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|| SportsShooter.com: News Item: Posted 2008-04-01

Farewell, Yet Again...
Brooklyn native Andrew Kaufman pays tribute to Dodgertown.

By Andrew Kaufman

Photo by Andrew Kaufman

Photo by Andrew Kaufman

Manny Mota rides his trike around Dodgertown.
I sometimes wonder to myself if they had torn down the Roman Coliseum would Rome still be such a tourist hot spot? The very center of the Roman Empire and modern civilization!! How could they tear it down? Where would all the history go? Vaporize? It seems as though I have a growing collection of photography of sports stadiums that no longer exist or are used by the teams other then the ones that made them famous. Chicago Stadium, The Orange Bowl, Bobby Maduro Baseball stadium in Miami and now Dodgertown. What is making the famous venues obsolete?

Originally being from Brooklyn my father wore my ear off talking about Ebbets Field and the Brooklyn Dodgers. How he would sometimes be able to sneak in with his friends or would be lucky enough to have enough milk tops to get a seat in the bleachers. I think five was the magic number. Peewee Reese this, Duke Snyder that, ugh! All I wanted to hear about was Reggie Jackson, Thurman Munson, Bucky Dent and the NY Yankees.

My happiest memories of baseball are from the '77 World Series when Reggie was the MVP. My mom unloaded on my father and I because we were screaming and jumping too much when Reggie hit all those home runs. Who could blame us. It was bittersweet for my father though as they beat the Dodgers two years in a row.

In 1948 the Brooklyn Dodgers made the trek south to what is often known as NYC's sixth borough South Florida. Since 1948 all the Dodger greats have been going to Vero Beach, Florida. Now it's 2008 and the Los Angeles Dodgers as they are known now fly east to spring training. The Dodgers organization want to be in Arizona and part of the Cactus league. So on Monday March 17th, 2008 I made my way to cover the last spring training game at Dodgertown.

I got there early picked up my credential and started making pictures of everything. I figured this was it. This will be the last day that Manny Mota rides his trike around or that Tommy Lasorda makes the walk from right field. He was covering for Joe Torre who was in Asia with half of the squad. Even though I am not a Dodgers fan it all seemed so sad. I heard stories that day of kids that literally grew up in front of Lasorda's eyes. Kids that are now adults with children that are even too big to bounce on Tommy's knee.

The crowd was thick that day with fans lined up all over the place trying to get autographs on everything from jerseys, hats, baseballs and even a Dodgers lunch box. After that I watched as the grounds crew chalked the right and left foul lines. It would be the last time you could get a Dodgerdog in Florida.

Photo by Andrew Kaufman

Photo by Andrew Kaufman

The players formed two lines and raised their bats for Tommy Lasorda to walk through after the last game at Dodgertown.
Word was that the great Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher Carl Erskine was going to play the national anthem on his harmonica for the final game. When Lasorda walked onto the field there was a standing ovation for him from all the fans. He tipped his hat to them. The stadium was packed. It was a little odd though as most of the Dodgers hats weren't Dodger blue that day because it was St. Patrick's Day most were wearing a green Dodgers hat. It was a great game with a lot of scoring unfortunately though the Dodgers lost by a single run in the ninth.

Once the game was over there was one last tribute to Tommy Lasorda. The players formed two lines and raised their bats for Tommy to walk through. As he walked under the bats you could hear Tommy say under his breath how nice it was and that if the players didn't "stop" he would "cry".

I worked with a 6x6 camera and some color neg. film. because I wanted some permanence to the photographs. It just seems when I am trying to preserve moments in history film is the way to go.

I just shudder to think about how this will be the last year for both Shea and Yankee Stadiums.

Nothing is forever except being a Yankees fan,

Peace and Maholo,

Andrew Kaufman


(Andrew Kaufman is a freelance photographer based in South Florida. You can see his work at his Sports Shooter member page: http://www.sportsshooter.com/andrewkaufman and his personal website: http://www.andrewkaufman.net.)

Related Links:
Andrew's member page

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