September 2005

A Message to all Dodger Fans

Spring_2005_a_2I speak for the entire Dodger organization when I say we feel badly that we could not give you a championship season, which you so deserve. Due largely to injuries, we were denied of our goal, which was winning. The most important goal we have every year is winning for our fans, because, as I have said many, many times, we have the greatest fans in all of baseball.

Frank and Jamie McCourt want to win. We are all ready for a long off season of hard work, putting a balanced, winning team together for 2006. We have many exciting rookies, some of whom you have watched for a good part of the season, and some whom are in our farm system waiting to get a chance to play at Dodger Stadium.

We thank you for your continued support and love of the Dodgers. I leave you with a saying in this country; if you don?t pull for the Dodgers, there?s a good chance, you may not get into heaven!

Goodbye to an Old Friend

I am sorry to see the passing of my good friend, my long-time bench coach and true Dodger, Monty Basgall.  Monty was well-loved by everyone who new him, and he will be sorely missed. 

Monty_basgall_1 Monty wore the Dodger uniform with pride, dignity and character.  He signed his first professional contract with the Dodgers, but played most of his career with the Pirates.  However, he served many different roles in the Dodger organization.  He was a scout, a minor league instructor, a major league instructor and my bench coach; he was my right-hand man.  His tremendous knowledge of the game was a true help to me, and I will be forever thankful for his help in the dugout. 

Monty was an outstanding infield coach.  He played a very important role in developing our record-breaking infield of Cey, Garvey, Lopes and Russell.  Monty spent endless hours on the diamond teaching the guys how to play their respective positions, as well as how to play as a unit. 

Monty was the epitome of what it means to be a Dodger.  He was a man of integrity, he loved the game of baseball and he was a champion both on and off the field.  His example is one we can all learn from.  His contributions to the game, and to our organization, are endless. 

Thank you, Monty, for your friendship, love and support.

Pardon My Absence

I have been away from my computer for some time, but I am back and want to share some of my recent experiences with you.  I?ve missed communicating with you; I?ve missed talking baseball with you, especially in the midst of the pennant race; I?ve missed hearing from you; I?ve missed blogging.

When the Dodgers played the Cubs in Chicago at the end of August, the Cubs invited me to sing Take Me Out to the Ballgame during the 7th inning stretch.  It was an honor being invited, and lots of fun singing.  Before the song, I addressed the fans at Wrigley and said, ?You are, without a doubt, the second greatest fans in all of baseball.?  As you can imagine, they didn?t particularly Wrigley_6 like that label, but I thought they were lucky I gave them the 2 spot.  I could have said seventh or eighth best fans.  When the time came, I of course said root, root, root for the Dodgers, which went over well.  I had a great time though, and I can?t wait to go back to the Friendly Confines.

Over Labor Day weekend, I took a trip to the California Speedway in Fontana, California.  The Speedway hosted the Sony HD 300, a NASCAR race attended by 130,000 people.  I was the honorary starter.  What a thrill it was to climb up the starter?s tower and look at the grandstands.  I could not believe how many people were there to watch the race.  However, that thrill was surpassed when I turned around and watched the cars pull out of pit-row to take two warm-up Nascar6_1 laps.  With the engines roaring as the cars came around the final turn of the last warm-up lap, they must have been going at least 185mph.  I just wish I had pitchers with that speed.  When they came around that turn I waived the green flag, which is the official start of the race.  The race was very exciting, but you only wish the drivers are safe, and injury free after going that fast.

Last, but certainly not least, I participated in a goodwill relief tour of three shelters in Baton Rouge and Biloxi.  The tour was hosted by Gloria Estefan and her husband Emilio, and coordinated by the American Red Cross.  Joining us were Andy Garcia, Jimmy Smits and Daisy Fuentes.  When we arrived in Baton Rouge, I was sad to see so many people affected by hurricane Katrina.  It was terrible to see these people go through such a tragedy. 

However, they are strong.  They have heart, and they will survive.

I was tremendously impressed with the shelters we visited.  While it was heartwarming to see the evacuees receive food and clothing from the Red Cross, what really made our trip worthwhile was the love, joy and hope we brought to the people.  We lifted their spirits and preached the message of never quitting.  We made sure they had fun while we were there.  We made sure they haven?t forgotten how to laugh.  Laughter is the food for the soul, if you can laugh, you can forget all your problems.  In fact, to make sure of that, I led a congo line as Gloria sang.  Now that is fun!