July 31, 2012
LOS ANGELES - California alumnus Hector Jimenez and his Los Angeles Galaxy team threw out the first pitch before the Los Angeles Dodgers played the Arizona Diamondbacks on July 30 at Dodger Stadium. The Major League Baseball team honored the Major League Soccer club - the defending MLS champion - on Galaxy Night in Chavez Ravine.
After throwing out the first pitch, Jimenez and Galaxy teammate Rafael Garcia were interviewed by Dodgers Hall-of-Fame Spanish language radio broadcaster Jamie Jarrin and had their first-pitch baseballs autographed by Dodgers pitching legend Fernando Valenzuela.
"It was an amazing experience," Jimenez said. "When I was growing up, I was a big Galaxy fan and a big L.A. Dodger fan. Being able to throw out the first pitch with my teammates and meet Fernando Valenzuela, it was unbelievable."
Former Golden Bear Josh Saunders - the Galaxy's starting goalkeeper - was not on hand at the game, which the Dodgers lost, 7-2.
Jimenez has played a key role for the Galaxy (10-10-3 record) in his second season in MLS. The midfielder has started nine games, including the last eight, over which span L.A. has achieved a 5-2-1 record. He collected his first MLS points in those nine starts, scoring a goal against the San Jose Earthquakes on May 23 in Carson, Calif., and contributing an assist against the Quakes and former teammate David Bingham on June 30 in Santa Clara, Calif. Bingham's Quakes won both matches.
A Huntington Park, Calif., product, Jimenez played in two games and started one in his rookie season of 2011, when the Galaxy won its latest league championship.
Jimenez and Bingham were members of what was arguably the best team in Cal history in 2010, when the Golden Bears won the then-Pac-10 championship and reached the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament. That team featured seven future professional players, including Jimenez, Bingham, Anthony Avalos (SK Vard Haugesund, Norway Second Division), Servando Carrasco (Seattle Sounders FC, MLS), Demitrius Omphroy (Toronto FC, MLS), Davis Paul (Chicago Fire, MLS) and A.J. Soares (New England Revolution, MLS).
One of the top producers of soccer talent in the nation, Cal currently has 17 former players in the pro ranks, including 13 in MLS: Jimenez, Bingham, Saunders, Avalos, Carrasco, Soares, Calen Carr (Houston Dynamo, MLS), Stefan Frei (Toronto FC, MLS), Andrew Jacobson (FC Dallas, MLS), Eric Kronberg (Sporting Kansas City, MLS), Leo Krupnik (Maccabi Netanya, Israeli Premier League), Steve Purdy (Portland Timbers, MLS), Troy Roberts (Rochester Rhinos, USSF Division 2 Pro League), Evan Sassano (Minnesota Stars FC, NASL), Luke Sassano (Sporting Kansas City, MLS), Tyson Wahl (Colorado Rapids, MLS) and Andrew Wiedeman (Toronto FC, MLS).