2000 Going Home
Picture By Diane Stanley
Whilst most players seem to struggle in
their first season in a new league, I believe that Shawn will be
an exception to that rule. Coming home to California meant so
much to him that I feel he will excel beyond the heights he has
reached so far. He will play his heart out in front of his family
and friends and set even more personal bests.
I see his second All-Star game this season, as well as another Gold Glove, and team MVP. Sadly being in the same division as McGwire and Sosa he will be ruled out as NL MVP.
Good luck with the Dodgers, and please remember that your real fans from Toronto will always be behind you.
2000 Spring Training
When Shawn arrived in Vero Beach for the start of his first spring training as a Dodger one of the first things he noticed was not the history of Dodger Town, or all the new faces, but a lack of some old familiar faces. He looked around the club house. Where's Carlos? where's Alex? It was now that the realization that he was no longer a Blue Jay probably started to set in. The people whom he knew he could depend on when he needed a friend were no longer there. Now he was on his own. A new team, a new club house, new friends to make. The Blue Jays area was really over.
Meeting Dodger great Sandy Kofax on his first day in Dodger Town was one of the hi-lites for him. Kofax was not only one of the greatest players of all time, but also one of the greatest Jewish players of all time. He admitted he was a little intimidated when he first met him, although he soon felt at ease.
It was the first time in several years I had not been to spring training, but even though I missed going I did not mind too much. I hated the thought of seeing Shawn in any other uniform than that of the Blue Jays. That could wait until the Dodgers came to Toronto on March 31 and April 1 for their last two games of the spring. I knew that there would be many people who were going to miss him as much as I would. As soon as I found out there would be games in Toronto against the Dodgers I tried to get a group together from the fan club to say good bye. That weekend would be a great success even though it was a little sad too.
Let the games begin!
The Spring Training Games
Shawn's spring started slowly. He was not hitting well. At first I thought he might be hurt as in the games I had seen on TV he seemed a little tentative at the plate. He never did great at the start of the spring though, but not being there to see it for myself I was wondering if something was wrong. That was not to last for long though. Soon he got back his old familiar swing back and he went on a tear. He was back to making great plays in the field and hitting the ball out all around the stadium. It seemed as if he was settling into his new team very well. By the time the Dodgers landed in Toronto he was leading the team in every category offensively.
Good Bye Toronto
Friday March 31 started off bad for me personally. I awoke knowing that this would probably be Shawn's last games ever here in Toronto unless the Jays and Dodgers ever met up in the World Series. I was looking forward to the games, but in another way I wasn't. Saying good bye is always so hard. Then it looked as if I would miss the Friday game all together. A friend e-mailed me and said she would not be able to make the game as she had though it was at night, but it was at 1PM that afternoon. No this could not be true. I had a hospital appointment that morning. I would never make it for 11:30 for BP if this was true. I checked the Jays web site and yes it said 1PM. I had missed going to Florida, and now I would miss seeing one of his last two games here. My son called the Jays only to find out that the wrong time had been published. The day got better from here on.
That afternoon I met up with a special friend and fellow Shawn fan. Over lunch we talked about the good times we could remember for Shawn in Toronto, and also some of the bad times too. The games he never played in when he should have, the Sierra Fiasco, the firing of Gaston, the 30/30 season and the trade.
Later that day I met up with another friend. Another Green fan. Bill had been in LA the week before, and had picked up a nice "Green" Dodgers t-shirt that he was wearing. A guy came over and asked him about him being a Green fan. He was from City TV in Toronto. Bill said yes he was, and the guy asked him to do an interview. Bill is very shy when it comes to things like that, and said no even though Mary Ellen and myself pushed him to do it. Somehow along the line I got dragged into it too. It was quiet a laugh though, and at least I got to tell how Shawn will have my support whoever he plays for.
After BP Shawn came over and signed by the corner of the Dodger dug out. Damn we were going to miss him. I wanted to see him for myself, but more so for a fan club member Quinn, who had came all the way from Newfoundland with her mother, Dallas just for these games. Please, please Shawn just for Quinn. There was no need to worry. He then came over to the first base side and signed for everyone who wanted him to. He did not miss one person. He smiled, had photo's taken with people. People told him how much the would miss him, and passed on best wishes. Then he was stood in front of me. For those few moments no one else existed. I told him I would miss him, and he replied. (That's just for me.) I said "God bless and take care." He smiled and said he would and moved on.
That first game he did nothing at the plate. Not a single hit. That must have been such a pleasure for the morons who turned out to boo him with their stupid signs that read "$hawn Greed," and "Green go home," with $$ signs all over the banner. How that must of hurt. Some life form sitting behind me constantly heckled him until I could stand it no more. I said "Yes sir he left Toronto for 84 million and one reasons. 84 million dollars and to get away from morons like you." He never said another word. I guess these people had never met the real Shawn Green. That's their loss not his. Money will have been the last reason he left Toronto. He left the team, not the fans. I think he made that very clear that weekend.
The next day was to be different. He did not have time to sign for everyone before the game. He did sign for as many people as he could. Today's game was televised so that meant many interviews, as well as newspaper and magazine interviews. There were also many more people there that day. He took the All- Star cap that I was holding and I said "good bye." He smiled and said "see ya," and left. He signed just a couple more autographs in the camera bay, and then he went in. I'm glad I had a lot of friends there with me that day. It was even worse than the day I was sure he would be traded in '97 during the Sierra fiasco. This time he was gone for sure. Many people saw his sadness too when he hugged Carlos good bye in the outfield just before the game. It was a day of good byes all around., and more than a few tears too I'm sure.
He was two for three that game. A solo home run and a double. His two RBI's were the only two in the game. Shawn Green left Toronto the hero of the game.
I would like to thank most sincerely the person who arrange for me to sit first row behind the Dodger dugout for those two games. It meant more than you can ever know. Thank you so much!
Shawn a lot over people love you here in Toronto, and will miss you very much. Quinn, Dallas, Brad, Mary Ellen, Lisa, Charlene, Melissa, Stephanie, Cathie, Mary, Bill, Jodie, Marj, Steve, Lawrence, Hilary, all who turned out from the fan club, and all the ones who could not make it too and of course myself. I'll miss you more than you will ever know. I know for sure that you will never know how much you mean to me and my family. Thanks for everything my friend. I know there are many, many more people too who will miss you , but these are just the people I know.
Shawn's Final Spring Stats
The 2000 Season
The Dodgers season started in Montreal. The only visit they would make to the city this season. My husband Geoff, and I made the trip to see them. On the first day I was lucky enough to meet up with Lenny. A friend of Shawn's before he went to Tustin High. He showed me some great news clips about Shawn when he was in school. He was even more popular than I thought he had been. It seemed like almost every time he made the school newspaper at least twice, be it for basketball or baseball. Also there were mentions of his great scholastic skills too.
Opening day was for the Expos and I did not get to see Shawn. The one player who did try to sign Mike Fetters, was called away by a coach for a meeting. Shawn did not get a hit in that first game, but the Dodgers went on to win. The first hit came in the second game. A double right up the middle. The Dodgers won this game too. They lost the next two, but I took away some great memories. I did see him on the other three days, but those memories are mine. On the Thursday, the last day of the series it was hard thinking that I will probably not see him play in person again this season. Still I had seen his first ML hit as a Dodger. I was hoping to see the first home run too, but that was not to be.
The first home run came on April 13 against the Giants in San Francisco. Still at least I saw it on TV. After a slow first week it looks like this season could be Dodger Green instead of Dodger Blue.
Shawn carried on doing well. Hs average was pretty much holding over .300, usually around the .330 mark. Obviously a different league and a different team was not going to make much difference to him, at least in the early part of the season. He almost hit for the cycle going 3-4 against the Florida Marlins. He was just a homer short. Looked like there was going to be a great chance that this could be another All-Star season.
His First grand slam as a Dodger came on May 21. After going 0-4 and being hit by a pitch he sent one deep into right center field in the ninth inning off Marlins pitcher Antonio Alfonseca. It was his first slam off a right hander. It was the Dodgers second slam of the day. Adrain Beltre had his first career slam in the fifth.
It was the first time the Dodgers had two grand slams in a game since August 23, 1985, when Pedro Guerrero and Mariano Duncan did it against Montreal. The Brooklyn Dodgers also had two slams in a game in 1901 in Cincinnati.
"It is exciting to be a part of history," Green said to reporters after the game. "Especially with the Dodgers and their illustrious past."
Just 8 short days later Shawn got his second grand slam as a Dodger on May 29. With the game tied at 0-0 Shawn gave pitcher Chan Ho Park a 4-0 lead on the first pitch by Mets pitcher Al Leiter.
Shawn had started a new tradition for himself with the May 21 slam when he gave a child his batting gloves. Asked after that Game by KTLA announcer Vin Scully was this something he always did, Green replied "no, but I will from now on." After the slam on May 29, I looked as if he had forgotten this, but true enough as he came out to field the seventh inning he walked along the dugout until he found a young man of about 18 months with his dad, and he tossed the gloves over. Just one more touch of class from a real class act.
Things continued to go well for Shawn up until June 24. Until that time he had been on a tear of getting on base via either a hit or a walk in 53 straight games. Once the streak was snapped he went down hill fast. By the All Star break his average had dropped by 40 points. He looked tired and even made a couple of errors in the last couple of weeks, for a total of four so far on the season. Last season he made one all season long.
He looked very stressed. The sparkle was gone from his eyes and it was clear he was not having fun like he was to start with. Was the pressure of being the teams new star too much for such a quiet person? Was it the strain of having family and friends at every home game? Was it all the extra charity work he was doing outside of his work with the Dodgers? Whatever it was he looked more tired than I had ever seen him. Would the 3 day break be enough to invigorate him to spring back in the second half? Only time will tell.
One thing I was very happy about is that he does not read the newspapers. I would of hated him to of read a few of the comments made by ex teammate and so called good friend Carlos Delgado had made during the break.
In an interview with Mike Rutsey from the
Toronto Sun he had said " The nature of our business is we have people who
come and people who go," "Shawn was a good friend and a
great player and it was special playing with him. But he's not there anymore. We
got a guy in (Raul) Mondesi who can flat out play.
"We have a different team now than when Shawn was here. I think we're a little bit more -- and this is not because Shawn is gone -- exciting, a little bit more I'd like to say crazy. We go out there and we run a little bit, sometimes we run until we get tagged. We're not proud of that but I think we're a little more aggressive.
"Last year I think at times we lacked a bit of intensity. Raul brings that to this ball club. He goes out and he plays hard and he'll run through a wall for you."
Although he seemed happy that Shawn was one of the first people to call when he had heard Carlos was an All Star, his comments made it clear that he no longer missed having Shawn on the team.
The second half of the season was steady for Shawn, but it did not really improve to the degree he would have liked. It was obvious there would not be 42 home runs hit this season, as he seemed to be still having a few problems with some of the major league pitching.
Very soon it also became obvious that another .300 average season was going to be very unlikely also. His average slowly dropped until it reached it .270. It hung around that mark for the rest of the season. Nothing too exciting happened in the second half like Green fans had come to expect. Having been known as a second half man almost his whole career, it was somewhat disappointing to see him decline rather than improve dramatically like we were always used to. His season ended with a .269 average.
Whatever many players would have loved to have had a season as "bad" as his was. He still had 99 RBI's, 24 home runs, 24 steals and 44 doubles. Although this year there will no Gold Glove, No Silver Slugger award. No post season for a team that expected this would be their year. Just the satisfaction of knowing he did his best.
He also gave back a lot to the people of Los Angeles. Not only did he give to the Dodgers Dream Foundation he also attended many charity events, and took on lots of work with different Jewish organizations. He continued to be the fan friendly person we, who had been long term fans knew he would be. He still signed autographs whenever he could. He still posed for pictures, he was always polite, and always smiled. Even when things must have been weighing on his mind. He always kept his composure through everything he did. Just like the true gentleman he is.
The hi-lite of the season I guess must have been being chosen to represent the Dodgers with team mate, Gary Sheffield on the US All-Star team in Japan.
A lot was expected of him this season. Mainly due to the huge contract, but maybe just a little too much. After all as this was his first season in a new league it was like a rookie year all over again. He had to learn new pitchers, new ball parks, and in many ways a whole new game as NL baseball in several ways is a lot different to AL ball. I too was guilty of expecting too much of him. For this I'm sorry. Shawn I know you have never given less than 100%, and never will.
Over all he had a good season, although many won't see it that way. I'm still proud of you Shawn, as are all of your real fans.
Still missing you in Toronto! We always will!!
This Shawn Green biography is compiled with stats from the Toronto Blue Jays official web site the official Dodgers web site and with details from my own personal knowledge of Shawn. This biography is all my own work and all comments are my own and in no way associated to the Toronto Blue Jays Baseball Club, the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball club or Shawn Green himself.
Diane M Stanley,1997-2000.
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