It’s an exciting moment for a parent to pass on family traditions from generation to generation. I’ve had the opportunity in the last few years to bring my kids to Dodger Stadium and continue what my father started in me over 30 years ago.
Watching my children take in all that “Blue Heaven” has to offer got me thinking of when I was young and had the experience for the first time.
What is the earliest memory of going to Dodger Stadium that you can remember?
The first memories I have of Dodger Stadium came in the early 1990s when my love for baseball had already become a force in my life. I had just become a catcher in little league and was especially fascinated with Mike Scioscia, Gary Carter and very soon after, Mike Piazza.
In fact, the first thing that stands out in my mind is leaving a game with my family and seeing Carter on his way out of the parking lot in his car. My family didn’t see him and if you ask them to this day they don’t believe me.
Baseball players were the biggest celebrities of my childhood and there was no better place to see them than Dodger Stadium.
The first on-field action I can remember was from August 26, 1992 (had to look up the date) when the Dodgers were hosting the Pirates. A young Tim Wakefield had allowed a walk to Brett Butler and a single to Lenny Harris — two of my favorite Dodgers in those days — to start the inning.
With Eric Karros at the plate, Wakefield pulled off an incredible feat. The right-hander picked off Butler at second, two pitches later picked off Harris at first, then struck out Karros with his very next pitch to end the inning.
Yes, I know that’s not a good moment for the Dodgers but it was a moment that has stuck out in my mind from when I was seven years old. Our seats were near the left field foul pole at field level with a good view of a young Barry Bonds.
Dodger Stadium is so engrained into my family tradition, I took my now wife of 11 years there for one of our first dates. Not to get too personal but after the game in the parking lot is where we had our first kiss.
As an adult, the experience is totally different. I don’t take every loss as hard as I did when I was a kid, but I have learned to greater appreciate the bigger moments. The 2013 team provided plenty of dramatics that I witnessed from a seat at the stadium.
The Dodgers went on a magical 42-8 run that year — one that might be surpassed by this year’s team — and every moment of that summer felt special inside the stadium. I was there for the game on August 9 when the Dodgers overcame a 6-0 deficit over the last three innings to beat the Rays. Scoring one in the seventh, two in the eighth and four in the ninth.
A big part of the Friday night crowd of over 51,000 was still there getting louder with each hit. Everybody knew the Dodgers had it in them to come back and the way the team was playing, it felt inevitable.
It all started with a harmless single off the bat of Skip Schumaker. The team didn’t need much to startle the sideways cap of Fernando Rodney. A full assault came just two batters later when the Dodgers slashed a triple and two doubles to tie the game. After Yasiel Puig was intentionally walked, it was up to Jerry Hairston.
Hairston tapped the second pitch back to Rodney for what looked like a potential inning-ending double play. But Rodney threw it into centerfield to allow Adrian Gonzalez to score from second and win the game.
The explosion of cheering that followed the moment of victory is not a feeling you can explain. It has to be felt for yourself.
Whether being a small child, a young adult or a working husband and parent of three, I’ve been going to Dodger Stadium for 30 plus years and still find a new way to experience the game every time I go.