Dodgers Caravan ends with field dedication

Dodgers Caravan ends with field dedication

Dodgers Caravan ends with field dedication
LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers concluded their eighth annual community caravan Tuesday with owner Frank McCourt dedicating the 10th Dodgers Dream Field, this one at Northridge Recreational Center.

McCourt thanked his partners -- Jon Kirk Mukri of the Los Angeles City Department of Recreation and Parks, City Councilman Greig Smith and Anita DeFrantz of the LA84 Foundation -- then reiterated to reporters that he's here to stay, despite the uncertainty created by his ongoing divorce.

"I'm just going through the process, but I'm very confident at the end of the process I will own the baseball team," said McCourt. "That's how I will continue to proceed on a daily basis."

The Dodgers open Spring Training on Wednesday, with pitchers and catchers reporting to the Camelback Ranch-Glendale complex in Arizona. McCourt said that fans he encounters do not focus on off-the-field matters.

"The only thing fans are focused on is wanting to win. That's the only thing they care about," he said. "That's what we're focused on. Putting a great product on the field and winning a lot of baseball games. Fans care about winning. That's what they want and we want to deliver the fans a world's championship."

McCourt said ticket sales are "doing fine -- right on projections," and that he wouldn't rule out a Dodgers regional television network "maybe someday" despite the deal the Lakers announced this week, which some media experts suggest makes a Dodgers channel less likely.

"Anything that brings sports and games to the fans is a good thing," he said. "I have no comment on that agreement, but the key is accessibility. Sports are all about the fans."

The caravan started Tuesday with a stop at Los Angeles Fire Department No. 3, for the official handoff of a fire truck for Rafael Furcal's hometown in the Dominican Republic, Loma de Cabrera, population: 5,000. Bernie Ventura represented Los Bomberos Foundation, a non-profit group of firefighters that was instrumental in procuring the donated equipment.

L.A. Fire Department official Donald Frazeur proclaimed Furcal an "honorary firefighter" and presented him with a commemorative ax and City Councilman Tom La Bonge, whose district includes the station, gave a Dodgers pep talk.

General manager Ned Colletti said the equipment was the culmination of a conversation that concluded the negotiation of Furcal's contract two years ago.

"I asked the agent if there was a cause that Rafael wanted to support and he came up with a fire truck for his hometown," said Colletti. "I said we'd go halves with him and it sealed the deal. It's pretty cool two years later to see it come to fruition."

The truck will be hauled to Florida, then shipped by freighter to the Dominican.

"Thank God to the Dodgers and Los Bomberos," said Furcal. "A lot of poor people get killed in my hometown because they don't have a fire truck. We're doing something for this little town. The only big guy from there is me. Thank you all for keeping my dream alive."

The caravan also made stops in Santa Monica for a "Heal the Bay" beach cleanup with fans near the pier; at the LA Police Department West Valley station for lunch with officers and staffers; and at Taft High School, alma mater of non-roster invitee Gabe Kapler.

In addition to Furcal and Kapler, the caravan included current players Matt Kemp, Jay Gibbons and Tony Gwynn Jr.; former players Steve Garvey, Ron Cey, Fernando Valenzuela, Don Newcombe, Lou Johnson, Shawn Green and Derrel Thomas; and broadcaster Charley Steiner.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.