What It Means to be a Dodger Fan
Twenty-nine years ago, Orel Hershiser of the Los Angeles Dodgers threw a fastball to Tony Phillips of the Oakland A’s at the bottom of the ninth inning, giving Phillips a full count. Hershiser threw another one over the plate as Phillips swung and missed and the Dodgers rushed the mound to congratulate each other on their victory. The boys in blue had just won the 1988 World Series. This would be their last appearance at the final round of the MLB postseason until 2017. For some fans, this was the first time they saw the Dodgers make it that far.
Maddie Hope, a political science major at Cal State San Bernardino, is one of those fans. She said that it meant everything to her for the Dodgers to be in the World Series. Still in disbelief, she stated, “It was a shock. It almost felt like it wasn't real since every single year you're like, 'Okay, this is the year. This is the year. This is the year.” Hope is referring to the ups and downs throughout the seasons. Every year since 2013, the Dodgers made it to the postseason, but were always beaten out by another team.
Hope grew up watching baseball with her dad. She said he taught her everything she knows about the sport. The bond she has with her dad has allowed her to form a deep connection with the Dodgers, stating, “I would never not be a Dodger fan because they lost. It's just something that I hold very dear to my heart.” This summer, Hope permanently marked herself with the team's LA logo while attending their spring training in Arizona. Looking back on it, she had no clue where the Dodgers would be in the months ahead, but she was ecstatic to get her tattoo the same year the team made it to the World Series.
Julian Castaneda, a business management major at Cal Poly Pomona, also shares a Dodgers bond with a family member. Castaneda said he had been a fan of baseball since he began playing at age 8, but became a fan of the team when he was 11 years old after his uncle took him to his first MLB game at the Dodger stadium. He described the experience stating, “It was a nice experience. I've never been to a baseball game before, so you know, it was actually nice being there. It was a lot different than playing little league baseball, it was better.” What really sealed the deal for him, Castaneda said, was the energy of the crowd. “I went to opening day, so the crowd was rowdy. It was the first game of the season, so the vibe was a little more amped up,” he said.
From that day on, the love for the team that Castaneda's uncle passed on to him was what made his connection to the Dodgers personal and permanent. Castaneda said he had an emotional attachment to the team and even feels like he knows the players from all the time he has spent watching them on the field. As for them making it to the World Series, Castaneda is still proud of his friends in blue, win or lose.
Jacob Salazar from Riverside Community College had a different upbringing into baseball. Unlike Hope and Castaneda, he was a Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim fan in his early years before taking the side of their hometown rivals. Salazar became a Dodger fan after going to a game at their stadium. He described what won him over stating, “The atmosphere was so much more exciting and everyone was so much more engaged in the game than at the Angels stadium. It was at that point that I was a Dodgers fan.”
Salazar's commitment to the team is what he says makes the game more exciting. He described the Dodgers making the World Series as "history" because he had not seen them make it in his lifetime. He added that he is also glad the Dodgers are giving California a good name.
Hope, Castaneda and Salazar are all examples of devoted fans who hold the Los Angeles Dodgers close to their hearts. Despite the team's loss, their commitment cannot be swayed. For them baseball is more than just a game, the memory of October 2017 will forever be a reminder of when they witnessed the Dodgers play in the World Series for the very first time in their lives.