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1966

January 8, 1966

Dick Bird is appointed the new managing director at Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Florida. Bird has a degree in hotel management from the University of Florida and was the head golf pro at Riomar Country Club.  1

February 28, 1966

Sportswriter Frank Finch gives his opinion of the new golf course at Dodgertown. "Dodgertown's new 9-hole links is a toughie. It measures 3, 200 yards, with narrow fairways and plenty of traps. The first hole, for example, is a par-5, 494-yard terror that forces the golfers to drive over a lake."  2

March 1, 1966

Dodgertown Country Club, a new nine-hole golf course built by Walter O'Malley on Vero Beach property he owned, is dedicated. It is reported O'Malley hit the first golf ball into the lake on the course.  3

March 3, 1966

The Dodgers purchased 160 acres of land adjacent to Dodgertown and it is reported a larger 18-hole golf course is planned.  4

March 4, 1966

Dodger broadcaster Vin Scully reminisces of the time he roomed with third baseman Billy Cox in Spring Training. However, Cox was a contract holdout and the Dodgers had a rule that unsigned players were not permitted on base. Cox ran into Scully on a Vero Beach street and asked Scully if there was an extra bed in the broadcaster's room. Scully said OK and Cox moved in the room on the Dodgertown base. Cox would then get up early, go fishing, and not return till later in the evening. Unbeknownst to Scully was Cox's holdout status. Scully said, "This went on for a couple of days and all the while the Dodgers are announcing, 'Billy Cox has disappeared.'"  5

March 6, 1966

Sportswriter Bud Furillo does a feature on Peter O'Malley, the son of Walter O'Malley, and his ambition to work for the Dodgers. O'Malley said, "I'm not after Buzzie's job (Buzzie Bavasi in player personnel), Fresco's job (minor leagues), or Walsh's job (Dick Walsh, stadium operations). The job I want is my dad's." 6

March 9, 1966

The Dodgers enjoyed a day off and scheduled a team golf tournament at the new nine-hole golf course at Dodgertown. Duke Snider and Ron Fairly took the honors as they both shot 80 as 44 Dodger players and personnel participated. 7

March 14, 1966

Sports Illustrated magazine provides a photo essay by photographer James Drake in an article titled "Vero: Baseball By The Numbers." The photos showed a typical day at Dodgertown with a lecture at Holman Stadium and players working out in various roles of pitching, hitting, and rundown drills. Writer Jack Mann writes an essay on instruction in Dodgertown and reports, "The fundamentalist method of Vero is dull, even to watch. But it may be a clue to understanding the implausible success of the patchwork Dodgers of 1959 and the short-ball specialists of 1963 and 1965, teams that 'made errors but not mistakes.' To say those great battles of the National League were won on the playing fields of Vero would be oversimplifying, but by how much? If baseball is truly a game of inches, they first put the calipers on it at Vero Beach in the spring of 1948…." 8

March 15, 1966

Dodger President Walter O'Malley had many issues in the 1966 Spring Training season. First, the opening game at Dodgertown was rained out. Next, two top pitchers, Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax, were contract holdouts. According to columnist Sid Ziff of the Los Angeles Times, O'Malley was also unlucky at poker, failing to win several hands in the press room. At that point, O'Malley retired from the game, saying, "I think it is time for me to beat a hasty retreat." 9

March 19, 1966

The Dodgers and the Houston Astros make history as the first game ever played on artificial turf is played in Houston, Texas part of the exhibition season. The Dodgers defeat the Astros, 8-3 as Johnny Podres starts and the Dodgers get 13 hits in the game. 10

March 20, 1966

A Los Angeles Times article speculates of the possibility of the Miami Dolphins' football team to use Dodgertown as a summer training camp. 11

March 23, 1966

The Cardinals defeated the Dodgers, 6-1 in an exhibition game at Holman Stadium at Dodgertown. Of note in the game was the performance of Cardinal left-hand pitcher Larry Jaster. Jaster pitched four scoreless innings against the Dodgers in the game and it served as a pretext to the 1966 season. The southpaw Jaster would shutout the Dodgers five consecutive times in 1966, a season where the Dodgers narrowly won the 1966 National League pennant.  12

March 26, 1966

Left-hand hitting outfielder Willie Davis drew praise from Dick Bird, the Dodgertown camp director and the local golf professional. Bird said of Davis, "He's one of the longest hitters I've ever played with….With a little work, I wouldn't be surprised if he could shoot consistently in the mid or even low 70s." Davis batted from the left side in baseball, but in golf, his golf swing was from the right. Davis was originally a right hand hitter in baseball, but was converted to swinging from the left side when he signed his first pro contract.  13

March 30, 1966

Claude Osteen pitches a complete game, two-hit shutout over the Cincinnati Reds at Holman Stadium in Dodgertown, but the bigger story is that Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax are announced to have agreed to their 1966 contracts, ending the month-long holdout. Walter O'Malley had planned to invite Drysdale and Koufax to throw the first ball at the Dodgers' Opening Day on April 12, but those plans are changed on the signing of the players. "Now we'll have to get someone else," said O'Malley. 14

March 30, 1966

As Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax were agreeing to their 1966 contract and Claude Osteen was throwing a 4-0 win over the Reds at Holman Stadium, an announcement over the stadium loudspeaker during the game was made. "After today's game there will be a bridge match: Manager Walt Alston, Coach Jim Gilliam, Manager Walter Alston and first baseman Wes Parker and the celebrated bridge expert, Charles Goren. Nice to have Mr. Goren with us. He's seated behind the Dodger dugout. If you'll forgive the pun, let's give him a big hand." At the time Charles Goren is one of the preeminent contract bridge players and instructor in the world. Goren is a noted author of many bridge books and hosted the first television show in contract bridge that ran from 1959-1964. On this day, he partnered with Manager Walter Alston, but as Goren tells it, "Walt (Alston) proved to be just as deplorable a cardholder that day as I was. The result was that we would up on the short end of a blitz at the hands of (Jim) Gilliam and young (Wes) Parker, who incidentally, is a member of the American Contract Bridge League and the proud owner of a small bundle of master points." Goren went on to write in his weekly column in Sports Illustrated that others who followed the game that day at Dodgertown were future Hall of Famers Duke Snider and National League President Warren Giles. Goren discussed the bids of the players and described how the suits were played. He concluded, "So they clobbered us. But nothing bothered Walt (Alston). He had just been handed a couple of pitching aces (the contract agreements of Drysdale and Koufax) and he wasn't about to mourn the absence of the other kind."  15

April 14, 1966

Dodgertown Camp Director Dick Bird provides details on the planting of grapefruit on the Dodgertown property. Bird reports 683 trees were planted in nearby groves with 329 red grapefruit trees and 354 white grapefruit trees.16

April 18, 1966

Sports Illustrated writer Jack Mann does a feature on Walter O'Malley and Vin Scully tells him a story of Kay O'Malley, the wife of Walter. "Scene at Dodgertown:" says Scully. "20-year-old rookie in dirty baseball uniform knocks on door in barracks and lady answers. 'No towels,' the player says. Lady scurries around until she finds him towels. Is this lady the maid? No, she's the wife of the owner of the ball club." 17

June 16, 1966

One hundred twenty acres of Dodgertown land has been classified as a wildlife sanctuary. The Dodgers reached agreement with the Florida Audubon Society and the Pelican Island chapter of the Society after the sanctuary idea was proposed by Dodger owner Walter O'Malley. "It is surprising how many species of birds may be found in the Dodgertown Sanctuary area, winter and summer," said Mrs. Mabel Michael, president of the Pelican Island Audubon Society. 18

1 ^ The Sporting News, January 8, 1966

2 ^ Frank Finch, Los Angeles Times, February 28, 1966

3 ^ Bob Hunter, Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, March 1, 1966

4 ^ Bob Hunter, Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, March 3, 1966

5 ^ Harley Tinkham, Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, March 4, 1966

6 ^ Bud Furillo, Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, March 6, 1966

7 ^ Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, March 9, 1966

8 ^ Jack Mann, Sports Illustrated, March 14, 1966

9 ^ Sid Ziff, Los Angeles Times, March 15, 1966

10 ^ The Sporting News, April 2, 1966

11 ^ Frank Finch, Los Angeles Times, March 20, 1966

12 ^ The Sporting News, April 9, 1966

13 ^ The Sporting News, March 26, 1966

14 ^ Bob Hunter, The Sporting News, April 9, 1966

15 ^ Charles Goren, Sports Illustrated, April 18, 1966

16 ^ Dick Bird to Walter O'Malley Correspondence, April 14, 1966

17 ^ Jack Mann, Sports Illustrated, April 18, 1966

18 ^ Vero Beach Press Journal, June 16, 1966

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