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1969

February 19, 1969

Walter O'Malley speaks candidly to the Los Angeles Times on the verge of the Dodgers leaving for the 1969 Spring Training in Dodgertown. Writer Bob Oates asked O'Malley of his thoughts of Spring Training. O'Malley replied, "I am looking forward to it eagerly. To me, it's one of the best times of the year, especially now we have the golf course. We put it in to make sure that our Negro players would always have a place to play. There are two other golf clubs in town, but the funny thing is that since I built one, everybody in Vero is playing on mine. I was there last Saturday and it was so crowded that I couldn't get on until after 3 in the afternoon. I went out there in the morning full of vinegar and with my clubs all polished up, and sat around all day."  1

March 3, 1969

Current Spokane Indian Manager Tom Lasorda, the Dodgers' Triple-A entry in the Pacific Coast League, is pitching batting practice to Dodger players at Dodgertown. A fan yelled at Lasorda that he didn't throw very hard. Lasorda responded to the fan, "I throw just as hard as Koufax. It just doesn't get up there as quick."  2

March 12, 1969

Columnist Melvin Durslag notices a sign at the Dodgertown newsstand and canteen that reads, "Collier's: America's Most Exciting Magazine. Get Your Copy Today." Durslag writes, "Collier's folded in 1956."  3

March 12, 1969

One of the greatest hitters in baseball history, Ted Williams, is now the manager of the Washington Senators and his team visited Dodgertown for an exhibition game. Williams said of the Dodgers' Spring Training base, "This is the nicest camp I've seen (in Spring Training). This place has character."  4

March 17, 1969

The annual St. Patrick's Day party at Dodgertown was billed as "a twi-night doubleheader" referring to the baseball term where one game starts before the sun goes down and the second game is played at night. Kay and Walter O'Malley as hosts of the party began the festivities with a clambake at the Dodgertown swimming pool for dinner. The invitation read, "The O'Malley, the O'Mulvey and the O'Alston of County Downs (and ups), we hope and the Dodgers do on this feast of St. Patrick invite you all to break training (but not curfew) on the emerald laws and sandy shores of Lake Killarney at 5 p.m., Monday, the 17th of March, O'Poolside, Dodgers. 'Tis the first half of an historic twi-night double-header in honor of the memory of our Patron Saint." When dinner was over, everyone went to the Dodgertown dining room where there was additional food and drink served, Dodger players Alan Foster and Tommy Hutton played the guitar and sang and Vice President Red Patterson won the dance contest.  5

March 18, 1969

The New York Mets shutout the Los Angeles Dodgers, 3-0 at Holman Stadium in an exhibition game. The shutout should not have been a surprise as the Mets threw two of baseball's greatest pitchers against the Dodgers on this day. Tom Seaver starts for the Mets and pitches five scoreless innings and Nolan Ryan walks four, but he allows no runs in 1 2/3 innings in relief.

March 22, 1969

Columnist Melvin Durslag writes this spring how Walter O'Malley purchased a restaurant called "The Shed" and it was used as the dining room for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for Dodger players in Spring Training. The restaurant was located just a short walk from the training base.  6

March 29, 1969

The Sporting News' March 29th edition has a photo of Dodger hitting instructor Fred (Dixie) Walker with his brother, Harry Walker, Manager of the Houston Astros sitting in Holman Stadium at Dodgertown. Walker, known as the People's Cherce" (Brooklynese for choice) last had worn a Dodger uniform in 1947. Dixie and his brother Harry are the only brothers to win a major league batting crown. Dixie Walker won the 1944 National League batting crown and in 1947 brother Harry was the leading hitter in the NL. 7  Also, it was reported by Merrill Whittlesey, a sportswriter who covered the Washington Senators, that "Ted Williams took a great liking to the setup at Dodgertown and both he (Williams) and owner Bob Short have plans for something similar somewhere in Florida."   8

March 30, 1969

Ted Sizemore is named the winner of the first Dearie Mulvey Award as the outstanding rookie of the Dodgers' Spring Training. Sizemore would later add to his rookie honors when he is named the 1969 National League Rookie of the Year. Marie (Dearie) Mulvey was a stockholder of the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers and was a daughter of Stephen McKeever, a co-owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers with Charles Ebbets. She had ownership in the Dodgers with her husband, Dodger Vice President, James Mulvey. To honor her passing in November, 1968, the Dodgers remembered Mrs. Mulvey by appointing the award during Spring Training. Subsequent winners of the Mulvey tribute include Steve Yeager (1972), Fernando Valenzuela (1981), Orel Hershiser (1983), Raul Mondesi (1994), and James Loney (2004).  9

April 5, 1969

Outfielder Bill Russell was getting attention in his first major league camp at Dodgertown. It was reported Russell ran to first base in a timed at bat at 3.8 seconds, a mark known to be done by Willie Davis, one of the fastest base runners in the game. Working hard in Spring Training, Russell wanted to get another cap to wear to work out. Don Drysdale told clubhouse man Nobe Kawano, "You better give him one, Nobe. This guy might be around a while." Bill Russell played for the Los Angeles Dodgers from 1969 through 1986 and later became a coach and then Manager of the Dodgers in 1996.  10

April 12, 1969

The Dodgers celebrated the birthday of Mrs. Anastasia Plucker, their resident nurse at Dodgertown. The players bought Mrs. Plucker a dozen roses and a birthday cake as gifts. She was driven to the surprise ceremony in Don Drysdale's convertible, and as she walked to the celebration site, Dodger players created an archway of bats to honor her. 11

April 19, 1969

Sportswriter Bob Hunter tells the story of a protest in Dodgertown. Plans were released for the building of new living quarters for the players at Dodgertown, and suddenly signs all over camp, supposedly from players, complained of the loss of the barracks that had been first constructed in World War II. It was discovered later that Walter O'Malley had the signs made and posted as his tribute to the barracks.  12

1 ^ Bob Oates, Los Angeles Times, February 19, 1969

2 ^ John Wiebusch, Los Angeles Times, March 3, 1969

3 ^ Melvin Durslag, Norfolk Sun, March 12, 1969

4 ^ Bob Hunter, Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, March 13, 1969

5 ^ Bob Hunter, The Sporting News, April 5, 1969

6 ^ Melvin Durslag, Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, The Sporting News, March 22, 1969

7 ^ The Sporting News, March 29, 1969

8 ^ Merrill Whittlesey, The Sporting News, March 29, 1969

9 ^ Bob Hunter, The Sporting News, April 19, 1969

10 ^ Bob Hunter, The Sporting News, April 5, 1969

11 ^ Bob Hunter, The Sporting News, April 12, 1969

12 ^ Bob Hunter, The Sporting News, April 19, 1969 

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