March 19, 2014
...especially on The Hill! As the folks of Chavez Ravine referred to their hamlet nestled in the baby Santa Monica Mountains. Truth is I love baseball – love baseball at the park the way God and country intended it to be watched. And every game I went to last year as I watched the magic of the double play turned from second base to first I thought of the magic under all those bases. The magic is this: Several residents that Culture Clash interviewed for our play CHAVEZ RAVINE claimed to have been born in houses near second base and shortstop.
Must have been a hot corner – also – the Sobadora or Curandera or barrio doctor – would place the umbilical chords of newborns under the front steps of those little homes – in my book this is magic – not voodoo, but certainly down home tradition and country wise. Not far away and to the east of Sunset – Boyle Heights was largely a Jewish neighborhood – I imagine all those Mezzuza’s in doorways there – and back up The Hill the umbilical chords under wooden steps – really, the same intention for all those homes: Protection.
So when I see Yasiel Puig gingerly jump over the second base line careful not to disrupt it – or the superstitions of many ball players – the sanctity of the game is tied to these early and ancient rituals. Watch manager Donny Ball Maddingly protect his signs to the first base coach as he relays to the third base coach and back to the players – as much ritual and ceremony as anybody could want.
Yes we met folks still very unhappy with how things went for the residents of Palo Verde, Bishop and La Loma, but we also met just as many who truly loved the game of baseball – in Mexico it was already taking hold. The part of the history we were also telling is that by the time the Dodgers had come around the political brunt of the housing authority and the red scare had already done their damage – the land lay dormant as Kenny Hahn flew over in a DWP helicopter with Walter O’Malley.
Of course O’Malley gets the brunt of the ire – some of that from hard core Brooklyn fans a half a world away angry at the migration of the Boys in Blue – truth is – the damage to residents had been done a decade before – O’Malley fell on some good luck and a sweet heart deal in the City of Angels.
Not all the hard feelings went away of course – Imagine Eminent Domain claiming your home or favorite cafe in Silverlake or Brentwood and you get an idea how some folks felt – but to others it was for “the better good” of the city.
There was gold in those hills long before Fernando – there were sacred homes – and I honor them every time I look out and imagine them by NOT forgetting them. We’re a town that cements rivers and changes sound stages in minutes.
The gold in de’m dar hills can also be multi-million dollar contracts and the money we spend on Dodger Dogs – but think about this – the last time we had a championship season – the stars were aligned – a Mexican was on the mound and a solid team in the field and Mexican Americans returning to the ball park by the Chevy full – if we want a true champion – and yes we will take a Cuban instead of a Mexican! – We must always root for the home team but never forget all the magic Chavez Ravine possessed long before the first pitch was ever thrown up The Hill! Viva Los Doyers!