Palm Desert's Ryan Garvey is congratulated by a teammate after scoring… (Wade Byars / Desert Sun )
It has been 24 years since a Garvey last appeared in the lineup at Dodger Stadium, which means if Ryan Garvey of Palm Desert is able to make it to Dodger Stadium on June 3 for the Southern Section Division 4 championship game, not only will his father, 10-time All-Star Steve Garvey, be smiling, but "Uncle Tommy," as he affectionately calls Tom Lasorda, might have to show up and offer a pep talk.
"It would mean a lot for me and my dad," Garvey said.
April 26, 1987 was the last time Steve Garvey played at Dodger Stadium as a member of the San Diego Padres. But it was his glory days with the Dodgers in the 1970s that made him a beloved player — except when he was throwing balls away as a third baseman early in his career.
That's one reason Palm Desert Coach Darol Salazar says without hesitation about the younger Garvey, "He's probably faster and has a better arm than his father."
For four years, Garvey has made steady improvement as a power-hitting outfielder. He signed with USC and is expected to be selected in next month's baseball draft. And no one is prouder than his father, who admits watching his son play is pretty nerve-racking.
"People say, 'How tough is it? It's like giving birth," Steve Garvey said.
The elder Garvey is frequently asked for autographs, but his son also is getting attention. He's batting .381 with nine home runs and 42 runs batted in for a Palm Desert team that's 25-4 and began Division 4 playoff action on Thursday with a 4-1 victory over Costa Mesa Estancia.
"He's hitting with power to all fields," Salazar said. "When he hits the ball, it's special. It's different. The ball jumps off his bat."
Anyone who meets Ryan Garvey can sense the excitement and enthusiasm he has for baseball. Maybe it comes from meeting Hall of Famers. Maybe it comes from watching old videos of his father. Maybe it comes from hanging out with Lasorda, the always energetic former Dodgers manager who directed Steve Garvey to a world championship in 1981.
"I've known him for so long, he's pretty much my uncle," Garvey said.
Palm Desert will need three more playoff victories to earn a championship trip to Dodger Stadium. If it happens, the Garveys might require a security escort around Dodger Stadium because so many people will be taking photos of the historic moment, the son returning to the scene where his father made so many Dodger fans stand up and cheer.
Talent in Mission League
Four Mission League teams played first-round playoff games Thursday in Division 2, and each won.
Leading the sweep was league champion North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake and junior pitcher Lucas Giolito (8-0), who struck out eight, walked one and allowed three hits in six innings of a 5-0 victory over Placentia Valencia.
Mission Hills Alemany defeated La Mirada, 6-0, behind junior pitcher Cody Thompson, who threw a two-hitter. West Hills Chaminade defeated Palos Verdes, 13-5. And Sherman Oaks Notre Dame knocked off Crescenta Valley, 6-3. Top-seeded Cypress was upset by Goleta Dos Pueblos, 5-4.
Giolito, who's 6 feet 6, has a 3.5 grade-point average, plays the French horn and is committed to UCLA, could be the No. 1 pitching prospect in California for 2012.
There was one embarrassing moment for the Wolverines. They were the victims of the Little League hidden ball trick, getting a runner picked off second when Valencia's pitcher and two infielders turned in Academy Award-worthy acting performances, faking that the ball had been thrown into center field.
"We fell for the banana in the tailpipe," Coach Matt LaCour said.