The New -30- Chapter 3: Shoji, Lasorda and Dodger Blue

True Blue Dave Shoji
As he tweeted, I know, I know. An old man acting like a kid but just let me enjoy this!

No crying in baseball?

Allowances should be made for tears of joy.

There’s some extra Manoa Mist tonight, particularly in the Shoji household. That’s where Dave Shoji, the former Hawai’i women’s volleyball coach, is celebrating his favorite MLB team — the Los Angeles Dodgers winning the World Series, their first championship since 1988.

Shoji, the biggest Dodgers fan I know, bleeds Dodger Blue. While many associate him with the sport of volleyball and the success of the Rainbow Wahine, Shoji’s best sport in high school was baseball, where he was a three-time all-league shortstop for Upland (Calif.) High and a member of Upland’s American Legion national championship team in 1964.

True Blue Dave Shoji
As he tweeted, I know, I know. An old man acting like a kid but just let me enjoy this!

A three-sport athlete for the Highlanders — including halfback in football and guard in basketball — Shoji was named Upland High’s athlete of the year, beating out his baseball teammate, future Hall of Famer Rollie Fingers.

Why are people congratulating me? Like I did something? Well, I have been cheering for the Blue since ‘88 without winning the WS” Shoji tweeted tonight.

Although decades removed from his high school glory, Shoji can feel a connection to who was voted the Willie Mays World Series MVP: Dodger Corey Seager. Yes, a shortstop.


Personally, I have never been a Dodgers fan. Growing up in San Diego, there was the rivalry — albeit usually lop-sided — between my beloved Padres and that Chavez Ravine team up the I-5. The only Dodger I will admit to cheering for was Ron Cey. I couldn’t even embrace Steve Garvey when he traded his blue for the padre brown and mission gold.

And I think I’m not alone when saying no one calls a baseball game like Vin Scully.

Which leads me to my favorite Dodger-related story.

Tommy Lasorda, the longtime Los Angeles manager (1976-96), was in Honolulu in 2006, making the rounds of the local newsrooms as the ambassador for the inaugural World Baseball Classic.

Hawaii wasn’t going to be in the rotation of WBC playing sites but Lasorda always enjoyed coming to the 50th state which produced the Dodgers’ third-round draft pick in 1981, pitcher Sid Fernandez.

Lasorda was wearing his 1988 World Series ring when shaking hands with everyone. I admired it, while also adding that I never cared for the Dodgers. (Think I used a stronger word).

“Grew up in San Diego,” I said, noting the it was Dodger Boo, not Dodger Blue.

Lasorda said he understood and underscored it with his own story.

San Diego’s Petco Park was going to be the host site of the WBC championship. During the 2005 season, Lasorda was on the field at one of the Padre games as part of the WBC hype.

He received a standing ovation.

“I said to the person standing next to me that my mother is turning over in her grave. There’s no way she would ever believe that San Diego would cheer for me, let alone give me a standing ovation,” Lasorda said.


“The New -30-“ is a semi-regular feature of this website on Tuesdays. The intent is to give an inside look into my 40-plus years as a sports writer.