When I turned 26 years old, I decided to fulfill my obligation as a baseball nerd and set forth on a pilgrimage to Wrigley Field to see the Los Angeles Dodgers play the Cubs. It was my first time traveling to see my favorite team at the visitor’s club. 

After touring the stadium, my then-girlfriend and I grabbed a bite before the game at a restaurant across the street from the main entrance. From what I remember, the food was basic bar food that we enjoyed.

Next to us, a couple rooting for the home team ate, and the husband sparked a small conversation about the Dodgers. My girlfriend and I decked ourselves from head to toe in Dodger-blue gear–basic visiting tourists. 

While we waited for the waiter to bring back our bill, I saw Clayton Kershaw pull up to the entrance. Without skipping a beat, I grabbed the pen left by the waiter, yelled, “CLAYTON KERSHAW,” and ran towards him. 

I jumped the restaurant’s gate, dodged passing traffic, and asked Kershaw to sign my jersey. He politely responded with a “No, thank you.” I turned in disbelief, not because he said no, but because I had exchanged words with the legendary Clayton Kershaw.

Even though I was denied an autograph, the story behind it is worth so much more. My wife loves to share it with others, and I find myself telling it every chance I get. If I had received the autograph jersey, I probably would have framed it and kept it in my room. But instead, the story has become a part of me. It grows with every retelling, fitting the magnitude of Kershaw’s career has grown to be. 

Joining the 200th Club

On April 18th, 2023, 35-year-old Clayton Kershaw pitched a vintage game against the New York Mets and clinched his 200th win. All wins are coming in as a member of the Dodgers. Kershaw pitched seven innings, striking out nine, allowing zero walks and only three hits, and not giving up any runs. 

In the pre-Guggenheim era, a performance like that would be a perfect way to stop the bleeding after a losing streak. Nothing has changed. The Dodgers still rely on Kershaw to pull them out of a slump. This season, LA is playing sub-.500 ball, having lost four out of their seven games.

Enter Vintage Kershaw and his 12-to-6 curveball–Uncle Charlie. The game got off to a rocky start with a three-base error by Jason Heyward in right field on a fly ball hit by Brandon Nimmo. Kershaw quickly bounced back and struck out the side, leaving the runner stranded at third base. 

Kershaw dodged any trouble until the seventh inning. After striking out Lindor and Alonso swinging, he gave up back-to-back singles to Canha and McNeil, putting runners at the corner. The tying run found its way into the batter’s box in Tommy Pham. 

Cue Vintage Kershaw. After starting the at-bat 2-0, he battled his way back to a full count and struck out Pham with a slider. 

Kershaw then displayed an amount of emotions I have never seen from him before—his passion exuding from his body and into the air of Dodgers Stadium. 

This level of emotion had never been displayed by Kershaw before, not even after pitching his no-hitter or when he passed Don Sutton as the strike-out leader. This was a new side to Kershaw, the kind of spark this .500 ball club needs.

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