There were few things Joey loved so much as a Dodger Game. Here he is a few years ago on a Dodger night, with part of his second family, Tom and Kevin, with the stadium in panorama behind them.
Joey grew up with the Dodgers. We shared season's tickets with our neighbors, with prime seats behind home plate, so during the season we were at the stadium four or five times a month. We had our food favorites there, our secret spots for parking, and Dodger giveaways filled our kids' rooms. Joey and Jaime had even caught a couple foul balls, and they were proudly and prominently displayed on shelves in our home.
Those warm summer nights, downing mustardy Dodger dogs, cracking peanut shells and dropping them in piles under our feet, watching the jumbo screens and fireworks on the special nights, and cheering on our team...our whole family loved the details and rituals of Dodger night.
Joey also played Little League as a kid and baseball was his favorite team sport. It too became a family pasttime. His dad took him to the batting cages, and I learned how to be the official scorekeeper. I spent many springs and summers at the Little League field, up in the announcer's booth, recording hits, runs and errors for league statistics.
His major league team won the championship three years in a row. Joey played the catcher position, but he would also pitch and play shortstop. We all know how maniacally competitive Little League coaches can be, and he definitely had one of those, but the assistant coach was a gem. He was actually a sports writer for the Los Angeles Times, and he had a knack for writing beautiful and encouraging letters to each player on the team. That's something special a mom remembers.
For many years, Joey breathed baseball. He had an extensive and expensive baseball card collection. His hero was Orel Hershheiser, the incredible Dodger pitcher who was also a committed Christian. The Dodgers were his favorite entertainment, his best night out, and a huge bond with his dad. As he grew up, that passion continued as it connected him to his college friends, who developed their own new rituals for Dodger nights, and with a city that he loved.
a different kind of night at Dodger Stadium...