Hats off to the new Dodgers show producer, Charles Steinberg. The ceremony before today's opener evoked "Field of Dreams." While a dramatic beat played across the stadium, an old man in a retro uniform hobbled in from behind the centerfield fence to take his position. Duke Snider. From the bullpen, another old man ambled to left field. Wally Moon. One by one, every position on the field filled up with ex-Dodgers: Maury Wills, Tommy Davis, Ron Fairly, Wes Parker and Chuck Essegian from the Coliseum and 1960s. Don Newcombe, Carl Erskine and Roger Craig from Brooklyn. Steve Garvey, Ron Cey, Bill Russell, Eric Karros, Bobby Castillo and Lee Lacy from more recent years. Snider found himself surrounded by fellow CFs Rick Monday, Ken Landreaux, Don Demeter and Steve Finley. Fernando Valenzuela strode to the mound in a shiny suit, to big cheers. While Tommy Lasorda walked slowly from the bullpen to the pitching mound, me and I'm sure many others began to wonder: did they entice "the lefthander," as Walter Alston used to say, back to L.A.?
Yep. Sandy Koufax rose out of the dugout, recognized even out of uniform, and walked to the hill looking as fit as anyone on the field. While the crowd was still ovating, all the old men came in to gather around Sandy and hug it out while the current Dodgers rushed the mound to join in. It was a baseball moment. In the first base dugout, it looked as if all the Giants were standing at the rail taking it in.
Koufax, Newcombe and I think Erskine threw first-ball pitches to Lasorda and Joe Torre. Then the Dodgers went out and won 5-0, getting solid pitching from Brad Penny and a two-run homer from Jeff Kent. Rookie third-baseman Blake DeWitt got a hit in his first major league at-bat and scored.
Politics angle: Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa schmoozed on the field in a Dodgers jacket for almost an hour before the game, but was not introduced to the crowd. He sat with owner Frank McCourt beside the dugout for a couple of innings, then vanished — likely to the McCourt suite, where I'm told LAPD chief William Bratton, some invited pols and lobbyists, and L.A. Times editor Russ Stanton were ensconced. Villaraigosa and McCourt returned to the owner's field box for the last innings. YouTube video
Media angle: Warren Olney's guests tonight on the second half of Which Way, L.A.? are Kevin Baxter, the Dodgers beat writer for the Times, and historian D.J. Waldie. Subject: the Dodgers, Chavez Ravine and Saturday's Coliseum event. KCRW, 7 pm.
Top photo: AP Photo / Kevork Djansezian via Yahoo
Inset photo: Jacob Nieder