Opinion of Kingman's Performance

Thursday, June 30, 2011

This Would Be a First

Is it possible that the Dodgers finish in last place and at the same time have the League MVP and Cy Young winner?  Guess what?  I think it is very possible.  in fact, it just might happen.  Who would have thought that the Dodgers would tank in the standings and have such standout years from these two players?

If the voting were to take place today, how is it that Matt Kemp does not win the MVP?  Based on these numbers and his place among the league leaders, he is hands down the leagues Most Valuable Player so far.
Home Runs: 22, (1st)
Batting Avg.: .330 (2nd)
RBI: 63 (2nd)
OBP:  .415 (3rd)
OPS: 1.043 (1st)
SLG: .628 (1st)
WAR: 5.2 (1st)
Runs: 52 (6th)
Games: 82 (Tied for 1st)
Hits: 97 (3rd)
Total bases: 184 (1st)
Bases on Balls: 42 (7th)
Stolen bases: 22 (4th)
Extra Base Hits: 41 (Tied for 1st)
Sacrifice Flies: 4 (7th)
Intentional Base on Balls: 10 (Tied for 1st)
AB per Homer: 13.3 (2nd)
Matt Kemp is on a pace to easily eclipse 30 SB/30 HR.  Do we dare say 40/40 this season?
(photo by Allen J. Schaben/L.A. Times)

Additionally Kemp leads the league in a number of some more obscure sabermetric stats that many of the MVP voters aren’t familiar with.  These stats are probably more important than the many of the traditional ones listed above because they measure Kemp’s value when compared to his peers and his value and input towards his teams win total. Remember, he ranks FIRST in all of these.  They are:
Offensive Win%, Adjusted Batting Average, Adjusted Batting Wins, Runs Created, and Adjusted OPS.
The National League Most Valuable Player Award has gone to a player from a last place team once.   It happened in 1987, when Andre Dawson of the Cubs won it. (note: the A.L. MVP was once awarded to a player from a last place team in 2003 when Alex Rodriguez won it while playing for Texas).  
Dawson was the home run king that year (49) and also led the league in RBI (137), but he hardly dominated the league in 1987 while the Cubs went 76-86.  Though it was a fine year by Dawson, he wasn’t near the player that Kemp is currently with the Dodgers.  Dawson’s On Base % that year was a mediocre .328.  He simply didn't take too many walks.  Also, by 1987 his injured knees debilitated his defensive range.  A look back at the ’87 season shows that Dale Murphy, Darryl Strawberry, Jack Clark and even Tim Wallach were arguably better statistically than the Hawk that year.  But, no need to argue 24 years after the fact.
In 1987, these two were in contention for the MVP award.  Andre Dawson won it but Tim Wallach was no slouch.  Wallach's stat line was : .298 avg., 26 HR, 123 RBI, a league leading 42 doubles, .858 OPS in his best year as a pro.

By comparison, let’s look at where Kemp's stats stand thus far vs. Dawson in ’87 in the stats listed above:
Homers: Kemp (1st), Dawson (1st)
Batting Avg.: Kemp (2nd), Dawson (22nd)
RBI: Kemp (2nd), Dawson (1st)
OBP:  Kemp (3rd), Dawson (42nd)
OPS: Kemp (1st), Dawson (10th)
SLG: Kemp (1st), Dawson (6th)
Runs: 52 (6th), Dawson 15th
Games: Kemp (Tied for 1st), Dawson (16th)
Hits: Kemp, (3rd), Dawson (6th)
Total bases: Kemp (1st), Dawson (1st)
Bases on Balls: Kemp (7th), Dawson (83rd), (note: Kemp already has 10 more walks than Dawson did for that entire season)
Stolen bases: Kemp (4th), Dawson (48th)
Sacrifice Flies: Kemp (7th), Dawson (78th)
Intentional Base on Balls: Kemp (Tied for 1st), Dawson (36th)
It should be noted that Dawson failed to make the top ten in sabermetric stats such as WAR, Adjusted OPS, Adjusted Batting Runs, Adjusted Batting Wins, Offensive Win %,  and Win Probablity Added.  Additionally he ranked amongst the league leaders in “outs made” (6th).  Did the Chicago media and WGN broadcasts have that much pull in the MVP voting in 1987?  He should have never won that award.
Let’s take a look at Kershaw’s numbers with regard to the Cy Young award and comparisons with other pitchers this year.
Kershaw and Koufax pose for photo in 2008.  Will Clayton join Sandy as another Dodger left hander to win the Cy Young Award?
Kershaw’s stats:
WAR: 4.0 (6th, amongst pitchers he ranks 3rd)
ERA: 2.93 (10th)
Wins: 8 (9th, but just two wins from the top)
W-L%: .727 (7th)
Walks and Hits per IP: 1.029 (3rd)
Hits per IP: 6.789 (3rd)
Strikeouts per IP: 9.874 (1st)
Innings Pitched: 116.2 (3rd)
Strikeouts: 128 (1st)
Complete Games: 3 (3rd)
Shutouts: 2 (2nd)
Strikeouts/Walks: 4.0 (4th)
I can see Kershaw’s ERA improving as the season wears on as he has more Dodger Stadium starts at night and additional games against division opponents in places like San Diego and San Francisco.  Others ahead of him in the ERA race should see a rising of their numbers as the temperatures go up. The Philly pitchers (Hamels, Halladay and Lee) are fantastic, but as July and August arrive, Philadelphia heat allows balls to travel further in that bandbox of theirs.  They’ll have ERA’s that rise.
Clayton Kershaw has almost abandoned the curve ball in favor of the slider this season.  The result has been lower pitch counts and ground outs via contact.

Kershaw should have another few shutouts in him this year.  I see him finishing with 18 wins, 225 strikeouts, 5 shutouts, 7 complete games with an ERA at 2.75.  That would have him leading the league in all those statistical categories except wins and ERA, where he’ll be in the top 3-5.  Those numbers should be enough to be the first Dodger Cy Young award winning starting pitcher since Orel Hershiser in 1988.
There you have it.  the Dodgers finish in the cellar and have the best position player and pitcher in the League.  I say it is very possible.   So in a year when there really hasn’t been much to root for, we have an interesting second half to look forward to when it comes to the individual performances of both Kemp and Kershaw.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

How Hard Should the Dodgers Push Rubby De La Rosa?

With Rookie Rubby De La Rosa placed into the Dodger Starting rotation, how long do the Dodgers allow him to continue to pitch?  Consider this, in De La Rosa’s career, one that started at age 18 in 2007, his highest total of innings pitched in a season was last year’s 110 innings.  Between his stint in Chattanooga early in the season and his Major League appearances thus far, De La Rosa has already pitched 72 innings.
With the season just past the half-way point, De La Rosa is on a pace to throw over 140 innings and potentially more if he remains in the starting rotation.  If the Dodgers don’t shut him down, De La Rosa could possibly start 15 of the remaining 80 and that would most likely put him at over 160 innings pitched for the year.
With the Dodgers fast becoming sellers at the trade deadline, (keeping my fingers crossed), the potential of Kuroda and Lilly becoming trade fodder will increase the likelihood of De La Rosa being a fixture in the rotation for the remainder of the year.  After today’s 1-0 loss, Rubby has been formally entrenched himself into the rotation.  What is more evidence of that than being a true victim of the teams lack of run support.
The Final Effort to Vote Kemp Into the All Star Game Starting Lineup

There are 24 hours to go and Matt Kemp trails Matt Holliday for the final starting outfield spot by over 200,000 votes.  That in in itself a joke, but does it really matter?  Cardinal outfielder Lance Berkman, a shoe in to be elected as a starting outfielder, is a perfect choice as the N.L. representative as the Designated Hitter in the game.  Ideally, Berkman slides into the DH role and Kemp makes it as a starter for coming in 4th place in the voting.
One thing I know for certain though, you never can count on the Manager to make a logical choice when it comes to All Star selections.  With Bruce Bochy managing this game, we’ll see if he does the right thing.  Don’t be surprised to see some mediocre Giant talent selected as reserves on the team.  
If Matt Kemp is able to Pass Holliday in the voting as a starting outfielder, that would be quite a feat considering the little time that is left to vote.  It also would serve as evidence that Dodger fans do in fact exist and are able to unify in ways other than boycotting games in protest of Frank McCourt.
Kemp is probably the closest thing the Dodgers have had to a 5-tool player since Reggie Smith dominated in the outfield in the late 70s.  Sure it could be argued that Mondesi was a 5-tool guy, but at no time was he that feared bat in the lineup like Reggie Smith was or Kemp is.  Other Power hitters in Dodger past had weaknesses in one tool or another, usually speed or their arm strength.  If Kemp gets away from the Dodgers following 2012, we’ll be regretting that departure for years to come and be watching him in All-Star games year after year thinking “what if?”  
The Anniversary of a Magical Night

Martin over Truetotheblue81 reminds us all that today was the 21st anniversary of Fernando Valenzuela’s no-hitter against the Cardinals, (and Dave Stewart’s against the Blue Jays on the same day).

One thing I’ll always remember about that game was that Fernando tossed it well past his prime.  Freddie was wearing glasses too, something that was a new look.  He was able to reach back for one magical night and get it done.  Needless to say, Valenzuela probably should have thrown a couple of no-hitters early in his career and with a bit of better fortune, would have done it.  Below is footage from ESPN's broadcast of the ninth inning of Valenzuela's gem.

Note that Pedro Guerrero, as a Cardinal, grounded into a double play to end the game.  I remember thinking it was going to be a base hit up the middle after it got by Valenzuela.  Good thing Samuel was playing him up the middle.  Other notables in the clip:

Scioscia called the no-hitter behind the plate. 
Alfredo Griffin was still at shortstop for the Dodgers two years after the World Championship.  
Juan Samuel didn’t kick the grounder and converted it into a double-play while Eddie Murray recorded the final out at first.
A lot of present day Angel coaches are in the video 

Monday, June 27, 2011

Just Call Him Smiley

Trent Oeltjen’s smile is something else.  It's contagious.  I crack up every time this guy does something good.  He can't keep a straight face.  Here’s a guy that is loving his time in the big leagues.  And who wouldn’t after going 4 for 4 and coming close to hitting for the cycle.
Oeltjen laughs as he looks in on his teammates in the dugout following his 4th hit of the game.
Take a look at Trent after hitting his 1st Dodger homer.  He can’t contain a straight face.  The guy is loving his time in the show.  You know the guys in the dugout are ribbing him for his inability to keep from smiling.  I can only imagine the comments he's getting from his teammates.

Now this clip below is Oeltjen's triple in the 8th inning.

Here is Trent's final at bat.  He needs a double for the cycle, and he was thinking about it.  Funny clip indeed.  Smiley had a career day today, something that will live on in Dodger lore and in my memory bank for years.  Good for him.  It's nice to think about baseball and something positive for a change.

And for an encore, take a look at this relay to the plate.  Tony Gwynn to Dee Gordon to A.J. Ellis, executed to near perfection.  Dee is looking good out there.

On a day where the Dodger offense put up 15 runs, there has to be footage of a Matt Kemp tape measure shot.  Here it is from the Dodger MVP candidate.

Bankruptcy Smanktruptcy, the Dodgers out and out played their best game of the year tonight.

A Conversation with Myself, (I’ve Been Doing That a Lot This Season)

“I love the Dodgers, that’s why I want them to lose.”
Wow, I never thought I’d say those words, and from a die-hard fan that has followed the team for over 40 years.
“I’m looking at the big picture, this season is toast, what I want to see is the good prospects and proven major league studs, (such as Kemp and Kershaw), remain in the organization.  They are the future.  It would be tragic to see Colletti peddle off Jerry Sands or Rubby De La Rosa for some two month rental in an effort to make a run at the Division title this year.”

With the ownership situation in such flux, (Frank McCourt filing for bankruptcy today), how safe is the job of Ned Colletti?  You know he’s itching to be a buyer at the deadline in an effort to save his job.
So what would happen if the Dodgers were to go on a winning streak?  I mean a real winning streak.  Not one of those three gamers.  I’m talking about a 10 or 11 game streak, or winning 15 out of 17, something like that.  A winning string that puts them two or three back of first place.
“It could be catastrophic for the Dodgers,” I say.  “ It could set the franchise back for years.  Another trade in which we move a prospect such as a Carlos Santana for a proven veteran will put them in the second division for years.  If this were soccer, we’d end up being relegated to Triple A.”
So that’s why this loyal fan, yes, that’s me.  A fan that lives and breathes Dodgers, is seriously not really pulling for the team right now.
“That is not exactly accurate,” I admit in retrospect.  “I turn on the game and I’m rooting for them.  My heart is much stronger than my brain when it comes to this ball club.  If they win, I’m happy, but then common sense kicks in and my mind says ‘I hope they don’t put a string of these wins together, otherwise we’ll be looking at a bunch of stupid moves at the trade deadline.’  That isn’t in the best interest of the club.  They need a new direction.  It was a good run from 2004-2009, but the divorce and financial problems are too much now.  We need new ownership.  And we need it without destroying the positives that are still present with the franchise.”

And those positives are Logan White in the front office.  Players such as the aforementioned Kershaw and Kemp.  I’d add Billingsley, Gordon, De La Rosa, Sands and even, (dare I say it), a healthy Broxton and Kuo to that mix.  I wouldn’t mind hanging on to some question marks such as Elbert, Lindblom and De Jesus too. 
“We were so close,” I say forlornly.  “Just two years ago we were thinking World Series.  A call or a break or two our way and we could have faced the Yankees in the Fall Classic.  It’s heartbreaking.  It really is.  And now we are reduced to this...a punchless lineup that pinch hits Aaron Miles in the ninth inning when the game is on the line.”
In the news of the day:
If you happened to be on another planet and missed it.  Frank McCourt filed for Bankruptcy today. 

and here with Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times being interviewed:

Jonathan Broxton suffers a setback in his attempt to return from the disabled list:

Ed Valentine, writing over at SB Nation, New York, lists Broxton as a potential player the Yankees could trade for, thinking that he could be snatched up in a deal cheaply:

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Panicking Time is Over, the Dodgers Need to Be Sellers at the Trade Deadline

It is probably time to face some reality.  This Dodger team isn’t going anywhere this season.  As much as I don’t want to believe that, reality slaps me hard across the face.  It is time to get a hold of our emotions, not panic and think straight.  I hope Ned Colletti is on the same wave length and is a General Manager that has the long term team needs in his sights.  With his job on the line, my fear is that being within striking distance of the playoffs on July 31st could spell disaster for this club with his history of moves at the trade deadline.

The team is a teaser.  They go on a little winning streak and you think, “okay, maybe now they are going to make their run.”  Hopes are heightened because the Division is so weak and there for the taking and then BOOM, two or three losses in a row occur.
In a year when a ten game winning streak could easily put this club in contention, they have failed to string more than three wins together, and they have only won three in a row twice this season.
In a year where Matt Kemp is putting up MVP type numbers, we may see him win the award as Andre Dawson did in 1987, with a last place club.   If the season were to end today, he’s within an eyelash of winning the Triple Crown.  When is the last time a player was even close to that?  It still amazes me that Kemp is being pitched to and it is unrealistic to expect him to continue on this pace.  That’s a scary thought for this club.
During Andre Dawson's MVP season with last place Chicago in 1987, he hit 49 homers and had 137 RBI, yet he was only intentionally walked 7 times.
In a year when Clayton Kershaw is second in the league in strikeouts, first in the league in strikeouts over 9 innings,  second in shutouts, and has truly proven himself as a legitimate ace, the offense is near the bottom of the N.L. in runs scored and has been shut out  seven times.  
In a year where Andre Ethier puts together an amazing 30-game hitting streak, the Dodgers are unable to capitalize on it and the go 14-16 during those 30 games.
Its a year where the Dodger bullpen has faltered miserably and spoiled numerous quality starts pitched by Kuroda (5-8, 3.07 ERA) and Kershaw.  The starting pitching has not lived up to expectations with the struggles of Chad Billingsley, Ted Lilly and Jon Garland.  Rookie Rubby De La Rosa has had his moments, but he's going through growing pains.
Its a year where the Dodger defense has stepped up and is second best in the league with the fewest errors committed and fielding percentage, trailing only Philadelphia.  Yet, with the failings of the bullpen and the hitting woes, the great defense, (something that I thought was a team weakness going into the season), has not been enough to translate into wins.
It’s a year where the injuries arrived and hurt, but let’s face it.  None of the injured players were contributing substantially this season.  Take a look at the list of players that have spent time on the D.L., none were performing well: Broxton, Kuo, Jansen, Furcal, Blake, Garland, Padilla, Thames, Uribe.  They are all trade fodder as far as I can tell.
So here we are, a 34-43 record.  9 games back of first and 4 games away from the half-way point of the season.  The club would have to play over .700 ball just to win 90 games.  Perhaps 85 or 86 games wins the division, but that would require the Dodgers to go on a 51-34 run, a very unrealistic expectation with the roster that is currently in place.
It is time to be sellers at the All Star break.  It is time for the Dodgers to see what they can stock up the farm system with as some desperate pennant contenders attempt to make pennant stretch runs. It is time for us to be the winners in a mid-season deal.  In order for that to happen I see it as crucial that some injured players return and perform well over the next several weeks, so they can be served up as trade bait.  I see those players as: Furcal, Broxton, Garland (probably won’t happen with him), Thames, and perhaps Kuo
Do the Dodgers dare trade Rafael Furcal to the San Francisco Giants who are in need of  a shortstop.  The last Dodger trade to the Giants was in 2007, Mark Sweeney for Travis Denker.  A trade of a healthy Furcal to the defending champs would certainly bring a lot more than that to the club.

Players that have performed mediocre to good that I would be willing to part with are: Hawksworth, Miles, Carroll, Loney, Kuroda, Troncoso, Guerrier. 
What could Hiroki Kuroda, with his 3.07 ERA, fetch up via trade this season?  A bunch of prospects?  His salary is certainly not a deal breaker.
Underperformers that I’d be willing to trade: Gwynn, Barajas, Navarro, Blake, Uribe, Lilly

Tony Gwynn Jr. may be coveted by some clubs at the deadline for his speed and glove.  
Untouchables to me are: Kemp, Ethier, Billingsley, Kershaw, De La Rosa, Gordon, Sands, Jansen
I realize that Ethier would bring in a lot via trade, but I am hopeful that he could remain with the club.  But with the right deal out there, who knows?  Maybe an offer that can’t be refused is out there.  What do you think?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Andre Ethier, A Credit to the Organization Inside and Outside the Lines

Andre Ethier serving food at the Union Rescue Mission, November, 2008.

I must tell you, from what I have seen, Andre Ethier is really a fantastic person.  Now I make that statement based on my short periods of personal interaction with him after having seen him in public at Spring Training, interacting with the fans, and as little as 5 days ago at the Frank and Son event where he was signing and really conversing with the children.  I really would hate to see him depart and wear another uniform in the coming years, not only because of his output as a ballplayer and the value that he brings to the team, but because of his philanthropy and good will that he shows outside the lines.

There's no doubt that Ethier is a hardcore baseball guy.  An intense competitor that has had to work on his temperament as a ball player.  A guy that has had to take his intensity back a few notches in order to improve as a ball player.  We have seen that over the years and witnessed him gel into a key contributor, clutch hitter, and all-star caliber player.  Yeah, we see him lose it now and then and he's paid the price, (e.g. the fine he was levied for flipping the international peace sign to a few photographers a month or so ago).  But then, the fact the Andre can laugh about it later and actually sign a fan's photo of him flipping the bird in that ambidextrous fashion, shows me that he doesn't take life too seriously.

So today, we receive this announcement from the Dodgers:


WHAT:        Dodger outfielder Andre Ethier will visit the Union Rescue Mission in downtown        Los Angeles tomorrow and serve food to the homeless.  Dodger Partner Farmer John will donate 500 Farmer John DODGER DOGS® hot dogs and Ethier will help grill and serve them to the homeless before serving lunch in the mission's cafeteria.  The Dodgers will also donate 1,000 Dodger fleece blankets to Union Rescue Mission patrons.

WHERE:           Union Rescue Mission
                 Downtown Los Angeles
                 545 S. San Pedro St.

WHEN:            Tomorrow, Friday, June 24, 2011, 11:30 a.m.- 1:00 p.m.

MISC.         This is the 4th consecutive year that Ethier has volunteered at the Union Rescue Mission and he has also served food to the homeless at the Weingart Center on skid row in Los Angeles. In 2008, Ethier took part in “The Chef Jeff Project,” a show on the Food Network that offers at-risk teens a chance to turn their lives around through culinary art.
Good for you Andre, and thank you for your contributions to this great cause.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Second Longest Tenured Dodger Employee

He is the second longest tenured Dodger employee, behind Vin Scully.  He has a face you would easily recognize, but many don't recognize him because he has been a background fixture for years.  He has never sought the limelight or recognition.  1950 was his first year in the organization, and he was still in High School.

The son of a Vegetable Truck driver, raised in a Brooklyn tenament.  Who would have thought back then that 62 years later, he’d be practically a permanent fixture in the Dodgers organization?

Billy Delury has had a good life.  How many of us can say, in the sunset years of our life, that we wouldn’t change a thing?  I sure can’t, but Billy can and he does.
Dodger Executive, Bill Delury
My first real contact with Mr. Delury was in 2001 when tickets were left for me by former Dodger player and coach for some Spring Training games.  The arrangements were made through Billy Delury.  I’d often see him at Spring Training events and even this year, I saw him at Camelback Ranch and attempted to speak to him briefly, but I received a work related call right at the moment of my chance of opportunity, and I missed it.
So early in the season, I wrote him a letter and asked if he would be willing to sit down for an interview.  I told him that I thought he would be an interesting subject since he had witnessed so much history over his 60 plus years in the baseball business.  He called me in mid April and said that we could meet the next time he was in San Francisco in July.  He questioned whether I really was looking in the right place, because he humbly told me that he wasn’t very interesting, but I disagreed.  I told him that I’d be in Los Angeles in June and he said to call him then.
Things didn’t quite work with our schedules and Mr. Delury called me after I returned from L.A. and asked if we could do the interview over the phone.  I agreed and we set up a time.
I found him to be honest, loyal to the organization, opinionated and a friendly fellow.  He’s a gracious man and a grateful man, having spent most of his life working for the organization he loves.  He is forever indebted to Walter O’Malley, who reached out to him as a young boy and showed him that he mattered.  Bill Plaschke wrote about it in 2008, when the legendary former owner of the Dodgers was inducted into the Hall of Fame.  Here is an excerpt from that article:
“He is an older man now, weary after traveling from Dodger Stadium to a Best Western Hotel in upstate New York.  But ask Billy Delury to describe an important day in his life, and he brightly remembers why he made this trip.
Ask him to describe a precious moment in his career, and he quickly explains why, today for the first time in his 74 years, he will be sitting on a folding chair on a Cooperstown lawn for a Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
‘It was 1955, I was just an errand boy, an office boy, the lowest of the lows,‘ Delury remembers.  Yet one day that winter, a club official approached the kid and asked him for his size.
Size? Shirt size? Shoe size?
‘They said they wanted my ring size...and I said,‘Holy mackerel.’ ” 
Holy O’Malley.  The Brooklyn Dodgers owner was buying the most menial Dodgers employee a World Series ring commemorating the Dodgers’ first world championship.
‘I was a nobody, and Walter made me feel like a somebody,’ Delury says. ‘It was the treasure of my life.’ “

Walter O'Malley overlooks action at Dodger Stadium

Below is the text of our phone converstation:
Opinion of Kingman's Performace (OKP): You are probably the longest tenured Dodger employee with the exception of Vin Scully, is that correct?
Bill Delury: Yes.
OKP: I guess he beats you out because you did a couple years of military service?
BD: Yes.  That’s correct.
OKP: So, you and Vin are fairly close, you’re the traveling secretary to the broadcast team, you’ve know him all these years.  I know that he has said that he is reluctant to ever write a book about his experiences, which is kind of disappointing to a lot of us fans, but I understand his modesty and his desire to keep himself outside of the story.  Is that pretty much the way his personality is?
BD: He’s an extremely private man, and he likes to keep all that stuff to himself because he doesn’t have to try to go out and win any fans or anything like that.  His broadcasting does it for him.  He doesn’t need to be in the limelight, that’s not important to him.
OKP: Right.  Well he does realize how much he is revered and loved to Dodger fans?
BD:  There’s no question about it.  He knows that, but that doesn’t mean that he feels he needs to go out and take bows or anything.  He doesn’t need that.  The fans love him and everything, and that’s good enough for him.  He’s a private person.  A lot of people don’t understand that, but that’s just the way he is.  And you’ve got to respect that.

Vin Scully, 1957 (with partner Jerry Doggett in the background)

OKP: Yes. I think that’s difficult for many, but I do understand that.  Let me change gears here.  Tell us how you got started.  I know you were young, 17 or 18 years old when you first joined the Brooklyn Dodgers organization.
BD: I was 16 years old when I started as an office boy.
OKP: Wow, Sixteen.  What was it that an office boy did back then?
BD: You were really a gofer.  You know, you go do this you go do that.  You make sure the water bottles are in the machine, you make sure the envelope’s are stamped and that the stock room is supplied with writing pads and pencils and things like that.
OKP: Was it pretty much a dream job for a 16-year old boy?
BD: Yeah, oh yeah.  It was and uh, I never regretted the 60 years that I’ve been in the Dodger organization.  There hasn’t been one moment that I regretted it.  If I had to do it all over again, I’d do the same thing.
OKP:  Well, how was it, that as a 16 year old kid, that you got such a great job?  Were you just persistent, knocking on the door, asking for a job?  Did you have any connections or anything like that?
BD: No, no.  I just went to an employment agency in Brooklyn, and the day before I got there, they got a call from the ball club stating that they were looking for an office boy.  And I was sent over for the interview, and I was fortunate enough to get the job.
OKP: I know shortly after you started, when you were very young.  You had a lot of tasks down at Vero Beach.  I read that you were doing the laundry and the mail distribution.
BD: Yes, yes, I did all that.  I was the ticket master down there, as the years went by.  I did a lot of things, let’s see.  I spent some years in the minor leagues and was the traveling secretary with the big league club for about twenty-five years.
OKP: Right.  I’m aware of that.  I’d like to talk a little bit about Vero Beach and your time there, especially in the early years of your career.  I understand that there were about 800 ballplayers there and it was...(he interrupts)
BD: At that time in the early fifties, we had twenty-six minor league clubs.  With the staff and the media that was there, there was close to probably 900 people there.  It was quite a place.  During World War II it was a Naval Training Center.  It was a great place to train because the accommodations were laid out there.  It was a great place to train.
Don Zimmer, Duke Snider, Carl Erskine and Walt Moryn in Vero Beach publicity photo from 1950s (Getty Images)

OKP: As a youngster working with the organization at that time, you were a gofer and was doing laundry, distributing mail, selling tickets, that kind of thing.  Was the Dodger organization so close at that time that you knew everybody?  From the front office to the  players to the secretaries...
BD: Yeah, it wasn’t the big organization like you have today.  We didn’t have such things as marketing and programming and computers and all that.  It was much more closely knitted with personal contacts, whereas now everything we have today is machines and we didn’t have anything like that?

OKP: But even as an office boy, were you in contact with the stars of the era?
BD: I was in contact with the players and things like that but uh, you mean stars uh...you aren’t talking about motion picture people are you?
OKP: No, I was referring to the ballplayers.
BD: Pee Wee, and Gil Hodges and Campanella, those guys.  Yeah they were all friends of mine.
OKP: I read that in 1955, when the Dodgers won that World Series.  Mr. O’Malley awarded you with a World Series ring too.
BD: That is correct.
OKP: In fact that a ring was awarded to everyone on the front office staff, is that correct?
BD: Uh, well to be honest with you, I really don’t know for sure, because uh, I just don’t know, but I would imagine if I got it, that a lot of other people got it because I was low man on the totem pole.
OKP: Were you surprised?
BD: Very much so.  You know as an organization, you’re on the bottom, and you get a World Series ring, which I still have today in a safe deposit box in the bank and I don’t think I’ve worn it more than a twelve times in my life.
OKP: Do you ever pull it out and just take a look at it now and then?
BD: Oh yeah, every once in a while I take it out and look at it and I always think the same thing.  Remember where you come from.  That’s what I keep remembering.  Remember where you come from, never get to a point where you’re too big for people.  Because, you meet the same people going up as you do coming down.
OKP: Well that’s a great philosophy.  You did military service and left the team for a couple of years, is that right?
BD: Two years, yes.
OKP: Was there a job with the Dodgers waiting for you when you finished your duty?
BD: Uh yeah, if I wanted to come back.  There was no contract when I left to go in the military.  Mr. O’Malley and Mr. Bavasi, who was our General Manager at the time, said that when you serve your time and you come out, you have a job if you want to come back.  He said when that time is up we’ll talk about it, and we’ll go from there.

Buzzie Bavasi, Pee Wee Reese, Jackie Robinson and Roy Campanella

OKP: And at that time, they moved west, during your stint in the military, right?
BD: I was in the military when they came west.
OKP: Were you upset about the move?
BD: No, not really.  I mean, I was born in Brooklyn, lived in Brooklyn all my life and on Long Island.  And coming 3,000 miles away, I mean uh, I was probably not really upset, but it was a shock.  It was a shock.
OKP: Right, and you never really had any ties to California at the time either?  
BD: No, no ties to California.  No ties at all.
OKP: Well I understand that shortly after returning you worked with Fresco Thompson in the Minor League department, is that true?
BD: Yes.  When I first got out of the service. I had an interview with Mr. O’Malley and Mr. Bavasi and Mr. O’Malley said to me, “what do you want to do?  I said I just don’t know but I want to learn the business.  And he said “If you want to learn the business, well the best place to start is in the minor league office.”  So, Mr. Thompson who was our farm director was called by Mr. O’Malley and he told him “Billy’s coming back and he wants to learn the business.  Minor League operations is the best place to start.  If you take him, he’s yours.” So Mr. Thompson said, “I’d love to have him, I’ll take him.”

OKP: Did that mean you were doing a lot of traveling from minor league venue to venue?
BD: Yeah, yeah, it was uh a little bit.  I spent I think 8 years there and maybe it was 9 years, time goes by so fast.  But as each year went by it seemed I was doing more and more and more.  After I did the minor league stuff I was the Assistant Ticket Manager.
OKP: And then following that, you were the club’s traveling secretary?
BD: Following that I went into road secretary.
OKP: As the traveling secretary was there ever a time when you came close to having the club miss a game due to weather or a travel glitch, flight delay or anything like that?
BD: We all run into that, with uh, as much traveling as you do in the course of a season.  You don’t run into much of it out here, but in the midwest where you get storms, thunderstorms and they close the airport, you may be waiting for your plane to come in or you may be on the runway and you can’t get off because of bad weather, and there’s nothing you can do about that, you can’t control that.
OKP: I imagine that’s a frustrating situation, there’s probably some comradarie with other traveling secretaries from other teams that understand the troubles of the job coordinating a team’s travel.
BD: Yeah, I mean I’ve had a lot of good friends, some have passed away and a couple have retired.  But there’s still eight or nine guys in the National league that I’m very, very close to,  I just talked yesterday with the fellow from the Houston Astros who I’ve known for twenty-five years.
OKP: Let me try to wrap this up, because I know you have things to do, Is there a favorite team that you’ve been affiliated with over the years,  a group of guys that uh, the memories are the best with?
BD: I answer that question two ways.  Probably the best team was the ’55 Dodgers, but the teams that won that I was most close to was, because I was the traveling secretary was the ’81 and the ‘88 teams.  Probably the ’88 team I was more proud of because it was never expected to win.  And we beat New York and then we unexpectedly beat the Oakland A’s.  So that was probably the two clubs, the ’55 team was the best and most memorable because that was the first team to win a world series and probably the best talent of all the teams.
OKP: Okay, Gil Hodges.  Should he be in the Hall of Fame?
BD: Yes, definitely.  He should be, yes.  Why he isn’t in already, I don’t know?  I don’t understand that.
OKP: Neither do I.  What is the smartest piece of advice you’ve received from anyone?
BD:  Ha, ha.  I just...somebody asked me that same question just today.  In the winter of ’50 or the spring or early summer of ’51, there was a scout that we had working for us by the name of George Sisler, and I had just started working less than a year.  And he said to me, “young man, if you want to stay in this business, remember one thing.  God gave you two eyes, two ears and one mouth.  And he did that because you should see and hear twice as much as you say.”  And that was over 60 years ago, and I’ll never forget that.  It’s the best advice I’ve ever received.  And I just told somebody that same thing today.

Hall of Famer, George Sisler, a Dodger scout in 1950, gave Billy Delury the best advise he ever heard

OKP: Well over these 60 years, what would you say the biggest changes in the game are?
BD: Oh wow, the biggest change, well, there’s a lot of them.  Let’s see you’ve got free agency, you’ve got arbitration, you’ve got big salaries.  You know, I don’t know what business you’re in, but whatever business anybody is in has progressed over the last 60 years.  Be it for the better or for the worse we don’t know.  I’m not in the position to say.  it’s progress, that’s what they call it.  Is it progress? That’s what they say, but I really don’t know.  But I’m not going to be able to change the game.  It’s still three outs and the bases are 90 feet apart, and there’s still 4 balls and 3 strikes.  So some things haven’t changed.  With the things that have changed, some of it’s good, some of it, I don’t know.  Who knows what the next 60 years will be, there will be progress, some for the better, some for the worse.  We just don’t know.
OKP: What advise would you give to a youngster that is considering a career in a baseball organizations front office?
BD:  It isn’t like it used to be, it’s very, very, very difficult today.  Much more difficult than it was years ago.  There were more minor league jobs.  We had 26 minor league clubs in 1951 and 1952, today we’ve got six.  There were thirty or forty extra jobs that were available that aren’t available today, because they’re not needed.  I would say to a young man today, if you want to make a good living, don’t get into baseball, unless you are a player.
OKP:  Well that’s interesting, but I understand what you’re saying.  There are limited opportunities.
BD:If I was a young man today, if I was 50 years younger and I got a job in baseball, I would only stay in it one year.  I’d see how much it pays and I’d say, I can’t make it here, I’ve got to get out of here.  You know, sometimes you get involved, let’s say the Dodgers or the San Francisco Giants or the New York Mets.  The glamor, the glamor takes precedence over other things.  But you can’t take that to the store and buy meat.  It is a tough business to break into in today’s world.
OKP:   Thank you so much.  I appreciated you getting back with me.  You’ve been really gracious with your time.  You answered my letter, answered my phone calls.  
BD: Send a copy to Ned Colletti my boss.  Tell him I was nice to you, to give me a raise.  (laughs).

OKP:  I'll see what I can do.


Excuse me, Ned?  Anything you can do to help a very good man out?