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Former Dodger Steve Garvey speaks at Congregation Beth Shalom

Posted: June 9, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: June 9, 2014 2:00 a.m.

Ten-time All-Star and former Los Angeles Dodger Steve Garvey shares some of his insights into the world of professional baseball with fans at the Congregation Beth Shalom temple on Centre Pointe Parkway on Sunday. Signal photo by Jim Holt.

When 10-time All-Star and former Los Angeles Dodger Steve Garvey was asked to play first base back in 1973, Dodgers manager Walter “Smokey” Alston asked him if he had experience at the position.

Garvey told him “yeah,” reflecting on a couple of games he played in little league.

“We won that game (against the Cincinnati Reds) and that was the most satisfying game in my young career,” Garvey told an enthralled audience of more than 75 devoted baseball fans at Congregation Beth Shalom temple on Centre Pointe Parkway Sunday. “Alston came up to me and said ‘You’re in there tomorrow.’

Garvey, now 65, went on to become a legendary first baseman for the Dodgers.

“That was June 23, 1973, and it was the beginning of the rest of my career,” he said.

Garvey was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1st round of the 1968 MLB Draft. He made his Major League debut on Sept. 1, 1969. He had three plate appearances that year, all as a pinch hitter. He logged his first hit on Sept. 10, 1969, off Denny Lemaster of the Houston Astros and his first home run on July 21, 1970, off Carl Morton of the Montreal Expos.

He moved to first base in 1973 when Wes Parker retired and when Alston asked about his experience.

“If I had said ‘No’ that day, on June 23, 1973, I wouldn’t be standing here in front of you today,” Garvey told the temple audience. “I seized the moment and I took a chance.”

“And that’s what I tell kids: Give it a try. The worst you could do is fail. We learn more from failure than from winning. And that day was my turning point, the evolution of what I became,” he said.

Temple leaders invited Garvey to speak Sunday as part of their CBS Distinguished Speaker Series and after they opened the doors on a barbecue “Ballpark Lunch” of hot dogs, chips and drinks, and held a silent auction of sports memorabilia.

Most of the people who showed up to hear Garvey speak wore Dodgers shirts and hats, and judging by the enthusiastic applause, most left inspired.

Garvey, billed by the temple as having had a Hall of Fame-worthy baseball career, was a 10-time All-Star, World Series champion, National League MVP, two-time National league Championship Series MVP, four-time Gold Glove Award winner, two-time All-Star Game MVP and recipient of the 1981 Roberto Clemente Award.

He holds the National League record for consecutive games played, having logged 1,207 consecutive games.

Congregation Beth Shalom is the center of Conservative Judaism in the Santa Clarita Valley. It has a forty-year tradition of synagogue life with a nurturing Preschool, a vibrant Religious School and an active membership.


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