I spent 24 hours in Los Angeles over the weekend to say goodbye to a great friend: Dave Pearson. Thirty years ago, when I moved to LA for a short time to write and arrange photo shoots for TV Guide Canada, Dave lived in the Sherman Oaks apartment next door. He worked over 50 years as a chef for the LA Dodgers and was a legend in the press box, where his adjoining work area is coined “Dave’s Kitchen.”
Dave’s widow Sherry asked if I would emcee a tribute to Dave Saturday hosted by the Dodgers in their impressive Stadium Club. Among the people who paid tribute to Dave were Dodger legends Orel Hershiser and Rick Monday.
I introduced Monday by telling a story about Donald Sutherland. I spoke with Kiefer’s dad several years ago when he was co-starring on the short-lived ABC Geena Davis series Commander in Chief. Sutherland has that imposing movie star presence and he used it to quickly shut down a press scrum. Knowing Sutherland was a big Montreal Expos fan, I tried to re-engage him by saying I had enjoyed dinner at my buddy Dave the Dodger chef’s house and that he had an autographed photo of Monday on his wall.
This was a deliberately provocative ice breaker. Monday slayed the Expos with a home run that ended the Montreal club’s one and only chance at getting into the World Series. The early ‘8os dinger is infamous among Canadian sports fans and the Expos loss was forever after referred to as “Black Monday.”
Sutherland never even looked at me, he just was transported back to that terrible day. “The well-named manager Jim Fanning strode out to the mound,,,” Sutherland spoke as if launching into a Hamlet soliloquy. He then re-lived the whole painful moment, right down to the ball sailing over the fence.
Sutherland asked if next time I was at Dave’s I would demand that the photo of the baseball star be turned to the wall. Dave let me know that was never going to happen.
I spoke with Monday after the tribute and he told me he’s heard Sutherland was asked by another reporter where he goes to in scenes where he has to summon a painful memory. Sutherland answered, without hesitation, that it was the Monday home run.
Fortunately, Dave’s Dodger send-off was such a positive occasion it will only bring back smiles. It was moving to hear all these people get up and say how nobody made them feel better about themselves or just life in general than this wonderful, humble man.