woensdag 1 december 2010

The Office Blue

A few weeks back one of my Facebook friends posted a pic of his (?) workplace and how it was dominated by Dodgers stuff. I never really was aware of the Dodgers related stuff I have in my office untill after I saw that picture. Which brought me to the idea to put up some pix of my office right here. I share my room with four other people who never complain, so I think it's manageable.

First of all I've got these great wobbly guys in front of me. They really are a fun bunch and I hope to adopt 6 more of them during the 2011 season.
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The last Dodger on the cover of Sports Illustrated was Manny. Not a nice one (about his suspention). The one before was awesome. So I framed it and although he's no longer in the Blue Crew, he still hangs on my wall. I hope to be able to replace him in the near future with a SI cover picturing the Dodgers celebrating their World Series win.
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Then there's this Sporting News cover I found funny, because the guys all look so happy and smug and I thought 'how can we NOT have a great season with these guys on the team?'
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Then there is this photograph of Dodger Stadium which I had printed on Canvas and then framed in two pieces. It's 3.3 feet high and 3.3 feet wide.
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Behind me on a semi-high cabinet is a Small batting helmet, Mr. Potatohead and some white wormy thing which I gave a batting helmet. Don't ask why, I just thought the white and blue looked Dodger-ish. And the best thing of all, pics of me with Tom and Orel.
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I bet there's more people out there who have (more) Blue stuff on their desks or around the office, so why not post some pix on facebook?

vrijdag 12 november 2010

Dodgers 2011?

Dodgers among teams that show interest in Lee? Okay, cool... But what more is this than flexing their muscles? The organization wants the world to know they mean business, but Lee isn't coming. He simply is too expensive. It would be like spending all your money on a diamond and have nothing left to buy the ring. And it's the ring we want! So, don't expect Crawford Either. Instead of looking what we don't have, let's start with some of the best we have:

Starting pitchers
- Lilly
- Billingsley
- Kershaw
- Kuroda - free agent

Is it me or is this a great rotation? They all had great and less than great years, but what if they all pitch good during one season? They would be unstopable! Ow, and I am counting on Kuroda staying with the club.

Other/Closing pitchers
- Kuo
- Jansen

Kuo has been great last year, proving with 12 saves he can clinch a game and catcher turned pitcher Jansen also delivered, so I think those last few innings are safe.

- Kemp
- Ethier
- Gibbons

Kemp had a weird year, Ethier got injured, but I'm certain they can and will deliver in 2011. Gibbons did okay but it has been a few years since he played more than 100 games.

- Theriot
- Loney
- Blake

Loney's average is dwindling, although still a bit above the league average. I think he's a great guy on the field, he also knows how to swing a bat, but he's not a slugger.

- Martin

Good, but how good after his return. He surely isn't going to play 162 games.

So, with the right coaching staff, this is quite a promissing team. There are a few holes to fill though.
We need a catcher to relieve Martin. Miguel Olivo from the Jays might do the trick. Maybe Hudson back on 2nd base and Beltre on 3rd.
We need a good starting pitcher, but free agents wise (and affordable) I don't see a solution.

I personally would love for Konerko and Werth to come back to the club, but I don't see that happening.

maandag 1 november 2010

To cap or not to cap

I've been collecting world series winners caps since 2000. Why? Because I like baseball caps! I always hoped a new team would win the world series every year so I would not have a bunch of the same caps after 20 years. A dangerous gamble. The Yankees had already won in '98 and '99 and theirs was my first world series cap I bought. The chance they would win more world series in the years to come was very big. Now, I do not like the Yankees, but their cap is iconic. The Navy blue and the intertwining NY letters are known around the world. The world series patch made it a great cap. In 2001 America hoped the Yankees would win, because of 9/11, but they didn't. That young expansion team from Arizona did, also a great cap, but not one I would normally buy. I always had a soft spot for the Red Sox. So when they won in '04 it was the first world series cap I had a special feeling about. The world series patch sucked ass, though! Very modern, compared to the '00 patch, almost naked.
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Through the years I even got me the Phillies one, the second Red Sox and last year the second Yanks cap. This year I, again, was hoping for a Dodger cap, but that one was farther away then ever. A Rangers cap? Okay, I would have settled for that, but the Giants? Sorry... I can't get myself to buy a Giants cap. So I made the decision to stop collecting world series winners caps. It has been fun and I hope there will be a Dodgers one, I know for sure there will be. And I'll get that one. But for now I'm finished with this collection. Stupid ass Giants and their championship.

P.S. In case you're wondering, my favorite world series patch is in the pic below.
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zaterdag 16 oktober 2010

O'Brien to Ryan to Goldberg

I'm a sucker for baseball and... Yes, tapdancing! Especially Gene Kelly. That guy gave tapdancing something manly. Where Fred Astaire was the master of silky smooth dancing, Kelly was a stomper with selfmade choreography that still makes me wanna dance. So what if you discover a movie that's called 'Take me out to the ballgame', stars Gene Kelly and is directed by no other than Busby Berkeley: you MUST see it!
I saw the movie around 1998 for the first time and while the concept (dancing, singing and baseball) almost had me excited beyond compare I tried to tone down my enthusiasm a bit. But was all I hoped for. Kelly and Sinatra (oh, did I forget to mention he's in this flick as well?) return for another season with the Wolves after spending the off season in a vaude ville group. They tell the other guys about all the girls they've (not) conquered (great song). Then the news about the new owner sinks in. It's a woman, played by Esther Williams (you know, the girl that is famous for her swimming on the silver screen).
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There is a blackmail twist and romance and a lot of baseball. I remember the first time I saw the movie and a swimmingpool came into the story. I thought "no! They're not going to put in a pool just for Esther Williams to show off her swimming..." But, yes, they did! It's so funny, it has nothing to do with the story what so ever.
Best things in the movie? The song 'O'Brien to Ryan to Goldberg' where Kelly, Sinatra and Munchin demonstrate a 'great double play'. I love the expressions on Munchins' face. Another highlight, for me, one of the best tapdance numbers ever on screen is 'the hat my dear old father wore upon St. patricks day'. It gives me goosebumps writing about it. So if there are any people out there who love baseball and dancing, pick up this flick, it will make your off season shorter and your heart warm till spring training.      

woensdag 6 oktober 2010

Following your Favorite Team

I wrote in my first blog that the only way to follow my Dodgers in the ‘80s was by checking the scores in the (Dutch) newspaper and once in a while I would buy a USA Today for a bit more background. And then you had to be lucky to find a story about the Dodgers. That was how I tried to keep track of the team.

Video Tape
Then in 1989 a sports channel had commercials from PonTel. They offered MLB games on video. You'd subscribe and get one tape every two weeks from the team of your choice. That's how I saw my first Dodgers games. I replayed a game at Wrigley Field over and over again. It was a second step, I actually could see the guys play a fairly recent game.

Well, in the nineties it was still difficult to follow the guys in blue, so I stuck to reading the papers. They didn't do very well in the nineties, besides the wild card in 1996 but I was faithful and in 2003 I finally visited Dodger Stadium for the first time. Since then I've seen them play a whopping 9 times. Only one time at home, three times at Wrigley Field and four times in Shea Stadium.

Since internet it's been easier for me. I can buy blue stuff and watch highlights of the games. I had a subscription on MLBTV which is awesome but the games are often in the middle of the night and I can't wait to get my hands on the final score so watching a game a day later isn't for me either. All in all, Dodger Baseball is closer than ever. What helps a lot is Facebook. To be in contact with other Dodgers fans on a daily basis is fantastic.

Live (2)
The nicest way to keep in touch with The Blue Brothers though is to visit a game live once in a while. Part of the fun is meeting fans.
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I've met Natalie and Kenny already in Chicago. But I hope to meet some more of you on April 14th of next year. On which day I'll attend the Dodgers - Cards game at Dodger Stadium.

Paper (2)
Funny thing! Just when I wanted to post this blog, the medium that kept me in the loop in the old days printed a picture of Joe Torre. This could very well be the first Dodgers related pic in a Dutch newspaper since the Orel Hershiser one after winning the World Series in 1988.
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donderdag 23 september 2010


There had to come a time where I'd discover the fun and collectabillity of bobbleheads. It's no use to elaborate about these happy nodders because there is a guy who can do that way better than I. He actually is the same guy who got me blogging (yes, Dodger Bobble, it's you!). So I won't go into detail! But I'd like to talk a bit about the few I've got and why they're fun.
Although we Dutch people have a heart for sports (mostly soccer) there haven't been any bobbleheads in my country that I know of. Sure we had 'poppetjes' that where given out by a supermarket during the World or European Championships, I'm not sure which one. They are smaller than bobbleheads and they have no moving parts and they almost never look like the player they're portraying. This doen't mean there are no bobbleheads of Dutch soccer players. Ruud van Nistelrooy has one but that's because Manchester United had them made (and that's England, not the Netherlands). The only nodders we've got are the lame dogs and yes, people still put them in their cars over here.
Anyway, I got my first nodder in 2007 at a Cubs game (yes against the Dodgers and yes at the same game I got to meet The Bulldog). It was Derrek Lee. I was peasantly surprised by the detail for a free givaway.
A few years later I (actually, this year) I was looking for a way to brighten up my workspace. Dodger Bobble blogged about his collection and got me thinking. I would love some of our boy in blue happily nodding away while I worked. So I bought me some of the guys through Ebay and yes, it's a happy place over here at work.

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The only thing that annoys the hell outta me is the way Torre looks at me and I swear, he sometimes shakes his head instead of nodding, like he's disapproving and is about to trade me or kick me back to the minors.
Funny how the chinese sculptors got the 'B' on Casey Blake's bobblehead inverted. But most of the nodders look like the real life player. Weird to have Broxton and Kemp here while they're not really that great anymore (understatement intended!). But they remind me of the good times and hopefully will shorten the deep winter of offseason.
Although Kemp didn't have a great season and probably will be gone in 2011 I think it's the best sculpted one. It's very original in pose. All these guys have facial hair of some kind, except the coaches and Saito... weird!
Once you have a buch of these happy guys you go and search for more and to my surprise you can get a bobblehead of yourself made. I dont't think it's my spitting image, but he makes me laugh anyway (although he's not as funny as the real me) :)

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zondag 19 september 2010

Dutch Baseball Competition

Last saturday Neptunus won the Holland Series to become Dutch champions. A nice occasion to tell something about the Dutch Baseball competition. Yeah, we've got one!


The driving force in the early days of Dutch baseball was J.C.G. Grasé of Amsterdam. After discovering baseball while on vacation in the United States, he introduced the game in the Netherlands in 1911. An English teacher by profession, Grasé was able to translate the rules of the game into the Dutch Language. The first official games were played in 1911 and on 12 March 1912, Grasé founded the Dutch Baseball Union. Grasé was also the founder of the oldest baseball club in Europe, Quick Amsterdam (founded 1 March 1913). The first official competition was played in 1922. Quick Amsterdam became the first Dutch champion. During the early years, baseball was only played in Amsterdam, and quickly spread to Haarlem as well. After WWII, the Americans helped Europe rebuild with the Marshall Plan. They also sent baseball materials to the Netherlands including uniforms, bats, balls, etc. The post-war help of the Americans helped the Dutch earn their first European title in 1956 in Rome, Italy. Amsterdam and Haarlem dominated Dutch baseball until 1963. But in 1963, Sparta from Rotterdam became Dutch champion. From 1963 to 1974, Sparta clinched nine national titles, a record not exceeded until 1985 by the Haarlem Nicols. In 1981, Neptunus Rotterdam won the pennant for the first time since the baseball team's foundation in 1942. Neptunus began to dominate the championship during the 1990s and 2000s, winning eleven pennants in total including seven consecutively between 1999 and 2005.

Dutch 'Major League'

Baseball in The Netherlands is strictly an amateur sport. The Dutch 'Major League' has only eight teams. The regular season is 42 games long and begins in April and ends in October. Most games are played on saturdays and sundays and some on thursday evenings. The best four qualify for the play offs (best of 5). The winners go to the Holland Series (best of 5). Since 2005 there's also a promotion/degradation series to give teams from the 'Minor League' a chance in The Show. This season, 2010, the Major League consists of:

ADO, Den Haag
Almere Magpies, Almere
Amsterdam Pirates, Amsterdam
Corendon Kinheim, Haarlem
DOOR Neptunus, Rotterdam
Konica Minolta Pioniers, Hoofddorp
Mr. Cocker HCAW, Bussum
Sparta/Feyenoord, Rotterdam

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All Star Game

July 4th 2010 was the date of the first Dutch All Star Game. Took us some years to get it organised (77 years after the US played the first All Star Game). The four Southern teams (Neptunus, Sparta/Feyenoord, ADO, Pioniers) played the four Northern teams (Magpies, Pirates, Kinheim, HCAW). The Southern team was coached by the coach of a Northern team and, you guessed it, the Northern team was coached by a 'Southern' coach. South won 7-4. This result does not determine home field advantage for the Holland Series.

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Neptunus Rotterdam

Neptunus or 'Neptune' (hence the trident logo) is one of the teams in my hometown Rotterdam. The other, Sparta/Feyenoord, plays in 'Rotterdam South' below the river Maas. Neptunus is the better team. Best team in Rotterdam and arguably the best team of The Netherlands (won Holland Series in 1981, 1991, 1993, 1995, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2009 & 2010) and even Europe (won EC for champions in 1994, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 & 2004). When I go to baseball, I go to Neptunus. Their stadium is the biggest in the country and has... 2500 seats. ;)

donderdag 16 september 2010

Zach Lee: Rookie of the Year

I just got me a Zach Lee baseball Card. Just for the hell of it. How cool would it be if he'd become a rookie of the year? I love the buzz around the draft. And Zach's buzz was big! It was a brave gamble the Dodgers took with picking him. No one thought he would actually sign. But then... He did! And then I starter to think about the rookie of the year thing.
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The Dodgers organization has always had a nose for young talent. They delivered the first every rookie of the year in 1947, Jackie Robinson. Talk about your rookie of the century! And after that first one they did it another 15 times (!) a record! The Yankees only had 8 RoY's. On the other hand I think the Dodgers would happily trade some rookies for a few more world series titles.
Are RoY's and good in the long run? The title isn't a guarantee for a Hall of Famer. Some numbers:
Of the 16 Dodgers RoY's 8 of them have won a World Series (with the Dodgers or another team). Twelve of them have been part of an All Star selection, 6 of them four times or more (with an astonishing 12 times for Piazza).
Anyway, Colletti has plans to clean up the roster, I hope he means that in a good way. I think it's not bad if the organization takes a year or so to build on young guns, as long as we, the fans, see they're working on something. We don't NEED to win the World Series next year, but in the near future would be nice. And hopefully Lee can become that Rookie and notch a World Series MVP title to his career highlights. So, as always: Go Blue!

maandag 13 september 2010

Scout's honor!

When you travel to Curacao for a vacation you're bound to encounter baseball related stuff. As I wrote a few weeks back, a bunch of good players in the Show come from this small island with no more than 150.000 inhabitants. So I wasn't surprised to see a big banner in our hotel welcoming Sandy Alston to the island. Didn't know the guy, but it was clear he was someone of importance within the MLB. I checked him out and he turned out to be... He was on Curacao for a clinic.
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One of my days there, I decided I would wear my Dodgers cap to breakfast. When I entered the breakfast room five guys were around a table. Broad shouldered men and they wore... Baseball jerseys. One of them wore a Red Sox one, another a Rockies one. There was a Padres guy and two fellas wore Dodgers jerseys. one of them noticed my cap and smiled. We shook hands and exchanged knowing looks. 'There's always next year', I said. He smiled and nodded his head. 'Not gonna happen for you as well', I said to the Red Sox wearing guy. The Padres guy asked me who would win the NL West, Giants or Padres. I told him I didn't like either team, but I tought the Padres would win it. That satisfied him. I wished them well.
The next day the two Dodgers guys were sitting outside and one of them called me. He said he'd seen me at the stadium. Or that's what I think he meant. I had been so sure the day before they all spoke english. But these men didn't. Yeah, a few words, but mostly spanish. And my spanish is non existing. So we talked a bit. Hands and feet. They were from the Dominican Republic. One of them was an infield coach, the other a scout. The latter one told me he signed Troncoso, a few years back.
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So many questions popped up in my head. What did they think of the McCourts? Should Torre stay on? What about the lineup? Starting pitchers? But the language barrier was too big. We threw names at each other. I did my 'Dutch players in the MLB' bit and the scout tried to come up with a few as well. I told him I like Manny. He smiled, he should, Manny's from his home country.
After fifteen minutes we were empty. I'd have to follow a course in spanish before this conversation could continue. I said goodbye and told them to hunt down some prospects.
Half an hour before I had to take the shuttle to the airport for my flight back home, the scout came walking up to me. He said something which I understood as 'I was looking for you, take this'.
The Dodgers organization may be rotten, or maybe not. Could be it's just McCourt. Who can tell? This Dominican scout however, whom I'd never met and only partialy understood, gave me a present. I was stunned. I decided last week to get rid of my belly and get my muscles a bit more toned, so I joined a gym. I now can work out in my very own Dodgers shorts! To quote the scout when I thanked him for the gift: 'viva los Doyers!'

vrijdag 27 augustus 2010

Dutch baseball players in the MLB?

On Wednesday a Dutch newspaper had a two page story about Dutch baseball players who are playing well in the MLB. You all know them, but did you realise they were Dutch?
As a Dodger fan I should start with Kenley Jansen, born on Curacao, which is part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. He started out as a catcher but since his hitting isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be but his throws are very hard he was transformed into a pitcher. Last night he pitched 2 innings, struck out 4.
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Another revelation (or so the Dutch newspaper claims) is Roger Bernardina, outfielder for the Washington Nationals. He was born on Curacao and raised in The Hague. He has a .267 average this year and is known for his diving catches.
The third ‘Dutchman’ who was born on Curacao you all know. He was disappointing as a Dodger but great as a Brave. A 5 time all star and a 10 time Golden Glove winner: Andruw Jones. What can you tell about this guy we don’t know? Maybe that he’s adored on Curacao? Or that he doesn’t speak Dutch? You all know what he can do with a bat.
Jair Jurrjens, also from Curacao (Yep, they love their beisbòl overthere!), Atlanta Braves starting pitcher, won 14 lost 10 last season with 152 strikeouts.
Oh yes, there is one actually born on the Netherlands mainland: Rick vanden Hurk, starting pitcher for the Marlins until he moved to Baltimore last month. I guess we won’t see him in the postseason…
These Dutch guys are in the Show now, but they aren’t the first batch. Before them there were some who did okay e.g. Robert Eenhoorn, Yankees and one who did awesome. His name: Bert Blyleven.
Blyleven was born in Zeist and debuted for the Minnesota Twins in 1970 as a pitcher. He was an All Star twice and won the world series in 1979 and 1987. He pitched a no hitter in 1977. Since 1996 he’s a commentator for the Twins. I’m pretty sure we’ll hear from him this postseason.
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woensdag 25 augustus 2010

The Bulldog

Yes, I agree, Gibby’s homer in the first game of the 1988 World Series was THE moment of the series. But how did the Dodgers get there? Hitting, sure, but also great pitching by Orel, Tim & Tim. Together they accounted for 62 wins! Compare that to last seasons, 1 better, 95 win season where the four starting pitchers only won 39. It was Hershiser who made a big impression in me in ’88 and at that time I didn’t know anything about his background.
In 1990 I visited the US for the second time. After the East Coast we travelled to Louisiana and between New Orleans and Tupelo we stopped at a gas station that seemed to come straight from 'Deliverance'. They had a shop with some snacks and a few books. Much to my surprise they had a book with a blue, white cover, a picture of a pitcher with an LA cap. It had the title 'Out of the Blue' in white Dodger-type letters and the name ‘Orel Hershiser’ in gold embossed lettering. The reading of this book would turn out to be the final push that put me in the Dodgers corner forever.
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I read it while we were on the road and I loved taking a peek into Orel's private life. At that age (19) I hadn't read any biographies and since then I've read a bunch. I liked most, so maybe it's the type of book that made an impression as well as Hershiser's story, making it double fun to read. One of the most fascinating facts I learned was that Orel is a christian and incorporated this in family life and his pitching. Being an atheist myself I often feel a certain reluctance when people begin about their religion. But Hershiser didn’t preach. He described it in a very loving way that made him endearing and strong at the same time. It was also a great way to relive the 1988 season and how he felt during the 59 scoreless innings. I wanted to send the book to Dodger Stadium for Hershiser to sign it, but I never came around to it and one day he was gone.
It pained me to see him leave LA, but that's how things go. But as with all good Dodger players who leave the organization I kept on following his career. He had three very strong seasons with the Indians before he moved to the Giants (a shock then and now).
In 2007 I visited Chicago and got myself tickets for the Cubs-Dodgers series at Wrigley Field. I met Natalie Uyeno and Charlie Firestone. ESPN had it's wednesday night baseball broadcast from Wrigley that night and one of the commentators was no other than Orel. After the game we tried to reach the commentary boxes. Against the flow of leaving spectators we almost reached them until an usher let us know we had to go downstairs. We turned, disappointed and Charles who was looking up said "He just went by". So, we ran up the stairs, no usher in sight and yes, it was him: The Bulldog! Natalie asked him if he had a moment, he did, he signed a 1988 World Series ball for her, I took their picture. Then hesigned my Dodgers Jersey, posed for a pic and was gone. Yes, I look a bit bewildered on the photo, but man, how cool was this? Meeting The Bulldog? Fantastic!
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woensdag 18 augustus 2010

How my interest in baseball and the Dodgers started

I get a lot of questions about my 'blue bloodedness'. Why is a Dutch guy interested in baseball? And of all the teams in the world is he a Dodgers fan?
It's not completely clear to me when I started to get interested in baseball. I knew the game from movies but did not understand it because in The Netherlands the national sport is football. We do not have the luxury of having Baseball AND American Football AND Basketball AND Hockey on a professional level. What attracted me instantly was the grass, the diamond, the white ball with red stitching as if the game came from another planet. I remember an article in a Dutch newspaper in which the Dodgers were mentioned. I tried to trace it back and I believe it must have been an article about the Dodgers winning the 1981 World Series. I believe there was a picture of Valenzuela as well. It's all a bit blurry. I was only ten but the name Dodgers stuck. It had a nice ring to it, still has.
Now that my interest in baseball was awakened there was this guy that made me a cap wearer. It was the only guy who made wearing a moustache look good: Tom Selleck. I loved Magnum p.i. The Hawaiian setting, the quirkiness of Thomas Magnum and... his cap! I had to have me one of those! It looked cool and I tried to find a shop that sold the things. But no, The Netherlands in the beginning of the '80 did not stock baseball caps. I wanted a fitted cap, not that I knew they were called that. It had to be a Tigers cap (yes, because of Magnum!). But the only ones I could find were these mesh, or trucker, caps. Well, they had to do. I bought a dark blue one and started to wear it to school. In those days no one wore them so it turned some heads and I had to take the cap off in class. Eversince 1984 I've been wearing caps, last twenty years mostly Dodgers ones.
I tried to follow baseball through the newspapers, but they only printed scores (actually, there was only one Dutch newspaper that did it). But around the play-offs short articles would appear. In the autumn of 1988 they did it again! And a rather big article told us about the blue heroics in the World Series.

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In 1989 I first visited the US and LA but somehow I only got me an Angels cap. Don't ask me how that happened! I
n 1990 I visited the US again. This time, the East Coast. Being in America I struck asap and got me a Dodgers cap and Dodgers Jersey. It was the time before the nice Majestic and New Era products, so I probably got some cheap knock offs, but they looked the part and that was good enough for me at the time. After the East Coast we travelled to Louisiana and between New Orleans and Tupelo we stopped for gas at a gasstation straight from 'Deliverance'. They had a shop with some snacks and some books. Much to my surprise they had a book with a blue, white cover, a picture of a pitcher with an LA cap an the title 'Out of the Blue'. This was the final push that would put me in the Dodgers corner forever.
It was only in 2003 I first laid eyes on Dodger Stadium. My first visit to LA was in 1989 and somehow I never came close to the stadium, maybe because my dad was in control of the trip. And to be honest my little brother and I were under the spell of Disney and Universal and the whole Hollywood sh'bang. First time in the USA, you tend to forget stuff. So it was in 2003 my girlfriend and I visited Dodger Stadium, had a Dodger Dog and enjoyed the game. It wasn't a great game (against the Pirates) and I even think it rained a little, but I was there. The place where many great games were played. I really hope to visit Dodger Stadium again in the near future.