Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Well... This is a Problem... Puig is a Problem... Say it Ain't So... Crap!

Oh, Boy!  I'm hoping that this is all hyperbole.

Via Jeff Passan ay Yahoo Sports, "Book: Disdain for Yasiel Puig by Dodgers teammates no longer a secret," he recounts several transgressions of the enigmatic Yasiel Puig, and it ain't pretty.  In fact, it's horrible... And disheartening... And makes me want to take back anything I've written that defends him.

Based mostly on Molly Knight's upcoming book "The Best Team Money Can Buy," Passan passes along several stories that should have Dodger fans worried. 
While some issues, like his habitual tardiness for games, have abated this year, according to sources, Puig's work ethic in batting practice and the weight room continue to bother some teammates. Much of the hostility stems from a general sense of entitlement shown by the 24-year-old. During spring training this year, as Knight writes and multiple sources confirmed to Yahoo Sports, Puig argued with teammates over who should be allowed on a plane ride that typically includes wives and girlfriends. The subject of someone from Puig's entourage joining the traveling crew came up, and sources told Yahoo Sports that Puig argued with pitcher Zack Greinke and nearly came to blows with infielder Justin Turner over the matter.

Greinke, the National League ERA leader and one of the game's best pitchers, was at the center of another memorable Puig moment related in Knight's book. In 2014, during the Dodgers' annual trip to Chicago, the team bus stopped downtown to allow rookies undergoing hazing to walk into a pizza place and emerge with food for the veterans. Some Dodgers players, not wanting to wait, skipped off the bus. When the bus was ready to leave, Puig was outside, looking for his luggage inside of the bay underneath the bus. After Puig ignored multiple requests to close the luggage bay, Greinke hopped off the bus, grabbed the suitcase in front of Puig and chucked it onto Michigan Avenue. Puig stepped toward Greinke and was restrained by reliever J.P. Howell.
You gotta check out the rest of it.  There are a couple more interesting anecdotes and stories that'll make you squirm.

On a side note, now I'm wondering if there are any juicy tidbits about the "owner who shall not be named" in her book.  There's gotta be some great dirt on that wonderful family.

BTW, Knight's book comes out on July 14th.  The photo at the very top via Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers 2015.

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2015 Leaf Heroes of Baseball - All the Dodger Cards

For whatever reason, I had totally forgotten that Leaf Trading Cards existed.  They're a second tier trading card company that, of late, rarely puts together a set notable enough to pay attention to.  In fact, I cannot honestly say that they've created anything worthy of a Dodger collectors attention this season.  Nevertheless, since I'm a bit of a completist and I want to share all, if not most, new Dodger cards made today then I've got to include this set. 

Featured here are the Dodger cards found in their 2015 Leaf Heroes of Baseball set.  Go here for a complete checklist.  As you can see, there are no team logos.

A complete set consist of only 60 cards and they are sold in only blaster form at local retail stores.  Of special note, each blaster box of 20 packs includes a Stan Musial autographed card.  Yes... You heard that right.  A real Stan Musial autographed card is included in every box.  You might normally think that this is an awesome deal, but it really isn't.  All of the signatures come from the twilight of his life, and they all exhibit extremely poor penmanship as a result.  A signature that is noted for being ornate and beautiful looks more like an illegible scribble on these cards.  Still, it's Musial, so many collectors might not mind.  Check out a sample here.

#15 Don Sutton                                  #37 Mike Piazza

#54 Tommy Lasorda

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A George Sosnak Painted Baseball of Orel Hershiser/1988 Dodgers at Hunt Auctions

George Sosnak is the king of the "painted ball" as an artistic medium, so whenever an example pops up featuring a Dodger player I have to share it.  Available at Hunt's current MLB All-Star FanFest auction is a grouping of original Sosnak Baseballs from his estate, and featured above is an unfinished 1988 LA Dodgers World Series ball showcasing Orel Hershiser on a panel.  Check out the auction here.

Per the auction description:
Hand painted baseball decorated across two panels with "1988 World Series Champions" decor on one side and MVP Orel Hershiser on the other panel. The adjacent side panels has been signed by Hershiser in blue ink rating 8 out of 10. Other side panel has faded signature of Tracy Woodson.
I do not know why Tracy Woodson's signature is on the ball.  He didn't record a hit in four at-bats during the Fall Classic, but he was an instrumental piece of the vaunted "Stuntmen" bench corps that helped drive the club to a championship that season.

Of special note, numerous unfinished examples of Sosnak's work have recently made it onto the market.  When he died in 1992 a large cache of Baseballs that he never got around to completing were found.  The ball above is one of those balls obtained directly by a Sosnak family representative and offered here for the first time.

From a previous post of mine
George Sosnak was one of the earliest recognized artisans to use a Baseball as his medium.  In 1956, during his time as an umpire in Pioneer League, he fulfilled a fan request for a painted Baseball.  Soon, his work became legendary, and everybody under the sun requested his work.  Notably, he rarely turned down a request, and often gave the balls away as personal gifts.  Sure, he got paid from time to time, but that wasn't his motivation.  He needed an outlet, and painting on Baseball's became it.

His work can be found at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, the American Folk Art Museum in New York City and the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library (it includes a ball commemorating JFK’s Opening Day pitch at a 1962 Senators game).

All said, he has painted at least 800 Baseballs; while other estimates put the number as high as 3,000.  Dave Bailey wrote a great article about George Sosnak at Sports Collectors Digest that is worth a read.  Check that out here.

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Blog Kiosk: 6/30/2015 - Dodger Links - Some Odds and Ends

Dodger Nation sure did show up in Arizona last night.  Unfortunately, not all of the Dodgers did.

The bullpen was dismal, Mattingly had a bad feeling in the pit of his stomach and Mike Bolsinger likely puked in the clubhouse.  Via Barry Bloom at MLB.com:
"It's not a good feeling. This is probably about the worst I've felt after a game all year," Mattingly said. "It was disappointing that we got a lead and we didn't hold on to it."

Imagine how Bolsinger felt. Mattingly knew as the game began that the right-hander was experiencing queasiness and cramps, the cramps reaching a crescendo as he worked through a three-up, three-down fourth inning.

Mattingly said he thought about sending Bolsinger out there again in the fifth, but he opted instead to pinch-hit Alex Guerrero with runners on the corners and two out in the top of that inning. Guerrero struck out. Bolsinger was replaced by Joel Peralta and thus began the cavalcade.

"It was tough, I feel bad, taxing the bullpen like that the first day of the series," Bolsinger said afterward. "You never want to do that. The bullpen has been so good all year. Not only tonight, but I feel like in past outings I've taxed the bullpen. I've got to figure out a way to go deeper into games. I know I can do it." 
The phot above via @Dodgers on twitter.  Below are some links to check out:
  • Via Mark Saxon at ESPN, "Dodgers' bullpen has been stealthily excellent."  Regardless of last night's result I still like the 'pen.
Diversity seems to have been part of the formula. They have hard throwers in Jansen, Pedro Baez and Adam Liberatore and finesse pitchers in Joel Peralta and J.P. Howell. They have also kept the group in constant flux, bringing fresh arms from Triple-A whenever there is an opportunity to make a roster move.
The Dodgers reportedly signed Abdullah to a bonus of $647,500, of which $547,500 counts against the Dodgers bonus pool since Adbullah was picked outside of the first 10 rounds.

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Monday, June 29, 2015

Blog Kiosk: 6/29/2015 - Dodger Links - Puig, Kershaw and a Lasorda Asteroid


Photo above via Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers 2015Go here to check out more pics from Jon in Miami.  Below are some links to check out:
"It's really almost up to him," Mattingly said. "Is he going to make adjustments to pitching and how they are pitching him? Is he a guy who just goes up there reacting, or does he actually have a game plan?

"Usually, the guys who have a game plan are the ones who can change over time. If you are just reacting, then the way you are the first time we see you is probably what you are your whole career."
There isn’t a mechanical flaw or a decrease in talent for Kershaw. It’s been a combination of bad luck and not being as crisp as he typically is. Although his GB/FB rate is up to 1.98 from 2014’s 1.77, and his FB% is down to 25.6% from last year’s 29.2%, his HR/FB rate has jumped from 6.6% to 17.2%.
This year’s success comes from being in “a great situation” where his game fits better than it would have in the Dodgers’ lineup, Gordon said.

“I appreciate every opportunity they gave me,” he said. “I think it was better for me to go to a different situation.”

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Friday, June 26, 2015

2015 Topps Stadium Club Baseball - The Dodger Insert Cards

The insert cards found in packs of 2015 Stadium Club really do pale in comparison to the base cards in the set.  Although, the on-card autographs I've seen do look great.  Unfortunately, I've only seen a handful of the Dodger autograph cards that are available.  In fact, I have not seen any of the "Co-Signer" or "True Colors" autographs for any player (except as a redemption card).  Go here to check out all of my past post on this set. 

Base Autographs

#SCA-CKW Clayton Kershaw 
(redemption card)

#SCA-FV Fernando Valenzuela                 #SCA-JPN Joc Pederson

Blog Kiosk: 5/26/2015 - Dodger Links - Going on a Coffee Run

A new tradition has been created.  As you'll recall, last season Joc Pederson was called on by the Dodger veterans in the clubhouse to fetch some coffee from a nearby Starbucks in Chicago (as evidenced by this photo instagramed by Joc), so naturally they rounded up several more rookies (including the twice-struck Joc) to carry out the task once again.  Featured above is Mike Bolsinger, Joc Pederson and Adam Liberatore posing with said cups after completing their job.  Photo above via Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers 2015 on twitter.

J.P. Hoornstra at Inside the Dodgers has a collection of photos found on social media: "Call it a tradition: Dodgers rookies make Starbucks run for veteran teammates."  Jon Weisman at Dodger Insider shares a video here.  Jon SooHoo has a whole bunch of pics from the event on his blog here.

Below are some links to check out:
  • Via Ken Gurnick at MLB.com, "Farmer, Gonzalez tabbed for Futures Game."
  • Dodgers Minor League Strength & Conditioning Coach Ryan Faer writes, "What is Sport-Specific Training for Baseball?"
The planned and periodized training program will usually start on the general training side at the beginning of the off-season, and work its way toward the more specific end of the continuum as the off-season goes along. The rationale behind this is quite simple: build a base of strength and motor control with general training, and then progress and transfer those adaptations to more specific training that matches the demands of the sport.

  • The National Sports Collectors Convention is around the corner, so slowly but surely we'll be getting news about the various promotional / VIP sets being given to collectors.  Topps just announced that they'll be giving out a five-card "cards that never were" set featuring some Hall of Famers in a 1953 Bowman color format; including the Jackie Robinson card below.  Go here to see the other four cards.

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Thursday, June 25, 2015

2015 Topps Stadium Club Baseball - The Dodger Base Cards

It's all about the base!

This just might be the best set of the 2015 Baseball season.  Really!  We aren't even half-way through the season yet and I'm certain there's no way either Topps or Panini could possibly make a better set.

Featured here are all of the Dodger base cards to the 2015 Stadium Club brand, and they are all with almost little exception fantastic.

As you know, Stadium Club focuses on photo quality and uniqueness, and for the second straight year Topps gets high marks on both those factors.  There's beautiful photography all around.  The cards can make you smile, reminisce or gaze like you're looking at a beautiful sunset.

Wow!  Topps has done good... Really good.

Go here to check out a complete checklist to this set.


Unquestionably, the Fernando Valenzuela card below is the best ever.  Ever!  Ever!  Ever!  I keep staring at it wondering if I might be reaching, jostling or lurking in the background. 

That's me... Right?  At center... At the top... Man... I so want that to be me right there.

I just love this card.

#1 Fernando Valenzuela

Blog Kiosk: 6/25/2015 - Dodger Links - Justin Turner, Josh Sborz and Jon SooHoo

Adrian Gonzalez must've liked something about that bat 'cause he sure did put it to good use in the second inning of last night's game.  He pounded out his 13th home run of the season against Kyle Hendricks to put the Dodgers on the board. 

The photo above via Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers 2015Go here to check out more pics of yesterday's game from Jon.  Below are some links to check out:
  • Here's some current news on a Dodger draft pick.  Via NCAA.com, "Virginia reliever Josh Sborz headlines the 2015 CWS All-Tournament team."
Virginia reliever Josh Sborz was named the John D. Diesing Sr. Award winner for being the Most Outstanding Player of the 2015 College World Series
  • He's the modern day version of Barney Stein with a bit of Charles Conlon thrown in.  Via Mark Newman at MLB.com, "How Jon SooHoo got the best action shot of 2015."
Can you describe your proximity with regard to the photogs’ well and the fan?
I was in the first base photo well and I had the far right position in the well. The ironic part is that there were two empty seats between me and Mr. Hartley who just so happened to leave their seats after we hit three outs earlier. Everything happens for a reason when the Godforce is involved.
But just as he did a year ago, when he's been placed in the lineup, Turner has done nothing but hit. In fact, while his 157 wRC+ a year ago looked like a total fluke -- given that he'd put up marks of 96, 98 and 99 the three previous years -- he's actually hitting even better this season, cutting his strikeout rate while also hitting the ball in the air more frequently and with more authority, resulting in a 170 wRC+ in the first few months of 2015.
“Some of you guys have been doing the number two and not washing your hands. It’s not good. I noticed it even happening earlier today. So if you guys could just be better about it, that would be great.”

Greinke sat down. The team wasn’t sure if he was serious. When they realized he was, they laughed. Then they took the field, far looser than they had been, and went out and beat the Dbacks. Two days later they clinched the division and jumped in the Dbacks pool.
  • Panini shares some preview images of their Elite Baseball card set, here.  There are over 100 photos.  Check out the Yasiel Puig and Corey Seager cards below.  It releases next week.

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    Wednesday, June 24, 2015

    Clayton Kershaw Featured on Topps 2015 Stadium Club Boxes

    Perennial Cy Young winner and reigning National League MVP Clayton Kershaw is featured prominently on boxes of Topps newest Baseball card set - 2015 Stadium Club.  When you consider that this product is meant to showcase the best photography they could muster it's no surprise they decided to put one of this generations best lefties on the boxes.  Check out a pic of the boxes above.  BTW, this set officially went live today.

    I hope to have photos of all the Dodger cards soon, so stay tuned.  In the meantime, I thought I would share a handful of non-Dodger cards from the set that I thought used outstanding photos. 

    I think the Ernie Banks and Lou Gehrig cards are in a close tie for my favorite.  The Banks card shows him receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013.  Lou Gehrig is shown playing leapfrog over a swinging bat.

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    2015 Topps Series 2 Baseball - The Last of the Dodger Insert Cards

    Here is a final look at the Dodger cards available in 2015 Topps Series 2 Baseball.  Unfortunately, I do not have many images to share for these particular subsets.  Below are pics and a checklist for the Strata Cut Signature, MLB All-Star Autographs, Hot Streak and Bunt Player Code Cards. Go here to check out all of my previous post on this set.

    Strata Cut Signatures (#1/1)

    • #SCS-BG Burleigh Grimes
    • #SCS-JR Jackie Robinson

    MLB All-Star Autographs (Walmart Exclusive)

    #ASA-CK Clayton Kershaw

    Weekend Autograph Opportunities: Al Ferrera

    Here are this weekends autograph opportunities and events throughout the Southland. As always, be sure to check the Blue Heaven Calendar for other events (a link can always be found on the tab at the top of this page, just left of center), and always confirm with the establishment. Everything is subject to change.  Please email me with any tips about upcoming events in Southern California.  As the rest of the week progresses I'll update this post with other events (if there are any) as I become aware of them.  Also, I don't always list every event below, so be sure to check my Calendar.  I always try to favor free signing events over paying events.  Click on any pic to embiggen.


    Former Dodger Al Ferrera, in benefit of Operation Hiccup, will meet with fans at Los Nietos Park in Santa Fe Springs this coming Saturday from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM.  Check out the flyer below.  Autographs with a $5.00 donation.  Hat Tip: Vin Scully is My Homeboy.

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    Blog Kiosk: 6/24/2015 - Dodger Links - Puig, Guerrero and a Catching Baby Daddy

    Dodger photographer Jon SooHoo always seems to find himself in the perfect spot.  He was burping distance from the somewhat controversial play that saw Keith Harley make a one-handed steal of a pop fly out of Adrian Gonzalez's glove.  Check out the fantastic photo he took above.  Via Jon Greenberg at ESPN:
    "Baseball is not a new thing to me," he said. "I didn't want it to hit the ledge and hit him, so I wanted to make first contact, I think."

    More importantly, what was going through wife Kari's head?

    "I was a little bit nervous, a little bit scared he was going to drop the baby," she said. "Fortunately he held on tight to both the ball and Isaac, so we were OK."
    Adrian, on the other hand, had an hilarious response to it all, via Ken Gurnick at MLB.com:
    "It would have been more impressive if the baby would have caught it," said Gonzalez.
    Go here to check out more photos of yesterday's game from Jon.  Below are some links to check out:
    • Dodgers beat reporter JP Hoornstra has just completed a book about the Dodgers.  It is called, "The 50 Greatest Dodgers Games of All-Time."  You can check it out here.
    • Via Nathan Fenno at the LA Times, "Judge dismisses suit against Dodgers' Yasiel Puig stemming from human trafficking charges."
    Corbacho Daudinot sued under the Torture Victim Protection Act of 1991, which allows civil lawsuits in the United States against people who commit torture while acting in an official capacity for another country. He said that Puig falsely accused him of human trafficking — attempting to help Puig leave Cuba — which led to a seven-year prison sentence in 2010.
    Alex Guerrero’s exaggerated enthusiasm couldn’t hide his genuine enthusiasm for the possibility.

    Donde? Philadelphia?” Guerrero said, laughing and raising his hands to the sky in prayer when it was pointed out that his name was likely to come up in speculation as a potential trade chip if the Dodgers are going to acquire pitching help before the trade deadline.
    Trinkwon was named the Top Star of the game. Trinkwon was 2-for-3 with three runs scored, two RBI and a walk. Bellinger doubled and had two RBI. Bellinger was also a part of three fielding double plays.
    • Watch A.J. Ellis with Keith Olbermann to discuss Joe Maddon's stall tactics, Clayton Kershaw, and the Dodgers season thus far.

    Video Link:

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    Tuesday, June 23, 2015

    Dodgers and Fashion go Hand in Hand - Vintage Pics of Models, Dodgers and the Coliseum

    I've been a bit bored, so I figured, "why not?"


    It comes as no surprise that the LA Dodgers are a fashion magnet.  Earlier this year we saw current Dodger players model clothing by Ted Baker London during their inaugural LADF Blue Diamond Gala, and who can forget the fashionable stylings of Andre Ethier and Juan Uribe

    Of course, fashion models have also found a way to the Dodgers; as evidenced by the photos in this post.

    While perusing eBay I came across a couple of listings featuring a sizable group of ladies posing for the cameras at both the Coliseum and Dodger Stadium while fans and players alike looked on. 

    All of the photos are undated.  Clearly, though, most of the pics are from the LA Coliseum.  So, they date from 1958 to 1961.  In the pic at the very top (see auction here), several Dodger players pose with the models using the Coliseum stands as a backdrop.  From left to right; Stan Williams (?), pitcher Don Drysdale, Dodger coach Walter Alston, and Norm Sherry.

    The grouping of photos below (you can see these at this auction listing) also show both the grandstands and the players dugout at the LA Coliseum.  Click any pic to embiggen.

    What the heck is the lady below holding?  Is that a bat wrapped in lace?

    The photo contact sheet below is at Dodger Stadium.  Walter Alston is in the group photo.

    And here is a lady standing at the on-deck circle with the Coliseum torch in the background (see this auction here).  Is that Gil Hodges on his knee?

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    2015 Topps Series 2 Baseball - Highlight of the Year, Stepping Up and Own the Name Cards

    I hope you're not getting sick of Topps 2015 Series 2 Baseball packs 'cause I've got even more Dodger inserts cards to gaze at.  Go here to check out all of my previous post on this set. Below are the Highlight of the Year, Stepping Up and Own the Name cards.

    Highlight of the Year

    #H-40 Jackie Robinson

    #H-46 Sandy Koufax

    Blog Kiosk: 6/23/2015 - Dodger Links - Crawford, Turner and a Pups in the Park Video

    Look at the wondrous skies above Wrigley Field last night.

    The setting sun sent splashes of orange, red and brown against bulbous formations that look like goosebumps.  There was almost a menacing feel to it - like the skies would open up at any second.  Storms throughout the area wreaked havoc causing lights to go out at Wrigley.  I imagine that they exploded in a flash like a Roy Hobbs home run off the top deck.

    This predictably caused arguments to ensue.  Chicago, ever fearful of the master on the mound, protested having to bat against a Kershaw spinner without enough lights.  Via Jesse Rogers at ESPN:
    "I didn't like the idea that we had to play against a guy that is really, really, really, really good," Maddon said. "And you have to see spin and you have to read everything. I did not like the fact that we had to go out and play without all the lights on. Just be a little more patient and wait for the lights to go on."
    In the end, it didn't matter.

    Kershaw gave up a couple of homers and the Dodgers didn't score enough runs.  Via Ken Gurnick at MLB.com:
    "It's always frustrating to lose," said Kershaw, 21-3 as last year's National League MVP Award and Cy Yound Award winner but 5-5 this season. "It's a couple pitches here and there. I wish they were doubles instead of home runs. Maybe this was a little better than last time, but it's still a loss."
    It was a tough loss.  For whatever reason the middle of summer the past several years always make me feel like the Dodgers take that one big step, only to take another step back at the next possible moment.

    The fantastic photo at the very top is via Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers 2015Go here to check out more photos of yesterday's game from Jon.  Below are some links to check out:
    That's good enough for Mattingly to say, "Andre's kind of taken that spot, to be honest with you."

    • Check out Topps newest online exclusive offering.  It's a 18" x 24" movie style poster featuring Joc Pederson and Clayton Kershaw.  The design is inspired by the 1981 Topps Movie Giant Pin Ups.  It is numbered to only 99 copies.  Go here to check it out.  You can see it on the right.  Click on the pic to embiggen.
    • I'm as confident as ever that Pete Rose should never be admitted into the Hall of Fame.  Per William Weinbaum and T.J. Quinn at ESPN, "Entries in long-hidden notebook show Pete Rose bet on baseball as player."
    "Bertolini nails down the connection to organized crime on Long Island and New York. And that is a very powerful problem," Dowd said. "[Ohio bookie] Ron Peters is a golf pro, so he's got other occupations. But the boys in New York are about breaking arms and knees.

    "The implications for baseball are terrible. [The mob] had a mortgage on Pete while he was a player and manager."

    Video Link:

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    Monday, June 22, 2015

    Dodger Goodies: Willard Mullin Drawing, Koufax's Kimono and Dodger PA Announcer John Ramey's Ring at Lelands

    Take another look at the summer Leland Auction catalog with me.  Featured below are a handful of really interesting (at least to me) Dodger memorabilia items.

    I just can't get enough of the artwork of Willard Mullin.  As you may know, he popularized the Dodger "Bum" mascot though his cartoons in local newspapers and magazines in the 40's and 50's.  Featured above is an original Mullin sketch of the "Bum", and he's smoking a big stogie with the phrase "Champs" emitting from it.  Check out the auction here.  It originally comes from the Sal Larocca collection.

    The Dodgers made many trips to Japan as part of a goodwill tour.  It gave the team an opportunity to vacation to far off lands and the management a chance to do a little bit of scouting.  Featured above is one of the gift that was created to give out to the Dodger players.  It is a kimono, and it was suppose to be given to Sandy Koufax as a part of their 1966 jaunt - Koufax's name is written in Japanese text on the collar.  Unfortunately, Sandy didn't make it to Japan that year.  He had just played his last season of professional Baseball, and likely decided to spend his winter retirement at home.  Check out the auction here.

    (Auction Link)

    Do you know who was the original LA Dodgers Public Address Announcer?

    His name was John Ramsey, and he worked the microphone for just about every professional sports franchise in the LA area.  He worked for the Dodgers when they came to town in 1958, the Lakers when they came from Minneapolis in 1960, the Angels from their inception in 1961, and the LA Kings when they began in 1967.  Ramsey also announced for the LA Rams, Raiders and USC's football and basketball clubs.

    No doubt he was an integral part of the LA sports experience, so it shouldn't be a huge surprise that he too would receive a championship ring when these clubs took home the top prize.  Featured above is his 1963 LA Dodgers World Championship ring.  Check out the auction here.

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