As Dodgers go broke, fans recall rich history

Life-long Dodgers fan Frank Parker, during happier times
CBS News

For a brief moment, L.A. Dodgers fans could rejoice, with the team's come from behind win Sunday over the Angels.

But, as CBS News correspondent John Blackstone reports, the mood changed abruptly Monday with the team's bankruptcy filing. Longtime fans like George O'Balle know exactly who they blame - the team's owner, Frank McCourt.

"The guy can't even make payroll for crying out loud," O'Balle said.

The Dodgers financial troubles have been laid bare by the ongoing divorce settlement of McCourt and his ex-wife Jaime. They bought two homes near the Playboy Mansion and two more in Malibu. They paid $225,000 a month for a private jet and $300 a day for hair styling.

Dodgers file for bankruptcy, McCourt rips Selig

The McCourts lavish lifestyle was financed by at least $108 million borrowed against the Dodgers. In many divorces, it's the kids that suffer. In this one, it's the fans.

"I would love the old-time family feeling to come back to the Dodgers," said fan John Parker.

Parker grew up faithful to the Dodgers.

"I walk through the gate and I walk through the tunnel and I see the field. It's like I'm home," he said.

Parker's loyalty goes back to his father Frank, a World War II vet who grew up on a Kansas farm in the 1930's. The first time he heard a radio, baseball was on.

"And it was the Brooklyn Dodgers and he said from that moment on, he was a Dodgers fan," Parker said.

The Dodgers moved to Los Angeles and so did Frank, raising a family as devoted to the team as they were to each other. Two years ago, his son John arranged a very special 87th birthday. Though Frank's eyes were failing, he got to throw out the ceremonial first pitch.

"There was a big roar from the crowd, it was awesome," Parker recalled. "And he couldn't even see them but he said, 'boy, I could sure feel them.'"

Frank Parker died last year. The only good part of that, his son says, is that he doesn't have to see what has happened to the team he loved.

  • John Blackstone

    From his base in San Francisco, CBS News correspondent John Blackstone covers breaking stories throughout the West. That often means he is on the scene of wildfires, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and rumbling volcanoes. He also reports on the high-tech industry in Silicon Valley and on social and economic trends that frequently begin in the West.