By Evan Henerson
Longtime fans of Los Angeles Dodger baseball (including legendary manager Tommy Lasorda) routinely refer to Dodger Stadium as “Blue Heaven on Earth.” And it takes a specialized crew to keep that Blue Heaven looking green for the gameday masses.
One of those crew members is Freddy Cortez who has been on the organization’s landscaping crew for more than 17 years. Cortez and his eight person team maintain all of the landscaping both inside the stadium and out. On a daily basis, the crew waters plants, trims trees, takes care of the irrigation system and anything else that needs to be done to maintain the stadium’s pristine aesthetics.
“There are so many plants, trees, shrubs and flowers and everything you can think of. Every day is different,” said Cortez. “Even in the off-season, we’re quite busy taking things down and getting things ready for the year to come.”
A proud member of Laborers International Union of North America (LiUNA) Local 300, Cortez is a second generation union man. His father-in-law got him into the union 21 years ago when, fresh off leaving a travel agency that went bankrupt, he joined LiUNA. Cortez’s son, Robert, is also a member.
“The benefits, the pay, the camaraderie with other employees, it’s a great way to live,” Cortez says of union life.
Seventeen years ago, he joined the Dodgers for a nine month gig. A year later, he was called back, this time as a full-time employee.
So are people impressed when they learn that Cortez works at Blue Heaven on Earth?
“Absolutely, Cortez said. “Their eyes light up like a deer in the headlights.”
Union Night at Dodger Stadium will be Friday, Aug. 31 starting at 7:10 pm with the Dodgers facing the Arizona Diamondbacks. Pre-game festivities will honor multiple Southern California-based unions. Tickets to the package include a special Union Night T-shirt. A fireworks show will follow the game. For tickets, click here.