On the Road to Southeast Asia

Don Drysdale

As mentioned in the previous post, I saw my first big league game in Boston in 1967. I managed to see several more before September when a set of orders I knew was coming finally arrived. I was being shipped, under the Army’s Fun, Travel, and Adventure (FTA) program, to Viet Nam in sunny Southeast Asia. Before going, I got two weeks at home. While there I did some checking, found that my plane was going through Los Angeles, found that the Dodgers were at home, and decided to finally get to see my favorite team in person.

I got into Los Angeles early afternoon on 26 September 1967. I checked into a Hilton (this is before Paris Hilton showed up on anybody’s radar) near the airport. It was expensive. I think I paid around $25 for the room. Doesn’t sound like much, but that was back when the Motel 6 really was $6. About an hour and a half before game time I caught a cab to Chavez Ravine and Dodger Stadium. As an aside, of the three Major League stadiums that existed in 1967 and still exist, I’ve been to two, missing only Wrigley in Chicago.

Unlike Fenway, I was awed by Dodger Stadium. It was, after all, the home of my team. I remember the great site lines, the low wall in left field, the bleachers, and the long flow of the outfield that came to a rounded stop rather than the abrupt halt of Fenway. Dodger Stadium also had a special deal for guys in uniform, so I got a cheap ticket and did my Fenway trick of waiting until the second inning to claim a seat. This one was down the first base line about half way up. There was an older guy beside me. He saw the uniform and started talking about his time in Korea. We got along fine and ultimately he bought me a hot dog. Anybody buys me free food is great in my book. We spent time between innings discussing the army and war and all those kinds of things, but that stopped when the game started up again. When the game was over we went our separate ways. He was quite a bit older than me and may be gone now. I didn’t get his name and still don’t know it. Pity.

For the game, the Dodgers were playing Pittsburgh and Don Drysdale, one of my favorites, was pitching of  LA. Again I jotted down my memories, then checked on Retrosheet. As with the last post, the memories are typed without parens and the Retrosheet explanations are in parens.

Maury Wills led off for Pittsburgh (remembered he played, wasn’t sure he led off). It was strange seeing him in a Pirates uniform after all those years in Dodger Blue. The Dodgers  scored early and now obscure player named Al Ferrara hit a home run (it was a two run shot in the first inning and ended the Dodgers scoring, all of which occurred in the first inning). Drysdale won the game with a low score (3-1) and struck out a lot of Pirates (7, it turns out. Don’t know if you consider that a lot, but I did at the time). Ron Perranoski relieved him (and picked up the save). I remembered the Pirates only run was on a goofy play, but didn’t remember what (with the bases loaded, Drysdale hit opposing pitcher Bruce Dal Canton to force in Gene Alley). After that it was pretty smooth sailing for the home team.

I left the park happy. My team had won. One of my current favorites had pitched and won. The Dodgers weren’t going to win a pennant (the Cardinals were), but they had won that game and a part of me believed they’d won it just to please me. Sure I was heading to Oakland and processing for Viet Nam, but for this night I was pleased with my world. Nam could damned well wait.

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