I sometimes can’t believe I currently live a few minutes drive from Dodger Stadium. Growing up in New England, Los Angeles seemed like such an exotic and far away place. And the Dodgers were a glamorous and star studded team. They were a lot like the Yankees because they seemed to have an All Star at every position.
Maybe it was appropriate that they played the Yankees in the first few World Series I was ever aware of.
One of the reasons they seemed so exotic to me was I did not get a chance to see them play often. Remember in the days before cable, ESPN or the internet, you basically saw your own local team and maybe the game of the week.
In the suburbs of Boston, the NBC Game of the Week tended to be an American League game that had some connection to the Red Sox pennant race. So there were not a lot of chances to see the players for LA unless it was the All Star Game or the postseason.
Even at the age of 6 or 7, I was aware of who Tommy Lasorda was. He was on TV, he was in the news and eventually he was the Dugout Wizard on The Baseball Bunch.
As I was learning baseball players in the summer of 1978, mainly through Topps cards and my Kellogg’s 3-D Super Star Cards, I kept seeing more and more Dodgers piling up. Reggie Smith was there. So was Steve Garvey, Tommy John, Davey Lopes, Ron Cey, Don Sutton and Burt Hooton.
They had a galaxy of stars. But they were less tangible to me than say the Yankees because at least during the summer, when my family visited my grandparents in Connecticut, I would see the Yankees with Reggie, Guidry, Munson and Nettles on the TV.
This is the team picture of the 1977 NL Champs. The series was a 1978 series, yet another year they won the NL Title. Tom Lasorda won the pennant in his two full seasons managing the club. The two teams were nearly identical, with the exception of Bill North taking over centerfield and the emergence of rookie pitcher Bob Welch.
The results were similar as well. Both years they beat the Phillies in the NLCS in 4. Both years they lost the World Series to the Yankees in 6.
It would be a decade before my family moved to Northern California and in 1991, I finally saw my first game at Dodger Stadium.
Lasorda was still the manager. They still had an exotic and glamorous feel to them. First impressions are tough to shake.