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1950-59

1950

February 8, 1950

Harold Burr writes a feature on a promising young first baseman for the Brooklyn Dodgers, Kevin Connors. Connors would spent time in the major leagues for the Dodgers and Cubs, but it would be in Hollywood that Kevin "Chuck" Connors would achieve fame. Connors achieved his greatest fame as the lead character in the TV show "The Rifleman" and he had a 40-year career in motion pictures and television. Burr writes of Connors' reputation for humor. "But old Barney (Burt Shotton) ought to find some way to keep Kevin on the squad for laughs alone; and the Bay Ridge boy's wisecracks render him practically priceless as a bench jockey. He's as funny as a barrel of Al Schacht, Nick Altrocks, and Andy Lotshaws." Connors, recently returned from playing winter ball in Cuba, said he took rhumba lessons there and paid for them by saying the baseball poem "Casey at the Bat" to his dance teacher. 1   In October of 1950 Bill Roeder would write that Kevin Connors had his own business card he presented to Branch Rickey. The card read "Kevin 'Chuck' Connors Recitations, After Dinner Speaker, Home Recordings for Any Occasion, Free Lance Writing." 2

February 22, 1950

Columnist Frank Graham of the New York Journal-American writes about the Dodgers' spring training base in Vero Beach, Florida. "Vero Beach and the first glimpse of the Dodgers' almost fantastic set-up, which someone described as a Giants fan's nightmare: 'Two hundred guys in Brooklyn uniforms running all over the place.' It was the fulfillment of a plan devised long ago by Branch Rickey when he was the boss of the Cardinals and they trained at Bradenton." 3

March 4, 1950

Jackie Robinson was completing scenes of the film, "The Jackie Robinson Story" and had permission from Dodger President Branch Rickey to report after the remainder of the club. "I told him to stay in Hollywood" said Rickey "until all his picture work is completed, so that he wouldn't have to return. Of course from the club's standpoint, we have a great interest in the picture." 4

March 15, 1950

J.G. Taylor Spink writes a column of Chicago Cub baseball official Wid Matthews and his experience in baseball. "In his 14 years with Rickey, Matthews ran most of the Mahatma's trial and instruction camps. And that includes the biggest baseball factory every assembled, the Dodger layout at Vero Beach, Florida. Every Dodger team from Class D on up to the Brooklyn club, except for three on the West Coast, has trained there the past two years. There were 585 players in 1948 and 620 players last year. 5

March 15, 1950

Dodger players in spring training were advised not to make a visit to the beach. This is due in part to an incident from 1949 when rookie infielder Bobby Morgan, was caught in an undertow and escaped serious injury. Also, sportswriter Oscar Ruhl speculated the Dodgers' major league club would move spring training to Miami and Vero Beach would host minor league players. 6

March 22, 1950

Rex Barney earned extra money from Branch Rickey during an infield drill. Dodger players were engaged in instruction on an experimental six-man infield against a bunt that is meant to move the runner to third base. Barney was the hitter and over a loudspeaker, Rickey challenged, "With this particular hitter, I will bet one dollar to a dime he cannot beat this defense." Barney agreed. On the next pitch, the pitcher almost picked the runner off second base. "Of course" said Rickey, "the hitter loses if the runner is picked off." As they did the drill, Barney succeeded in getting the runner over to third base in four of five tries, and Rickey promptly paid up to Barney $3.90 for his winnings." 7

March 22, 1950

An "Electronic Umpire" was showcased in Dodgertown, Vero Beach, Florida that was invented by a Dodger minor league pitcher, Charlie Lare, a Princeton graduate. The device can also measure the speed of a thrown ball along with the accuracy of the pitch. Engineers from General Electric were present for the demonstration and explained the measurements are derived from three electric eyes. In order for a pitch to be a strike, the ball had to pass through three separate zones in space, front, back, and a diagonal from the back to the front part of the strike zone. 8

March 22, 1950

A sign on the door on the front of the Dodgertown dining room has this legend, "Through these portals passes three times daily the greatest and hungriest collection of diamond talent in the world." 9

March 29, 1950

A group of sports writers from Los Angeles visited Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Florida. One of the Dodgers' AAA teams in 1950 was the Hollywood club, owned by Brown Derby restaurateur Bob Cobb. Among the writers at Dodgertown were those who would later cover the Dodgers' beat when they went to Los Angeles; John B. Old of the Los Angeles Herald-Express, Braven Dyer of the Los Angeles Times, and Bob Hunter, the Los Angeles Examiner. Hunter would later earn the J.G. Taylor Spink Award from Baseball's Hall of Fame. 10

March 29, 1950

A bull left his grazing area and broke a fence to stroll in a practice field with the Dodgers at Vero Beach, Florida. Pitchers Joe Hatten and Ralph Branca and Dodger manager Burt Shotton were part of a group to herd the bull to a quieter spot. 11

March 29, 1950

First year Dodger rookie players competed for the "Fladgit Grover Zunk Memorial Futurity", a contest for the most unusual name for Dodger rookies. Zunk was judged the winner in 1949 and the name for the contest memorialized him. Only first-year players were eligible for the award. The 1950 winner was Odbert Herman Hamric, later known as Bert Hamric, who would have one at bat for the 1955 Dodgers. Hamric was judged the winner over outfielder Eugene Depperschmidt and Edsel Privette. Runner-up from 1949 was Gaylord Lernish was not eligible because he was in his second pro season. 12

March 29, 1950

Branch Rickey conducted a series of baseball clinics for minor league players. One lecture was called "Managerial Absurdities" as Rickey lectured on fallacies in baseball strategy and techniques such as the claim by Rickey the third baseman stays in too close to the hitter 50% of plate appearances. 13

March 29, 1950

A review of baseball instruction in the three areas of batting practice is demonstrated at Dodgertown and reported by Oscar Ruhl of The Sporting News. Ruhl visited the section with the batting tee, the batting cage, and the pitching machine. Branch Rickey said his pitchers would get all the hitting and bunting practice they wanted. "I couldn't give them that kind of practice without the machines. I just wouldn't have pitchers enough in camp! Their arms wouldn't hold out," said Rickey. 14

April 12, 1950

The Sporting News writes Hollywood Stars manager Fred Haney of the Brooklyn Dodgers' AAA club came to Dodgertown in late March to show President Branch Rickey a sample of the uniform short pants to be worn this season. Haney said at the time the short uniform pants were revealed to the public, "This isn't a gag, nor are we going Hollywood.   We think these suits will give us more speed."  The Sporting News said it ranked among the most unusual changes in baseball uniforms in 43 seasons. Hollywood Stars owner Bob Cobb said, "It's the first change among baseball uniforms in 111 years." Among the Hollywood Stars that season who wore the shorts was right hand pitcher Ben Wade, who later pitched for the Brooklyn Dodgers and would be the team's scouting director. 15

April 12, 1950

Branch Rickey gave an inspirational speech to minor league Dodger players after the major league club left spring training to begin the season. "You are the future of the Dodger organization", said Rickey. "Don't think there's going to be a letdown in this camp because the glamour boys are gone, the big-name athletes, who are followed by the writers, radio men and commentators. No, I am staying here ten days longer than I ever stayed before, and we will all work harder. What is our job? To bring you to the major leagues faster. We will cut a whole year off your apprentice period, and increase your lifetime earnings in baseball as a result, if you will learn eagerly the things that are given to you here." 16

1 ^ Harold Burr, The Sporting News, February 8, 1950

2 ^ Bill Roeder, The Sporting News, October 25, 1950

3 ^ Frank Graham, New York Journal-American, The Sporting News, February 22, 1950

4 ^ Roscoe McGowen, New York Times, March 4, 1950

5 ^ J.G. Taylor Spink, The Sporting News, March 15, 1950

6 ^ Oscar Ruhl, The Sporting News, March 15, 1950 

7 ^ The Sporting News, March 22, 1950

8 ^ Harold Burr, The Sporting News, March 22, 1950

9 ^ Oscar Ruhl, The Sporting News, March 22, 1950

10 ^ The Sporting News, March 29, 1950

11 ^ The Sporting News, March 29, 1950

12 ^ The Sporting News, March 29, 1950 

13 ^ Harold Burr, The Sporting News, March 29, 1950

14 ^ Harold Burr, The Sporting News, August 29, 1950  

15 ^ Braven Dye The Sporting News, April 12, 1950

16 ^ Harold Burr, The Sporting News, April 12, 1950

1951

January 3, 1951

The Dodgers announced the major league club would work out at Dodgertown from February 18th until March 9th. After that date, the major league club would re-locate to Miami where they would play 19 exhibition games, 16 of those games at night. 1

February 28, 1951

Dodger Vice President Fresco Thompson talks of the one training camp idea, implemented by Branch Rickey. "It is the only way," said Thompson. "It has advantages over any other set-up. First, having all the farms together enables the managers and coaches throughout the system to get a good idea of any men they have to handle later in the season. Second, it affords us a fine standard of comparison for boys moving up in the chain….Third, Vero Beach saves us enormous amounts of money, not only in the communal style of lodging and eating there, but in transportation. Transportation is, as it stands, the biggest item in running the camp. But if we had a number of minor league camps scattered here and there we would be perhaps doubling our transportation expenses in shifting boys from here to there."  2

March 7, 1951

Walter O'Malley discusses his intention to invite former Hall of Fame New York Giant player and manager Bill Terry to Dodgertown for Spring Training. "I grew up as a Giants fan," said O'Malley "and I always regarded Bill Terry as my favorite ball player. Bill's living at Jacksonville and I'm going to invite him down to Vero Beach. Once he gets there, he will begin helping out."  3

March 7, 1951

High praise comes from players and writers regarding the dining room at Dodgertown for the 1951 Spring Training season. Sportswriter Joe King writes, "The dining room, run by the Harry M. Stevens Co, at no profit, is one of the most exclusive and higher quality beaneries on the coast. None but players, press and front office muck-a-mucks are fed, with services which could not be approached even in the swank hotels of the country…..Daily to-order items on the menu are loin lamb chops, calves liver and broiled chicken, as well as the steak…On the 'ready' list from night to night are roast beef, roast leg of lamb, chicken chop suey, veal cutlet, roast fresh ham, spaghetti Caruso and French lamb stew. Fish specialties, trucked in from a fashionable old-line firm in Palm Beach, includes shrimps daily."  4

March 7, 1951

Dodger Manager Charlie Dressen told sportswriter Jimmy Burns of his plans to commute from Vero Beach to Miami for Dodger exhibition games. The Dodgers are scheduled to play 14 night games of 18 exhibitions in Miami so the flight commute of Dressen will allow him to see minor league games during the day and then manage the Dodgers in the night game in Miami. "We have our own private plane," said Dressen, "I think I can make good use of it by flying back and forth between the two camps."  5

March 7, 1951

Marine officers made an inspection visit for three days to Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Florida. The baseball Spring Training base was formerly a training site for aviation personnel in World War II and the military was reviewing potential site because of the Korean conflict that begin in July, 1950.  6

March 7, 1951

The Dodgers announced they had begun a working agreement with the Caracas club in the Venezuelan Winter League. This is the first definite agreement between a major league club and a winter league club. The Dodgers have agreed to provide nine players each winter league season to the Caracas club. The Caracas club would permit the Dodgers to select the winter league manager for the team.  7

March 14, 1951

Dodger shortstop Pee Wee Reese was good at marbles as a youngster, earning his nickname, but showed a good touch on the golf course. Reese won the Dodger players golf tournament with a gross low score of 78.  8

March 14, 1951

Walter O'Malley poses alongside a "cricket cradle" that will help ball players sharpen their reflexes. The instructional device appears to be a misshapen coffee table so that when players throw the ball across the table to each other, the trajectory of the throw will be random and force the fielder to react to the strange angle. Branch Rickey read about the idea in the summer of 1950 when he was with the Dodgers and ordered six models for Dodgertown. In the fall of 1950, Rickey sold his Dodger stock and became the general manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Each "cradle" has a label "Made in England." 9

March 19, 1951

In the first of only two exhibition games to be played at Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Florida, the Dodgers defeat the Philadelphia Athletics, 5-1 beofre 3,248 fans. The Athletics had a new manager for the first season in 51 years as Jimmy Dykes took over as manager for owner Connie Mack. The Vero Beach High School band provides music and before the game, acting Mayor Lewis Berger of Vero Beach welcomes the crowd and introduces Dodger President Walter O'Malley. The new Dodger President then introduces baseball legend Connie Mack, owner of the Athletics. 10   The proceeds from the exhibition game were donated to the city of Vero Beach.  11

March 24, 1951

Jackie Robinson is offered a job as the manager of the Dodgers' AAA minor league when his playing days are completed. "Jackie told me that he would be delighted and honored to tackle this managerial post," said Dodger President Walter O'Malley. "He told me that he always held a soft spot in his heart for Montreal and so do I. I'm sure than when and if this promotion materializes, Montreal would gladly welcome Robinson's return. It's something that he can keep in mind because every star feels greatly relieved when he knows he might get a chance at a manager's job when his playing ability decreases." According to O'Malley, Robinson said, "It's like a wonderful dream."  12

March 28, 1951

Walter O'Malley hosts his first Dodger St. Patrick's Day party at the Sea Gull Hotel in Miami, Florida. O'Malley invites officials of the New York Giants, including Vice President Chub Feeney and Pete Stoneham, son of owner Horace Stoneham, to his gala on the beach. The press corps from New York, Brooklyn and Miami, as well as umpire Jocko Conlan were among the invited guests. Monsignor William Barry of St. Patrick's Church in Miami Beach cut a decorated cake stating, "Welcome Irishmen." Mrs. May Smith, the widow of John L. Smith and a stockholder of the Dodgers, also attended.  13

March 29, 1951

Dodger scout Andy High taught bunting practice for pitchers and turned the drill into a game. High had the groundskeeper draw circles on the infield grass for optimum bunting territory beyond home plate. The pitcher with the most bunts inside circles was to be awarded a prize.  14

November 25, 1951

A travel writer for the New York Times writes an article of the many enjoyments of the town of Vero Beach, Florida. C.E. Wright wrote "Best known to many Northerners as "Dodgertown", the training quarters of the Brooklyn Dodgers, Vero Beach has had its share of attention of baseball writers since 1948 when Branch Rickey, who then headed the Dodger organization, selected this city as training grounds not only for the Dodger team but for its many minor league affiliates. The training camp has facilities for 700 to 800 ball players in a former naval air station and is said to be the largest baseball school in the world."  15

1 ^ Dan Daniel, The Sporting News, January 3, 1951

2 ^ Joe King, The Sporting News, February 28, 1951

3 ^ Ward Morehouse, The Sporting News, March 7, 1951

4 ^ Joe King, The Sporting News, March 7, 1951

5 ^ Jimmy Burns, The Sporting News, March 7, 1951

6 ^ The Sporting News, March 7, 1951

7 ^ The Sporting News, March 7, 1951

8 ^ The Sporting News, March 14, 1951

9 ^ Les Biederman, The Sporting News, March 14, 1951

10 ^ Gus Steiger, New York Daily Mirror, March 20, 1951

11 ^ The Sporting News, March 28, 1951

12 ^ Montreal Standard, March 24, 1951

13 ^ The Sporting News, March 28, 1951 

14 ^ Newspaper unknown

15 ^ C.E. Wright, New York Times, November 25, 1951

1952

February 6, 1952

The Dodgers and the city of Vero Beach agreed to a long term lease of Dodgertown for Spring Training. This would be the longest Spring Training agreement in baseball history with a 21-year lease and an option to renew for 21 more seasons after 1972. Other conditions of the lease were that the Dodgers would play at least two games against major league opponents in Vero Beach and the Dodgers could exchange Spring Training sites with another club as long as the other club held their Spring Training in Vero Beach.  1

February 14, 1952

Vero Beach Press-Journal writer Bob Curzon tells of the Brooklyn Dodgers' arrival in Vero Beach, Florida on February 19th. Walter O'Malley, Dodger President said, "I am looking forward with a great deal of pleasure to the opening of Spring Training season at Vero Beach. I am particularly anxious to renew friendships and acquaintances formed there within the past few years. I think that the entire Dodger family agrees with me when I say that in Dodgertown, we have the finest training site any ball club has ever had."  2

February 20, 1952

Joe King writes in The Sporting News of young Dodger players who are expected to make an impact in their 1952 Spring Training season. King wrote, "In the outfield, Bill Sharman, a Fort Worth Cat in '51, after a spring look-see at Dodger is reputedly one of the best newcomers in years." Sharman was an All-American basketball player at USC, and later became one of the most renowned players and coaches in NBA history. Sharman is one of three persons named to the Basketball Hall of Fame as player and coach. He was an eight time NBA All-Star and played on four NBA title teams with the Boston Celtics. He still holds the NBA record for 56 consecutive free throws made in the playoffs. After his playing career ended, he coached the Utah Stars to the American Basketball Association Championship in 1970 and the Los Angeles Lakers to their first NBA title in 1972. Sharman was named to the NBA's 25th and 50th Anniversary Teams.  3

February 24, 1952

Walter O'Malley responds to a question at a press conference in Vero Beach, Florida regarding the increase of exhibition games in Dodgertown. His answer is "It all depends on whether or not we will be able to draw big enough crowds in Vero Beach to make it pay. This city is growing rapidly. I can see many changes that have occurred during the past three years. The new causeway to the beach has started a building boom on the island and we can picture Vero Beach as a nice size city in the future."  4

February 27, 1952

The Dodgers hire Leslie MacMitchell, a prominent national mile runner, to provide running instruction to Dodger minor league players in Dodgertown. MacMitchell, tied the indoor record for the mile at 4:07:04 and was named the 1941 James P. Sullivan Award winner for the best amateur athlete of the year for his achievement.  5

March 5, 1952

Walter O'Malley announces the Dodgers will build "a little 5,000 seat stadium" at Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Florida. The stadium purpose is to attract more major league teams to play the Dodgers in exhibition games in Vero Beach. O'Malley also discussed the possibility of the building of a new stadium in Brooklyn to replace Ebbets Field. O'Malley acknowledged architects had ideas to improve the fan's enjoyment in watching the game. "These fellows do have some good ideas, such as building the stands so that all seats face home plate."  6

March 5, 1952

Hall of Fame infielder, manager, and broadcaster Frank Frisch arrives in Dodgertown in Vero Beach as a guest infield instructor. He was expected to be in Dodgertown until April 15th. Frisch managed the 1934 St. Louis Cardinals to the World Championship and played second base for that team.  7

March 5, 1952

New York Post writer Gus Steiger writes of a pitching machine that wasn't pitching and who was able to get it working. "Showing rare versatility for a club president, Walter O'Malley tinkered with the mechanisms of 'Overhand Joe No. 2' to bring the pitching automaton around when it got balky."  8

March 7, 1952

Walter O'Malley released his plans to get a 5,000 seat stadium at Dodgertown. The architect for the stadium is introduced as Captain Emil Praeger. O'Malley says of the stadium, "If 5,000 seats is too big a job, perhaps we can start with 3,500 and add the other seats later."  9

March 8, 1952

Walter O'Malley discusses the building of a baseball stadium at Dodgertown. "So far as I know, no other major league club has built a ball park at a training site. But we have a twenty-one year contract here and are looking far ahead."  10

March 11, 1952

Walter O'Malley writes to architect Emil Praeger regarding the foundation regarding the potential stadium to be built at Dodgertown. "Bud Holman tells me that we could excavate to a depth of 4 feet and have no worries. Other seems to think three feet would be safe. They all say that we should have a grass crease to drain the field to the ditches. Inquiries in the last several days regarding our box and reserve seats for our two exhibition games has caused to revise the pro-ration of seats. We now feel that there should be 2000 box, 2000 reserve and 1000 general admission."  11

March 12, 1952

Paul Waner, known as "Big Poison" of the two Waner brothers (Lloyd was known as "Little Poison") provides lessons to Dodger players in hitting instruction and demonstrates a pitching machine he invented.  12

March 12, 1952

Walter O'Malley decided to pay in full the complete amount of the Dodgers' 21-year lease to the city of Vero Beach. The lease agreement between the Dodgers and the city was $1 for every season of the lease and O'Malley came up with the necessary $21 in cash. "Tell you what I'll do," said O'Malley, "I'll pay the rent for 21 years in advance and then we can unload all this legal junk."  13

March 12, 1952

Walter O'Malley announces a newsreel will feature Happy Felton of the Dodger Knothole Gang and Dodger players at Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Florida. The newsreel was to run at Loew's Theatres in the New York area and a portion of the income earned from theatres was to be distributed to local sandlot baseball leagues. "This is a significant association involving TV, the motion picture industry and baseball," said O'Malley.  14

March 17, 1952

The second St. Patrick's Day party hosted by Walter O'Malley and the Brooklyn Dodgers is held in Vero Beach, Florida for the first time. The inaugural St. Patrick's Day party was in Miami in 1951 as the Dodgers played the bulk of their Spring Training schedule there. This year, the Dodgers would play the Philadelphia Athletics and defeat them 13-5 on March 17th in a game at Dodgertown. Ralph Branca started and pitched three innings as 10 different Dodgers had base hits in the game. The predominant color of the party was green, all the way from the beer to the ice cubes. Bottles of Irish whiskey contained labels that read "Old O'Malley". Among the guests in the Hall of Tara at McKee Jungle Gardens was Edmund Boots, executive vice-president of U.S. Steel, Ralph Galvin, a hotel owner in Vero Beach and a 1913 Walter Camp Football All-American at Pitt, and Mrs. John Smith, Dodger stockholder. Women received green orchids and bonnets and men wore green hats with green shamrocks or carnations.  15

March 19, 1952

General Manager Hank Greenberg of the Cleveland Indians was a visitor to Dodgertown. Greenberg won the 1935 and 1940 American League Most Valuable Player Awards for the Detroit Tigers and hit 58 home runs in 1938. He would be elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1956. 16

March 24, 1952

Newsweek magazine demonstrates the value of the Dodger Spring Training camp in Vero Beach with their cover photo of Dodger scout John Corriden instructing then outfielder and future Hall of Fame manager Dick Williams on their cover. Photographs at Dodgertown are displayed in the magazine.  17

April 2, 1952

Walter O'Malley dismissed rumors the Brooklyn Dodgers would begin Spring Training at a place out west. "If some western city twisted our arms with a fat guarantee, I would not say that we would turn it down. However, at the moment, we are very well satisfied with Florida," said O'Malley.  18

May 5, 1952

Walter O'Malley offers the possibility of the Dodgers sharing their Spring Training base with the Chicago Cubs. In a letter to Wid Matthews, Director of Player Personnel for the Cubs, O'Malley tells Matthews of available land for baseball diamonds and housing for players in the Chicago organization. Shortly thereafter, Matthews responds to O'Malley and though the offer is appreciated, the Cubs would maintain their present arrangement of training in California.  19

May 15, 1952

Walter O'Malley writes to Bud Holman on the importance of selection of the right contractors to build a new stadium at Dodgertown. "It is important in talking to the contractors to have them realize that the concrete must be poured in place in such a way as to give accurate lines, levels and slopes as this type of stadium, for good appearance, depends on accuracy and quality of the work.  20

May 15, 1952

Walter O'Malley writes a second time to Bud Holman on May 15, 1952 of his intention and purpose to build a new baseball stadium in Dodgertown. "It is my intention to demonstrate, in a practical way, that the Dodgers are permanently interested in Vero Beach and in that direction we propose to build a beautiful concrete stadium seating 4200. Such a stadium will have great value to the City of Vero Beach as well as to the Dodgers…..You will understand that a good many people will question our wisdom in spending this amount of money in a Spring Training stadium, particularly when it is normally one of the inducements that the different cities offer the various ball clubs to train there. I justify the investment, not on the immediate future but on a long range forecast. I believe that Vero Beach will grow soundly and that as we demonstrate to the people our sincerity they will develop a greater interest in baseball than has been shown so far.  21

July 14, 1952

Walter O'Malley discusses the probable construction of a fishing hole at Dodgertown in a letter to Bud Holman. "Have (Jesse) Swords send me the State's specifications on fishing holes Air Mail as we want to include one in the specifications. You might also find out if it is true that there is an artesian well in the incinerator and whether or not it would be well to pipe over to that in our location. If the well would have enough head after the long run over to spray into the air we could have (Vero Beach business leader Waldo) Sexton bring us a fountain figure for the middle of the fishing hole which would look mighty good near the new stadium."  22

July 29, 1952

Walter O'Malley writes a letter and describes the new stadium in Dodgertown. "We started to build a small stadium and ball field in Vero Beach. The stadium will seat about 4200 people and I expect you to be one of the first customers. It will be reinforced concrete and was designed particularly for a Spring Training base such as ours. The playing field will be quite similar to our other four diamonds where they incorporate marl with the sand."  23

August 27, 1952

Walter O'Malley reports to the Brooklyn Dodger Board of Directors his recommendation of the naming of the new baseball stadium at Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Florida. "The Chairman then reported on the work on the stadium at Vero Beach. He stated that the work was 60% complete, and that the first concrete step tier had been poured and it looked like a good job. He advised the Board that there is no present indication that there will be any increased cost in the construction of this stadium. Mr. O'Malley then discussed the name of the stadium, and called to the attention of the Board the inestimable value that Mr. Bud Holman had been in establishing cordial relations between the Brooklyn Baseball Club and the people in the City Council of Vero Beach, and it was, in his opinion, fitting that Mr. Holman be rewarded by having the stadium named after him. After discussion, it was the unanimous opinion of the Board that the stadium should be named after Mr. Holman, and, on motion, duly made, seconded and unanimously carried, it was RESOLVED, that in consideration of the assistance given by Mr. Holman in the establishment of cordial relations between the people of Vero Beach and the Brooklyn National League Baseball Club, and in gratitude for Mr. Holman's efforts in helping the success of the Vero Beach camp that the stadium to be erected at Dodgertown, Vero Beach, Florida, be named "HOLMAN STADIUM" and that a copy of this resolution be forwarded to Mr. Holman."  24

August 27, 1952

Walter O'Malley advises the Brooklyn Dodger Board of Directors of the availability of royal palm trees and their use for the new baseball stadium in Dodgertown. "The Chairman then advised the Board that there were a number of royal palm trees on an abandoned estate, which he believes can be had for the cost of transportation and transplanting, and it was Mr. O'Malley's suggestion that if these were planted around the perimeter of the new stadium, they would greatly enhance its beauty. After discussion, the Board unanimously authorized the appropriation to expend the money necessary to arrange for the moving and the transplanting of these trees at the stadium.  25

August 28, 1952

Walter O'Malley writes to architect Emil Praeger on some issues facing the field for the new stadium in Dodgertown. "Smitty's (O.B. Smith, Vero Beach groundskeeper) report attached indicates that we will have to give some thought to the grading of the outfield and infield. Why? Grass scoop swales on the first and third base sides drain to the manhole."  26

September 8, 1952

Walter O'Malley writes to a contractor in Vero Beach regarding an issue involving the concrete steps at the new stadium in Dodgertown. "There have been several comments that the face of the steps show too much honey combing and I would appreciate if you would give your personal attention to that and see that the boys do a little extra spackling."  27

September 10, 1952

Groundbreaking has occurred for a new stadium in Dodgertown. Dodger President Walter O'Malley said "it will be a modest little amphitheater of steel and concrete, seating 4,200 fans, and no roof." And, O'Malley added, "There will be a lake outside the fence stocked with fish for our big fishermen, Roy Campanella and Preacher Roe."  28

September 12, 1952

Walter O'Malley writes engineer Emil Praeger of his concern for the infield and outfield grass for the new stadium for Dodgertown. "I understand the White House lawn was planted with Merion blue grass and 'Meyer Zoysia." The latter is an Oriental grass and the combinations from all indications is the ideal solution for Vero Beach…..I understand it is available in only limited quantities, in which event we would try to get enough for the infield this year and we would plan the outfield with St. Augustine grass to be replaced next year with cuttings from the infield."  29

October 16, 1952

Walter O'Malley explains the construction for a new stadium at Dodgertown to a Superintendent of the Plant Introduction Garden of the United States Department of Agriculture. "The Brooklyn Dodgers have a 42 year lease on a large tract of land at Vero Beach, Fla. We have just completed the building of an unusual type of stadium. The stadium was built by excavating 20,000 cubic yards of sand, marl and muck. The excavation from which this fill was obtained has now been made into a two acre fish lake and is being stocked by the United States Wild Life Service. The fill formed in mounds which were compacted and rolled, over which four inch reinforced concrete was poured to make the stands….The stadium, while it will be the headquarters for the Brooklyn Dodgers and their 18 farm clubs during baseball's Spring Training, will otherwise be dedicated to public use on a non-profit basis…I am sending under separate cover a location map which will give you an idea of the vast area of land that we have and the thought occurred to me that you would might wish to make some experimental plantings on this land, which we would be only too happy to permit….I trust that between this letter and my telephone conversation with you, you will have an idea of our problem and I want you to know that we deeply appreciate any cooperation."  30

October 16, 1952

Walter O'Malley explains his plan to name the baseball stadium in Dodgertown for Vero Beach businessman Bud Holman. "We plan to name the stadium "Holman Stadium" as a gesture on the part of the Dodger organization to the citizens of Vero Beach who made our stays there so pleasant. It seemed appropriate to select Bud Holman for this honor as he is a booster for Vero Beach and the Dodgers as well.  31

October 29, 1952

The Dodgers announced their new baseball stadium in Dodgertown has been completed. The stadium construction required 51 days. A new lake will be supplied with bass for fishing. Excavation of land for the lake was used in the structure for the stadium. 32   O'Malley said of the new stadium, "Instead of bringing in whatever dirt we needed, we dug it out, just outside the park. This left a big, deep hole. We filled it up with water, creating an artificial pond, and have stocked it with bass."  33

November 5, 1952

Dodger President Walter O'Malley announced a 10-day baseball clinic at Dodgertown for the 1953 Spring Training season. "I believe that such a clinic would attract people interested in the American Legion and Little League programs. We could teach them the finer points of baseball by making only slight revisions in our own training program. We would even bring in some of the big league umpires to give pointers to the arbiters of the amateur baseball games. We would make no charge, other than for board and lodging, at cost."  34 The clinic would run from March 9 through March 20th and would include classroom lectures and on-field practice. The Dodgers would stage the clinic in cooperation with the Brooklyn Amateur Association to further baseball and coaching techniques.  35

November 5, 1952

Walter O'Malley went to Dodgertown to check on the recently completed baseball stadium in Vero Beach, Florida. Ten consecutive days of rain concerned O'Malley as to the effect of the foundation of the stadium. Dodger Vice President Fresco Thompson said O'Malley's concern was with the ends of the stadium and that O'Malley was planning on building a concrete ramp where people could walk up to their seats.  36

November 18, 1952

Walter O'Malley writes to Bud Holman to notify him the Dodgers have purchased chairs from the Polo Grounds, the stadium of the New York Giants, for use at the new stadium in Dodgertown. "We have purchased the chairs from the (New York) Giants and will wait until you tell us if you can work out transportation for them." 37

November 19, 1952

The Dodgers will conduct a special tryout for returning service veterans in Dodgertown during Spring Training. It was anticipated that as many as 65 former minor league players would be reviewed in the tryout camp.  38

November 22, 1952

J.J. Schumann, publisher of the Vero Beach Press-Journal writes to Walter O'Malley, "I am glad to report that Mr. Merrill Barber has agreed to act as chairman of the dedication activities in connection with the opening of the "new Bud Holman Stadium."  39

December 1, 1952

Walter O'Malley corresponds with Sherman Smith, an attorney in Vero Beach on the recent rains that could have badly affected the construction of the new stadium. "You might remind (H.J.) Osborne that had I not sent a gang of workmen down he would have lost a great deal more than the stakes - he would have lost his embankments and a great deal of money on the contract."  40

December 11, 1952

In a letter from Walter O'Malley to prominent architect Norman Bel Geddes, O'Malley discusses the building of a new baseball stadium at Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Florida. O'Malley writes, "You will be interested in knowing that we completed our little stadium at Vero in 55 days, 5000 seats at a cost of $30,000. We are quite pleased with the result."  41

December 22, 1952

Walter O'Malley releases the date to dedicate the new stadium in Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Florida. "The Chairman then stated that Wednesday, March 11, 1953 had been set for the dedication ceremonies at Holman Stadium, Vero Beach, on which day the Philadelphia Athletics will play the Brooklyn Dodgers. It is intended that the Governor of Florida be present together with several baseball, radio and television personalities. The Chairman suggested that if possible the Directors might attend the dedication ceremonies. He stated the work on the stadium was progressing very well and that it will be ready for use during Spring Training. The Chairman then submitted pictures to the Board showing the progress of the work. The Chairman then discussed the acquisition of the hospital building at Vero Beach and indicated that the City of Vero Beach had erected a new hospital and the old hospital at the training center would be acquired at a cost of $2500, which sum could be used as a donation to the new hospital. He stated that the building is in bad condition and would need repairs approximating $25,000 or more. He stated that if the building were purchased that the corporation would acquire a good title and that the building could be used for the housing of the players and the boys returning from duty in the Armed Services. It was the sense of the Board that any action on this be deferred until later and that management is to investigate the possibility of acquiring and reconditioning this building."  42

1 ^ The Sporting News, February 6, 1952

2 ^ Bob Curzon, Vero Beach Press Journal, February 14, 1952

3 ^ Joe King, The Sporting News, February 20, 1952

4 ^ Bob Curzon, Vero Beach Press-Journal, February 28, 1952

5 ^ The Sporting News, February 27, 1952

6 ^ The Sporting News, March 5, 1952

7 ^ The Sporting News, February 27, 1952 

8 ^ Gus Steiger, New York Post, March 5, 1952 

9 ^ Harold Rosenthal, New York Herald Tribune, March 7, 1952

10 ^ Roscoe McGowen, New York Times, March 8, 1952

11 ^ Walter O'Malley correspondence to Emil Praeger, March 11, 1952

12 ^ The Sporting News, March 12, 1952

13 ^ The Sporting News, March 12, 1952 

14 ^ The Sporting News, March 12, 1952

15 ^ Roscoe McGowen, The Sporting News, March 26, 1952

16 ^ The Sporting News, April 2, 1952

17 ^ Newsweek, March 24, 1952

18 ^ The Sporting News, April 2, 1952  

19 ^ Walter O'Malley Correspondence to Wid Matthews, May 5, 1952. Wid Matthews to Walter O'Malley, May 14, 1952

20 ^ Walter O'Malley Correspondence to Bud Holman, May 15, 1952

21 ^ Walter O'Malley Correspondence to Bud Holman, May 15, 1952

22 ^ Walter O'Malley Correspondence to Bud Holman, July 14, 1952

23 ^ Walter O'Malley Correspondence to Victor Williams, July 29, 1952

24 ^ Minutes, Board of Directors, Brooklyn Dodgers, August 27, 1952

25 ^ Minutes, Board of Directors, Brooklyn Dodger, August 27, 1952

26 ^ Walter O'Malley Correspondence to Emil Praeger, August 28, 1952

27 ^ Walter O'Malley Correspondence to H.J. Osborne, September 8, 1952

28 ^ The Sporting News, September 10, 1952

29 ^ Walter O'Malley to Emil Praeger, September 12, 1952

30 ^ Walter O'Malley to David Bissett, October 16, 1952

31 ^ Walter O'Malley to Honorable L.M. Merriman, October 16, 1952

32 ^ Dan Daniel, The Sporting News, October 29, 1952

33 ^ Oscar Ruhl, The Sporting News, November 5, 1952

34 ^ Roscoe McGowen, The Sporting News, November 5, 1952

35 ^ Jimmy Burns, The Sporting News, November 5, 1952

36 ^ The Sporting News, December 31, 1952

37 ^ Walter O'Malley Correspondence to Bud Holman, November 18, 1952

38 ^ Ben Gould, The Sporting News, November 19, 1952

39 ^ J.J. Schumann to Walter O'Malley, November 22, 1952

40 ^ Walter O'Malley to Sherman Smith, December 1, 1952

41 ^ Walter O'Malley Correspondence to Norman Bel Geddes, December 11, 1952

42 ^ Minutes, Board of Directors, Brooklyn Dodgers, December 22, 1952

1953

January 15, 1953

The first night game for Holman Stadium and Dodgertown is scheduled for March 27th, 1953 in a minor league game between the Dodgers' AAA teams, Montreal Royals and St. Paul Saints. Future Dodger manager Walter Alston is the manager of the Montreal club for the season. 1

January 29, 1953

An advertisement in the Vero Beach Press Journal notifies fans of 1,500 reserved box seats on sale for the Dodgers' exhibition season in Dodgertown in Vero Beach. The schedule includes two major league games with the Dodgers facing the Philadelphia Athletics on March 11th and the Boston Braves on March 25th. The remainder of the schedule will feature Dodger minor league clubs in two doubleheaders and two night games. 2 The ad states, "All games to be played in the new Dodger Stadium." 3

February 17, 1953

Walter O'Malley thanks photographer Wally Skiscim of Vero Beach for aerial photos of Holman Stadium and Dodgertown. "Your photos of Holman Stadium and Valentine Lake are well done and show no sign of nervousness on your part as you must have been hanging from the plane by your heels," wrote O'Malley. 4

February 18, 1953

Dodgertown chief umpire Jess Collyer is elected as mayor of the town of Ossining, New York. Walter O'Malley wrote Collyer of his election as mayor, "There has been a lot written in the newspapers lately about the Dodgers trading some of their star players, but not one word has ever been written and I am sure won't be typed about the Dodgers trading their favorite umpire, Jess Collyer." Collyer was well known at Dodgertown for his humor with a double-talk style, added, "If the Dodgers don't say 'Your Honor' when protesting a decision, I'll throw 'em right out of the game." 5

February 18, 1953

Cartoonist Willard Mullin captures the concept of all Brooklyn Dodger players being under contract as he has a large flock of them in a cartoon flying south to Vero Beach. The cartoon is titled, "The Boid Is on the Wing." 6

February 18, 1953

Walter O'Malley on the 1953 Spring Training season said, "1953 will be a red-letter year in the relationship between the Dodgers and the city of Vero Beach. This spring baseball's newest park, Holman Stadium, will be opened. This will give the city not only the most elaborate Spring Training camp in the world, but one of the finest minor league parks." 7

February 18, 1953

Roscoe McGowen of the New York Times reports on cost estimates to run Dodgertown during Spring Training. The estimates ranged from $175,000 for player transportation, $50,494 for food all the way down to taxes in the amount of $1,142. When confronted with the cost of Spring Training, Walter O'Malley replied, "Why, that's just chips." Sportswriter John Carmichael then said, "Then (O'Malley) had better not attempt to introduce any chips of that value into those 'little games of skill and chance' referring to poker games that took place in the Vero Beach press room." 8

February 25, 1953

Roy Campanella reported to Spring Training in Dodgertown and hoped to win a hat from General Manager Buzzie Bavasi. "I told Campy," said Bavasi, "I'd buy him a new hat if he reported weighing under 200 pounds." When Campanella got on the scales, his weight recorded at 203. "I think Bavasi oughta give me that hat, anyway," said Campanella. 9

February 25, 1953

The Saturday Evening Post does a comprehensive feature on Spring Training for baseball teams and discusses Dodgertown. "The training plant and program of the Brooklyn Dodgers, National League champions, sum up the galloping elephantiasis (large growth) of the system…..It is a 'super' plant….The place abounds in gadgets, mechanical pitchers and sliding pits." 10

February 27, 1953

The Brooklyn Dodgers finished a day of Spring Training for a fishing expedition on the Indian River. Nearly 100 fish were caught by Dodger personnel on the trip. Preacher Roe, noted as one of the most avid fisherman on the Dodgers, was presented a large platter of fried fish instead of a cake for his 35th birthday by the Dodgertown chef. 11

March 1, 1953

Open Road magazine has a feature on Dodgertown in their March issue. The sub-head of the article reads, "Dodgertown, Brooklyn Dodgers' own 'little city' in Florida, is the world's largest and finest spring playground." The article lists the features to be found there and states, "It is easy to see why the Dodger camp is called Dodgertown! On the Spring Training base, Dodger players and personnel had available medical facilities, post office, telegraph office, barber shop, movie theatre, swimming pool, a fish pond of two acres and a new baseball stadium with four practice diamonds and citrus groves all around. Dodger Vice President Fresco Thompson says of Dodgertown, "One month of concentrated training in Dodgertown is equal to a full year of baseball experience." 12

March 3, 1953

Walter O'Malley writes to St. Louis Cardinal Owner Fred Saigh, "We have finished the little country stadium here which is rather nice and I believe it will have good acceptance." 13   Walter O'Malley notifies architect Emil Praeger of the test done for the lights at the new Holman Stadium. O'Malley was happy to tell Praeger, "Threw the switch for a (lights) test last night. Result unbelievably superior." 14   Finally, Walter O'Malley writes Merrill Barber things were going well to have the new Holman Stadium ready for its first game. "We have the stadium pretty well under control and the Royal Palms we have planted add a great deal to its appearance. We made a test on the lights last evening and I truly believe it is a better lighting plant than we have in Brooklyn." 15

March 3, 1953

Roy Campanella shaved his winter moustache in Spring Training at Dodgertown. He had grown it in the off-season but kept it on until he reached Vero Beach, Florida. "I kept it on to win a dollar from Pee Wee Reese," said Roy. "When we signed together in New York he bet me I couldn't report wearing it. So I waited until he arrived to prove I still had it." 16

March 4, 1953

Fifty royal palm trees are to be planted at Holman Stadium in Dodgertown, a gift from Dodger stockholder, Mrs. Mary Smith, widow of Dodger stockholder John L. Smith. Mrs. Smith thought the palm trees would be an excellent memorial for his love of the Dodgers and Dodgertown. The royal palm trees were a long-term feature of the beauty of Holman Stadium. 17

March 4, 1953

Walter O'Malley writes to Sports Editor Max Kase of the New York Journal American newspaper of his pride of Holman Stadium in Dodgertown. "We have a beautiful new stadium that is drawing much favorable comment and could very well be a model for future minor league ball parks because we have the base cost whipped down to $6 a seat." 18

March 5, 1953

Actress Vera-Ellen visits Dodgertown during a break in filming the movie "Big Leaguer." Her co-star was Edward G. Robinson with most of the scenes done in Melbourne, Florida. She spoke with the Vero Beach Press-Journalabout the city of Vero Beach. "Oh, I just love your town," she said. "I think I'll change my name from Vera to Vero." 19

March 7, 1953

Walter O'Malley made personal contributions to the final details of completing Holman Stadium in Dodgertown. The Brooklyn Eagle newspaper wrote, "Holman Stadium is like a new toy to the headman of the Dodgers. He spends long hours there every day watching the workmen put the finishing touches on the park for Wednesday's gala opening against the Athletics (March 11). And after dark he (O'Malley) turns on the lights. Roscoe McGowen wrote in the New York Times, "Walter O'Malley had the lights on at his prized little stadium last night and led an expedition there for inspection and admiration. The Dodger president was there again today supervising the pulverizing of the infield dirt by a special machine. 20

March 7, 1953

Columnist Dick Young of the New York Daily News writes of Walter O'Malley's interest for Holman Stadium, ready to be opened for Spring Training. "No kid ever pored over his set of electric trains the way Walter O'Malley putters around the picturesque new ball park here….It's Walter O'Malley's baby. He walks about it, hour on hour, over the soft grass of the infield, over the smoothly raked skinned portion…..O'Malley will tell you, 'It seats 5,000, 1,650 of them boxes. The chairs in the boxes are the metal ones that used to be in the Polo Grounds before (New York Giants owner Horace) Stoneham put in new ones.'" 21

March 9, 1953

Dodger scout Andy High writes to an official in the Brooklyn Dodger organization about the new Holman Stadium. "Our grand opening is set for Holman Field day after tomorrow and we expect it to be a big day for all. Mr. O'Malley is having more fun than he has ever had in any previous Spring Training camp. Fresco (Thompson) and I were helping him (O'Malley) rake up and roll the infield this morning…..It really is a beautiful field and one that we will all be proud of." 22

March 11, 1953

A ceremony was held at the Vero Beach Airport as a flag from Eastern Airlines and a flag from the Brooklyn Dodgers were raised. A color guard was present to hoist the flag and Walter O'Malley represented the Dodgers. 23

March 11, 1953

Roscoe McGowen of the New York Times addressed his story this way in the dedication of Holman Stadium, the new formal baseball stadium at Dodgertown. "The dedication of the Dodgers' beautiful little Holman Stadium today was a rousing success on all counts. Among the notables attending the first game at Holman Stadium was Bud Holman, the man who convinced the Dodgers to have their Spring Training in Vero Beach; Baseball Commissioner Ford Frick; National League President Warren Giles and American League President Will Harridge and Connie Mack, long-time manager and owner of the Philadelphia Athletics. Pre-game ceremonies caused the game to start 30 minutes late. Dodger President Walter O'Malley presented a plaque to Holman that read, "The Brooklyn Dodgers dedicate Holman Stadium to honor Bud L. Holman of the friendly city of Vero Beach. Walter F. O'Malley, President, Emil H. Praeger, C.E. designer." The Dodgers won the game 4-2 as Carl Erskine made the first pitch and allowed one run in four innings. 24   Kay and Walter O'Malley's daughter Terry O'Malley and son Peter O'Malley, send a telegram to their father to congratulate him on the opening of Holman Stadium. The telegram read "Congratulations on Holman Stadium Opening Day. Hope we win." 25

March 12, 1953

Walter O'Malley writes a letter to J.G. Taylor Spink, publisher of The Sporting News. "I believe our attendance at the game (opening game for Holman Stadium on March 11th) exceeded the total population of the City of Vero Beach." 26   Walter O'Malley added his own labor to the grounds crew. "We spied an extra workman among the ground crew working on the field at Holman Stadium the other day. The fellow was busy raking the sod part of the new infield. He looked familiar to us and he rightly should…He was Walter O'Malley, president of the Dodgers! Mr. O'Malley is as proud of the new Holman Stadium as Pap Dionne was when his quints were born. 27

March 13, 1953

Larry Maher of Maher's Tropical Fashions in Vero Beach, Florida writes a letter of thanks to Walter O'Malley for the naming of Holman Stadium for his uncle, Bud Holman. "It was truly a great moment for me at the dedication when they unveiled the plaque (sic) in his honor. He is most deserving of the honor bestowed on him…..The stadium was certainly in all its glory for the dedication and I heard many comments on how the palms completed the setting." 28

March 18, 1953

Walter O'Malley introduces the new lake at Dodgertown to New York Times writer Roscoe McGowen. O'Malley threw out his fishing line and he felt a tug. Pulling in the line, O'Malley caught a bass and said, "The first fish ever caught here!" The fish measured approximately six inches. 29

March 27, 1953

Dodger outfielder Duke Snider tells of his experience at the first Spring Training camp in Dodgertown in 1948. Snider was a highly touted prospect but struggled with the strike zone in playing exhibition games in the Dominican Republic. Branch Rickey had Snider return to Dodgertown in Vero Beach for special training of the strike zone. "It was hard work, but it helped," said Snider. "I stood at bat for hour after hour, never even swinging. There was an umpire behind the catcher and he'd ask me after each pitch whether it was a strike or a ball. Then they let me swing but I still had to call the pitch afterward, strike or ball. It helped greatly. 30

March 30, 1953

Walter O'Malley writes to photographer Herb Scharfman to compliment him on a photo taken with Jackie Robinson and Billy Cox. Sports writers had written issues of discrimination had arisen as the emergence of Jim Gilliam at second base had Jackie Robinson assigned to third base with Cox filling in as a utility infielder. "Your picture of Jackie (Robinson) and Billy Cox shaking hands was the best answer to all the tripe written about discrimination on this club. That is just what they say, a good picture never lies." 31

April 1, 1953

National League umpire Larry Goetz, assisted by Dodgertown umpire Jess Collyer, held a training clinic for hopeful baseball arbiters in Vero Beach, Florida at the Dodgers' Spring Training camp. 32

April 2, 1953

Dodgertown umpire Jess Collyer and Dodger manager Charlie Dressen had fun with Milwaukee Brave manager Charlie Grimm in a game at Holman Stadium in Dodgertown. Collyer, a master double talker, appeared at home plate to discuss the ground rules for Holman Stadium. Collyer's nonsense talking combined with a fairly close interpretation of the ground rules left Grimm not knowing what to do. "This guy don't make sense," said Grimm. Manager Dressen in on the joke, replied, "I understand him perfectly." 33

April 4, 1953

Film stars Edward G. Robinson and Vera-Ellen visit Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Florida, on a break from starring in a baseball movie filmed in Florida, "Big Leaguer." Feature writer Andy O'Brien reports they visited the tent where 50 gallons of orange juice was made fresh every day. Next, the two actors saw the Dodgertown dining room and saw how well Dodger players ate in camp. The great Robinson said, "You mean that ball players get paid to come here?" Replied Walter O'Malley, "Actually, it pays us to operate this alleged holiday resort." 34

April 8, 1953

Louis Marchegiano, the younger brother of heavyweight boxing champion Rocky Marciano, took part in a tryout at Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Florida. Marchegiano was still enrolled in high school in Massachusetts and was to graduate in June. The invitation for the tryout came from Walter O'Malley who met the boxing champion Marciano at a sports dinner in New York. 35

May 1, 1953

The Armstrong Tire Company in-house magazine, writes of Armstrong tire distributor and Dodger scout Joe Samoska and his trip to Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Florida. Various photos of the daily activities on the base accompanied an article that explained baseball Spring Training to readers of the magazine. 36

May 12, 1953

Walter O'Malley writes of his gratitude to the Secretary of the Indian River County Hospital Association that the benefit baseball game played at Holman Stadium donated $3,034 to the Association. 37

May 25, 1953

In correspondence between two Brooklyn Dodger officials, seats that had been in the Polo Grounds in New York City were now being used at Holman Stadium in Dodgertown. The Dodgers purchased 2,248 chairs for $1 apiece to permit individual seating at their new Spring Training stadium. 38

June 15, 1953

Pageant Magazine has a feature on Jess Collyer, Dodgertown umpire and Mayor of Ossining, New York in his roles as umpire, recreation director of Sing Sing prison and mayor of the town. Collyer was known for his double-talk style and once played a joke on Dodger general manager Branch Rickey. After Collyer did his confusing conversation with Rickey, the general manager who did not hear well on one side, was heard to say, "I think my other ear has gone." In one game at Vero Beach, Dodger shortstop Pee Wee Reese hit a ball into the grapefruit trees in left field. The outfielder came back with a grapefruit in his glove, but not the ball and Collyer called Reese out. When Reese complained, Collyer said, "This is the grapefruit league, isn't it?" 39

June 23, 1953

Walter O'Malley speaks to the Brooklyn Dodger Board of Directors on additions at Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Florida. The Chairman (O'Malley) then referred to the stadium at Vero Beach and stated that in addition to the original stadium there had been erected a clubhouse and an improved lighting system. The Chairman was well satisfied with the stadium at Vero Beach and stated that the net income received from the games played there this year was $19,500. He referred to the fact that Mrs. Smith had donated 50 Royal Palm trees which greatly enhanced the beauty of the stadium and on behalf of the meeting, thanked Mrs. Smith for her donation." 40

October 9, 1953

Dodger Vice President Fresco Thompson writes a foreword to a book of baseball instruction by Buck Lai, Dodger scout and instructor and baseball coach at Long Island University. The foreword was for an instructional book, "Championship Baseball" written by Lai. Thompson talked about Dodgertown and its value in baseball instruction. "The most elaborate baseball program of physical conditioning and special instruction takes place every spring in Dodgertown, U.S.A. This 200-acre training camp is located at Vero Beach, Florida, and has been leased by President Walter O'Malley for the use of the Brooklyn Dodgers and their minor league clubs through 1972. This camp has been called "The College of Baseball" by outstanding figures in the game and may actually cut the apprenticeship a player must serve in the minor leagues by one to two years. One concentrated month in Dodgertown may be equal to one year in experience." 41

November 4, 1953

Walter O'Malley went to Vero Beach, Florida, to view the damage done by storms to a new nine hole pitch-and-putt golf course. O'Malley had the golf course built so that African-American players could have some recreation away from the baseball fields. Heavy storms undid the previous work on the course but O'Malley was unstoppable. "We'll lick it. It'll be ready when you get down there in the spring." 42

December 2, 1953

Advertising is published in The Sporting News for an instructional clinic for baseball coaches to be held at Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Florida from February 13 through February 22, 1954. 43

December 28, 1953

Walter O'Malley writes to Bob Curzon of the Vero Beach Press-Journal of a pending idea for the use of Dodgertown in 1954. "We are also giving some thought to the possibility of operating a boy's camp at Dodgertown in July and August. We feel that if we can put 500 boys and staff in Vero Beach during the summer months it should be a great thing for the community. This camp will be aimed at boys who would like special instruction in the various high school and college sports. It will not primarily be a baseball camp although considerable attention, of course, will be given to that sport. This will be at the amateur level and we will not have in mind any proselyty (sic) for professional baseball. We feel that the facilities are excellent for such a camp." 44

1 ^ Bob Curzon, Vero Beach Press-Journal, January 15, 1953

2 ^ Bob Curzon, Vero Beach Press-Journal, January 15, 1953

3 ^ Vero Beach Press Journal, January 29, 1953

4 ^ Walter O'Malley Correspondence to Wally Skiscim, February 17, 1953

5 ^ Oscar Ruhl, The Sporting News, February 18, 1953  

6 ^ Willard Mullin, The Sporting News, February 18, 1953

7 ^ Roscoe McGowen, The Sporting News, February 18, 1953

8 ^ Roscoe McGowen, The Sporting News, February 18, 1953 

9 ^ The Sporting News, February 25, 1953

10 ^ John Lardner, Saturday Evening Post, February 28, 1953

11 ^ Roscoe McGowen, New York Times, February 27, 1953

12 ^ Open Road Magazine, March, 1953

13 ^ Walter O'Malley Correspondence to Fred Saigh, March 3, 1953

14 ^ Walter O'Malley Correspondence to Emil Praeger, March 3, 1953

15 ^ Walter O'Malley Correspondence to Merrill Barber, March 3, 1953

16 ^ Roscoe McGowen, New York Times, March 3, 1953

17 ^ The Sporting News, March 4, 1953

18 ^ Walter O'Malley Correspondence to Max Kase, March 4, 1953

19 ^ Andy O'Brien, Weekend Picture Magazine, March 4, 1953

20 ^ Roscoe McGowen, New York Times, March 7, 1953

21 ^ Dick Young, New York Daily News, March 7, 1953

22 ^ Andy High Correspondence to Al Clarke, March 9, 1953

23 ^ Vero Beach Press-Journal, March 19, 1983

24 ^ Roscoe McGowen, New York Times, March 18, 1953

25 ^ Telegram, Terry O'Malley and Peter O'Malley, March 11, 1953

26 ^ Walter O'Malley Correspondence to J.G. Taylor Spink, March 12, 1953

27 ^ Bob Curzon, Vero Beach Press-Journal, March 12, 1953

28 ^ Larry Maher Correspondence to Walter O'Malley, March 13, 1953

29 ^ Roscoe McGowen, The Sporting News, March 18, 1953

30 ^ Arthur Daley, New York Times, March 27, 1953

31 ^ Walter O'Malley Correspondence to Herb Scharfman, March 30, 1953

32 ^ The Sporting News, April 1, 1953

33 ^ Vero Beach Press-Journal, April 12, 1953

34 ^ Andy O'Brien, Weekend Picture Magazine, April 4, 1953

35 ^ Zander Hollander, The Sporting News, April 8, 1953

36 ^ Armstrong Tire News, May-June, 1953

37 ^ Walter O'Malley Correspondence to E.G. Thatcher, May 12, 1953

38 ^ Alden Clarke Correspondence to William Gibson, May 25, 1953

39 ^ Zander Hollander, Pageant Magazine, June, 1953

40 ^ Brooklyn Dodgers Board of Director Notes, June 23, 1953

41 ^ Buck Lai, Championship Baseball, October 9, 1953

42 ^ The Sporting News, November 4, 1953

43 ^ The Sporting News, December 2, 1953

44 ^ Walter O'Malley Correspondence to Bob Curzon, December 28, 1953

1954

February 3, 1954

Dodger President Walter O'Malley writes to Charles Jewett, the City Manager of Vero Beach, Florida, of his future plans for a Dodgertown Camp for Boys. "Sometimes I wonder if people really appreciate just how serious and proud we are to have the largest baseball training camp in the world located in Vero Beach. I know a number of my associates thought I was going soft when I decided to build a stadium in Vero Beach on property that we did not even own. I felt that the stadium would be a fine monument to the City of Vero Beach even if the Dodgers for some reason moved elsewhere. We have enjoyed excellent cooperation and understanding with the people of Vero Beach and we shall do everything possible to continue that fine relationship….I am enclosing a schedule of the games that we propose to play in Vero Beach this spring. With a few exceptions these games are reported back to the various cities of the participating clubs under Vero Beach date lines. This, of course, is terrific and wholesome publicity….I believe the year will come when one of the great umpire schools will be located at Dodgertown as well as pre-spring training clinics for the amateur leaders of Little League and amateur junior baseball. All of these I believe are steps in the proper direction and I do hope the civic response is cordial as it always has been." 1

March 3, 1954

The Dodgertown Boys' Camp will begin on July 1st and known distance runner Leslie MacMitchell will be the director. MacMitchell at one time co-held the indoor world record for the mile. 2 Also, Walter O'Malley has given the green light for non-playing coaches to help Dodger minor league managers. "Manager Walt Alston," said O'Malley "had no help whatever along that line while managing Montreal (Dodgers' AAA club in 1953). He and other managers in the minors had to do everything and the paper work alone-making reports to our office was a 24-hour job." 3

March 4, 1954

The Brooklyn Dodgers were playing an intra-squad game at Holman Stadium when play was suddenly stopped. George Shuba had just doubled and was moving into second base when the noise of a car horn announced the arrival of the car owner, Roy Campanella with his passenger, Walter O'Malley. Campanella wanted his teammates to see the car he had just purchased from Bud Holman in Vero Beach. The game went on after Campanella sat for photos and he drove off the field. 4

March 7, 1954

Dodgertown is the subject of a feature in the Newark Sunday News. Writer Bill Dougherty says, "A classic example of what goes into modern-day Spring Training is to be found here at the sprawling former naval air base that is now known locally as Dodgertown. Complete with barracks, dining hall, recreation lounges, swimming pool and every imaginable gimmick that might possibly contribute to improvement of the breed of ball player, the Brooklyn camp serves to condition the most polished major league and the most brash, raw rookie. Dougherty concludes the article by stating "It's in Spring Training that they have the time and the opportunity and the facilities to find out just what the young man's potential really is. They can put him through a thoroughly organized processing that will tell them what they want to know about them. Today, the ball player isn't born. He's made." 5

March 17, 1954

New Dodger Manager Walter Alston is as handy with a pool cue as he is with a lineup card. Alston demonstrated his ability on a pool table in Dodgertown. He demonstrated a trick shot where he sank five balls at one time. 6

March 17, 1954

The Brooklyn Dodgers received pennant rings from the National League for the first time in baseball history. Previously, only the World Series winning team had rings awarded to them but this was the first time a league pennant ring had been given. Also, on this date, the Dodgers held their third annual St. Patrick's Day party at the McKee Jungle Gardens. According to Roscoe McGowen, a "pink" elephant appeared at the event. The elephant had the word "P-I-N-K" spelled on a large side of the animal. The menu was Irish with green beer, green whiskey, and corned beef and cabbage and Dodger personnel were given Irish names for the night as "McVasi" for Vice-President Buzzie Bavasi and "Vice-Royal O'Thompson" for Vice-President Fresco Thompson. A menu item featured "McVasi Salad Without Dressen" referring to the former Dodger manager. 7 

March 24, 1954

Roscoe McGowen writes a feature on Bud Holman and how Holman was able to convince the Brooklyn Dodgers to hold their Spring Training in Vero Beach, Florida. As McGowen writes, "Bud is a millionaire who looks and normally dresses like a garage mechanic, which in fact he was and still is. He probably knows more about automobile and airplane motors than any man alive." Holman said his wife Dora Bell wanted to live in Vero Beach and that's why they came to Florida. "I didn't even know where the place was," said Holman. "But she wanted to come down here and live. She bought some real estate here when I wasn't lookin' and kept after me to move here. Finally I said I'd come if I could get a Cadillac agency here--which I figured I couldn't get because a fellow in Fort Pierce, which was then in the same county as Vero Beach, already had the agency. Then one day my wife shows me a paper from Vero Beach with big headlines, which said St. Lucie County had been split in half and Vero Beach was then in Indian River County and the county seat…..So the agency was open and I didn't have any more alibi for not coming down here…..I've been very happy." Holman also said he learned from a friend of a daughter of Branch Rickey that Rickey wanted a place where all minor league players could play and Holman knew he had the place. 8

March 24, 1954

Walter O'Malley proposed an idea that former players be invited to Spring Training for just one more Spring Training trip. O'Malley said major league owners had agreed to make their headquarters for a Florida visit in Dodgertown, Vero Beach, Florida. The idea had to be approved by the Major League Players' Association as the trips would be paid for from a potential excess in the players' pension fund." 9

April 7, 1954

Dodger ownership, executives and Spring Training instructors joined to play a game at Dodgertown. Former professional players in the game that are now working for the Dodgers included Andy High, Goldie Holt, and Fresco Thompson. Vice President Buzzie Bavasi coached third base and gave signals by using flags and sky-rockets. John Corriden, coach of one team, gave assignment of "batboy" to Dodger owner Walter O'Malley. 10

April 21, 1954

Colonel James Pratt, Commander of Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama sent his appreciation to Dodger President Walter O'Malley. Before Spring Training started, O'Malley had new Dodger Manager Walter Alston, Pitching Coach Ted Lyons and other Dodger personnel to the air force base for three days of baseball instruction. The Air Force Colonel wrote O'Malley, "I thought you would be interested to know that this report will reflect our deep gratitude to you and your organization for the splendid contribution you have made to service baseball in the Southeast." 11 Also, on this date, former Brooklyn Dodger pitcher Mal Mallette made a career change to become a sportswriter. His byline appeared in The Sporting News as he writes a story of an armadillo digging holes on Field No. 1 at Dodgertown. After several days and attempts to capture the animal, a Dodger minor league manager was able to corral the armadillo. 12

April 30, 1954

Walter O'Malley tells the Brooklyn Dodger Board of Directors of his interest to extend the lease for Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Florida. "On my recent visit to Vero Beach I went into the matter of extending the lease at the Naval Base. Matters were discussed with Mr. B.L. Holman and various City officials. The lease has been extended to the satisfaction of the various parties concerned." O'Malley also spoke of the progress of the Dodgertown Summer Camp for Boys. "Our summer camp program is progressing rapidly. With the help of everyone in the organization this camp should be a big success. We do not expect the maximum attendance the first year, but there is no camp in history that has had the publicity the summer camp at Dodgertown is receiving." O'Malley then spoke of Holman Stadium and its value. "The Stadium at Vero Beach has proved a useful project. As a matter of fact, the income derived from the Stadium over the period of the last two years has been $44,334.95. It is possible that the Stadium can pay for itself by the end of the 1955 Spring Training season. This is certainly paying off a greater rate than was anticipated." 13

May 5, 1954

Dodger Vice President Fresco Thompson put Dodger minor leaguers to the test, a test of the Official Playing Rules of baseball. Using questions from the TV show 'Talk to the Stars', Thompson had them printed and gave the questions to two Dodger minor league clubs. "Some of the boys knew a great deal about the obscure rules. Others showed amazing lack of knowledge about some of the most basic plays." 14 Also, the Dodgers signed a player from West Germany to a minor league contract. Oscar Young, a former U.S. serviceman, played in a German baseball league and was signed on the recommendation of future Dodger player and future California Angel manager Norm Sherry. Young would play two seasons in the Dodger minor league system. 15

August 25, 1954

Former Dodger pitching star Dazzy Vance paid a visit to the Dodgertown Boys' Camp and served as a baseball instructor. "Give me a half-hour with kids at that age and I can show them more than I could teach a major league rookie in a whole season," said Vance. Vance would be elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1955. 16

November 17, 1954

Terry O'Malley, the daughter of Dodger President Walter O'Malley, spent her summer working for Camp Director Leslie MacMitchell at the Dodgertown Boys' Camp in Vero Beach, Florida. 17

December 1, 1954

Photographs by Barney Stein of Dodger minor league players running around a baseball diamond appeared in a recent book written by Dodger announcer Red Barber. The Stein photograph demonstrates a long line of players in Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Florida loosening up for the day's activities. 18

December 1, 1954

The Brooklyn Dodgers revived a previous innovation for their Spring Training camp when they invited 25 minor league prospects to the Dodgers' regular Spring Training camp. The Dodgers had tried the idea in 1946 in Daytona Beach and the idea had been deemed successful. 19

1 ^ Walter O'Malley to Charles Jewett, Correspondence, February 3, 1954

2 ^ The Sporting News, March 3, 1954

3 ^ The Sporting News, March 4, 1954

4 ^ Roscoe McGowen, New York Times, March 5, 1954

5 ^ Bill Dougherty, Newark Sunday News, March 7, 1954

6 ^ The Sporting News, March 17, 1954

7 ^ Roscoe McGowen, The Sporting News, March 17, 1954

8 ^ Roscoe McGowen, The Sporting News, March 24, 1954

9 ^ The Sporting News, March 24, 1954

10 ^ Fred Young, The Sporting News, April 7, 1954

11 ^ Roscoe McGowen, The Sporting News, April 21, 1954

12 ^ Mal Mallette, The Sporting News, April 21, 1954

13 ^ Brooklyn Dodger Board of Director Notes, April 30, 1954

14 ^ Fred Young, The Sporting News, May 5, 1954

15 ^ Fred Young, The Sporting News, May 5, 1954

16 ^ The Sporting News, August 25, 1954

17 ^ Roscoe McGowen, The Sporting News, November 17, 1954

18 ^ Roscoe McGowen, The Sporting News, December 1, 1954

19 ^ The Sporting News, December 1, 1954

1955

January 19, 1955

Dan Daniel writes in The Sporting News on the front page of this edition of the newspaper, "The tremendous plant at Vero Beach provides a most interesting study in player education and farm system management. Several hundred players live there, some in service barracks conditions, others in cottages with their families….Numerous fields are in use all morning and all afternoon at Vero. When the main squad goes to Miami…there still are a lot of minor league players and accredited Dodgers at Vero, with coaches working under programs similar to those used by college football mentors in pre-season practice."  1  

February 2, 1955

The Dodgers enjoy an advantage in scouting and signing amateur free agents according to Bill Kerch, writing inThe Sporting News. "Brooklyn's biggest selling point is that it has at least two clubs in each classification and this, naturally, gives the rookies a chance of moving up in the system…Also, the fact that every club in the Brooklyn system goes to Spring Training at Vero Beach, Florida where the rookies mingle with such starts as Duke Snider, Gil Hodges, Pee Wee Reese, etc., is a tremendous selling point used by most Dodger scouts."  2  

February 18, 1955

The Brooklyn Dodgers and the City of Vero Beach agreed to a 21-year lease for Spring Training on the former Naval Air Station Base. The original lease was signed in 1952, and this extension carried a lease for 21 years with an option for an additional 21 years. A condition of the lease requires that proceeds from one game played at Dodgertown will be assigned to the city airport fund.  3

March 1, 1955

The Brooklyn Dodgers' first workout of the Spring Training season at Holman Stadium was accompanied by three high school bands. 4

March 2, 1955

United States Secretary of Defense Charles Wilson was a visitor to Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Florida. Wilson, with his wife, was presented with a Dodger hat as he greeted Walter O'Malley, Bud Holman and Dodger Manager Walter Alston. Wilson was the President of General Motors when President Eisenhower selected him for the Cabinet. Wilson's experience in the car industry earned him the nickname, "Engine Charlie."  5

March 8, 1955

Intra-squad games are meant to help teams get ready for exhibition games, but this intra-squad had a special moment. Eighteen-year old Don Drysdale made his debut pitching for the Dodger major league team run by coach Billy Herman. The "Hermans" defeated the "Pitlers (coach Jake Pitler), 8-1, but it was Drysdale who caught the attention. In the final inning, he retired the side in order. Dodger manager Walter Alston said, "I don't know how far away (Don) Drysdale is, but he certainly has the tools." Jackie Robinson was scheduled to face Drysdale in the ninth inning at the plate, but deferred to a pinch-hitter. Robinson said of Drysdale's fastball, "I'm not ready to look at that kind of stuff."  6

March 9, 1955

It wasn't all baseball played at Dodgertown. Roscoe McGowen writes of a doubles tennis match featuring Terry O'Malley, daughter of Walter O'Malley and a current secretary on the base with public relations chief Red Patterson playing Vice Presidents Buzzie Bavasi and Fresco Thompson. Bavasi and Thompson won the match, two games to one, but Patterson, Bavasi, and O'Malley were not through. The three then encouraged Peter O'Malley, Terry's brother, broadcaster Vince Scully, and sportswriter Jack Lang to participate in a three-on-three basketball game.  7

March 9, 1955

Roscoe McGowen writing in The Sporting News that Walter O'Malley broke into a press conference the media was having with Manager Walter Alston. O'Malley said, "I'd like to say our problem which has been defense, has been solved. Charles E. Wilson, Secretary of Defense will arrive at 12:30 and I want to take Alston down to meet him." McGowen wrote, "So the opening meeting was curtailed slightly in order that the manager of the Brooklyn team might meet the man who allegedly would solve all of the Dodgers' defense problems."  8

March 16, 1955

Walter O'Malley was seen at Dodgertown climbing a palm tree for the purpose of planting Cattleya orchids. The O'Malleys enjoyed their hobby of working with exotic orchids at their home, and orchids from their home in Amityville, New York, were among the flowers at Dodgertown. Walter O'Malley planted 50 of the Cattleya orchids on palm trees surrounding Holman Stadium in the hope they would blossom. Dodgertown was known as a place for plants and flowers with a list of flora as 300 hybrid hibiscus, 200 kumquat trees, 150 cocktail orange trees, 10 acres of fruit groves with pink and white grapefruit, tangelos, oranges, and tangerines, Australian pines, Mexican flame vines, bougainvillea and petunias. A Cymbedium (orchid) on the base has more than 150 blooms.  9

March 16, 1955

Dodger executive Red Patterson has had an impact at the poker game at Dodgertown. Roscoe McGowen writes that Walter O'Malley was a standard poker player, but has changed up on the game with wild cards. Patterson's method of choosing the wild card was to ask someone at the table the date of their birthday."  10

March 16, 1955

Jackie Robinson spoke with anticipation about the 1955 Brooklyn Dodger team. "There's more spirit on this ball club than I've ever seen before." Columnist Arthur Daley made a bold prediction of the 1955 Dodgers at the end of his column, "Wait 'til next year," they said hopefully in Flatbush at World Series time. "This is next year."  11

March 18, 1955

Every spring, there is a new baseball phenom and this spring it is a left hand pitcher, Sandy Koufax. However, in his game story, New York Times beat writer Roscoe McGowen reported, "Sandy Koufax, Brooklyn's $17,000 bonus righthander" made his debut tonight against the All-Stars, a group of Dodger minor league players. 12    In his first Spring Training in Dodgertown, Koufax had been inactive with a sore back. Dodger pitcher Joe Black gave Koufax advice on how to get ready in Spring Training and told Koufax "he would be foolish to pitch with a sore arm or back." Black said, "If he didn't do well he would be a bum-and an expensive bum." The wait was worth it for Sandy. In a night game at Holman Stadium, Koufax pitched two innings and fanned five and not one hitter batted a ball fair. McGowen wrote this understatement, "The kid (Koufax) showed a good fast ball and a fine curve." Also pitching for the Dodgers in the game that night Koufax started was 18-year old Don Drysdale. He followed Koufax in the game and all Drysdale did was strike out eight hitters in four innings, including three consecutive called third strikes against three different pinch-hitters."  13

March 22, 1955

They didn't call them the Bronx Bombers for no reason. On this date, the New York Yankees had 24 hits and scored 19 runs at Holman Stadium to defeat the Dodgers, 19-8. The day wasn't entirely lost. Don Drysdale entered the game in the fifth inning and allowed two runs in the three innings. New York Times writer Roscoe McGowen reported, "Strangely, the youngest pitcher in the game was the most impressive. He was 18-year old Don Drysdale." Drysdale retired the side in order in the fifth inning, started a double play grounder to stop the Yankees in the sixth inning and then yielded two runs in the seventh inning.  14

March 23, 1955

International News Service photographer Herb Scharfman borrowed a chimpanzee from McKee Jungle Gardens nearby and posed the animal in a Dodger uniform. The photo ran nationwide on the news service.  15

March 23, 1955

Walter O'Malley writes to an unhappy fan about the Dodgers' previous day loss to the New York Yankees when the Yankees swatted out 24 hits and scored 19 runs. O'Malley tells the fan "Spring Training is the time when rookies are to be given their opportunity." He goes to tell the fan that "I was tremendously impressed to see a boy just out of high school pitch as effectively as Don Drysdale did." Drysdale would win 209 games in his career as a Dodger and be elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1984.  16

March 28, 1955

Sports Illustrated magazine runs a remarkable original piece of art by illustrator John Groth of a typical day in Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Florida in this issue. Groth was known for a technique as "speed line" where the art is accomplished by using rough, unpolished lines and he then completes the lines with watercolors. Groth has four works of his at the National Art Museum of Sport. His artistry is displayed through the entire painting. Players are seen everywhere in games on Fields No. 1 and No. 2, doing exercises, posing for photographers, pitchers warming up in the strings area, players practicing in the sliding pit area, and hitters facing "Iron Mike", the pitching machine in the batting cages. Groth also shows players testing their reflexes by throwing a baseball through a cradle like table that causes the toss to veer erratically. 17 The magazine made a gift of the artwork to Walter O'Malley. His reaction on seeing the painting at the Dodger offices was "I think (the) picture is a knockout!"  18 The painting even resided at Ebbets Field for one day in Walter O'Malley's office. A delivery receipt showed arrival of the artwork at Ebbets Field on May 4th, 1955, but the next day, Walter O'Malley wrote Matt Burns of the Dodger staff that "This painting is in my office at Ebbets Field. I would like to have it brought to my office at 215 Montague Street." 19 On May 31, 1955, O'Malley would write artist Groth to say "I want to thank you for the wonderful water color you did on Vero Beach which is now hanging in my private office at 215 Montague Street. We're mighty proud of Vero and I can assure you that no one ever caught the full spirit and scope of the camp more fully than you did in your painting. If you're ever over around our office, I surely wish you would drop in and see the place of honor accorded your painting." 20 O'Malley also would thank Sports Illustrated art editor James Snyder by saying, "I want you to know that I certainly appreciate the fine cartoon by John Groth which has been framed and sent to me. It has a place of honor in my office in Brooklyn. In fact, it commands a full wall. There is nothing the Dodgers are prouder of than our Vero Beach set-up, both as a Spring Training camp and as a Summer Boys camp and Mr. Groth has done a fine job of capturing the whole layout in a single cartoon. Around the Brooklyn office we have been getting a big kick out of picking out the various characters who are depicted in the cartoon and we all appreciate the fine job done by the artist. Many thanks for this fine gift."   21

March 30, 1955

The Brooklyn Dodgers announced in Vero Beach, Florida they will televise 25 games on the road this season. The addition of road games ran the Dodger total to televised games to 103 games that include one exhibition game. Walter O'Malley said, "We have arrived at a point at which we must adopt a positive attitude toward television and resist the negative attitude…..Our only thought is to make a move on solving this attendance problem. We can sell all our box seats, all our reserved seats, but those general admissions don't go."  22

May 3, 1955

Walter O'Malley speaks to the Brooklyn Dodger Board of Directors of the progress of the Dodgertown Summer Camp for Boys. "He (O'Malley) then spoke of the summer boys' camp at Vero Beach and he was satisfied with the excellent facilities for a summer camp. The weather is good and the campers were very enthusiastic about it. This time a year ago the camp had 10 boys signed. This year there are 80. The Chairman expects that the total enrollment will be in the vicinity of 100 campers."  23

August 24, 1955

An editorial in The Sporting News gives credit to Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Florida in the development of the 1955 Brooklyn Dodger team. "The Brooklyn management has put together a team which may be compared favorably with the most talented in the game's history. This did not just happen. It required years of expensive organization, fortunes spent in farm and scouting operations, as well as in the famous camp at Vero Beach."  24

October 4, 1955

Florida State Senator Merrill Barber of Vero Beach congratulates Walter O'Malley on October 4, 1955, the date of the Dodgers' first World Championship. Barber's telegram reads, "My sincerest congratulations, Irishman, to you and your associates and the entire Dodger squad. I know that all of Vero Beach joins with me in this expression of congratulations. We are all proud of you. Look forward to seeing you in Vero Beach in the near future." Other Vero Beach citizens who congratulate Walter O'Malley on this date are Vero Beach Mayor Elmer Bauer, Bob Curzon of the Vero Beach Press Journal, and Judge L.M. Merriman, E.G. Thatcher, executive secretary of the Vero Beach Chamber of Commerce.  25

October 5, 1955

Bud Holman had two huge honors in two days in October, 1955. The first one arrives on October 4 as the Dodgers defeat the New York Yankees, 2-0, in Game 7 for the Dodgers' first World Championship. The next day, Holman was honored by Eastern Air Lines where Chairman of the Board Eddie Rickenbacker awarded Holman with a platinum and diamond "Hat in the Ring" pin to recognize Holman's 25 years of service with Eastern. It was Holman who encouraged the Dodgers to make their Spring Training base in Vero Beach, Florida and Holman later served as a member of the team's Board of Directors."  26

1 ^ Dan Daniel, The Sporting News, January 19, 1955

2 ^ Bill Kerch, The Sporting News, February 2, 1955

3 ^ The Sporting News, March 2, 1955

4 ^ Roscoe McGowen, The Sporting News, March 9, 1955

5 ^ March 2, 1955, New York Herald Tribune

6 ^ Roscoe McGowen, New York Times, March 9, 1955

7 ^ Roscoe McGowen, The Sporting News, March 9, 1955

8 ^ Roscoe McGowen, The Sporting News, March 9, 1955  

9 ^ Roscoe McGowen, The Sporting News, March 16, 1955

10 ^ Roscoe McGowen, The Sporting News, March 16, 1955

11 ^ Arthur Daley, New York Times, March 16, 1955

12 ^ Roscoe McGowen, New York Times, March 18, 1955

13 ^ Roscoe McGowen, The Sporting News, March 30, 1955

14 ^ Roscoe McGowen, New York Times, March 22, 1955

15 ^ Walter O'Malley Correspondence to James "Art" Wilson, March 23, 1955

16 ^ Oscar Ruhl, The Sporting News, March 23, 1955

17 ^ Sports Illustrated, March 28, 1955

18 ^ Walter O'Malley to Red Patterson, Unknown date

19 ^ Walter O'Malley to Matt Burns, May 5, 1955

20 ^ Walter O'Malley to John Groth, May 31, 1955

21 ^ Walter O'Malley to James Snyder, May 31, 1955

22 ^ The Sporting News, March 30, 1955

23 ^ Brooklyn Dodger Board of Directors, May 3, 1955

24 ^ The Sporting News, August 24, 1955

25 ^ Merrill Barber to Walter O'Malley, October 4, 1955

26 ^ The Sporting News, October 19, 1955

1956

February 16, 1956

Walter O'Malley was quoted as saying "Once again, the Dodgers are at Dodgertown, Vero Beach. This time they are here as defending World Champions. Our long-sought goal has been reached. But now, we have an even greater problem - to stay on top of the baseball ladder. We are sure of one thing. We have the finest Spring Training base in the land - the most complete facilities imaginable, a great little ball park in Holman Stadium and the most cooperative neighbors in Florida. Last year the Dodgers won the World Championship right here in Vero Beach. It was the wonderful training we enjoyed here, the super condition of our players which established Brooklyn immediately." (The 1955 Dodgers started the season 10-0). 1

February 22, 1956

The World Champion Brooklyn Dodgers have pitchers and catchers reporting to Dodgertown for early Spring Training. Current Dodger starters as Carl Erskine, Don Newcombe, and Johnny Podres are joined with younger hopefuls as Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale. A photograph in the New York Herald Tribune shows Dodger players Roy Campanella, Sandy Koufax, and Billy Loes boarding the Dodger DC-3 with the logo "1955 Dodgers World Champions" on the side of the silver plane. 2 The position players were to report on March 1st. Minor league players from 13 other clubs would report later in the month. Future Dodger shortstop Maury Wills reported March 15th with the St. Paul club.

February 22, 1956

Don Newcombe was to win the 1956 Cy Young Award and Most Valuable Player in the National League, but he first had to endure a hijacking of the train he was on that was taking him to Florida. In South Carolina, a convict came into the train cab and held a gun on the engineer, ordering the railroad man to drive the train "hell bent for election." Newcombe said later he had been awake and "I thought the train was going unusually fast, but I figured we were merely making up time." 3

February 22, 1956

Florida State Senator Merrill Barber presents a key to the City of Vero Beach to Dodger President Walter O'Malley. Barber acted on behalf of Elmer Bauer, Mayor of Vero Beach. 4

February 24, 1956

Florida Governor Leroy Collins visits Dodgertown and is photographed holding a bat as he poses with Walter O'Malley, Vice President Fresco Thompson and Dodger Manager Walter Alston. 5

February 27, 1956

Dodger Manager Walter Alston reveals a secret about the Dodgers' 2-0 win in Game 7 over the New York Yankees to win the 1955 World Championship. "But Johnny (Podres) might have been out of there," said Alston "even after (Sandy) Amoros caught that ball from Yogi Berra. If there had been a one-out situation, Clem Labine was ready and I might have brought him in. But having two out made it different." Amoros caught Berra's fly ball along the left field line for the second out of the inning and his relay throw went to Pee Wee Reese who then threw to Hodges for the double play that ended the inning. 6

March 4, 1956

New York Times writer Roscoe McGowen features Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Florida for the newspaper. McGowen says of Dodgertown that, "The Brooklyn Dodgers are loosening their muscles and sharpening their batting eyes at one of baseball's best equipped training camps." He includes the fact that signs of the former Naval Air barracks were still present as the painted saw and bones pointed to the doctors' office. McGowen remarked on a half-field on the Dodgertown base that included just an infield, but no outfield. Walter O'Malley told of the reason for the half-field, known as Field No. 3. "Seems odd, perhaps, to have built an infield and not an outfield," said O'Malley. "It provides another spot for an important part of our drills-infield practice, pitchers covering first base, pick-off practice and all that. We found enough room back of the running track to build it, so we did. McGowen writes of the stadium that hosts major league exhibition games. "One of the complete fields is Holman Stadium, one of the finest small ball parks in the United States….It was designed by Captain Emil Praeger, a former naval architect…..It is named after Bud Holman, a salty outdoorsman…..It was Holman who paved the way for Branch Rickey, then president of the Dodgers, to acquire use of the base." The article also mentions this spring's training innovation, a sliding dolly, designed by Dodger scout Arthur Dede. The player lays on a platform with wheels with cords designed to show the player the proper sliding position for his feet and legs." 7

March 7, 1956

Walter O'Malley had reason to be proud of the Dodgers' Spring Training camp in Dodgertown. Columnist Dick Young wrote, "If you happen to wander into the Brooks' Spring Training site at Vero Beach, chances are 50-50 you'll receive a guided tour from a roundish gent with a tight-fitting double-breasted suit and a cigar jammed into a cardboard holder clenched in his teeth. He's Walter O'Malley, who just happens to own the club, and who takes a personal pride in showing visiting Dodger fans around the grounds." 8 Also, Young writes of a new training technique for pitchers' fielding practice for Dodger pitchers. "Brook brass has installed a training gimmick to improve pitchers' pegs to second on come-back balls. If any of them fires the ball into center field while practicing the play, he must run out there to retrieve it. You'd be surprised how accurate the throws have been." 9

March 7, 1956

Roy Campanella discusses the dedication and desire a major league player needs. He used Sandy Koufax as an example. "Sandy has a lot of stuff and he takes care of himself. All he needs is better control." 10 Campanella also talked about pitcher Don Newcombe, an outstanding pitcher and a tough out at the plate. "Man, it's gonna be tough living with that roomie (Newcombe) now. They're letting him hit with the regulars every day."  11

March 14, 1956

The Brooklyn Dodgers sign a right hand pitcher who had pitched for the Yomiuri Giants in 1955. Bill Nishita was born on the island of Hawaii and attended Santa Rosa Junior College and the University of California. He pitched one season for a team in Hawaii and pitched against a team of major league players on a barnstorming tour that included Duke Snider. Nishita then signed a two-year contract with Yomiuri and was 3-1 with 3.20 ERA in 1952. He was then called for U.S. military service in 1952. After his discharge, he pitched for the Yomiuri Giants in 1955 and was 1-2 with a 2.08 ERA in Japan. 12 The Dodgers' signed Nishita to a minor league contract and he pitched with Montreal and Fort Worth in 1956. At Montreal, Nishita was 4-6 with a 4.65 ERA and his teammates include future Hall of Fame manager Sparky Anderson and three-time World Series Champion catcher John Roseboro. At Fort Worth, he was 4-3 with 3.13 ERA and his teammates included Don Demeter and Norm Sherry. Nishita pitched for the Dodger organization in 1957 at Fort Worth where he went 6-4 with a 3.69 ERA. He returned to Japan to pitch for the Toiei Flyers and was 16-19 and finished 8th with a 2.39 ERA.

March 14, 1956

Dodger Manager Walter Alston is requiring all Dodger players to wear batting helmets during exhibition games. The 1956 season is the first that made it mandatory for all major league players to wear helmets and Alston wanted his players to be familiar with them during Spring Training. 13

March 18, 1956

Arthur Daley writes of Dodgertown in The New York Times Magazine that "There is nothing in all baseball that matches the factory the Brooklyn Dodgers operate at this training base here on Florida's East Coast. It is a factory that rolls ball players off an assembly line…..Each player leaves with the same mark on his chassis, 'Made in Dodgertown.' It's a mark that greater distinction in the trade this year than ever before because the finest machine to come from Vero Beach flaunts on its hood….all right, (the) pennant, if you insist-that proudly proclaims "Champions of the world." Daley writes of Holman Stadium, "One diamond in the beautifully landscaped Holman Stadium that seats more than 4,000 and is adequate for any exhibition games not played in Miami (where the majority of the exhibition games are played)." Daley compares Dodgertown to other major league teams. "The Yankees, the Cleveland Indians, the Boston Red Sox, the Detroit Tigers, and the New York Giants all have their variations of the Brooklyn factory plan, though none of them operates on the massive scale of that of Vero Beach. You have only to look at the results of the Vero Beach factory to see why others copy it-or would like to." Daley concludes by saying, "The Dodgers here have the assured air that goes with being champions of the world, the first Brooklyn team ever to hold that distinction. Except for Captain Pee Wee Reese and the newly acquired Randy Jackson (secured by trade with the Cubs), every one of them advance through the assembly line at Vero Beach. On results alone, that would seem to make Dodgertown the finest baseball factory in the land." 14

March 19, 1956

Robert Creamer reports in Sports Illustrated on the World Champion Brooklyn Dodgers' 1956 Spring Training season. Creamer tells of one game where 1955 National League MVP Roy Campanella was not in the starting lineup and to stay occupied, was the team batboy. Campanella was doing his job, handing out bats, picking them up and kneeling in the on-deck circle. Charlie DiGiovanna, the Dodgers' usual batboy, came from the clubhouse and watched Campanella in his duties. When Campanella turned his head to see DiGiovanna, the clubhouse man told the Most Valuable Player, "You'll never make it, son." 15

March 21, 1956

Dick Young wrote about Johnny Podres' last evening as a civilian before entering the U.S. Navy. Podres, Young, broadcaster Vin Scully and minor league managers Max Macon and Clay Bryant went out with the 1955 World Series hero. Podres asked the group, "Do you think they (the Dodgers) will miss my nine wins?" 16

March 22, 1956

Two players from the St. Paul club, a minor league club of the Dodgers, hit inside-the-park home runs in games played in Vero Beach. One of the Fort Worth players who hit a home run inside-the-park was a player not known for his power, but he would be a future Dodger shortstop would play on three World Championship Dodger teams and win the 1962 Most Valuable Player Award for the National League. The Sporting News however called him "Morrie" Wills and not as Dodger fans would remember him as "Maury." 17

March 26, 1956

In on-field ceremonies before the World Champion Brooklyn Dodgers played the New York Yankees, Dodger manager Walter Alston was presented with a trophy from the City of Vero Beach, to honor him for his efforts in the 1955 World Series. 18 The Dodgers would honor Alston by beating the Yankees, 15-7 as the Dodgers scored 11 runs in the second inning. Sandy Koufax started the game for the Dodgers and when he walked in the second inning, Dodger first base coach Jake Pitler said, "Welcome aboard. Haven't see you here before." Dodger coach Billy Herman said, "How do I coach this guy. I've never seen him (Koufax) run the bases." Pitler and Herman could say that to Sandy as the young left hander had batted 12 times for the Dodgers in 1955 and had struck out 12 times. 19

March 28, 1956

Sandy Koufax was wild, but according to Dick Young, he was wilder throwing softer than throwing harder. "You wouldn't believe how wild Sandy Koufax can be when he tries to throw the ball at half-speed," wrote Young. "He's (Koufax) much more accurate when he cuts loose." Dodger Vice President Fresco Thompson said, "I'd rather have a pitcher who can't throw soft, than one that can't throw hard." 20

March 28, 1956

Hall of Fame pitcher Burleigh Grimes, who pitched for the Brooklyn Dodgers, was in Vero Beach, scouting the Dodgers as he worked for the Philadelphia Athletics. A minor leaguer was on first base and moving to second base on a hit and run as Gil Hodges hit a fly ball single to center field. The minor leaguer ran to second, and then thinking the ball would be caught, ran back to first and then seeing it would fall for a single, finally ran to second. Grimes said, "They're still using our old plays," speaking of the Daffy Dodgers when he played. 21 Also, four Dodger minor league players did not report to Vero Beach because of voluntary retirement. The most prominent retiree was Fort Worth outfielder Bill Sharman, who decided to give up baseball to remain one of the top guards in the NBA and later coached in the National Basketball Association. Sharman played five seasons in the Dodger minor league system. 22

April 11, 1956

Herb Scharfman, photographer for the International News Service, thought he had great photos of Johnny Podres to be distributed nationally. Knowing Podres would soon be inducted into the United States military, Scharfman had Podres pose eating and sleeping in a G.I. outfit, thinking Podres would be in the U.S. Army. Podres was inducted in the U.S. Navy. Scharfman said, "How could they do this to me!" and tore up the Podres photo. 23

June 13, 1956

Walter O'Malley appeared on a radio show, "Meet the Champions," with Dodger Manager Walter Alston. The appearance fee for O'Malley on the show was donated to a young person to tryout at Dodgertown in Vero Beach. 24

August 22, 1956

Roy Campanella treated his Dodger teammates to crabfingers flown in from Vero Beach, Florida to Brooklyn. 25

December 26, 1956

The Dodgers announced they would not play Spring Training games in the deep South in 1957. After playing games in Florida, they would go straight to Texas and then play one game in Kansas City before arriving in Brooklyn. In the past, the Dodgers had played exhibition games in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. 26

1 ^ Special Dodger Section, Vero Beach Press-Journal, February 16, 1956

2 ^ New York Herald Tribune, February 22, 1956

3 ^ The Sporting News, March 7, 1956

4 ^ Bob Curzon, Vero Beach Press-Journal, February 23, 1956

5 ^ Miami Daily News, February 24, 1956

6 ^ Roscoe McGowen, New York Times, February 27, 1956

7 ^ Roscoe McGowen, New York Times, March 4, 1956

8 ^ Dick Young, The Sporting News, March 7, 1956

9 ^ Dick Young, The Sporting News, March 7, 1956 

10 ^ Jimmy Burns, The Sporting News, March 7, 1956

11 ^ Roscoe McGowen, The Sporting News, March 7, 1956

12 ^ The Sporting News, March 14, 1956

13 ^ The Sporting News, March 14, 1956

14 ^ Arthur Daley, New York Times Magazine, March 18, 1956

15 ^ Robert Creamer, Sports Illustrated, March 19, 1956

16 ^ Dick Young, The Sporting News, March 21, 1956

17 ^ The Sporting News, April 4, 1956

18 ^ The Sporting News, April 4, 1956  

19 ^ The Sporting News, April 4, 1956 

20 ^ Dick Young, The Sporting News, March 28, 1956

21 ^ Dick Young, The Sporting News, March 28, 1956   

22 ^ The Sporting News, March 28, 1956

23 ^ Dick Young, The Sporting News, April 11, 1956

24 ^ The Sporting News, June 13, 1956

25 ^ Dick Young, The Sporting News, August 22, 1956

26 ^ Roscoe McGowen, The Sporting News, December 26, 1956

1957

February 6, 1957

The Dodgers announced that internationally-known clown Emmett Kelly had been hired by the Dodgers. Kelly said, "I'm so happy about it. The Dodgers have been my favorite team for years and I couldn't be more pleased about anything than to be associated with them." Kelly will also appear at Dodgertown in Spring Training and at the Dodgertown Summer Camp for Boys. 1 Walter O'Malley was asked at the press conference "Aren't you afraid that the newspapers will change the name of your club to the Clowns?" "No," said O'Malley, "The club has been called the Bums. The Clowns would be a peg higher." 2

February 20, 1957

The Dodgers will host the manager of the Yomiuri Giants and three players on that club during Spring Training. Giant Manager Shigeru Mizuhara with pitcher Sho Horiuchi and catcher Shigeru Fujio would take part in the Dodgers' workouts at Dodgertown. This spring would be Fujio's second visit to Spring Training with a major league club as he trained with the New York Giants in California in 1952. 3 Accompanying the group would be sportswriter Sotaro Suzuki, known for his international baseball involvement going back to 1931 when Babe Ruth and other American players visited Japan. Walter O'Malley said, "This is our way of returning the many good-will gestures of our recent hosts and should give the Japanese manager, his young players and Mr. Suzuki an opportunity to study training methods at our Dodgertown training camp. We feel this exchange of ideas will aid the development of the game of baseball in a country where interest in baseball is truly amazing." United States Ambassador to Japan John Allison added his support of the offer for specialized training. "This seems to be a very fine plan, and we shall, of course, be happy to assist in every possible way," said the U.S. Ambassador. 4

February 21, 1957

Los Angeles Mayor Norris Poulson announces he will visit Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Florida within the next 10 days in his efforts to invite the Dodgers to Los Angeles. Poulson said, "I intend to confer with Walter O'Malley, president of the Dodgers, to see how soon it will be possible for Los Angeles' longtime dream to become realized." 5

February 27, 1957

Columnist Bob Addie writes of Dodgertown in a humorous column about Spring Training. "Vero Beach will be a revelation to you. That is, the Dodger camp will. It looks like a Rube Goldberg idea come to life. The Dodgers have a unique idea. They believe in training all their farm clubs on the same site. Branch Rickey, Sr. evolved the idea of having all sorts of gadgets in camp. It looks like a county fair with fellows hitting baseballs attached to strings, pitchers throwing through holes in a canvas tent, batting machines, pitching machines and just about every kind of machine except one on how to pitch to Yogi Berra." 6 Berra homered twice in Game 7 of the 1956 World Series.

March 1, 1957

Arthur Daley, New York Times columnist, wrote of the special nature of Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Florida. "There's an appealing fragrance in the very air at Vero Beach. The Dodger baseball factory is located in the heart of the Indian River county just above Florida's Gold Coast and the orange groves crowd in from all sides. It looks like baseball; it sounds like baseball; but it smells like orange blossoms." 7

March 3, 1957

Three thousand fans attended a Dodger intrasquad game at Holman Stadium in Dodgertown, encouraged by the free admission and the first appearance of famous clown Emmett Kelly. The "Pitlers" managed by Dodger coach Jake Pitler defeated the "Hermans", a team managed by Dodger coach Billy Herman. Clown Emmett Kelly grabbed a broom and used it as a bat as he faced Dodger shortstop Pee Wee Reese, pitching from the mound. Kelly was ruled to have singled to right field on one pitch." 8 Walter O'Malley said, "I think it is worth noting, that there were more kids present than we've ever had at any game here." After the event, Kelly made up press room attendant Babe Hamberger, exactly as Kelly, and then Hamberger went into the dining room with the clown makeup of Kelly still on. 9

March 6, 1957

Walter O'Malley meets with officials from the City of Los Angeles that includes Mayor Norris Poulson; County Supervisor Kenneth Hahn; City Council President John Gibson; City Administration Officer Samuel Leask; Chief Administrative Officer John Leach; and Chairman of the County Recreation Commission, Milton Arthur. The Dodger plane was to transport the officials from Miami to Vero Beach, visit Dodgertown and were expected to meet with the media at 8:00 p.m. 10

March 6, 1957

Columnist Dick Young wrote of the annual sign in Vero Beach that displayed Vero Beach as the winter home of the Dodgers. Young wrote this year the sign displayed the Brooklyn Dodgers as N.L. Champs. Some vandals painted on the sign in green paint, "Yankees Champs." The sign was re-painted and removed from the billboard. 11 Also, Young mentioned this season Dodger catcher Roy Campanella shaved his own winter moustache, a Spring Training ritual normally done by Pee Wee Reese. Campanella said he shaved it himself because, "He (Reese) was getting too rough. Almost cut my nose off last time." 12

March 8, 1957

New York Post columnist Leonard Cohen wrote of Walter O'Malley's technical expertise in Dodgertown, Vero Beach, Florida. "The Dodgers were testing the new pitching machines recently installed here in the batting cage section on the grounds on a trial basis. Walter O'Malley walked up to watch. "That's what I like to see when we experiment with something new that might be injurious to a player - a third string man in there trying it out," said O'Malley. The "third-stringer" was hitting against the gadget was bullpen ace Clem Labine. 13

March 13, 1957

Roy Campanella worked with rookie catcher John Roseboro as Campanella's instruction was meant to prepare Roseboro as the next Dodger catcher. John Corriden, a Dodger scout, said, "Times certainly changed. In my day, the big leaguer would have done everything possible to discourage the kid on the way up, in order to protect his own job. Now, everything is done for the good of the organization." 14

March 13, 1957

The Dodgers played three exhibition games at Holman Stadium against major league teams in 1957, but this game featuring the Chicago White Sox and the Brooklyn Dodgers would be unique. In the game, seven future Hall of Famer players were in the box score. For the White Sox, shortstop Luis Aparicio, second baseman Nellie Fox, and right fielder Larry Doby would be elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. For the Dodgers that day, shortstop Pee Wee Reese, catcher Roy Campanella, and pitchers Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax made appearances. 15 In addition, the two teams were managed by future Hall of Famers, Al Lopez for the Chicago White Sox and Walter Alston for the Dodgers.

March 16, 1957

The Dodgers' maiden voyage of their new Convair 440 plane transported minor league players from the West Coast to Dodgertown. Bud Holman, a Dodger director, made the flight with the young players. Holman's son, Bump Holman, was the pilot of the Convair 440 flight. 16

March 17, 1957

Walter O'Malley made sure the sportswriters and their wives were able to attend the annual St. Patrick's Day party in Dodgertown. The Dodgers were playing exhibition games in Miami and the new Dodger Convair plane picked up the media and spouses. After the party, the plane returned to Miami. O'Malley flew to Miami as the party host and wore a green beret with a green shamrock tie. Japanese sportswriter Sotaro Suzuki wore a green cap and told everyone, "I'm Irish now." 17

March 20, 1957

In an unusual arrangement, the Fort Worth team of the Texas League, now belonging to the Chicago Cubs, held their Spring Training in Dodgertown. The Dodgers had owned the Fort Worth team and then exchanged the team to the rights of the Los Angeles club of the Pacific Coast League. Because the exchange of franchises was so recent, Fort Worth players, currently with the Cub organization, reported to Dodgertown for Spring Training. In 1957, some Dodger players remained with the Fort Worth club, including 1959 World Series MVP Larry Sherry. Cub minor league manager Gene Handley, who would manage the Fort Worth club, said, "The Dodgers are being very co-operative and I think everything is going to work out well for everyone." 18

March 23, 1957

Walter O'Malley writes an internal memo to himself in Vero Beach, Florida regarding a conversation he has had with New York Giants' owner Horace Stoneham. "Mr. Stoneham made up his mind some time ago to move his franchise from New York to Minneapolis. He told me that his decision was quite independent of anything Brooklyn might do. He is prepared to move for the 1958 season….I asked Mr. Stoneham if he had considered San Francisco and he said he was not at all impressed by that location. I believe as a result of this talk that Mr. Stoneham made a commitment to the Minneapolis people at the time they built the new stadium….I suggested that if he left New York and if the Dodgers were eventually to do the same thing it would leave New York City unprotected in the National League." 19

March 27, 1957

The largest check ever drawn from the Indian River Citrus Bank was made for the Brooklyn Dodgers to pay the Convair Corporation for the new Dodger plane. Sportswriter Bob Curzon wrote, "Incidentally, the Dodgers had to cough up $734,908.96 for the airplane. A check for this amount was drawn from the Dodgertown operating account at the Indian River Citrus Bank. It was the largest check ever drawn on the bank." 20

March 27, 1957

Dodger outfielder Sandy Amoros appeared with an unusual pair of shoes - made of frog skin. In addition, the head of the frog looked up from the instep of the shoe. 21

March 27, 1957

Bats in the Dodger bat rack were full of various sizes and shapes. Some handles were notched in the belief that players would be able to hold on to the bat more easily. Catcher Roy Campanella used a notched bat in the grip in an exhibition game and was surprised when the bat broke. "I thought," said Campanella, "that my darned hand had fallen off this time." 22

1 ^ Roscoe McGowen, The Sporting News, February 6, 1957

2 ^ Dan Daniel, The Sporting News, February 6, 1957

3 ^ Bob Bowie, The Sporting News, February 27, 1957

4 ^ Roscoe McGowen, The Sporting News, February 20, 1957

5 ^ Los Angeles Examiner, February 21, 1957

6 ^ Bob Addie, The Sporting News, February 27, 1957

7 ^ Arthur Daley, New York Times, March 1, 1957

8 ^ Roscoe McGowen, New York Times, March 4, 1957

9 ^ Roscoe McGowen, New York Times, March 13, 1957

10 ^ Brooklyn Dodger Press Release, March 6, 1957

11 ^ Dick Young, The Sporting News, March 6, 1957

12 ^ Dick Young, The Sporting News, March 6, 1957

13 ^ Leonard Cohen, New York Post, March 8, 1957

14 ^ Dick Young, The Sporting News, March 13, 1957

15 ^ The Sporting News, March 20, 1957

16 ^ The Sporting News, March 20, 1957 

17 ^ Roscoe McGowen, The Sporting News, March 27, 1957

18 ^ The Sporting News, March 20, 1957  

19 ^ Walter O'Malley Internal Memo, March 23, 1957

20 ^ Bob Curzon, Vero Beach Press-Journal, March 27, 1957

21 ^ Dick Young, The Sporting News, March 27, 1957

22 ^ Dick Young, The Sporting News, March 27, 1957

1958

February 21, 1958

For the first time, the Los Angeles Dodgers begin their Spring Training in Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Florida. 

February 22, 1958

The value of Dodgertown is apparent in the acceleration of young players to the major league roster. Frank Finch wrote in the Los Angeles Times, "Dodgertown is a veritable baseball factory. Every year, it seems, one or two youngsters come to camp as rookies and leave as members of the varsity." Finch pointed to the emergence of Joe Black in 1952, Jim Gilliam in 1953, Johnny Podres and Roger Craig in 1955, and Don Drysdale and Charlie Neal in 1956. 1

March 1, 1958

As an incentive for Dodger players during bunting practice, bunting circles around the "Iron Mike" pitching machine were drawn. The goal was to give players a target to aim for when getting down a successful bunt. The squad group with the most bunts in the area was able to end the workout a half hour early. 2

March 3, 1958

Dodgertown umpire Jess Collyer was known for his ability to use double-talk to explain baseball ground rules. "If the (batted) ball hits a grapefruit on the fly and no seeds fall out, the ball is in play. But, if the seeds fall out, it's a ground rule double." 3

March 5, 1958

Los Angeles Mirror columnist Sid Ziff complained to Dodger Publicity Director Red Patterson that he could lock the door to his room at Dodgertown from the outside. Ziff explained, "The key won't come out of the lock." Patterson told Ziff not to worry. "This is an honest camp," said Patterson. 4

March 6, 1958

Three Dodger players suffered minor injuries in an automobile accident. Duke Snider was driving Johnny Podres and Don Zimmer back to the Dodgertown base when Snider made a wrong turn. The turn led Snider to drive across a railroad track and after going over the first rail, the car dropped and struck the second rail. The car was able to be driven off the track back toward Dodgertown and the three players were treated, Podres for a cut forehead and Snider jammed his knee. 5

March 12, 1958

Roy Campanella was not able to attend Spring Training as he recovered from the injuries that ended his playing career. However, he was not forgotten as Walter O'Malley had a sign painted "Campy's Bull Pen" to designate the area just outside the kitchen where the Hall of Fame catcher enjoyed sitting and conversing with people at the Dodgertown base after dinner most nights. 6

March 12, 1958

The Los Angeles Dodgers sent a get-well message to Roy Campanella on a tape recorder. Several teammates recorded their voice to be heard by Campanella. Johnny Podres said, "Campy, please hurry and get well. These catchers down here forget to remind how good I am and you never forgot to keep us all feeling great." Pee Wee Reese told him, "Since you are not here I'm the oldest guy in camp and I want you back real quick, Dad, to take over this dean's title." 7

March 12, 1958

The Los Angeles Dodgers play their first exhibition game of Spring Training at Holman Stadium in Vero Beach and defeat the World Champion Milwaukee Braves 4-3 before a crowd of 3,605. Henry Aaron homered in the fourth inning off starting pitcher Danny McDevitt. Also, the Dodgers' recent bonus baby player, Frank Howard, reported to camp for his first Spring Training and it was said, "He's some baby at 225 pounds." 8

March 13, 1958

Not everything was perfect at Holman Stadium. A sportswriter noted one of the flags that represented National League teams was spelled "Cincinatti." 9 The correct version is "Cincinnati," with one more N and one less T.

March 17, 1958

The annual St. Patrick's Day event at Dodgertown was not scheduled this season due to the absence of Dodger President Walter O'Malley as he recovered from surgery. However, the Dodgers did hold a birthday celebration for Los Angeles Examiner sportswriter Bob Hunter and sportswriters from Montreal (Dodgers' AAA club), New York and Los Angeles were invited. 10

March 17, 1958

The Dodgers defeated the Spokane Indians, their Triple-A minor league team, in a game played at Holman Stadium. Future Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda pitched 1 1/3 innings for Spokane and allowed one run. Also in the Spokane lineup at shortstop that day was the 1962 National League Most Valuable Player, Maury Wills.

March 18, 1958

Sandy Koufax had a fan in Los Angeles Examiner sportswriter Bob Hunter. Hunter wrote "Koufax can really hum that pea….He has to be a great one in a couple of years." 11

March 20, 1958

Nothing was easy for the Cincinnati Reds on this day. The Reds came by bus on a three-hour trip to Vero Beach for an exhibition game against the Dodgers. Twice they stopped to call Dodgertown to check on the weather and were told the field and skies were playable. Upon their arrival, Florida skies changed their mind and the rain downpour caused the game to be canceled and the Reds to get on the bus for their return to Tampa. 12

April 9, 1958

Dodger trainers Harold Wendler and Bill Buhler invent a shin guard for infielder Charlie Neal to reduce the chances of bruises or spike wounds from a base runner. The guard covers the front and sides of the leg in the same way a catcher's shin guards provide protection. Buhler would later invent several protective devices for baseball players, including the catcher's throat protector, a device that hangs from the catcher's mask and absorbs energy from a foul tip and avoid potential damage to the neck and head. 13

April 14, 1958

Terry O'Malley spoke to Los Angeles Times sportswriter of her duties at Dodgertown in Spring Training and the Dodgertown Summer Camp. Terry, a graduate from the College of New Rochelle, described her duties during the summer. "I've been down there in the capacity of executive secretary. At least, that's my field title. It really covers much more territory. These are very young boys and some of them get homesick. I help them write letters, teach them to dance and swim, and confer with their parents….I'm the only girl present, have a dormitory wing to myself, sleep in Pee Wee Reese's old bed, and once in a while sneak off from office work to swing a bat or go for a swim. We have a wonderful time." At the start of the 1958 season, Terry was working for her father, Walter O'Malley, before his regular secretary was able to re-locate to Los Angeles." 14

1 ^ Frank Finch, Los Angeles Times, February 28, 1958

2 ^ Charlie Park, Los Angeles Mirror, March 1, 1958

3 ^ Frank Finch, Los Angeles Times, March 4, 1958

4 ^ Sid Ziff, Los Angeles Mirror, March 5, 1958

5 ^ Frank Finch, The Los Angeles Times, March 6, 1958

6 ^ The Sporting News, March 12, 1958

7 ^ Joe King, The Sporting News, March 12, 1958

8 ^ Frank Finch, Los Angeles Times, March 13, 1958

9 ^ Charlie Park, Los Angeles Mirror, March 13, 1958

10 ^ The Sporting News, March 26, 1958

11 ^ Bob Hunter, Los Angeles Examiner, March 18, 1958

12 ^ Bob Hunter, Los Angeles Examiner, March 20, 1958

13 ^ Dick Young, The Sporting News, April 9, 1958

14 ^ Jeane Hoffman, Los Angeles Times, April 14, 1958

1959

January 14, 1959

The Los Angeles Dodgers are likely to have the largest number of players with the major league club in Spring Training in their history. Vice President Buzzie Bavasi told The Sporting News 41 players on the Dodger roster would be accompanied by 50 players from the Dodgers' three Triple-A clubs. Bavasi said the action was being done to give the major league players more competition. Bavasi said, "This plan is designed to keep our pitchers and other players busy in competition in the hope that the club will jell and get off to a good start." 1

February 17, 1959

Paul Zimmerman, sports editor of the Los Angeles Times writes of the upcoming Los Angeles Dodger season as they near departure for Spring Training. "This is the year they must prove themselves to the second most loyal following of fans in major league baseball-attendance wise." 2 The Dodgers would win the 1959 National League pennant and the 1959 World Series over the Chicago White Sox.

February 21, 1959

Outfielder Frank Howard was seen hitting in batting practice and caught the attention of everyone when one swing by him had the ball tipping the top of the netting on the batting cage and going over the left field fence, 360 feet away. 3

February 28, 1959

Roy Campanella returned to Dodgertown for the first time since the January, 1958 accident that ended his career. Walter O'Malley and Dodger Manager Walter Alston with numerous Dodger players were present for his arrival. Several hundred people who gathered for Roy began an immediate round of applause as the former catcher left the plane. Campanella joked with Duke Snider, "You're some cowboy," referring to an episode of The Riflemantelevision series where Snider made a guest appearance. "Yeah," Snider said, "but you got to admit I died good." Campanella was invited as a special instructor for young catcher John Roseboro and was high in his praise for him. "I took a liking to Johnny when he was up with Brooklyn in 1957," said Campanella. "I hear talk that he doesn't want to catch and would rather play the outfield. I think it will be very easy to convince him he can catch, because he can throw, hit, and run….Another thing he has to learn is how to talk to the pitchers so that he can get their respect. He's got to take charge." 4   Bob Hunter of the Los Angeles Examiner recorded these additional remarks of Campanella. "I know them all (Dodger players) even the youngsters. I practically brought up (Don) Drysdale. Let's go into the lobby and say hello to the kids." 5

March 1, 1959

The newest baseball gadget utilized in the Dodgertown Spring Training camp was a bazooka-like gun that projected high fly balls for outfield practice. 6 Bob Hunter of the Los Angeles Examiner reported 200 baseball games would be played at Dodgertown in the next six weeks. Also, Los Angeles Councilwoman Rosalind Wyman visited Dodgertown. 7 Mrs. Wyman was the key Los Angeles Councilmember to convince the Dodgers to move to Los Angeles in 1957 for the 1958 season.

March 5, 1959

Walter O'Malley in Vero Beach, Florida today announced the Los Angeles Dodgers will play the New York Yankees at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in a tribute game to Roy Campanella. The great Dodger catcher said of the game, "It's the greatest thing that happened to me or for me….It's certainly a wonderful gesture on the part of Mr. O'Malley and all the fellas, but then baseball's a wonderful game. And words can't express my appreciation for what the Yankee management and players are doing for me." 8

March 5, 1959

It's not all baseball at Dodgertown. However, even veteran Spring Training watchers were surprised to see Frank Howard, all six-foot-seven-inches of him, acting as a golf caddy for five-foot-eight inch Dodger coach Charlie Dressen.

March 11, 1959

Spring Training is a time for instruction and Charlie Park wrote in The Sporting News of practice for pitchers in the sliding pit area under the instruction of new Dodger coach Pee Wee Reese at Dodgertown. "Reese opened the session with a little talk which was greeted by applause from his ex-teammates," wrote Park. "Never mind the talk," said pitcher Clem Labine, "show us how it should be done." 9

March 11, 1959

Left hand pitcher Tom Lasorda predicted a pennant for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1959. Lasorda won 18 games for Montreal in 1958 and used that as his reasoning for his prediction. "When a guy who wins as many as I did (18 wins) doesn't even get a chance to make a club it has to be a mortal lock to win it." 10 The Dodgers proved Lasorda right in 1959 when they won the National League pennant and the 1959 World Series.

March 13, 1959

Columnist Melvin Durslag of the Los Angeles Examiner spoke to Roy Campanella and how the area behind the Dodgertown kitchen became known as "Campy's Bullpen." Campanella said the tradition of him sitting there after dinner started in 1949 and he told Durslag that Dodger Manager Charlie Dressen one Spring Training made the area off-limits for Campanella. Dressen thought the cooks were giving Campanella additional food after dinner. Campanella said it wasn't so. "To tell you the truth," said Campanella. "I used to like to talk to the chefs. I've always had an interest in cooking and I like to get their ideas." 11

March 13, 1959

Screen and recording star Gene Autry is scheduled to be a visitor at Dodgertown. Autry owned radio station KMPC, the Dodger flagship radio station that season. He would later be the original owner of the American League Los Angeles Angels club. 12

March 16, 1959

The days can be long in Spring Training. On this date, the Dodgers flew from Vero Beach 131 miles across the state to Sarasota, Florida, where they had hoped to play an exhibition game against the St. Louis Cardinals. Rain greeted them in Sarasota and washed out the game. No problem for the Dodgers. They got back on the plane, flew back to Vero Beach and played an intra-squad game in order to remain sharp. 13

March 17, 1959

The Dodgers held their St. Patrick's Day party in Dodgertown this year with plenty of green to go around. The camp dog mascot, Taffy, was dyed green, there were green ice cubes, and employee Babe Hamberger and Beansie Kunz, a Dodgertown employee, each painted their nose green. Vice President Buzzie Bavasi and Bert Soliere, sportswriter of La Patrie newspaper in Montreal, sang the French song, "Alouette" for the crowd. 14

March 19, 1959

Rain, rain would not go away in Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Florida. For the fourth consecutive game, the Dodgers were rained out of an exhibition game. In their efforts to get their work done, the Dodgers quickly agreed with the Cincinnati Reds to play a three game series in Havana, Cuba. The Dodgers flew early to Havana on the Dodger Convair 440 airplane. The Reds flew from Tampa, their Spring Training base to Miami. However, their Pan Am flight to Havana was grounded because of Miami weather. 15 So, the Dodgers did the next best thing and played a night intra-squad game and played to a 1-1 tie.   Fans that showed up for the Dodger-Reds game that night were rewarded by being told their tickets would be honored the next night when the Cincinnati Reds would arrive. The Dodgers attempted to practice and play games in Nassau, British West Indies on a cricket field and Grand Bahama, British West Indies, but those plans fell through because of weather and the team was on their way to Cuba. 16 Rain would not stop the Dodgers from getting in their work. Walter O'Malley was asked what they would do if they were rained out in Havana. O'Malley replied, "In that case, we'll pack up again and go to San Juan, Puerto Rico.   I'm determined not to let the team slip backwards as it did last spring after a good start (in Spring Training)." 17

March 20, 1959

The Dodgers defeated the Cincinnati Reds, 3-2 in a game played in Havana, Cuba. Don Drysdale started for the Dodgers and allowed two runs in seven innings. Don Newcombe was the starting pitcher for the Reds. The largest crowd in Cuban history, 7,655 fans, attended the game. Dick Gray and Charlie Neal hit home runs for the Dodgers. Future Hall of Famers who played in the game were Drysdale and Duke Snider for the Dodgers and Frank Robinson for Cincinnati. 18 The Dodger Convair 440 airplane that morning had flown from Havana, Cuba to Tampa to pick up the Reds' ball club there in order to have them arrive for the game that night. 19

March 21, 1959

The Dodgers scored three runs in the eighth inning to defeat the Cincinnati Reds, 4-3 in their second exhibition game played in Havana, Cuba. Sandy Koufax started for the Dodgers and allowed three earned runs in five innings with eight strikeouts. Carl Erskine pitched two scoreless innings. Dodgertown umpire Jess Collyer umpired the bases in the two games in Havana. 20

March 22, 1959

The Dodgers were defeated in St. Petersburg by the St. Louis Cardinals, 3-1, but they had a legitimate excuse. The team arrived home from Havana, Cuba at 4 a.m. and six hours later, they were on a 10 a.m. flight to St. Petersburg to play the game. 21

March 26, 1959

Roy Campanella spoke to reporters just before he left Dodgertown after his visit. "I don't understand why people keep fretting about (John Roseboro)," said Campanella. "He's gonna do all right." Campy was also asked if the trip to Dodgertown was beneficial. "Yes, I guess it was," said Campanella, "It helped me to forget a lot of things." 22

March 29, 1959

The Dodgers had to endure their sixth exhibition game rainout in Spring Training when they flew to Lakeland to play the Tigers. Rain was expected the next day when the Tigers would play the Dodgers in a doubleheader in Vero Beach, but it was noted the "drainage at Holman Field is so good that a game can be played within an hour after the rain stops."  23 In addition, reporter Frank Finch discussed the plane flight from Vero Beach to Lakeland. Because of the rainy weather in Florida, Finch wrote, "Pilot Bump Holman had to fly the Dodger plane so low both ways today that the white cranes that populate the Florida swamps were easily discernible from the air." 24

March 30, 1959

Future Hall of Fame outfielder Al Kaline ran into a Royal Palm tree at Holman Stadium chasing a fly ball hit by John Roseboro. The ball fell for a double and tied the game. In the next inning, Kaline got his revenge and hit a three-run double to drive in the tie breaking runs for the Detroit Tigers. 25

April 1, 1959

Young Dodger prospect Ron Fairly came to Spring Training early to learn under veteran Carl Furillo. Fairly learned a lot from Furillo, but the early arrival was just as important to him. Fairly said, "He (Furillo) has helped me in every way possible in right field, but we came early for the fishing." 26

1 ^ Frank Finch, The Sporting News, January 14, 1959

2 ^ Paul Zimmerman, Los Angeles Times, February 17, 1959 

3 ^ Frank Finch, Los Angeles Times, February 2, 1959

4 ^ Frank Finch, Los Angeles Times, March 1, 1959

5 ^ Bob Hunter, Los Angeles Examiner, March 1, 1959

6 ^ Frank Finch, Los Angeles Times, March 1, 1959 

7 ^ Bob Hunter, Los Angeles Examiner, March 2, 1959 

8 ^ Frank Finch, Los Angeles Times, March 5, 1959

9 ^ Charlie Park, The Sporting News, March 11, 1959

10 ^ Bob Hunter, Los Angeles Examiner, March 11, 1959

11 ^ Mel Durslag, Los Angeles Examiner, March 13, 1959

12 ^ Walter O'Malley Correspondence, March 13, 1959

13 ^ Frank Finch, Los Angeles Times, March 17, 1959

14 ^ Frank Finch, The Sporting News, March 25, 1959

15 ^ Earl Lawson, The Sporting News, April 1, 1959

16 ^ Frank Finch, Los Angeles Times, March 20, 1959

17 ^ Bob Hunter, Los Angeles Examiner, March 20, 1959

18 ^ The Sporting News, April 1, 1959

19 ^ Earl Lawson, The Sporting News, April 1, 1959  

20 ^ The Sporting News, April 1, 1959 

21 ^ The Sporting News, April 1, 1959  

22 ^ Frank Finch, Los Angeles Times, March 25, 1959

23 ^ Frank Finch, Los Angeles Times, March 30, 1959

24 ^ Frank Finch, Los Angeles Times, March 30, 1959

25 ^ The Sporting News, April 8, 1959

26 ^ Joe King, The Sporting News, April 1, 1959

For more on the history of the Dodgers Spring Training visit walteromalley.com.