On Martin Luther King Jr. Day Monday, a few folks remembered a gathering of stars at Dodger Stadium.
Major League Baseball teams were to hold an All-Star Game of sorts to honor Dr. King after his assassination in 1968, though logistically it didn’t take place until March 28, 1970, with proceeds benefitting the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the Dr. Martin Luther King Memorial Center.
Bill Francis for the Baseball Hall of Fame recounted the game:
A total of 15 future members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame appeared in the game: Al Kaline, Frank Robinson, Lou Brock, Willie Stargell, Roberto Clemente, Ron Santo, Ernie Banks, Tom Seaver and Bob Gibson from the East; Hank Aaron, Reggie Jackson, Johnny Bench, Orlando Cepeda, Joe Morgan and Willie Mays from the West.
The teams were split into divisions, with NL West and AL West teaming up against the NL East and AL East. Roy Campanella managed the west, with Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Don Newcombe and Elston Howard as his coaches. Joe DiMaggio managed the east team.
Tom Verducci, who wrote about this “greatest (forgotten) game ever played” at Sports Illustrated on Monday, also recalled the game on MLB Network:
"It was a 'who's who' of baseball history."— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) January 19, 2021
Tom Verducci looks back on the historic East-West MLB Classic played in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. pic.twitter.com/I5xNmG1ZFk
A new Venezuelan catcher
Among the 22 amateur free agents signed by the Dodgers on Friday, the first day of the 2021 international signing period, were a pair of Venezuelans both rated among the top 50 international prospects.
Jesus Galiz, a 17-year-old catcher, was ranked eighth overall by MLB Pipeline and 50th by Baseball America. Jesse Sanchez at MLB.com interviewed Galiz, and noted that within a 10-day span in November Galiz’s father died and the Yankees backed out of an informal prearranged deal. From the Dodgers:
And that’s when the Dodgers, who had scouted Galiz in Venezuela, stepped into the picture.
“I had big losses close together, and it was one of those moments that I had to mature fast and keep going,” Galiz said. “I knew I could do it and I had faith in God that I was going to be fine. I knew I had to be a professional and work to make my dream come true. I made it this far, and I wasn’t going to give up.”
Wood says farewell
Alex Wood, who signed a one-year free agent deal with the Giants on Thursday, took to Instagram to thank the Dodgers and their fans:
“I’ve been so blessed to have spent 5 seasons in LA. Getting to come back last year and get a ring for the city of LA was the highlight of my career and I will forever be indebted to the city of Los Angeles and all of Dodger Nation,” Wood wrote. “Going out with a W is the only way I ever saw my time in LA coming to an end. We did it and we’re all bonded for life because of it.”
Penelope says hello!
Kiké Hernández and his wife Mariana welcomed their daughter Penelope into the world on Friday:
“The day I got drafted I thought I was on top of the world, the day I made my Big League debut I thought nothing would compare, the day I got married I felt like the world stopped, the day we won the World Series I thought I had it all; NOTHING compares to the moment when I met my little girl!!” Hernández wrote on Instagram. “@marianavicente you are my hero!!! Las amo y las amare siempre!!!! #Kikita #GirlDad”
A final at-bat
Former Dodgers reliever Chris Perez talked with David Laurila at FanGraphs, and recounted his two career at-bats. His final trip to the plate came on April 24, 2014 while with the Dodgers, who were hosting the Phillies. From Laurila:
“This was in 2014, when I was with the Dodgers,” explained Perez. “I’d pitched the eighth inning, and was going to be going back out for the ninth. Mike Adams was pitching [for the Phillies]. I fell behind 0-2 — I thought the second one was low, which kind of fired me up — and then I was able to foul two pitches off. He ended up striking me out, but at least I got a chance to swing.”
The fact that Perez got a chance to swing was a bit of a head-scratcher. His day was actually over. Upon returning to the dugout, he learned that Dodgers manager Don Mattingly had changed course and decided to send Brian Wilson to the mound to pitch the ninth. That didn’t go so well. With Perez watching from the dugout — his second and final big-league plate appearance now in the annals — the Phillies plated four runs.
Dodgers NLCS nemesis Carlos Ruiz drove home the go-ahead runs in the ninth with a two-run double, in a game win 7-3 by the Phillies. I expected there to be more ire in my game recap at the time for the perplexing decision to let Perez bat, but I played it straight:
Chris Perez pitched a scoreless eighth inning, then batted in the bottom of the inning, his first trip to the plate in six years, with Justin Turner (and backup catcher Drew Butera) available on the bench. Perez struck out to end the inning, then was immediately replaced on the mound by Wilson.
“Just the fact that I’m down to the last guy with two outs and nobody on. I felt like there we couldn’t really burn our last available guy to use,” Mattingly said.