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Welcome to Dodger Stadium
Posted April 17, 2009

It was an amazing feeling walking through the Dodgers’ clubhouse tunnel and seeing all of the retired jerseys from past Dodger greats like Jackie Robinson, Sandy Koufax and Roy Campanella.

The excitement mounted as I knew our walk was drawing nearer and nearer to the field itself. It was hard to comprehend that in mere moments I would be touching the grass at Dodger Stadium, waiting to interview players and coaches from the team that I have loved for as long as I can remember.

The door swung open and each step that I climbed the field became more and more clear until finally I was standing on the grass along the third base line.

Another student journalist and I bent down to touch the grass, trying to excite our senses. I took a 360 degree view of the entire stadium; not one person was sitting in their seat waiting for the game.

Here I was standing on the field at Dodger Stadium.

It was college media night at Dodger Stadium and 20 other journalists and I were granted interview access to the team that is usually reserved for the regular media corps.

We anxiously waited for our first interviewee, Clayton Kershaw. The 21-year-old pitcher, whose expectations are sky high as a promising young arm in the rotation, appeared from the clubhouse and walked outside the dugout where we were waiting like sharks. He was our age, if not younger, and expected to be an important contributor on a major league baseball team.

I was not the first one who asked a question, but my excitement took over and I was unable to yield to the other reporters any longer.

“What was your spring training experience like Clayton?”

This was the first question I have ever asked as a journalist to a professional athlete.

After giving me an answer that explained how great the experience was and how much he had learned during his time there, I realized that I wanted to ask different kinds of questions as a sports journalist, not the cliché ones we hear all the time. I wanted to get specific answers to questions that relate to the detailed aspects of the game.

“What specifically do you need to do as a pitcher to establish yourself in this league?” Throwing strikes, reducing the number of high pitch count innings and being able to establish all his pitches early was his response in a nutshell.

Kershaw was a down-to-earth, genuine guy who, as we found out, misses his dogs in Texas more than anything, loves In-N-Out Burger and was forced to wear women’s clothes as part of a rookie hazing when he was called up from the minors.

As we waited for our next interviewee, I leaned on the railing of the Dodger dugout watching the 2009 squad stretching, running and warming up before batting practice: Manny Ramirez fixing his dreadlocks, Matt Kemp rapping along with the music and James Loney and Russell Martin joking around with eachother.

Then from the bottom step of the dugout our next subject took his traditional seat on the top step of the dugout waiting to take questions from the media. I walked down the steps into the Dodgers dugout and took my seat next to the future Hall of Fame manager, Joe Torre. After I introduced myself and my affiliation with the University I sat to Torre’s immediate right on on the top step of the dugout.

It was a surreal moment, sitting next to the manager who won four World Series championships with the New York Yankees.

Questions were being fired by every journalist, ranging from decisions involving the 40-man roster to the length of Manny’s hair. I stepped in to ask Torre a question regarding my favorite player, Russell Martin.

“What impact will Brad Ausmus have on Russell Martin?” Torre answered my question at length along with everybody else’s. He was at our disposal for a seemingly long 25 minutes.

Our final interview of the day was veteran back-up catcher Brad Ausmus. This is Ausmus’ first year as a Dodger, but he has been in the league for 16 years.

My last question to Ausmus was not answered as I hoped it was going to be.

“What types of things do you and Martin talk about before and after games, in between innings and in the bullpen?” Ausmus, being the savvy veteran he is, answered, “Nothing I can tell you.”

It was a fitting response to end the day. It made the line clear that I was the writer and they were the players trying to keep every advantage to themselves and not having it show up in print the next day.

Batting practice ended and we were then able to watch the game from the suite given to us by the Dodgers. For the first time in my life the actual baseball game became the secondary story.

Being able to have that much access to a major league baseball team was incredible, and for it to be the Los Angeles Dodgers was icing on the cake. I will never forget the experience and hope someday my job will allow me to touch that green patch of grass everyday.

Kevin Garrity, a junior journalism major, is sports editor of the Campus Times. He can be reached by e-mail at kevin.garrity@laverne.edu.