Fourteen members of the Dodgers' 40-man Major League roster, plus the top prospect in the Minor League system, showed up at a neighborhood recreation center Sunday night for a two-hour session that drew about 500 people.
How could one Little League entice a lineup of ballplayers that included starting position players Russell Martin, Matt Kemp and James Loney and starting pitchers Chad Billingsley and Clayton Kershaw?
Because the club officials that drafted and helped develop them asked them to.
Assistant general managers Logan White and De Jon Watson made the request to benefit their sons' Little League program and the players gave up a couple hours of their night to make it a success.
"We have a special team in Los Angeles," said White, instrumental in drafting and signing the players. "This means a lot to the parents and the kids here."
"It's pretty cool that our guys would do this for the kids," said Watson, who runs the Dodgers' farm system.
Joining Martin, Kemp, Loney, Billingsley and Kershaw at the signing tables were Brent Leach, Blake DeWitt, Trayvon Robinson, Kenley Jansen, Josh Lindblom, Russell Mitchell, James McDonald, Lucas May and Xavier Paul. Also signing was Dee Gordon, the club's top-rated prospect according to Baseball America.
Martin was so swamped by autograph seekers he was given a separate table.
Kershaw remembered one of the first Major League autographs he landed as a kid.
"Will Clark," he said. "That's why I wear 22."
Midway through the signing, former Major Leaguer Junior Spivey arrived. Kemp has long considered Spivey a mentor.