Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon

1970

February 10, 1970

Columnist Bill Miller of the Santa Monica Evening Outlook writes a feature about "Cowboy" Rogers, the Western Union teletype operator in Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Florida upon Rogers' passing. Rogers' job was to receive the stories from sportswriters in Vero Beach and have them sent by Western Union to be distributed to the respective newspapers. Miller wrote of the spring when Walter O'Malley presented Rogers with a Dodger World Championship ring and of Rogers' appreciation for the Dodger organization.  1

February 19, 1970

Safari Pines Country Club, the new 18-hole public golf course nearby Dodgertown continues under construction and will be opened later this year. In a unique design to allow golfers the greatest convenience, the golf course has four greens, four tees, a driving range and a putting green that revolve around the clubhouse. Nearly 40 sand traps have been designed for placement on the course. Other special features of the golf course include a heart-shaped green on the fourth hole and a four-leaf clover design for the green on the ninth hole. 2

February 22, 1970

High praise is given from the California Angels' general manager Dick Walsh on the Dodgers' Spring Training base in Vero Beach, Florida. Walsh, a former Vice President of the Dodgers said, "This will be a business-like camp, a camp that is run on order-like the Dodgers do at Vero Beach."  3

February 24, 1970

Popular morning Los Angeles radio team (Al) Lohman and (Roger) Barkley were in Dodgertown to broadcast their show back to Los Angeles. Dodger Manager Walter Alston asked Lohman if he could keep up with the pace in Spring Training. Lohman replied, "I figured out your schedule. Today we get up at the crack of the bat. Tomorrow it's the pop of the glove. On Thursday it's the roar of the crowd and on Friday it's the smell of the locker room." Lohman also complained to Walter O'Malley that the showers were cold. O'Malley replied, "The showers are cold because that's orange juice coming out. What else would a Florida shower consist of?"  4

February 24, 1970

Walter O'Malley was involved greatly with the new 18-hole golf course on land he owned just across the road from Dodgertown. O'Malley's 18-hole course would be a challenge to even experienced golfers. "Can't we get a little more roll to these fairways," asked O'Malley. I don't want these fairways to be as smooth as a billiard table." The Dodger Chairman of the Board was making a golf course built on his own game. "Something else," said O'Malley. One of these holes I want it tailored just for me. You know, rough down the middle and fairways on both edges. You guys know I can't hit straight." O'Malley was heard talking to a landscaping person working on the green. "Get a little slope in there," said O'Malley. "Can't make it too easy, you know." The landscaper responded to O'Malley's request, "It'll be just like the green on your other course. No one can put on those green 'cept y'all." 5

February 26, 1970

The Vero Beach Press Journal newspaper has an editorial to welcome the Dodgers to their 1970 Spring Training camp in Dodgertown. The editorial stated, "There is probably no accurate way to judge the economic benefits the Dodgers bring to Vero Beach and Indian River County. But the fact that they do add to the economy is undeniable…..Our town will receive the Dodgers this year for training for the 22nd time, and we hope for many more years to follow. Once more we tip our hats to the Los Angeles Dodgers and say, 'Welcome home.'"  6

March 5, 1970

Spring Training for the Dodgers is a time for conditioning and "coconut snatching", the term used by the organization for switching a player to another position. This spring, outfielder Bill Russell was given the opportunity to play third base to see if he could make the transition. Third base was not for Russell, but by 1972, he would become the Dodgers' regular shortstop for many seasons.  7

March 8, 1970

Mitch Chortkoff of the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner writes of the value of Dodgertown. "It's a mighty pleasant little community. For another, it provides the ideal conditions to prepare a baseball team." Walter O'Malley is quoted as saying, "This is not the Century Plaza Hotel (a luxury hotel in Century City, Los Angeles). But it grows on you. I know I'll come here when I don't have to anymore……The key word is togetherness. I know of no other spring complex where everyone from top to bottom lives alike. This is one time of the year when communication is not a problem……" The column continues with O'Malley remembering, "One time a player was refused use of a Laundromat downtown. The next day we installed two (washing) machines in Dodgertown. On another occasion a player was denied use of a golf course. That's when we built ours (first, a pitch and putt golf course and a later nine hole golf course)."  8

March 8, 1970

Upon hearing the rumors that the Dodgertown barracks, built during World War II, were to be torn down for modern rooms and suites, a number of protest signs sprung up on the base. One protest sign read, "Rally-Save the Barracks-4:30 Monday at (swimming pool) To Hell With Modernization. We Love The Barracks." The protest sign was endorsed at the bottom by Committee (Don) Sutton and (Claude) Osteen (two Dodger pitchers). Another sign read "Men-Be Calm-No Big Shot Can Order Us To Vacate Our Homelike Barracks. Come Prepared-No Violence."  9

March 8, 1970

The Dodgers were playing an intra-squad game at Dodgertown before the exhibition season started and a light rain was falling. The Dodgers' Triple-A Manager for the Spokane Indians, Tom Lasorda, decided to have some fun and brought out an umbrella for home plate umpire Jess Collyer. Collyer took the umbrella and continued to umpire the game, but Chairman of the Board Walter O'Malley made his own decision to end the game. O'Malley drove his golf cart on the field, ordered Collyer to get into the cart, and the home plate umpire left the game.  10

March 9, 1970

As a member of the Penn Board of Trustees, Walter O'Malley sent a letter to a high school running back in Connecticut, encouraging him to play football at Penn. The letter from O'Malley was sent to Bobby Valentine, the Dodgers' first round choice in the June, 1968 Free Agent Draft. O'Malley said, "At the time, I wasn't aware that we were thinking of making Valentine our No. 2 (He was the first round choice of the Dodgers) draft. Imagine, what I was doing was advising (him) to play football at Penn rather than baseball with the Dodgers."  11

March 11, 1970

The Dodgers defeated the Houston Astros, 15-14 in a wild exhibition game at Dodgertown, but the top story was the use of an experimental baseball called the "5-X." It was reported the "5-X" had five percent more compression than a regular baseball in a bid to potentially create more offense. However, a 20 mile per hour wind that day was more prominent to lead to the run scoring binge by the two teams.  12

March 17, 1970

Peter O'Malley is named as the president of the Los Angeles Dodgers after a meeting by the Dodger Board of Directors at Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Florida. 13 Chairman of the Board Walter O'Malley, formerly the Dodger president, said, "There's no question in my mind that Peter will make a good president. I and my wife, Kay, are extremely proud." 14

March 17, 1970

New Dodger President Peter O'Malley writes to the Reverend Ralph Abernathy of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference that the Los Angeles Dodgers were proud to host the East-West Major League Baseball Classic at Dodger Stadium on March 28th of the same year. Proceeds from the game are to benefit the Southern Christian Leadership Conference Foundation and the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Center in Atlanta, Georgia.  15

March 26, 1970

Steve Garvey, one of the top young Dodger players, recalls his memories riding the Dodger bus when he was eight years old. Steve's father, Joe Garvey, drove a Greyhound bus based in Tampa, and often the Dodgers would have the elder Garvey as their driver on bus trips through the state. Steve said, "My special favorite was Gil Hodges. When Gil would invite me to play catch, you couldn't talk to me for a week." 16

March 28, 1970

The 1970 Spring Training season is marked by the appearance of the "Green Phantom", a person known for practical jokes played at Dodgertown but the identification was unknown. Walter Alston said, "This guy hits and run with the best." As sportswriter Ross Newhan puts it, "The Phantom has yet to be seen. He is yet to leave a clue." Triple-A Manager Tom Lasorda was a regular target. When asked why, Lasorda said, "You'd have to ask the Phantom." Walter O'Malley came under suspicion as being the Green Phantom. His wife, Kay, said, "Unless my husband can start accounting for his time, I've definitely got to believe he's (Walter O'Malley) involved." Among the practical jokes played on Lasorda that spring were a sign on the whirlpool reading "U.S.S. Lasorda," a can of ant killer labeled "Lasorda's Deodorant", and finally, his entire bed and the dresser cabinet were removed from his room. When Lasorda came in that day after a workout, all he found in the middle of the room was a baseball, painted green, the calling card of the "Green Phantom." The "Green Phantom" was not yet done with Lasorda for Spring Training. After a few days of no practical jokes, Lasorda walked in one morning to find his uniform, shoes, glove, and under clothes all painted green. Lasorda said, "You've got to pay the price and I'm paying it."  17

April 1, 1970

One of the greatest hitters in baseball history, Ted Williams, made a prediction of Bill Buckner. Williams, the Manager of the Washington Senators, said of Buckner in Spring Training that "Buckner will win the National League batting title within three seasons." Actually, Buckner would later win a National League batting title, but it would be in 1980, ten years after the prediction made by Williams.  18

April, 1970

Golf, a national publication of the golf industry, features the nine-hole Dodgertown golf course. The magazine said of Dodgertown Golf Course, "(It) is a handsome, surprisingly sporty nine-hole layout. The surprise is that a golf course on such flat basically uninteresting terrain could turn out to be a challenge. That it does is a tribute to Walter O'Malley, owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers and unofficial designer of the golf course." The golf periodical noted fees at Dodgertown were nearly half of the other two courses in Vero Beach. Walter O'Malley tells the magazine why the course was built. "We actually started the course as a convenience to our players, both African-American and white…..When it became tough to get all our players starting times at the other Vero Beach courses, we said what the hell, let's build our own golf course," said O'Malley. The golf course was not a basic nine-hole course. "Nearly every feature of the course is stamped with O'Malley's personal touch," said the magazine. "To build character into the flat terrain, he ordered elevated greens at every hole, and he endowed the greens themselves with the most imposing array of curves this side of a beauty contest." Dodgertown Golf Course pro Dick Bird said, "We have a saying about our rolling greens. Anytime you find yourself with a 10-foot putt that's straight, we give you your money back." 

A massive sand trap that overlaps the fourth and the seventh holes is something golfers don't see every day as the fourth and the seventh golf holes are holes that play in opposite directions but are adjoining. The magazine says the third hole is formidable, a par 5 that is 474 yards long and needs a 100-yard carry over the lake. The location of the first hole is near enough to Holman Stadium that a bad slice can put a golf ball onto the field. 

O'Malley had several types of trees planted on the course that include Hawaiian papaya, banyan, eucalyptus, and Indian rosewood. The 18-hole record for the nine-hole golf course (playing the course twice) was a 68 by a left-handed golfer and Dodger player Ron Fairly. The magazine added that Walter O'Malley had appointed himself the permanent chairman of the rules committee for the course. 19

April 23, 1970

The Dodgers continued to make inroads for baseball internationally when they invited a pitcher from the Netherlands, John Van Westrenen to their Spring Training camp in Dodgertown. The invitation was arranged by the Dodgers through the request of Dr. William Arce, the baseball coach at Claremont-Harvey Mudd College.  20

April 24, 1970

Rookie pitcher Sandy Vance remembers his first spring at Dodgertown. Future Hall of Fame pitcher Don Drysdale saw the condition of Vance's playing spikes and offered Sandy a new pair of shoes that fit Vance perfectly.  21

July 19, 1970

Dodger shortstop Maury Wills is the feature of a lengthy article by Bill Libby in the Los Angeles Times. Wills described his first spring at Dodgertown in 1951 where he had been signed as a pitcher. Seeing the large number of pitchers on the first day of workouts, Wills noticed few players in competition for jobs as a second baseman, and decided he was now an infielder.  22

September 18, 1970

Walter O'Malley writes the Los Angeles Dodgers' Board of Directors to tell them he has played the new 18-hole golf course at Dodgertown with team engineer Ira Hoyt and former team comptroller E. John Burns. O'Malley told the Board "The grass on the fairways and greens was superior to any of the Los Angeles courses we have played." 23   O'Malley also told the Board, "With Jim (Mulvey, Dodger Board Member) and Peter (O'Malley, Dodger President), dissenting, we have gone ahead with the name Safari Pines Country Club. 24

September 18, 1970

Walter O'Malley tells the Los Angeles Dodgers' Board of Directors of the location of the new residence for players and personnel at Dodgertown. "The location of the proposed residence hall has again been changed and it will now be in the area presently occupied by the hospital wing of the barracks from which point we will eventually work toward the main entrance if and when we build substitute eating facilities. This means we will be demolishing our least desirable and poorest maintained rooms." 25

December 19, 1970

Peter O'Malley announced the Yomiuri Giants baseball team from Japan has accepted an invitation to train at Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Florida for the 1971 Spring Training season. The Yomiuri Giants had won their sixth consecutive Japan Series in 1970, the championship series of Japanese professional baseball teams.  26

1 ^ Bill Miller, Santa Monica Evening Outlook, February 10, 1970

2 ^ Vero Beach Press Journal, February 19, 1970

3 ^ John Wiebusch, Los Angeles Times, February 22, 1970

4 ^ Ross Newhan, Los Angeles Times, February 24, 1970

5 ^ Gordon Verrell, Long Beach Press Telegram, February 24, 1970

6 ^ Vero Beach Press Journal, February 26, 1970

7 ^ Ross Newhan, Los Angeles Times, March 5, 1970

8 ^ Mitch Chortkoff, Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, March 8, 1970

9 ^ Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, March 8, 1970

10 ^ Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, March 8, 1970

11 ^ Ross Newhan, Los Angeles Times, March 9, 1970

12 ^ Los Angeles Times, March 12, 1970

13 ^ Los Angeles Times, March 17, 1970

14 ^ Bob Hunter, The Sporting News, March 28, 1970

15 ^ Correspondence, Peter O'Malley to Rev. Ralph Abernathy, March 17, 1970

16 ^ Ross Newhan, Los Angeles Times, March 26, 1970

17 ^ Ross Newhan, Los Angeles Times, March 28, 1970

18 ^ Ross Newhan, April 1, 1970

19 ^ Golf, April, 1970

20 ^ Dwight Chapin, Los Angeles Times, April 23, 1970

21 ^ Ross Newhan, Los Angeles Times, April 24, 1970

22 ^ Bill Libby, Los Angeles Times, July 19, 1970

23 ^ Walter O'Malley, Memo to Los Angeles Dodgers' Board of Directors, September 18, 1970

24 ^ Walter O'Malley, Memo to Los Angeles Dodgers' Board of Directors, September 18, 1970  

25 ^ Walter O'Malley, Memo to Los Angeles Dodgers' Board of Directors, September 18, 1970.   

26 ^ United Press International, December 19, 1970

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