09 October 2011

local boy makes good

hey didja hear?  former dodger robin ventura will be the white sox's manager next season.  i was pretty surprised to hear the news as were a lot of folks since he has been largely out of baseball since he retired a few years ago, but i was also happy since he's a guy whose career i have been following since high school.  his high school days, not mine.  that's why his 2004 topps card is in the blog header, too.
you see, he and i are from the same neck of the woods.  just like jim lonborg and roy howell and pat kelly (the blue jays prospect from the late '70's) and bryn smith.  having played baseball year-round growing up and hoping to have had what it takes to make it in the big leagues, i've always felt a kinship to those players who hail from my hometown that have, in fact, "made it".  ventura was a favorite of mine, primarily because he came along after i had outgrown my dream of taking the field for the dodgers someday.

i've mentioned lonborg and howell and smith before.  since then, i've had smith sign a few more cards for me, like his 1989 topps card
and his 1989 upper deck card
that photo may or may not be from a visit to dodger stadium.  there is no doubt about his 1990 upper deck card
love the baby blues

there was also this guy who made it to the majors from the central coast 
in fact, i played little league with his son. 

ventura won't be the first major league manager to hail from santa maria.  this guy is from the central coast, too
although i don't recall hearing much about him while i was growing up and he was coaching and managing in the majors. 

here's another guy who grew up in the santa maria valley
we played high school ball together.  last season, simas was a coach for the dodgers' minor league team in ogden.  i, sadly, was not. simas attempted a comeback with the dodgers a few years ago but his elbow was not cooperative.  that was as close as i have been to personally knowing a dodger player.  almost.

brad dandridge, who i believe is some relation to ray dandridge, was in the dodgers' minor league system in the mid 1990's.  here's his 1996 best card from his time with the dodgers' aa team in san antonio
he also grew up in my hometown and we played against each other in babe ruth and high school ball.  during the spring of 1995, i turned on my tv to watch a dodger spring training game, and there he was behind the plate.  unfortunately, this was during the strike so he would have been labeled as a 'scab' had he advanced to the majors.  i don't know if that impeded his progress or not, but he wound up only getting as high as aaa in 1996 and 1998.  and that's as close as he got.

good luck, robin.  i'll be watching.

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