possible. I have filled out many ballots, and will continue to do so until voting ends. You can vote on-line, or at your local ballpark.
The All-Star Game is baseball?s way of giving back to the fans. We have the opportunity to bring the game to the fans by letting them vote for their favorite players. Voting is a great way of involving them in the game.
I commend Bud Selig for giving home-field advantage to the winner of the Midsummer Classic. The All-Star Game should be the greatest display of baseball; bringing the best players in the world together to compete at the game?s highest level should give baseball fans everywhere a thrill.
I managed in four, and finished with a 3-1 record. And I?ll tell you, we wanted to win. We wanted to beat the American League and show everyone who played the best baseball. As manager, I always kept a few players on the bench in case we ran into extra innings. I would get criticized about that, but I came to win, and was not about to get caught in a game without enough players. When I managed my first All-Star Game in 1978, the National League had won six in a row, and I was not about to let that streak be snapped. We went on to win 11 straight, finally losing in 1983.
We have an outstanding Dodger team with many players with the potential to represent the National League in Detroit. Let?s show them how much we support them by voting. Encourage your friends and family to vote too. When you go to a game, take extra ballots home and fill them in so you can see your favorite players wearing that special All-Star uniform.
This is LA baseball.