The Milwaukee Brewers handed the L.A. Dodgers a 6-4 loss, but Santa Clarita Mayor Bob Kellar pulled his weight on the pitcher’s mound.
The 36th annual Santa Clarita Dodger Day drew more than 1,000 Santa Clarita Valley baseball fans to Dodger Stadium Saturday night as the Los Angeles Dodgers saluted the SCV. Kellar threw out the first pitch to City Manager Ken Striplin in ceremonies before the game with the visiting Milwaukee Brewers.
City Manager Ken Striplin catches Kellar’s strike pitch, as called by Scott Moffitt.
The Dodgers P.A. announcer introduced Pat Downing from the city’s Arts & Events office, Holly Michaels of the city’s Recreation Division, Scott Moffitt of Hart Baseball & Softball, Striplin, Kellar’s 5-year-old grandson Joshua Murphy, and Kellar to the stadium crowd. Each waved to the fans and got a little face time on the brand-new digital DodgerVision screens towering over the center field stands.
Members of Santa Clarita Valley youth organizations lined up on the center field warning track as the groups’ names flashed on the giant screens. Among them were the Boys & Girls Club of the Santa Clarita Valley, Santa Clarita Youth Sports, Helmers Elementary School, the SCV Sheriff’s Station’s Youth Activity League, Santa Clarita Valley International Charter School and Hart Baseball & Softball.
Kellar’s First Pitch
Young Mr. Murphy served as the Official Ball Boy for the first pitch, delivering a ball to his grandfather on the mound, then standing aside to observe. As the Dodgers’ organist Nancy Bea cleverly played “High Hopes,” the right-handed Kellar wound up and threw to Striplin, who caught what umpire Moffitt called a “Stee-rike!”`
“Close enough for government work,” Kellar said to Striplin as they grinned and shook hands after the pitch.
“It was great,” Kellar said a few minutes later. “I was very much looking forward to it, kind of hoping I’d find the plate somewhere, and we came close enough. I’m happy with it. It made it even more special to have Josh be able to come out there and hand me the ball. I know this is something he’ll remember for the rest of his life.”
Josh, not a lad of many words (or perhaps a bit overwhelmed by the grand spectacle), did admit it was “really exciting” to play Ball Boy. Asked if he thought his granddad did a good job as pitcher, Josh said, “Yeah!”
“It’s a great experience to be out here with so many fans, so many from Santa Clarita, but also to have the mayor throwing the first pitch to me was very exciting,” Striplin said, confirming this was the first time he’d done anything like this. “That made it even more exciting.”
A reporter observed Striplin’s glove was nicely broken-in. “I’ve had this glove for years and I’m very fortunate to have a son who loves baseball and so I play quite a bit of catch and I’m a coach,” he said. “So this glove has seen its time, absolutely.”
That’s cool, but Kellar’s glove is a true artifact.
“This glove? I’ve just barely got it broken in,” he said. “I’ve had it since I was 13 years old. That’s a day or two.”
From left: The City’s Arts & Events Supervisor Pat Downing, Holly Michaels from the City’s Recreation Division, Hart Baseball & Softball’s Scott Moffitt, City Manager Ken Striplin, Mayor Kellar’s 5-year-old grandson Joshua Murphy, and Mayor Bob Kellar.
United Airlines Exec from Santa Clarita
Saturday was also United Airlines Night at Dodger Stadium, so the first 40,000 of the 50,224 fans in the stands scored a free Dodgers sports bag provided by the airline.
United exec Louis Smilanich and his 12-year-old son Gordon, along with one of Gordon’s Bridgeport Elementary classmates and his father, all from Santa Clarita, were on the field. After they were introduced over the P.A., Smilanich and his son threw out and caught a second ceremonial first pitch.
“We just moved to Santa Clarita from Cleveland,” Smilanich said moments earlier. “It’s very cool. I get my son here with me, his friend, his friend’s dad — we’re excited. Once in a lifetime deal.”
After all that excitement, the actual game was anticlimactic, as L.A. lost to the Brewers 6-4. However, the Dodgers won the first and third games of the weekend series Friday (7-5) and Sunday (2-0), and as of today are 12-12 for the season.
All totaled, SCV residents bought 971 tickets in advance through the city this year, designating a portion of the ticket price to their favorite local nonprofit organization or charity. “We had another surge of people who bought tickets directly from the Dodgers after our deadline,” Downing said, pushing the final tally well above 1,000, about the same as the last few years.
The Dodgers and local officials established Santa Clarita Dodger Day in 1976, and the City of Santa Clarita, incorporated in 1987, has coordinated the event since then. Longtime co-sponsors include the Hart Baseball & Softball program and AM 1220 KHTS, the Dodgers’ exclusive radio broadcast affiliate in the Santa Clarita Valley.