In 1988, veteran baseball player Mark Toves was at the Marina Del Rey in Los Angeles, watching the Dodgers defeat the Oakland Athletics in Game 5 of their best-of-seven playoff series, 8-4, to win the World Series.
Thirty-two years later on Saipan and after enduring many heartbreaking losses for his beloved team, Toves witnessed how the Dodgers exorcised the ghosts of past Octobers after beating the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 6, 3-1, yesterday in Arlington, Texas to wrap up their best-of-seven title series.
The Commonwealth Ports Police officer watched all six games of the World Series and though the Rays gave the Dodgers some anxious moments in the championship showdown after taking Games 2 and 4 and were constantly reminded of their misfortunes in more than three decades, Toves never lost his faith on the blue crew, just like how his grandmother, Natividad Santos, showed continued support to the team, win or lose.
“I watched the World Series in 1988 with my grandmother, a hard-core Dodgers and Lakers fan. I am sure she is so happy right now with this victory,” said Toves, who grew up idolizing former Dodgers pitcher Fernando Valenzuela and second baseman Steve Sax. Both players were part of the 1988 team (but Valenzuela did not play in the post season due to an injury) that won the last World Series for the Dodgers before the squad went on a slump in the next 30-plus seasons in the Major League Baseball.
Included in the Dodgers’ long dry spell were their back-to-back failed World Series title bids—against the Houston Astros in 2017 and the Boston Red Sox in 2018.
“I was definitely heartbroken when the Dodgers lost in 2017 against Houston Astros and again in 2018 versus Boston Red Sox. But, I could never root for any other team than the Dodgers. Let’s go blue!” the Saipan Masters Baseball League pitcher said.
While Toves was in a good company of her grandmother when the Dodgers won in 1988, Capitol Hill resident Larry Maurin was too young to remember how Los Angeles fans celebrated that World Series win. But he recalls how San Francisco Giants gloated when they topped the World Series in 2010, 2012, and 2014, while he remained loyal with the crashing Dodgers.
“The last time they won I was 5… I was too young to remember and enjoy 1988, and I’ve been a life-long Dodger fan. I grew up 20 minutes from the Dodgers Stadium, I went to many Dodger games, and I lived in San Francisco when the Giants won and I had to hear Giants fans bragging but I stuck with my team. So, I am going to enjoy it and be happy for the team and the city of Los Angeles,” said Maurin, who had to watch the replay of Game 6, as he was at work yesterday and could not tune in to the live coverage.
The Dodgers got their first World Series title in 32 years at a time when it was uncertain whether the MLB will go ahead with the season or not due to the COVID-19 pandemic before opting for a shortened regular season.
“With or without the pandemic, they got back where they belonged (in the company of World Series champions),” said former Saipan resident Marlon Estigoy, who is now based in Los Angeles.