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NORWALK — Four Los Angeles Dodger greats visited students at Moffitt Elementary School during recess on Tuesday as part of the ball club’s 11th annual Community Caravan “Pitching In the Community” event.
Tommy Davis, “Sweet” Lou Johnson, Tim Leary and Derrel Thomas participated in Playworks – a structured-play program designed to improve the physical and intellectual well-being of children – and joined students to play handball, jump rope, hula hoop, tag, four-square and more. The players also painted and signed stones that will be placed at Moffitt’s Reading Garden in honor of the Dodgers and their day of service.
“I wish I had gone here as a kid,” said Davis, the only Dodger to win the National League Batting Championship. He won the honor in 1962 and 1963. “The idea of Playworks is outstanding. I think it should be in every school. Everybody gets something out of it.”
Moffitt Principal Maureen Bixby said she was happy to share the benefits of Playworks with the Dodger legends.
“Discipline has decreased significantly and there has been an increase in cooperation since we started Playworks two years ago,” she said. “The children love it, and it’s showing in the classroom.”
Leary, who helped the Dodgers clinch Game 1 of the 1988 World Series by throwing three scoreless innings against the Oakland Athletics, said he was impressed with the school as a whole.
“Everything is very organized and the kids are so happy,” he said. “It reminds me of when I was a kid.”
Johnson is perhaps best known as the only run in Sandy Koufax’s legendary perfect game against the Chicago Cubs in 1965, leading the Dodgers to victory. During a question-and-answer session with the students, he said it was his fondest memory in baseball.
“I have a lot of great memories, but that’s my favorite,” he said.
Thomas has the distinction of being one of just a few MLB players to play every position, except pitcher, at least once in his career. He was also a member of the 1981 World Championship Dodger team that came back from a 2-0 deficit to beat the New York Yankees in four games straight.
“Having living legends come to one of our schools is a fantastic experience for the students,” said Norwalk La-Mirada Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Ruth PÃ©rez. “I am proud that Moffitt’s Playworks program, which we have expanded to the entire District, is attracting such praise.”
Board of Education President Margarita Rios said she looks forward to the District attracting more high-profile attention thanks to its groundbreaking programs and services, such as Playworks.
“The District is poised for a renaissance, and the visit from some of the most beloved athletes in Los Angeles history is proof we are on to even greater things,” Rios said. “I am so proud and honored that the Dodgers organization recognized what we do here, and that the players had such inspiring things to say about Moffitt and Playworks.”