Tuesday, April 2, 2019
The 1990 Dodgers Starting Rotation was Unusually Kind to me that Year
In the summer of 1990 my family spent a lot of time in the small village of Rawdon, Quebec which is where my family comes from and my grandmother, aunt and cousins lived. Being less than an hour drive from Montreal my dad took us to a few Expos games that year at the Big Owe. We saw the Expos play games against the Dodgers, Giants and Padres that summer and at each of them I brought along a stack of baseball cards (mostly 1990 Donruss) to try and get some player autographs.
I found the autograph collection I put together that summer while on my recent trip o my parents' house and thought I'd devote a few posts to it, this one being about the Dodgers.
For some reason during most of those games I spent more time huddled around the visiting team's dugout than the Expos. Probably this was because I knew I only had one chance with the visiting team but always had the feeling I could get the Expos player autographs some other time and thus gave them lower priority. The result is that I have way more autographs of players from other teams than of Expos players.
When the Dodgers came to town I seem to have been unusually succesful at getting their staring pitchers to sign for me, I don't have any autographs of their position players that year but have three of their top starters (only missing Fernando really).
Its hard to remember but there was a time when Ramon Martinez was by far the most famous of the Martinez brothers and 1990 was his peak - he won 20 games that season, was named to the All Star team and came close to winning the NL Cy Young award. I remember being totally blown away when I got his autograph, he was like a god at that time.
I also got Mike Morgan that day. He was nowhere near the same level of star as Ramon was, but he was having a good season with the Dodgers (he pitched 4 shutouts that year). The next year he had his best season, being named to the All Star team, and I remember being quite excited about that since I had gotten his autograph the previous season.
The real big name though was of course Orel. He was even bigger than Ramon - a bona fide superstar who looked like a lock for Cooperstown. I remember he was injured at the time and wasn't in uniform when he came onto the field (he was wearing some sort of generic sports clothing) but the throng of kids I was standing in immediately recognized him and started begging him for his autograph way more than we had for the other players. "Mr. Hershiser!!!!!"
He was a total class act. He walked past us (we were huddled along the wall of the walkway players entered and exited the field from) then stopped as soon as he reached the astroturf. He turned around and said to us "I'll come back later and get you" and then walked onto the field to talk to some players and do some stretches.
I remember the group of us random kids being crestfallen at having missed his autograph and thinking we had been given the brush off. But then true to his word about 10 minutes later he made a point of walking right back to us. We all thronged to him and he told us to relax, promising he would sign for everyone. And he did. I remember giving him my card and pen and thinking "Holy crap! Orel Hershiser is right in front of me signing my card!!!!!" That instantly became the most treasured card in my collection, one I would show to all my friends that summer and totally embellish my interaction ("Me and Orel? Oh yeah, we go way back.")
Someday I'm going to have to track down Fernando Valenzuela and Tim Belcher and get them to sign their 1990 Donruss cards so I'll have a full Dodgers pitching rotation signed. For now though I'll settle for the memories these bring back.