Caravan continues with giving spree
Hospital, food bank, ballfield benefit from Dodgers' gifts
LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers' seventh annual Community Caravan rolled through the Southland on Tuesday, visiting patients at City of Hope Hospital, dedicating the ninth Dodgers Dream Field at the Boys and Girls Club of Los Angeles and donating food and money to the L.A. Regional Foodbank.
Dodgers owner Frank McCourt and Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda led a group that included Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier, broadcaster Eric Collins, and legends Tommy Davis, Al Downing, Ken Landreaux, Bobby Castillo and Rudy Law.
The caravan's first stop was City of Hope Hospital in Duarte, one of the Dodgers' ThinkCure partners. McCourt and the players met with cancer patients and signed autographs.
After a Chipotle lunch, the caravan proceeded to the Trader Joe's market in Pasadena for a shopping spree, with the gathered groceries -- and a $2,500 check from the Dodgers Dream Foundation -- donated to the Greater L.A. Regional Foodbank, which distributes food to nonprofit agencies that care for the needy.
The shopping spree featured four carts -- one manned by Lasorda and Downing, one by Castillo and Landreaux, one by Davis and Law, and one by Ethier alone.
Lasorda and Downing checked in with the highest value cart, no doubt because the ever-competitive Lasorda disregarded the signal that time was up and kept piling in the goodies. Ethier, who loaded his cart with steaks, finished second.
The caravan then headed to the Boys and Girls Club of Los Angeles, where it was joined by manager Joe Torre for the first-pitch ceremonies dedicating the field. Dignitaries included councilman Ed Reyes and former councilman Mike Hernandez, as well as representatives of Bank of America and LA84, organizations that also committed money to the project.
Castillo -- who, like the politicians, grew up in the area and played on the hardscrabble field that preceded the renovated Dream Field -- best appreciated the before and after.
"I played here, but it was all weeds and dirt," Castillo said.
McCourt said this Dream Field was special to him, because Reyes was the first politician he met after purchasing the Dodgers six years ago. Reyes said McCourt was like the cavalry riding to the rescue when it appeared the project had run out of money.
The caravan concluded with an autograph session at ESPN Zone, after which Ethier walked across the street to Staples Center to drop the puck before the start of the Los Angeles Kings hockey game.
On Wednesday, the caravan opens privately at Dodgers' ThinkCure partner Children's Hospital Los Angeles, then heads to a 12:30 p.m. lunch at Roscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles in Los Angeles. Players Matt Kemp, James McDonald and Ramon Troncoso; broadcaster Charley Steiner; and Spanish language broadcasters Fernando Valenzuela, Jaime Jarrin and Pepe Yñiguez will be on the caravan.
After lunch, the caravan moves to the Best Buy at the Westfield Culver City Mall at 3 p.m. for autographs and photos, then concludes with a 5 p.m. Olvera Street public rally. Fans will be asked to join two autograph lines and the first 150 fans in each line will get an autograph. KHJ La Ranchera 930 AM will be on site.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.