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Stan Kasten walks the walk and talks the talk at Dodger Stadium

The energetic new team president meets with fans and chats with employees at Dodgers' first home game under new owners. Nothing is too minor: he hears about bathrooms and checks on concession lines.

May 07, 2012|By Steve Dilbeck
  • Dodgers President Stan Kasten visits with fans during Monday night's game at Dodger Stadium.
Dodgers President Stan Kasten visits with fans during Monday night's… (Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles…)

This is how all new beginnings should be. All energy and smiles and positive vibes.

Stan Kasten is on the move and taking it all in. He's greeting season-ticket holders as they enter the stadium. He's meeting with ushers, security personnel and ticket takers.

He's walking the loge, the reserved and the field levels. He's talking to fans and ushers and complete strangers, and welcoming them all to Dodger Stadium.

An attractive woman walks up and hugs the new team president.

"I love you Stan," she says.

Later he jokes, "It gets old."

Back in the owner's box next to the Dodgers dugout Monday sit the other five new owners, all taking in their first home game as the latest leaders of the franchise. Not Kasten. He struggles to keep still for long. And not because he's trying to channel his inner Jerry West.

"I just like moving around," he says. "I don't like sitting. It's not nervous energy. It's exuberance."

The Guggenheim Baseball Management group has owned the team for a week, and already many recognize him. They stop him on the concourse. They call out his name as he passes by. Some stare, some yell "thanks."

"Teenagers even know who I am," he says. "Why is that? They must read The Times' Dodgers blog."

Kasten said this walking and moving and greeting is not some new thing, not something he's only doing Monday, but the way he's been his entire professional life. One that's seen him as president of the Atlanta Braves, NBA's Atlanta Hawks and NHL's Atlanta Thrashers, and the Washington Nationals.

"My wife has been sitting next to an empty seat for 27 years," Kasten says.

Before the game, he stops to greet fans as they enter the stadium. He doesn't like that there are TV cameras there because it looks like a photo op.

He shakes hands, receives hugs, signs baseballs, poses for photos and meets Deuce, the young fan once prominent dancing on the video board during the eighth-inning playing of "Don't Stop Believing."

Kasten meets a Marine in uniform and thanks him for his service. He seeks out an elderly woman in a wheelchair to shake her hand. He signs a baseball for a middle-aged man and tells him, "You should wait awhile and get an autograph from a real player."

And the fan replies: "I'm getting one from a real owner."

Kasten smiles. He's done a lot of things during his career leading sports teams, but this is the first time he's ever been an owner.

"You got me there," he tells the fan.

Later in separate meetings, he talks to ushers, security and ticketing personnel.

"I need to talk to all of them," he says. "I just want them to know I care."

Kasten tells the ushers if they have a fan or a family with a question or wants to meet him, just stop him when they see him walking by. Sure enough, while he walks the concourse of the reserved level, two do.

He meets Vern and Leanna Chesterston, who tell him they were at the first Dodgers' game at the Coliseum. He shakes their hands and tells them how happy he is to meet them. Sherri Hoffman and Bill Whipple tell him they're the only couple to be married at home plate.

"You have to do something about the bathrooms," Hoffman says.

"You're absolutely right," Kasten says.

Kasten is a bald, 60-year-old with the energy of a child. He talks fast, moves fast, maybe somehow listens fast.

He looks at the concession lines, only about eight deep with room to walk the concourse, and is happy.

"Much better," he says. "That's acceptable."

He says normally he might spend an inning with General Manager Ned Colletti, an inning with his wife in the stadium club, stop by the press box, maybe spend the last three innings in the clubhouse.

"I don't have a route," he says. "I look for different things."

Then he excuses himself. Kasten is back on the move.

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