Dodgers News: Clayton Kershaw, Matthew Stafford Share Mutual Respect And Adoration
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Normally, a pitcher of Clayton Kershaw’s caliber would be the toast of the town, particularly for suburb such as Highland Park, which is four miles north from downtown Dallas. But the Los Angeles Dodgers ace spent a bulk of his childhood playing alongside Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford.

The Lions faced the Dallas Cowboys on Monday night at AT&T Stadium, with an opportunity to secure a playoff spot. Stafford finished with 260 passing yards and one interception on 46 attempts in the Lions’ 42-21 loss.

Although the eight-year quarterback was unable to come away with a victory over his hometown team, Stafford had the opportunity to spend some time with Kershaw prior to kickoff.

ESPN’s Michelle Beisner-Buck conducted separate, pre-taped interviews the Texas natives, and the segment aired during the network’s “Monday Night Countdown” telecast.

Kershaw recalled he first became teammates with Stafford during the second grade when the two played soccer. They also played baseball together and football in high school, during which time Kershaw played center for Stafford.

“Matthew played shortstop, pitched, but he also caught,” Kershaw said. Stafford enjoyed being behind the plate, though it led to a few exchanges with Kershaw when they weren’t on the same page.

“My dad and his dad were coaching for a while together. They’d let me call the pitches, which was a bunch of fun, and then Clayton would get mad at me because he didn’t think I was calling the right game,” Stafford recollected.

“He’d call me out to the mound and say, ‘I’m calling the pitches.'” Kershaw deferred to Stafford as freshmen on the football team, though in true linemen fashion, the left-handed ace protected his quarterback after a cheap shot.

Kershaw retaliated, and got ejected. “I was kind of fired up,” Stafford said with a laugh. “You like when your offensive linemen get after it.”

Kershaw shared a similar view, but remembered suffering consequences. “I was proud, but I also got in a lot of trouble,” he said. “It’s probably not the best decision I ever made. But it’s a fun story now.”

When asked which of the two was the better player at soccer, basketball and baseball, Kershaw gave the edge to Stafford. “I might have been a better pitcher, but baseball-wise like, hitting, first base, shortstop, [Stafford] was better,” Kershaw explained.

To little surprise, Stafford was equally complimentary of Kershaw. “He was our goalie, he was known as ‘The Wall,'” Stafford said. “He was for sure the better baseball player, but I think I took him in football just a little bit. He was out of position.”

Where the two did agree was in ping pong. “He kills me in ping pong,” Stafford said. “I’m terrible in ping pong.”