Young fan en­joys his birth­day on Ker­shaw day

The Oklahoman (Sunday) - - SPORTS -

Sit­ting atop her fa­ther’s shoul­ders, Larin Ben­nett proudly held the sil­ver sign with black let­ter­ing.

“It’s my 10th birth­day all I want is to meet Ker­shaw,” the sign read, with Ker­shaw in blue.

The sign eas­ily stood out among hun­dreds of fans gath­ered around the Ok­la­homa City Dodgers bullpen dur­ing pregame Satur­day.

“We’re both lefthanded, and he’s amaz­ing,” Larin said.

Fans stood in the grass be­hind the cen­ter field fence. They lined up around the bullpen, three peo­ple deep in places.

Three-time Cy Young Award win­ner Clay­ton Ker­shaw was warm­ing up for his re­hab start in front of a sold-out crowd at Chick­a­saw Brick­town Ball­park.

Ben­nett’s fa­ther, Matt, grew up in Los An­ge­les but fol­lowed fam­ily to Yukon in 2004. His fa­vorite player is Ker­shaw, but he had never seen him pitch.

Watch­ing his bullpen was as close as he could get Satur­day night. Wear­ing a Ker­shaw jer­sey with a sliver au­to­graph on it, Ben­nett was amazed at the left-han­der’s funky mo­tion and pitches.

“It’s way im­por­tant.” Matt said. “It’s a su­per­good day for us to see him pitch. It’s def­i­nitely go­ing to be a good night. Even in L.A., you wouldn’t be able to get this close to him. I’m pretty starstruck.”

Ker­shaw in a dif­fer­ent num­ber

Ker­shaw’s tra­di­tional No. 22 jer­sey wasn’t what he wore. Still, don­ning No. 38 he stood out. OKC second base­man Drew Maggi wore No. 22 like he has the en­tire sea­son.

But Ker­shaw’s cus­tom­ary Los An­ge­les Dodgers’ No. 22 was seen through­out the ball­park, with many fans wear­ing jer­seys or shirts for Ker­shaw.

Full crowd en­joys the night

At least five cars atop the park­ing garage be­hind Chick­a­saw Brick­town Ball­park were lined with tail­gaters. Fans lined the three lev­els below.

It was all to see Ker­shaw, even if it was from a dis­tance.

OKC had a ca­pac­ity crowd in the cur­rent con­fig­u­ra­tion of the sta­dium with advertisement tarps cov­er­ing the second level on the first­base side. Lines wrap­ping around the sta­dium from all sides were vis­i­ble be­fore the gates opened.

Fans cer­tainly en­joyed the mo­ments in­side, too.

Ker­shaw nearly got a stand­ing ova­tion when he took the field and when he threw his first warmup pitch from the mound.

As Omaha’s Ra­mon Tor­res stepped to the plate to open the game, one fan yelled, “Hey, good luck, 2.” Ker­shaw ul­ti­mately struck out Tor­res, who had struck out three times in four at-bats in the big leagues against Ker­shaw.

Tweet of the night

For­mer Ed­mond Santa Fe star Clay­ton Black­burn couldn’t make the game to see Ker­shaw. But the Round Rock pitcher wanted his friends to find their way to The Brick.

“If you’re in OKC tonight and don’t go see this some­thing is wrong with you,” Black­burn tweeted in re­sponse to the Dodgers’ tweet of Ker­shaw’s No. 38 OKC jer­sey.

[PHOTO BY NATE BILLINGS, THE OK­LA­HOMAN]

Fans watch Los An­ge­les pitcher Clay­ton Ker­shaw warm up in the bullpen be­fore pitch­ing a re­hab as­sign­ment in a Triple-A base­ball game be­tween the Ok­la­homa City Dodgers and the Omaha Storm Chasers at the Chick­a­saw Brick­town Ball­park.

Ja­cob Un­ruh jun­ruh@ ok­la­homan.com

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