Little league – the rodent-infested, insect-ridden, grassy haven where nearly 2.5 million young baseball players dream to one day become the next Babe Ruth, Derek Jeter, or Mike Trout. For many, this dream often begins and ends between the two distinct – yet sometimes faint – chalk lines that connect home plate with four narrow 70-foot base paths, along with a short 225-foot fence that only seems to shrink as you age.
But sometimes, in rare cases, these wildest dreams do come true; and all that time spent in the backyard emulating a favorite major league superstar then becomes a once-in-a-lifetime reality. While this remains fiction for most, this is now the reality for former Sonoma State University slugger and now Los Angeles Dodger, O’Koyea Dickson.
Following seven total seasons in the minor leagues, the Dodgers decided to select Dickson’s contract from Triple-A Affiliate, Oklahoma City, as a part of Major League Baseball’s roster expansion that took place Sept. 1.
“Getting called up, It’s been unbelievable––honestly a dream come true,” said Dickson, now a new Dodger utility-man, with regard to his first stint as a major league ballplayer. “To be rewarded after seven years with all the different obstacles and challenges that I faced mentally and physically, I’m just truly grateful to be in this position.”
To reach this point, Dickson’s career was nothing short of a journey. Having faced tough obstacles throughout his career, including injuries and tests of mental endurance, Dickson turns to his unbreakable faith to endure tough moments both in life and on the diamond.
“I think God has a plan for everybody and everything we do,” Dickson said. “At times, it’s frustrating, but his plan is always more perfect than ours. Despite wanting everything, you know – he’s always watching over us and working things out the way that they’re supposed to be worked out.”
Drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 12th round of the 2011 MLB draft, the 27-year-old Dickson spent seven seasons developing within the Dodgers’ farm system before receiving his first promotion to baseball’s pinnacle.
The 5-foot-11 power-hitting infielder managed to amass 2,964 plate appearances, 117 home runs, a .279 batting average, and an .840 OPS in 736 games, across five different minor league levels from 2011-2017.
Over the last three seasons with Triple-A Affiliate, Oklahoma City, Dickson steadily increased his numbers in one area in particular – power. In the 2015 season, he hit 13 home runs, followed by 18 in 2016, and a career best 24 dingers during the 2017 campaign.
While Dickson’s career is now on the rise, the Sonoma State program player should not forgotten. In his lone season as a Seawolf, Dickson was a key contributor on and off the field, guiding the 2011 squad to the yearly NCAA Division II Championship tournament.
On the year, statistically, he was an opposing pitcher’s worst nightmare, batting .341 with 11 home runs, 52 RBI, 61 runs and a .438 OBP in 57 total games played. These numbers would eventually earn him First Team All-CCAA honors, along with the Newcomer of the Year award.
Following the big-league promotion, the San Francisco native entered exclusive company by becoming just the fifth former Sonoma State ballplayer to reach baseball’s highest level.
He joins former student-athletes Marshall Brant (1972-74), Tommy Everidge (2002-04), Daniel Barone (2004), and current Kansas City Royals’ reliever, Scott Alexander, as the most recent former athlete to represent Sonoma State on an active major league roster.
With the call-up, Dickson and Alexander earn their place in Sonoma State history as the only two players to ever concurrently reside on an active roster.
When the news of Dickson’s promotion broke, current Sonoma State manager John Goelz decided to reflect on his former student and his significance to the program.
“O’Koyea –– He was a fantastic player, as a matter of fact, a very special guy as well,” Goelz said. “He was an excellent teammate and made a great impact on that team. Some people make mountains out of speedbumps, and these challenges are actually small gifts; and that’s where I believe O’Koyea really excelled and earned his opportunity to be where he is now in his career.”
Although it remains unknown whether a player will stick with an organization or at the peak of baseball’s highest mountain, Dickson remains grateful for all the guidance and support he’s received from everyone that has helped bring him to this pivotal point in his career.
“The support has been great from my family––my girlfriend and new baby. They’ve been at every big game, every big series, and this couldn’t happen without them,” Dickson said. “I’m grateful for my former teammates, along with coach Goelz and coach Adams while I was at Sonoma State; they allowed me to become the player and person that I am today.”
Congratulations, O’Koyea, your little league dreams have finally come true. Welcome to The Show.