Alumni read books, bring souvenirs and tickets to elementary schools
By Austin Laymance
LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers kicked off their weeklong "Love L.A." Community Tour, presented by Bank of America, on Monday morning with a day of literacy. Dodgers alumni read to children at five local elementary schools and the club donated 20 books to each school's library.
At Gratts Learning Academy for Young Scholars, only a couple of Adrian Gonzalez home runs away from Dodger Stadium, former Dodgers outfielder Al Ferrara read "Curious George at the Baseball Game" to second- and third-grade students.
"This is as important as any hit I ever got," Ferrara said after a busy day back in grade school. "There's something about a child and the glint and the smile in their eyes that makes a big guy like me sort of fold a little bit."
Ferrara also fielded a number of baseball-related questions from the kids, mixed in a story about Jackie Robinson, signed autographs and posed for pictures.
"I got a kick out of it," he said. "Sometimes I get more intelligent questions from them than I do from adults. They were very into baseball, which makes it easy for me."
Ferrara visited students in Ms. Salazar's second-grade class and Ms. Martinez's third-grade class, and the kids received tickets to an upcoming Dodgers game in addition to Dodgers caps, shirts and stickers.
For most of the students, it will be their first visit to Chavez Ravine to see the Dodgers play.
"Going to a baseball game, you can learn a whole lot of different things," said Ferrara, who played for the Dodgers from 1963-68. "It's something great for kids to be able to go to a game."
Dodgers alumni Billy Ashley, Lee Lacy, Kenny Landreaux and Matt Luke also read to students at elementary schools throughout Los Angeles, including Coliseum, Crescent Heights Magnet, Normandie and Utah.
The tour also featured a mentoring lunch for students from New Village Girls Academy at Dodger Stadium on Monday afternoon, which was attended by philanthropist and entrepeneur Cookie Johnson, wife of club partner Magic Johnson, and CEO Stan Kasten.
Austin Laymance is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.