Ryan cherishes memories of Dodger Stadium

Ryan cherishes memories of Dodger Stadium

LOS ANGELES -- Through 13 years of professional baseball with four organizations, Angels shortstop Brendan Ryan has played in 1,316 games at a myriad of locations. No professional ballpark, however, means more to him than his hometown Dodger Stadium.

Ryan's first trip to Dodger Stadium as a player was a whirlwind. After all, he had just graduated from high school that morning and found himself in a tight ballgame in the CIF state championship game.

At the ballpark where he'd seen so many games growing up, Ryan and his Notre Dame High School teammates were in a tied game in the final inning. They lost in walk-off fashion, a memory he recalled on Tuesday as he prepared to wrap up his first series at the park since 2010, when he was with the Cardinals.

"It's your last high school game, it's at Dodger Stadium, and everyone was fired up," Ryan said. "For me, this was everything. I never thought in a million years that playing in the big leagues was a realistic possibility, but here we are."

Ryan, who grew up nearby and still lives about 15-20 minutes from Chavez Ravine, grew up attending Dodgers games and found himself immersed in Dodger blue. Now, he sits in Angels red in the first-base dugout. Even now, Dodger Stadium carries the same meaning.

"[It meant] the impossible," Ryan said.

As a kid, Ryan attended as many games at Dodger Stadium as he could.

"I can remember the anticipation all day, depending on the age, whether it was getting picked up from St. Brennan's and heading to the field," Ryan said. "Coming through the tunnel, it was just 'boom' and there was the field. The field just made your eyes feel good."

He recalled the "promising" Dodgers teams of his childhood, which provided great moments, from the club's last World Series win in 1988, when Ryan was 6, to watching St. Louis Cardinals slugger Mark McGwire blast a home run out of the ballpark.

In the fourth inning came a Dodger Dog and, some days, he would go get a famous Dodgers Cool-A-Coo in the seventh. While he has yet to get a taste of the ice cream sandwich in his return to Dodger Stadium, Ryan said the first thing he requested when he arrived Monday morning was the famous hot dog.

For a ballplayer who spent much of the last 13 years going from city to city and fighting for his spot, Ryan sat at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday in a familiar spot -- he was home.

Fabian Ardaya is a reporter for MLB.com based in Anaheim. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.