Although Joe Kelly no longer adorns a Los Angeles Dodgers uniform, he still remains revered amongst the fans for his entertaining tenure with the team.
And it appears that the feeling is mutual.
As the 33-year-old promotes his new book, “A Damn Near Perfect Game: Reclaiming America’s Pastime,” the former Dodger appeared on a recent podcast episode of “Dodger Talk With David Vessegh” where the two discussed features in the book (which is released on February 28) and also about some specifics of Kelly’s career.
While Kelly has played for some of the most recognizable franchises in baseball’s rich history, including making his MLB debut with the St. Louis Cardinals and spending five years with the Boston Red Sox before signing as a free agent with the Dodgers, he himself explained his deep admiration for the Los Angeles faithful:
“Boston fans, obviously my time there, they loved it. I would kind of say it’s a different kind of passion. They see me as a baseball player. In LA, where I was home and became, I guess a fan favorite, I feel like it was more family connected. It came from more a love aspect or like, ‘He’s one of us,’ type of guys. It’s crazy. A few days ago I came back from Mexico, and in Mexico, Dodger fans are like, ‘Joe Kelly?’ And I’m like, ‘Yup.’
Although he may no longer pitch for Los Angeles, it’s evident through his continued admiration and meaningful memories that Dodgers fans left a lasting impression:
“The reach throughout obviously the West Coast, Mexico, being home in California, it’s a different kind of love. I think it’s more of a friendship-type love than just me being a baseball player. The fanbase in St. Louis was great and in Boston, but that was more, ‘I like him because he’s on the Red Sox.’ It’s definitely different and ultimately I think Dodgers have the best fanbase. They appreciate being true to yourself. That’s a special bond that will be in my heart and their hearts forever.”
A member of the organization for three seasons, including the 2020 World Series roster, Kelly reached baseball headlines and hearts of Dodgers fans for his incident involving then-Houston Astros shortstop Carlos Correa in response to the team’s sign-stealing allegations.
A serviceable reliever across his final two seasons with L.A., Kelly posted a 1.80 ERA over 12 appearances in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season and appeared in 48 games in 2021, pitching to a 2.86 ERA and 0.98 WHIP despite dealing with injuries.
After signing with Chicago White Sox, Kelly’s first season could have notably gone better. While dealing with various injuries across the year, including a hamstring strain, he delivered a forgettable 6.08 ERA in 37 innings of work.
Joe Kelly explains first chapter of book
Kelly’s upcoming book opens with a chapter on his exchange with Correa, which ended with the right-hander making a pouty face that went viral.
Kelly believed it was only fitting that was the first chapter as he looks to peel back the curtain and stay authentic to himself.
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