Pasadena Police Gift Legendary L.A. Dodger Manny Mota with Baseball Gear to Take to the Dominican Republic

Published : Wednesday, April 24, 2019 | 5:35 PM

Pasadena City Manager Steve Mermell (left), Los Angeles Dodgers All-Star Manny Mota (center), and Pasadena Chief of Police John Perez (right) at Pasadena Police Dept. headquarters on Wednesday, April 24, 2019.

[Updated] Legendary Los Angeles Dodgers All-Star Manny Mota paid a visit to the Pasadena Police Department Wednesday to collect baseball equipment to take to underprivileged children in the Dominican Republic through his charitable Manuel Mota International Foundation, which serves the needy in his home country.

It was a packed house as fans crammed in to get a selfie or a handshake with one of the Dodgers’ most beloved players of all time. City Manager Steve Mermell joined the fans to pose with Mota and Police Chief John Perez.

“We really love what he’s doing and we’re glad to have the opportunity to help him,” Chief Perez said. “Anything Manny does to help the kids, we support him 100 percent. It was a great opportunity to work with Manny on this.”

The Manuel Mota International Foundation also provided more than 48,000 lunches last year to kids and Mota said for 75 percent of those youngsters, that is typically the only meal they eat all day.

At the Pasadena Police Department auditorium Wednesday, Mota, 81, told a standing room only audience that it was a “blessing” for him to work with the police department on this very important mission to help the underprivileged.

Chief Perez and Mota’s son, Domingo Mota, reportedly had originally discussed a collaboration to support the foundation. Domingo Mota is the director of mentoring initiatives at Stars and the Pasadena Police support that program.

“Manny’s foundation has touched so many people in his country,” said Lt. Max Dahlstein. “The kids there play on a dirt lot with car tires lining the field. All the families here put together their kids’ sports gear that we don’t use anymore.”

Dahlstein admitted that he came to work on his day off to catch a glimpse of one of his baseball heroes.

The Manuel Mota Foundation, based in Dominican Republic, provides food, school and sports supplies to children and young people with limited resources, and also provides food for vulnerable elderly people. The foundation has raised money to build a medical clinic, baseball fields, and a school in the Dominican Republic.

The nonprofit organization also awards college scholarships and has hosted an annual golf tournament the last seven years.

Mota has been a beloved figure in baseball, coming to the game in 1962 at the age of 19.

“We felt lucky to have him come,” Dahlstein said.

Capping a remarkable career, most of which was spent in Dodger Blue, Mota was a longtime coach for the Dodgers. His tenure as coach from 1980 through 2013 — 34 consecutive seasons — was the longest in the team’s history.

Mota came to LA on June 11, 1969 in a trade from the Expos and became the Dodgers’ top pinch hitter with a .300 average over six seasons. His success on the field was attributed to his top conditioning and great powers of concentration. Known for his physical ability, even Tommy Lasorda joked that Mota would play until he was 60.

During Mota’s time in LA, the Dodgers won three National League pennants (1974, 1977, 1978). After announcing his retirement in 1979, Mota was reactivated in 1980 and 1982. In the 1980 postseason race for the pennant he went 3-for-7 as a pinch hitter. Mota’s 150 pinch hits came in 500 at-bats.

Mota has a soft spot in his heart for kids as he has eight of his own, plus four adopted children and now also has several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.