For nearly 60 years, Lincoln High School baseball players dreamed about playing for a L.A. City Championship in Dodger Stadium.
The dream came true May 30 when the Tigers took the short ride down North Broadway to Chavez Ravine to face Chavez High School in the City Division II championship game.
The Tigers were followed to Dodger Stadium by an equally excited crowd that greatly outnumbered the Chavez side of the stadium.
With the crowd behind them and playing three miles from school, Lincoln looked and probably felt right at home.
Sophomore pitcher Issac Cota retired the first three Chavez batters he faced on ground balls.
Chavez, on the other hand, seemed overwhelmed by the setting, and the 19th-seeded Eagles battled first-inning jitters, allowing Lincoln to score three runs on only two hits.
It was all Lincoln would need to win the game, 3-0 behind Cota and senior Hugo Avendano, who combined to throw a two-hitter and lead the Tigers to their first City title since 1935.
“Winning the City championship in Dodger Stadium is an incredible feeling,” Cota said. “It’s a dream come true.”
“We don’t want to wake up,” said Coach Joe Romero, a 1970 Lincoln graduate and retired Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department homicide detective who returned to the school as a walk-on coach. “The stars were aligned for us this year.”
Now in his sixth season, Romero felt this would be the year Lincoln would make it to Dodger Stadium and told his players that anything less would be unacceptable.
Lincoln last won a City baseball title in 1935. The Tigers defeated Fremont, 7-5 in a championship game that featured a home run by Tiger legend Kenny Washington.
Washington went on to become a football and baseball standout at UCLA. He was a teammate of Jackie Robinson with the Bruins. Washington would go on to break the NFL’s color barrier in 1946 by signing a contract with the Los Angeles Rams.
Robinson broke major league baseball’s color barrier the following year.
Lincoln also won City titles in 1921 and 1929, according to Mike Gordon, the school’s assistant athletic director whose association with the school goes back 53 years.