How joyful. How fitting. With the Dodgers already having achieved nearly every conceivable regular-season goal — and adding victory No. 110 by the end of the night — Saturday provided an opportunity to honor a broadcaster employed by the franchise for 64 years and a player in his first Dodgers season.
Jaime Jarrín, the Dodgers’ Hall of Fame Spanish-language broadcaster since 1959, was the subject of an emotional, lengthy pregame ceremony at Dodger Stadium. Jarrín, 86, will retire at the end of the season, and his immense popularity throughout baseball and the Dodgers fan base was celebrated.
Fellow broadcasters, politicians, and actor-activist Edward James Olmos took turns saluting Jarrín in person and via video, conveying their affection for his six-plus decades of warmth, dignity and professionalism. Yasiel Puig even sent a dispatch from South Korea, where he is now playing.
Baseball Hall of Fame president Josh Rawitch, a former Dodgers public relations executive, was on hand to request Jarrin’s headset to display in Cooperstown. Jarrín said of course, but let’s wait until after the playoffs.
Freddie Freeman, leading the National League in several offensive categories, won something that transcends his potent bat — the Roy Campanella Award, voted upon annually by Dodgers uniformed personnel to the player who best exemplifies the spirit and leadership of the late Hall of Fame catcher.
Freeman drove in the Dodgers’ first run in a 6-4 win over the Colorado Rockies, his 98th RBI of the season. He also drew the second of five consecutive walks in the seventh and scored when the Dodgers came back from a 4-1 deficit to tie the score, and singled and scored in the eighth when the Dodgers took the lead. Brusdar Graterol pitched the ninth for his fourth save.
The Dodgers are 110-48 with four games to play. Only four teams in baseball history won more: the 1906 Chicago Cubs (116-36), 2001 Seattle Mariners (116-46), 1998 New York Yankees (114-48) and 1954 Cleveland Indians (111-43). Two other teams won 110: the 1909 Pittsburgh Pirates (110-44) and 1927 Yankees (110-44).
“You have to appreciate what’s going on,” Freeman said. “You never know if it can happen again.”
Freeman has said repeatedly that his statistical goals are to bat .300, score 100 runs, drive in 100 runs, and post an on-base-plus-slugging percentage of .900. He’s well on his way, leading the National League with a .329 batting average while ranking second with a .925 OPS and 115 runs. He leads the NL with a .412 on-base percentage and all of baseball with 46 doubles and 196 hits.
Manager Dave Roberts announced to the team that Freeman was the recipient of the Campanella Award while noting that several other Dodgers also received votes. Freeman, in his first year after signing a six-year contract during the offseason, employs a blue-collar work ethic to generate upper-crust results.
“You layer in the performance, the character, making people around you better, being a leader, holding people accountable when needed, and showing up for work every day,” Roberts said on why Freeman deserved the award. “It’s refreshing to see a guy who says, ‘My job is to play.’ … It’s a breath of fresh air, and that flows over into our clubhouse.”
The award means a lot to Freeman, especially in his first year with the Dodgers.
“Any time you are voted an award by your own teammates, it’s very meaningful,” he said. “I try to impact where I can, and for this to be awarded and stand in front of these guys and give a little speech about it meant a lot.”
Roberts mentioned utility infielder Hanser Alberto as another first-year Dodger who garnered votes for the Campanella Award because his presence has been felt in a unique way.
“Hanser knows his role, he has so much gratitude for putting on this Dodger uniform every night, being ready when called upon,” Roberts said. “And he does add a lot of joy and fun to the clubhouse.”
The fun didn’t extend to the field early on. Dodgers rookie Michael Grove gave up two home runs in the fourth inning — including a three-run shot by Randal Grichuk — and departed after taking a ground ball off the inside of his left knee to end the fifth inning with the Dodgers trailing 4-1. X-rays were negative.
A night after amassing 10 runs and 15 hits against the Rockies, Dodgers bats were quiet even during their seventh-inning rally. Mookie Betts had a milestone double that made him only the second Dodger to amass 40 doubles and 35 home runs in a season. Babe Herman accomplished the feat in 1930.
The Dodgers are matching storied achievements even deeper in baseball lore than that. The star of the 1909 Pirates team that won 110 games was Honus Wagner. Asked what he knew about Wagner — who won his sixth batting title in seven seasons that year — Justin Turner paused and said, “I know his baseball cards are worth a lot of money.”
Correct! The T206 Honus Wagner sold for a record $7.25 million in a private sale in August.
Of course, no current Dodgers cards are expected to eclipse that value. Turner, enjoying the line of questioning, smiled and pointed out that the cards of Betts, Freeman and Clayton Kershaw would be worth collecting.
“Get them now while you can afford them,” he said.
Short hops: The Dodgers lineup changed twice before the game. Originally, Roberts had Justin Turner returning after sitting out Friday because of a left leg contusion. But Turner asked him for another day off and Roberts obliged, inserting Gavin Lux to play second base and moving Alberto from second to third. The next change came when left fielder Chris Taylor, who had three hits Friday and was going to bat cleanup, reported neck tightness. Trayce Thompson was bumped up to cleanup and moved from center field to left with Cody Bellinger batting seventh and playing center. . . . The starting rotation is set for the rest of the regular season: Tyler Anderson will start Sunday with Tony Gonsolin coming off the injured list to start Monday. Julio Urias will start Tuesday with Andrew Heaney coming on in bulk relief. Kershaw is scheduled to start the finale Wednesday, although his pitch count might be limited.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.