Sitting a few rows behind home plate since Dodger Stadium was built in Chavez Ravine, Nettie Berkson, 91, has stared at the backside of many Dodger greats – Roseboro, Scioscia, Piazza, Lo Duca and, of course, Yeager. But a few years ago when Nettie bumped into former catcher Steve Yeager at UCLA, she had to rack her brain to place his face. “Steve,” she said, “I didn’t recognize you. If you bent down like you were catching, and I could see your tuchis, then I would recognize you.” Today Nettie plans to attend her 50th consecutive home opener since the Dodgers beat the San Francisco Giants on April 18, 1958, in the club’s first game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. She’ll be joined at the game against the Colorado Rockies by her son and daughter, five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. (Her son bought an extra four tickets and the little ones will sit on their parents’ laps.) It was important the whole family be there to celebrate Nettie’s streak because, to her, Dodger games are about spending time with her family. “It’s absolutely marvelous,” she said, patting her heart and speaking softly. “It gives me great pleasure to be able to say four generations go to the game together.” Taking in the home opener became a family tradition, passed down to each generation at an earlier age than the one before. While Nettie didn’t attend her first Dodgers game until she was 41, her son Michael began at 17. His son, David, went to his first home opener at age 5. And David’s sons, Maddox, 4, and Briggs, 2, both were baptized with Dodger blue at about 6 months old. Amazingly, for the past half century, nothing has threatened Nettie’s streak – no family tragedies, no important events. “It was like a rite of passage,” said Michael Berkson, 62, of Calabasas. “Everybody just made sure it was on the calendar.” That, however, has become more difficult. First, Nettie’s Westside apartment is a long way from Chavez Ravine for a woman who doesn’t drive in a city that doesn’t do public transportation well. Second, when Nettie’s blood turned Dodger blue, programs cost 20 cents and tickets $3.50 – and that was for the expensive seats. Today, her family’s field-level seats – Aisle 1, Row S – cost about $25,000 for four season-ticket packages. “I’m not sure how much longer I can keep getting them,” said Michael Berkson, who is the family ticket controller. This year, to make the cost more reasonable, Berkson organized a consortium of Dodger fans who would share the four seats, similar to a timeshare. “There is no question about who gets the Opening Day tickets,” he said. The Berksons invoked seniority on that one. Born Dec. 31, 1915, in Chicago, Nettie Berkson is the youngest of 12 siblings and the only one born outside Poland. She grew up a Cubs fan; on Fridays she would leave school early and catch the El to Wrigley Field. When she and her husband, Marvin, moved to Los Angeles in 1946 and settled in the Fairfax District, Nettie went looking for her new home team. And for the next 11 years, she was a loyal Hollywood Stars fan. In 1957, the Dodgers confirmed they were coming to town from Brooklyn, and the minor league Stars left. “When the Dodgers came out,” Nettie said, “that was it. I needed a baseball team.” What she got was also a social scene. The Berksons befriended the people they would see from April to October – the fellow fans, food vendors and ushers like Howard Levine. Levine began working at Dodger Stadium in 1971, when he was 17. Even after joining the faculty of Ulysses S. Grant High School in Valley Glen, he kept the usher job. He got to know the Berksons at the stadium and, eventually, he had Michael Berkson’s son as a student assistant for his basketball team. “I see the whole family and … it gives me that at-home feeling, that familiar feeling,” said Levine, 52, of Sherman Oaks. “Being with the same people at the stadium every single day, it is what baseball is all about.” As the years passed by, Nettie’s fellow fans did, too. Her husband died 20 years ago, and for a time she found it painful to go to games. But that didn’t stop her. After 50 years, her children approach each home opener as if it might be her last. “But she looks forward to this game every year,” said her daughter, Joyce Greenberg of Calabasas. “I think that is what keeps her going.” firstname.lastname@example.org (818) 713-3634 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!