Life is Hell


YOU DO strange things when you're a Los Angeles Dodgers fan trapped in Boston during a Red Sox pennant race. It's early Saturday evening and you're talking to your parents on the phone. Suddenly you realizes it's Saturday afternoon in L.A., the sun is still shining out there, the Dodgers are playing. It's on the radio-right now! So you wait for the right moment, and then, nonchalantly (so they won't think this is why you called), you ask, "Could you put the radio up to the phone and let the hear a minute of the Dodger game?" Soon Vin Scully's "pleasant baritone voice," as Roger Kahn describes it in The Boys of Summer, comes through the earpiece Vin Scully, the best broadcaster in baseball, who doesn't barter in cliches like "That hall had eyes on it" (a favorite of Sox announcer Ken Harrelson), or "You have to get hits to win ball games" (Kubek/Gowdy). Scully coins his own phrases; once when a player was trapped in a rundown and froze for an instant, panic on his face, Scully said, "he looks like a rabbit caught in a set of headlights." And Scully used binoculars to read lips during arguments with umpires. So you always bring a radio to Dodger Stadium (something considered mildly sacreligious in the Fenway Park bleachers).

YOU DO strange things, like spend 40 cents for the Los Angeles Times--not to read about how Governor Brown is dismantling the University of California, or how every L.A. lawyer is angling to replace the dead D.A., but to read the sports section. Sure, Peter Gammons writes good baseball stories for the Globe, but nobody can beat the Times's Jim Murray, who wrote in 1966, after Willie Davis made two errors in one inning of a World Series game, that it was such an incredible fact that "his glove ought to be bronzed--if it isn't already."

If you're a Dodger's fan, you learn not to trust the Globe at all. Next to "Los Angles" in the baseball standings, the Globe will often print at the institution of the bus it says: "Not including late game." Meaning the Globe couldn't wait until the Dodger score rolled in from L.A., a faraway place in a different time zone.)

The summer of '75 is full of such indignities for the Dodger fan in Boston. While the Red Sox maraude through the American League East, the Dodgers limp through the National League West. Everyone in Boston these days wants to talk about Lynn, Rice, Doyle, Wise, even Yaz. Nobody wants to hear about Messersmith, Sutton, Cey, Garvey, even Marshall. Nobody cares that last year Davey Lopes hit three homes runs in one game against the Cubs, or that latter that week he stole five bases in one game--a game you saw, in person. Or that Dodger left fielder Bill Buckner went Supermanning through the air in another game last year, another game your saw at Dodger Stadium, to rob a Montreal better of a sure triple. Montreal manager Gene Mauch called Buckner's catch the best he's ever seen, but nobody wants to hear how Buckner snagged the ball just as he hit the foul line, about how he slid on his belly toward the reserved seat section in a dust storm of white chalk. Ancient Dodger heroics excite no one in the summer of the Red Sox Renaissance.

The Dodger fan in Boston, unlike the Yankee or Ranger or Oriole fan, can't even see his team play in Fenway Park from time to time. The Dodgers only pass over New England, occasionally, as they fly between New York and Montreal. You see them on NBC's "Game of the Week" every so often, but never without Joe Garagiola or someone saying. "Well, the Dodgers won't win it this year, but they sure are an exciting team." Small consolation.


PROBABLY the only thing to do is stay on the case--buy Dodger pennants from the Souvenir shop across from Fenway Park, call the Globe sports recording at 2 a.m. to get the scores you won't find in the morning paper, and always remember, as the Sox stroke and the Dodgers choke, that baseball is as stupid game of no consequences.

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