MLB renames Dodgertown complex for Jackie

April 3rd, 2019

VERO BEACH, Fla. -- For 50 years, the Dodgers made their Spring Training home at a complex that eventually became known as Historic Dodgertown. On Tuesday, it was given a new name in honor of the most historic Dodger of them all: Jackie Robinson.

Speaking at a press conference alongside Robinson’s family, Commissioner Rob Manfred announced that Dodgertown, where the club trained from 1948-2008, will now be known as the Jackie Robinson Training Complex. The facility will continue its recent focus on the development of youth baseball players.

“The relationship between the Robinson family and Major League Baseball is a special one,” Manfred said. “This year is an important and special year for Major League Baseball. Throughout 2019, we will be celebrating the 100th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s birth.

“Jackie is responsible for the most important moment in the history of baseball -- breaking the color barrier -- and part of a movement in American history, not just baseball history, that led to greater equality in our country and really a turning point in civil rights."

The complex will be a year-round hub for amateur baseball and softball development. A clover-leafed, four-field softball hub sits behind the third-base side of the venerable Holman Stadium, which will be the venue for baseball activities.

“Not only is this facility important for what happened here historically, but it’s also important for what goes on here today,” Manfred said. “Some of our most important programming is held here. It is a symbol of our commitment to making baseball look like America, providing elite playing opportunities to kids, most of color from all over the United States.”

Robinson’s wife, Rachel, daughter, Sharon, and son, David, were onstage with Manfred, along with former Dodgers owner Peter O’Malley and Tony Reagins, MLB's executive vice president of baseball & softball development.

Reagins’ department has overseen the growth of the “PLAY BALL” initiative and programs including Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI), the Andre Dawson Classic, and the Hank Aaron Invitational (formerly the Elite Development Invitational), which was held at then-Historic Dodgertown.

And it will be a busy summer in Vero Beach, with all-star games, camps and programs designed for boys and girls in baseball and softball. These events, which are scheduled throughout the summer in 2019 in conjunction with the sports’ governing bodies, include the following:

• Baseball Breakthrough Series East (with USA Baseball) -- June 6-10.

• Girls Baseball Breakthrough Series (with USA Baseball) -- June 14-18.

• Softball Elite Development Invitational (with USA Softball) -- July 12-16.

• Hank Aaron Invitational (with USA Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association) -- July 21-Aug. 2.

• RBI Baseball and Softball World Series – Aug. 4-15.

MLB will soon begin renovations on the Jackie Robinson Training Complex, which will most prominently include a new indoor training facility that will allow consistent training and workout opportunities for young athletes as well as improvements to Holman Stadium. Additional renovations will be announced at a later date. Currently, the Jackie Robinson Training Complex features Holman Stadium (6,500-seat capacity), four additional full-size baseball fields, one half field (90-foot basepaths, no outfield), four softball and youth baseball fields, eight indoor and lighted batting/pitching tunnels, four outdoor batting tunnels with pitching machines, 32 mounds and home plates for individual work, and a 60-yard agility and warm-up area.

MLB officially assumed operational control of the complex at the turn of 2019. At one point in Tuesday’s event, Indian River County commissioner Peter O’Bryan turned over the keys to Manfred -- literally handing him a large set of keys in a plastic baggy -- as the crowd laughed and applauded.

Sharon Robinson said the programs that MLB has been advancing would have made her father proud.

“It’s very exciting to us because my dad was so committed to young people,” said Robinson, who will be part of the unveiling of the Jackie Robinson Museum in New York City in December. “While he was still playing baseball, he started with the Harlem YMCA. He was always committed to the development of young people.

“It’s quite a journey [from Harlem to Vero Beach]. Dad would go meet with the young boys [in Harlem] -- it was boys back then, only the young boys -- so now we’ll be reaching boys and girls and hopefully giving them a strong message and support in their lives.”

Manfred said it is important to keep the legacy of No. 42 alive.

“You bridge that gap by education and exposure," he said. "We think that by bringing young people here, they’ll be exposed to an important part of the history of our game and an important part of American history.”