How Did I Become a Dodger Fan?

Tuesday, May 19, 2020
Copyrighted by Sarah Morris, 2020

Last night, I began listening to Roger Kahn’s Boys of Summer. Although I read the classic book when I was 23, I don’t remember much about the book.

Kahn said that people don’t fall in love with a team that wins a championship. People love teams who lose. This is why America fell in love with the Brooklyn Dodgers during the 1950s until the Dodgers abandoned the borough of Brooklyn for Los Angeles in 1958.

I was born twelve years after the Dodgers moved from Brooklyn to Los Angeles. Many times, people have frequently asked me, “How did you become a Los Angeles Dodger fan?”

Growing up in Pasadena, California, it seemed natural to be a Dodger fan. When we traveled to San Diego to visit my uncle Jim’s family, my dad turned on the Dodger game on the AM radio. When we visited my grandparents unexpectedly on Sunday afternoons, during the summer, my grandparents were either watching the Dodgers on the TV or listening to them on the radio.

My favorite neighbor, Mrs. Rooney, was an avid Dodger fan. She was elderly, but her mind was as sharp as tack. One night when I was five, Mrs. Rooney with her twin sister went a Dodger game with their senior citizen group. Mrs. Rooney brought an unspecified Dodger bobblehead. In 1975, the Dodgers did not make a bobblehead that looked like any player. We named the bobblehead Roger the Dodger.

I spent hours playing with the bobblehead, but I was not a Dodger fan. I was too young. When the Dodgers took The Brady Bunch or The Monkees off the television, I became mad. Although baseball has simple rules, I did not understand those rules until I was six.

Tommy Lasorda became the manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers on my sixth birthday. As a child, I liked Lasorda’s boundless enthusiasm. My maternal grandfather died two months after my sixth birthday because he had lung cancer, and Lasorda reminded me of my deceased grandfather. Although I don’t remember my maternal grandfather after forty-three years of his death, I adored him while he was alive.

I was homeschooled for first grade; therefore, I would have more time to do physical therapy in hopes of my physical condition would improve. It did not.

For second grade, my parents permitted me to go to the local public school for handicapped children. Although I could have done the academic work as any other second-grade student, I was not allowed to go to my neighborhood school. This was my first experience of segregation because I was physically handicapped.

On the first day at Roosevelt, I sat in the administration offices while Mom registered me into school. Although I did well in first grade, Roosevelt put me in a K-1 class. I was the only kid in the class who did not have either hand use or understandable speech. Only one other child used a wheelchair. The academic work was too easy for me. I felt totally out of place.

Mid-morning my class went to physical education. The law made every special education student must have a PE daily. I feared I would still feel out of place. We played T-Ball. We used orange cones for the tee and bases. Other kids in my class could hold the plastic bat and ran the bases independently. Although I could not hold the red plastic bat, I could use my arm to hit the wiffle ball. I had a stupid bunt hit though I used all my strength.

My regular classroom teacher pushed my abnormally looking wheelchair around the bases. For some reason, I thought my chair would go faster if I kicked my legs. Kicking my legs wildly, I had a double since my classmates awkwardly fielded the ball.

After one time I played T-Ball, I fell in love with Major League Baseball. Since the Dodgers were my local team, I became an avid Dodger fan. In 1977, the Dodgers played the New York Yankees in the World Series. Of course, the Dodgers lost. I remember both rookie Bob Welch striking out the Yankee slugger Reggie Jackson and Jackson blasted three homers in a World Series game.

After the 1977 World Series, I was a die-hard Dodger fan. Except in the 2018 season when I was unable to write about the Dodgers because of tendinitis, I followed the Dodgers religiously. My career must involve baseball though I have not made a livable wage in twenty years.

It is weird not to have baseball in May. It is not safe to play my favorite game. I hope Major League Baseball will return next month.

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