As they do every year, the Los Angeles Dodgers hosted Veterans Day batting practice at Dodger Stadium on Monday as 350 active duty service members of the United States Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard, veterans and their families got the opportunity to meet Gavin Lux, Fernando Valenzuela and others.
The event included behind-the-scenes tours of Chavez Ravine, photograph and autograph opportunities, and lunch in the Lexus Dugout Club that featured a Q&A session with Lux and Dodgers broadcaster Joe Davis.
Phillip Chaidez, a U.S. Air Force veteran that served in Iraq and currently lives in East Los Angeles, was among those in attendance with his family. “It’s really cool,” Chaidez told DodgerBlue.com.
“I usually don’t like to get stuff for veterans, but this was different because it was something my kids could enjoy so that was the main reason we’re here and really excited to enjoy this day. Think about it, the World Series was down here, this is awesome. My son was able to get some batting advice from a Hall of Famer, doesn’t get any better than that. We’re very appreciative.”
Among the former Dodger greats that were on hand and available for pictures, autographs and giving hitting advice were Billy Ashley, Ron Cey, Tommy Davis and Dennis Powell.
Cey participates annually in the event and never hesitates to give back to veterans.
“I think this is an opportunity for us to entertain them, take care of them a little bit for the day. Give back to them for their services,” Cey told DodgerBlue.com in between taking photos and signing autographs for fans.
“Many of these veterans have a lot of tragic stories to tell, a lot of nightmares and dreams to go through. The mental health of these people is tested so we’re trying to give them a day here where they can get away from all of that and come out here and play a game that a lot of these guys grew up playing, baseball. So you see the families, the kids, the dogs, the veterans, it’s a nice way to get some happiness back into their lives.”
The highlight of the event for fans was getting to listen to and take pictures with Lux, as the soon-to-be 22-year-old had a breakout season in 2019 and figures to be one of the bright young stars in the organization for many years to come.
In addition to talking about his outstanding season with the Dodgers, Lux also answered questions from fans that included his offseason workout plan, his childhood growing up in Wisconsin, his fast-food preferences and much more.
This Veterans Day event particularly hit home for him though because he had a great grandfather that died serving in World War II. He expressed his gratitude to all of the military members in attendance for everything they do for the country.
“You guys are the real heroes here that allow us to be able to do what we love to do at the end of the day, so special thanks to you guys.”
The event concluded with a photo session with Valenzuela, which was the cherry on top of a fun day all around at Dodger Stadium.