In less than two weeks, pitchers and catchers will report to their Major League Baseball clubs. Even though the sport is still discoursing the Cubs remarkable 2016 World Series win, there can never be enough baseball for its fans.
Rain clouds lifted over Los Angeles just in time for fans to enjoy the first baseball related event of the season. The Dodgers hosted a full day of activities and a meet and greet for almost 30,000 attendees at Fan Fest, the highest attendance in the six-year history of the event. According to Dodgers Nation, that’s more than what 16 teams averaged in attendance last year.
Autograph sessions, questions and answer panels and dozens of family friendly interactive activities were scheduled throughout the six-hour event.
It was a special treat for the legendary Maury Wills to host a one-hour batting lesson, and share a personal story about his time with the team during what was called “Interactive History at the Pop-UP Museum.”
Wills began his 13-year major league career in 1959 and played in 83 games for the Los Angeles Dodgers. In 1962, he was selected as the Most Valuable Player over Willie Mays. The shortstop stole a record 104 bases that year, and is currently serving as a representative of the Dodgers Legend Bureau.
Vin Scully even made an appearance. The now retired broadcaster kicked off the day for fans hoping to catch their favorite Dodgers past and present.
Current and former players who appeared throughout the day included: Trace Thompson, Nomar Garciaparra, Justin Turner, Yasiel Puig, Kenley Jansen, and Tommy Lasorda.
In addition to meeting the team and batting practice, some of the highlights of the event included a visit to the bullpen, a walk-through of the weight room and a photo-op with the MVP, Cy Young, Silver Slugger and Rookie of the Year awards. During that tour, Corey Seager was announced as the cover man for RBI Baseball 2017 at the event.
Always a fan favorite, Yasiel Puig was on hand to provide some additional excitement. He lifted his shirt to show the crowd he has lost weight, and is in better shape this year.
Speaking to reporters, Puig was asked if he was surprised that he has remained with the organization that originally signed him, even as trade rumors have persisted.
“I’m not surprised I’m here—I want to play baseball here,” Puig said. “Whatever decision they want to take is fine with me. [But] I want to stay here. That is my job and I will be ready for everything.”