Dodgers home opener: World Series rings and a win

Five months and 13 days after Julio Urias struck out Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Willy Adames to capture the Los Angeles Dodgers’ seventh world championship, the Boys in Blue returned to Dodger Stadium Friday afternoon for the first home game of the 2021 campaign.

For the first time since the 2019 division series, the Dodgers welcomed a crowd of actual fans – 15,036 to be exact – and celebrated the team’s first title since 1988.

While Covid-19 continues to exist, Dodger Stadium will, more than likely, not be filled to capacity (a little less than 56,000) until possibly next season but that didn’t stop the day’s crowd from celebrating loudly and proudly as the players, coaches and staff received their championship rings before a 1-0 victory over the Washington Nationals.

Opening Day - Los Angeles Dodgers
Los Angeles Dodgers players celebrate their World Series rings during the team home opener at Dodger Stadium on April 9, 2021. The Dodgers defeated the Washington Nationals, 1-0, thanks to a Justin Turner solo home run. Photo credit: Mark Hammond/Black News Service (BNS)

Two local Dodger fans, Nicole Giddens, 26, and Blake Kuehnle, 25, were able to attend the game in person and expressed their joy of not only being back in the stadium but the celebration of the team’s championship—something neither of them had been fortunate enough to experience in their lifetime until now.

“[To be back] it’s like coming home after being away for a while and it was emotional in the sense of an overload of happiness,” Giddens said. “Seeing them get their rings and the banner being raised was like, finally we get to celebrate with our team. It was a very proud moment to be a Dodgers fan.”

Kuehnle mentioned how he didn’t record any of the ceremony on his cell phone as he wanted to truly embrace the celebration and live in the moment.

“I just wanted to take it all in,” Kuehnle said. “Seeing Kershaw finally get his ring is what I have been waiting for and this day was something I wanted to experience for the last 25 years of my life.”

Opening Day - Los Angeles Dodgers
Justin Turner follows through on a solo home run during the Los Angeles Dodgers 2021 home opener at Dodger Stadium. Turner’s solo blast gave the Dodgers a 1-0 victory against the Washington Nationals on April 9, 2021. Photo credit: Mark Hammond/Black News Service (BNS)

The excitement of the pregame did not carry into the game itself as the Dodgers and Nationals offenses remained scoreless through five and half innings. With two outs in the bottom of the sixth, Justin Turner came up and launched a 412-foot home run into the left-field pavilion to give the Dodgers a 1-0 lead.

The roar of the crowd as Turner rounded the bases was further evidence of how special it is to have real fans in the stands and what it means to the players.

“Definitely missed hearing the fans jumping around and screaming when the ball went over the fence,” Turner said.

Turner provided all the offense (finishing 3-3) and the Dodgers pitching staff had a gem of a day to finish off the perfect day. Starter Walker Buehler went six innings and gave up six hits, no runs and struck out four. Victor Gonzalez, Blake Treinen and Corey Knebel pitched the last three innings and combined for six strikeouts and only gave up two hits.

Manager Dave Roberts spoke to the media following the 1-0 victory and expressed admiration to the entire Dodgers organization for putting on a perfect celebration.

“The Dodgers, in particular Lon Rosen and his staff, they nailed it,” Roberts said. “The bar has been raised on ring ceremonies. I thought our players really enjoyed it, the fans that were both here and watching at home, I’m sure they enjoyed it as well. Just the details and making it personal for every single player was a nice added touch.”

Featured Image: Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts (50) receives his World Series ring prior to the team’s 1-0 victory against the Washington Nationals at Dodger Stadium. Photo credit: Mark Hammond/Black News Service (BNS)