Each day filled with an appreciation for days gone by eventually had the Dodgers cherishing today’s and peering excitedly right into a future that gets more promising with every game. Call it a win, win, win.
History lessons abounded, however, not the dry, academic kind. These, by all accounts, were gripping and profoundly meaningful tales.
Saturday morning was spent touring the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum while hearing the captivating narration of museum president and master storyteller Bob Kendrick.
From the exploits of Satchel Paige and Cool Papa Bell to the Negro League debuts of future major league Hall of Famers Hank Aaron, Roy Campanella and Willie Mays, to the shocking segregation and second-class treatment of the teams and their fans from 1920 to 1960, Kendrick emphasized that the story of the Negro Leagues isnt about adversity. It really is in what they did to overcome that adversity.
Clayton Kershaw was among in regards to a dozen Dodgers players who took the tour alongside manager Dave Roberts, coaches, media members and a large number of fans wearing Dodgers gear who arrived since they could rub elbows making use of their heroes but soon became engrossed by Kendrick’s narrative.
Most of the history of the Negro Leagues isnt discussed, that i think is sad, but it also helps it be awesome that [the museum] is here now, Kershaw said. I was grateful I got eventually to learn lots of that history because I didnt know almost no of it.
Evening rolled around with nods to the 75th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the colour barrier and the late Negro Leagues legend Buck ONeils Hall of Fame induction. The Dodgers wore 1955 Brooklyn uniforms and the Royals donned the 1945 uniforms of the Negro League power Kansas City Monarchs, whom Robinson played for prior to the Dodgers signed him.
Oh, a game began, and that had a historical aspect aswell. The Dodgers smothered the Royals early and coasted to a 13-3 win, their 12th in a row, three shy of the franchise record of 15 occur 1924 once the team was called the Brooklyn Robins.
Mookie Betts led off the initial inning along with his 26th home run and the Dodgers scored five runs before an out was recorded. They tacked on two in the next on Will Smiths home run, another in the 3rd on Gavin Luxs home run and two more in the fourth on Max Muncys home run.
The season-high crowd of 29,689 at Kauffman Stadium had hardly settled to their seats and the Royals were already, well, history.
The onslaught continued in the ninth when Joey Gallo and Cody Bellinger hit back-to-back blasts off position player Nicky Lopez, giving the Dodgers six in the overall game. Muncy had four of the Dodgers 16 hits, Betts had three and Smith and Lux each had two.
The Dodgers have scored eight or even more runs in eight of the 12 consecutive wins. Is this the very best the offense has performed in recent memory?
“So far as how exactly we are winning games, from the get-to, sustaining leads, the lineup one through nine, that is as effective as I’ve seen,” Roberts said.
The Dodgers received a scare when injury-prone starter Andrew Heaney was drilled in the left biceps by Bobby Witt Jr.s line drive with one out in the 3rd inning. Heaney struck out another two batters but was replaced by Caleb Ferguson to begin with the fourth after being identified as having a contusion.
“There wasnt much reason to help keep him on the market,” Roberts said. “He was fighting in which to stay, that is a positive thing. I expect him to create his next start.”
Tyler Anderson (13-1) begins Sunday in the series finale and the Dodgers fully be prepared to extend the win streak to 13, that your team accomplished in 1962 and 1965.
The 15 consecutive wins in 1924 offered another tantalizing peek in to the past. The final 10 victories were played in six days to pay for postponed games. Two future Hall of Famers played major roles: Dazzy Vance pitched two complete games and Zach Wheat batted .406 through the streak.
The Dodgers are within striking distance of this franchise record but certainly are a good way from the MLB-record 26 wins in a row by the brand new York Giants in 1916 as well as the 22 in a row won by Cleveland in 2017.
Pulling the lens back again to view the complete season does nothing to decrease the Dodgers’ accomplishments. Their 79-33 record puts them on pace to complete 114-48, an absolute percentage of .704. The record for victories in a season is 116, held by the 1906 Chicago Cubs and 2001 Seattle Mariners.
Since MLB visited a 162-game schedule in 1962, only three teams have finished with an absolute percentage over .700: These Mariners (.716), the 1998 NY Yankees (114-48; .704) and the 2020 Dodgers, who have been 43-17 for a .717 winning percentage in the pandemic-shortened season that ended making use of their World Series championship.
Due to inconsistent record-keeping, it’s unclear just how many if any Negro League teams won at a comparable clip. For the Dodgers, however, numbers took a backseat to uplifting anecdotes and accomplishments relayed by Kendrick through the museum tour.
“These players knew full well these were talented enough to play in the major leagues, however they werent allowed,” Kendrick told the Dodgers contingent. “By enough time you bear witness to everything that they had to endure, you’ll understand.”
For Kirsten Watson, a Black Dodgers’ SportsNet LA reporter and studio host, the museum visit confirmed a tale passed on in her family, that her great-great-grandfather Frank Miller played on the initial all-Black professional baseball team. There it had been, a team photo of the Cuban Giants from 1885, and there is Miller, his name stitched across his jersey. Watson yelped in delight and got a high-five from Roberts.
A description close to the photo clarified that the word “Cuban” was designed to fool whites into believing these were Latin American players, reducing the probability of the team being persecuted. The team was formed in Philadelphia and hired to play as summer entertainment for guests at the Argyle Hotel in Long Island.
For Dodgers reliever Alex Vesia, the knowledge was enthralling. “The best players growing up were David Price, CC Sabathia, guys which have impacted my entire life significantly. To understand about these Black players they looked around, thats vital that you me.”
For Price, a veteran Black pitcher who first visited the museum while playing for Team USA in 2005 and contains returned often since, it had been gratifying to witness teammates try heart the travails Black players endured not way back when.
“Thats why we go and just why we keep coming back, to expand our minds and find out about days gone by of what the Negro League guys experienced,” he said.
And for Roberts, a brief history major at UCLA who’s of Black and Japanese descent and the initial minority to control the Dodgers, most impressive was “the spirit of the Negro Leagues.”
“In speaking with Buck O’Neil and Hank Aaron, it’s clear there wasnt animosity,” Roberts said. “Once you think about segregation, you imagine of anger and animosity, and these players endured that turmoil, the racism, the segregation, however they didnt allow it deter their joy of performing the overall game they love.”
The favorite Field of Dreams game in Iowa won’t happen next season as the stadium will undoubtedly be under construction. There’s talk of replacing it with a nod to the Negro Leagues, perhaps a casino game held in Birmingham or Mobile, Ala. Roberts is all for this.
“We cant push this game forward and sustain it with real substance if we cant appreciate the annals of the overall game,” he said. “Discussing the Field of Dreams, the Negro Leagues and discussing Jackie Robinson and Buck O’Neil, it is important that we continue steadily to do this.”
This story originally appeared in LA Times.