As an Atlanta Braves fan through thick and thin, pulling against the Los Angeles Dodgers was almost as much fun as pulling for my home team. Former Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda, one of the sport’s greatest ambassadors, egged it on.
For many years (until 1994) the Braves were in the geographically-incorrect National League Western Division with the Dodgers, creating a good rivalry. Some crucial late season, West Coast games in the early ’90s would go well into the night creating mass sleep deprivation across the Southeast and elsewhere due to TBS Super Station fans.
So the news that my favorite minor league team, the Chattanooga Lookouts, has become the AA franchise of the L.A. Dodgers is…, well, OK — I think. It comes after 21 years of affiliation with the Cincinnati Reds.
One of my most enjoyable places in the world to relax is AT&T Field, high atop Hawk Hill in downtown Chattanooga. We even had our daughter’s ninth birthday party there once — with her cousins from Johnson City, Tenn. joining us.
My brother-in-law Scott and I stumbled into the stadium the night before, after dinner and a rain delay, and were among the lucky few to witness Mississippi Braves manager Phillip Wellman’s classic tirade.
At other times I’ve enjoyed the Scenic City baseball alone or with good friends like Doc Avery. Occasionally, I have bumped into childhood buddies I grew up with just south of the state line.
But the idea of pulling for any aspect of the Dodgers’ organization was never a consideration.
Aside from the great rivalry, there are things I’ve long admired about the Dodgers: Jackie Robinson breaking the race barrier, the great pitching duo of Koufax and Drysdale, and Dodgertown in Vero Beach (the best spring training experience in Florida that has sadly run its course).
During an interview with Dodger pitching great Orel Hershiser, when his book Between the Lines: Nine Things Baseball Taught Me about Life came out in 2002, I confessed to “the Bulldog” (as Manager Lasorda called him) that I had always liked Dodgers as individuals just not as a group.
But come this spring and summer, I will do the unthinkable and pull for the AA prospects in Chattanooga. I may even wear Dodg…, uh, Lookouts Blue.