The 2008 Dodger Community Caravan is over.
The wheels on the bus have stopped rolling.
The cameras have stopped flashing.
And while fans will continue to ask for autographs and players will continue to give them, what?s really left is the affect the caravan has had on people?s lives.
Frank and Jamie McCourt have always insisted on the Dodgers being good community partners. Many athletes just take and take out of the pot and don?t do a good job of putting anything back in, but the Dodgers have always been so community-minded that we feel it is a pleasure to be able to give back to the people.
The caravan visited Children?s Hospital Los Angeles and the City of Hope, both of which are our partners in ThinkCure. While there, the players did a great job of visiting with the patients and trying their best to bring some joy and hope to those who really need it. I think the players also got a first-hand look at real courage. Hitting a baseball is one thing, battling for a pennant is another, but battling for your life and keeping a positive attitude is true strength.
We also visited two schools: John Marshall High School and Washington Accelerated Elementary. At both schools we delivered a very important message. We told the kids that playing baseball is great, but they are in school to get a good education. Education is something that nobody can take away from you. Education is something that can open many doors and build their future. A special thanks to the principals and teachers; you are my heroes.
We held a clinic at a Dodger Dream Field in Marina Del Rey and I hope the kids got a lot out of it. They had the opportunity to learn how to play baseball from big leaguers. When I was a kid I would have killed for an opportunity like that.
On the second day of the caravan we stopped for lunch at Panda Inn. While the food was great, watching the players act as waiters was outstanding. Penny, Nomar, James Loney and Andre Ethier were great as they took orders and served food to the hungry Dodger fans. Eric Karros, Bobby Castillo and Rudy Law did a good job too, and it was a pleasure to get to know Koruda-san, as he was on hand for the second day.
We also had two autograph stops. The first was at Yankee Doodles in Santa Monica. The second was at Universal CityWalk. Both were great, as fans lined up early in the day to get the autographs they wanted. What was really heart-warming was the support the fans showed the players. For the most part the fans were polite and appreciative, and the Dodgers hope the fans know how much we appreciate them.
I have said time and time again that this game does not belong to the owners. This game does not belong to the players. It belongs to the fans. You can have the best players and the finest ballpark, but if nobody goes through the turnstiles you have to shut the doors. We love the fans, we need the fans, and we truly appreciate their support.
A special thanks to the players who participated: Russell Martin, Matt Kemp, Takashi Saito, Jeff Kent, James Loney, Brad Penny, Nomar Garciaparra, Andre Etheir, Hiroki Koruda, Eric Karros, Bobby Castillo, Kenny Landreuax, Rudy Law, Fernando Valenzuela and Sweet Lou Johnson.
I’d also like to thank Jaime Jarrin, Charlie Steiner, Kim Ng, and Pepe Yniguez for participating, as well as Jeff Garcia of Power 106 for being our emcee during the second day of the caravan.