Retired Covenant College professor Russ Heddendorf spends most mornings working in his yard on Lookout Mountain.
Some of his evening plans might change.
Heddendorf attended Brooklyn Dodgers games as child and remained loyal to the franchise when they relocated to Los Angeles in 1958. He takes pride in the great Dodgers of the past but now can keep a pulse on their future with the Chattanooga Lookouts as their new Class AA affiliates.
“I’ll be going to more Lookouts games now,” Heddendorf said Thursday.
Heddendorf is one piece in a sizable Dodgers fan base that was formed in the East and multiplied on the West Coast. Like the New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox, the Dodgers have a national appeal that is reflected by supporters of all ages and backgrounds.
The Dodgers haven’t won a World Series since 1988, but their 21 National League pennants dating back to 1890 are the most of any team.
“You’re looking at one of the premier franchises for a long time,” Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt said. “They were originally in Brooklyn, so you have those ties from those parents and grandparents who lived up there and followed the team when they were in New York. When they moved away, I don’t think it was a situation where people lost that tie watching them.”
Los Angeles farm director DeJon Watson believes the Dodgers have a strong presence in the Southeast, even though the region has been overwhelmingly supportive of the Atlanta Braves.
“We were in Vero Beach for such a long time, and people would drive down or fly down and watch the Dodgers,” Watson said. “Our spring training was open to the public, so fans could get close to the players and mingle around.”
Watson pointed out that Chattanooga will not only host the Double-A Dodgers but some of the legends still working in the organization, such as Tommy Lasorda and Maury Wills.
Lookouts ticket manager Luis Gonzalez said several requests for season tickets were made Thursday morning. Team owner Frank Burke was flooded by positive feedback Thursday and is scheduled to spend today and Saturday in Los Angeles for affiliation meetings.
Burke and Watson are expected to discuss some design changes at AT&T Field.
“We’re not going to do wholesale changes, because I can’t afford to change everything that is red to blue, nor do I want to,” Burke said. “We have to focus on the little-picture items. There will be a lot of work to be done once I get back, and I’m looking forward to watching others do it.”
The Jacksonville Suns, who were Double-A affiliates of the Dodgers for the past eight seasons, have partnered with the Florida Marlins, which leaves Cincinnati and San Francisco as the only big-league teams still searching. The Double-A teams seeking big-league partners are the Carolina Mudcats and the Connecticut Defenders.
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...