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1977

February 27, 1977

Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda will allow his coaches to play golf, but expected thorough and time consuming workouts to get ready for the season. Lasorda said, "What I did tell my coaches was that we're going to put in a lot of hours on baseball and if they want to play golf they better bring along flood lights." 1

March 1, 1977

Walter Alston has arrived in Dodgertown, driving from home in Darrtown, Ohio as he had done for 23 consecutive springs as the Dodger Manager. This season, he is a special consultant to the organization. Alston spent his driving time from Ohio to Florida on his citizens band radio with the handle or name as "Double Dozen", signifying his uniform number 24. Alston was there to meet the Dodger plane on arrival in Vero Beach and new Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda came down the steps and greeted Alston by saying, "Hi Skipper." 2

March 2, 1977

New Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda proclaimed himself the greatest success since Conrad Hilton (hotel chain founder). "For years," said Lasorda, "I changed (clothes) with six other guys in the minor league clubhouse, then the (major league) coaches room, and now I have my own suite." 3

March 3, 1977

Walter O'Malley talks of the ideal place selected for a new Dodger Stadium in Brooklyn until the club moved to Los Angeles. "That was one hell of a good location we had staked out in Brooklyn," said O'Malley. "Three subways came together. We also had the Long Island railroad depot." 4 Currently on the site selected by O'Malley for the Dodgers at the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues is the Barclays Center, opened in 2013 for the Brooklyn Nets basketball team and numerous other public events.

March 4, 1977

The driving range at the Dodger Pines Golf Club measures golf swings by those 50 yards or less as "bunts" and "home runs" if the golf drive goes more than 200 yards. 5

March 8, 1977

Walter O'Malley played golf to a 31-handicap, but was a formidable player in wagers made on the golf course he designed. One writer stated, "He (O'Malley) plays to his handicap, or better, awes his opponents with remarkable recovery shots and destroys their concentration-and games-with rhetoric, charm and one-liners. An opponent usually has a chance only if the chairman runs out of cigars; that seems to affect his putting." However, one day O'Malley was defeated on the golf course. Bill Shirley of the Los Angeles Times wrote, "A reporter, twice shellacked scandalously, got revenge (won the match). That night in Dodgertown he was a hero. Folks shook his hand and patted him on the back. And Walter O'Malley wore a black arm band (for the loss of the golf match)." 6

March 10, 1977

The Dodgers planned to play an exhibition game in Winter Haven, Florida against the Boston Red Sox but were rained out. The team drove more than two hours back to Dodgertown to play an intrasquad game and the inclement weather there ended any chance of a game being played. Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda said, "First time in my career I have been rained out in two cities in the same day." 7

March 10, 1977

Tom Lasorda told the Los Angeles Times of his first day as the Manager of the Dodgers in Dodgertown that he walked into the coaches' room to get dressed. Lasorda was a Dodger third base coach from 1973-1976. "Hey, wait a minute," said Lasorda. "I'm the manager." 8   Lasorda was asked if he played golf in Dodgertown in Spring Training. "Golf course?" said Lasorda. "What golf course? I didn't know there was a golf course here." 9

March 17, 1977

At the annual St. Patrick's Day Party in Dodgertown Dodger Chairman Walter O'Malley said, "Erin Go Bragh" means "Dodgers Beat Cincinnati." The Dodgers had finished in second place in the National League Western Division to the 1975 and 1976 World Champion Reds. 10

March 19, 1977

The Los Angeles Dodgers defeat the New York Mets, 5-3 in Santiago, Dominican Republic, the first time two major league clubs had played a game in the country. After the Dodger 720-B jet landed at the airport, Dodger players and staff exited the plane all wearing Manny Mota masks, to honor the Dodger outfielder and pinch-hitter, a native Dominican.

March 19, 1977

The Los Angeles Times reported Walter O'Malley will invest $500,000 into Dodgertown for the next three years to create uses as a conference center. O'Malley said, "Every 30 years you should renovate yourself." 11

March 20, 1977

The Dodgers were greeted at the Santo Domingo airport by hundreds of players from the Manny Mota League, a youth baseball league in the Dominican Republic. Then, in the second game of the Dodgers-Mets two-game series in the Dominican Republic, Mota honored their presence as he hit a two-run home run off the New York Mets' Tom Seaver and the Dodgers defeated the Mets, 4-0. 12

March 31, 1977

Columnist Jim Murray of the Los Angeles Times writes of the history of Dodgertown. "At Dodgertown, the legends are all on the walls. Or on poles. Koufax is a street name. So is Jackie Robinson. Roy Campanella is a lane….Tradition hangs heavy at Dodgertown. Nostalgia, USA. A wall-full of yesterdays……In a way, the history of Vero is the history of baseball…..Will any of today's players become streets in Dodgertown? Or even pictures on a wall?.....Everything else is newer, better, shinier, and more efficient at Dodgertown. Gone are the barracks, the leaky roofs, the porous screens, the dripping showers, the 660-man chow lines….Outside it may be 1977. On the walls, it will always be 1955." 13

April 3, 1977

Former Dodger broadcaster Walter "Red" Barber writes a column for the Tallahassee Democrat newspaper and tells of his memories of Dodgertown and reports on a recent visit there. According to Barber, the South was "dead set against (Jackie) Robinson coming to any training camp in 1947….Robinson by now, was the biggest gate attraction since Babe Ruth….Certain local laws were quietly changed and the Dodgers moved into Vero Beach in full force in 1949." Barber completes his column by writing, "I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw Dodgertown. Walter's son, Peter, now President of the Dodgers, took me around. I needed a guide. The old barracks are gone. The O'Malleys have built new residence units that will house some 100 people. There is a splendid new administration building with dining room, kitchen, medical office, press room, dark room, club houses, and meeting rooms…..Rickey had the dream, (Jackie) Robinson provided the need. O'Malley has made the dream stay alive and become a beautiful fulfillment." 14

April 3, 1977

The Dodgers took their signature color blue all the way to painting the bases blue at Holman Stadium for a Spring Training game. 15

April 30, 1977

Tommy John talks of his 1975 rehabilitation from his groundbreaking elbow ligament repair by Dr. Frank Jobe. The operation, famously known around the world as "Tommy John Surgery" transplanted a ligament from John's body to replace the ligament in his left throwing arm. On the Dodgertown base there is a wide brick wall with a regulation pitching mound nearby so a pitcher can work out. It was there that John first began to throw again with his bionic arm. He would take six baseballs and spend time throwing against the wall, a short walk away from Holman Stadium. 16   The left hand pitcher becomes the first player to recover from such elaborate medical treatment. John would return to pitch for the 1976 season with the Dodgers and then pitch in the major leagues for 14 additional seasons. In 2013, Dr. Frank Jobe was honored at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY for his many significant contributions in sports medicine, including the "Tommy John" surgery.

May 7, 1977

The Los Angeles Dodgers and Harrison Conference Services have agreed to use Dodgertown as a conference center. Dodgertown would be open during the year when the Dodgers are not in Spring Training or when the New Orleans Saints are not doing summer training there for the NFL season. 17

August 27, 1977

Former Dodger outfielder Ron Fairly tells this story about himself. "A rookie loafed on a fly ball during an exhibition game at Vero Beach. After the game, a veteran Dodger came over to the kid and said, 'If you don't want to play, take your big bonus and go home and let somebody else have that uniform.' The next day, the rookie made a diving catch of a line drive and drove in the winning run with a hit. After the game, the vet came over, tugged on the kid's uniform and said 'It (the uniform) fit him (the kid) pretty well.' Said Fairly, "The two guys in that story were Pee Wee Reese and me." 18

1 ^ Ross Newhan, Los Angeles Times, February 27, 1977

2 ^ Bob Hunter, Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, March 1, 1977

3 ^ Bob Hunter, Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, March 2, 1977

4 ^ Melvin Durslag, Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, March 3, 1977

5 ^ Bob Hunter, Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, March 4, 1977

6 ^ Bill Shirley, Los Angeles Times, March 8, 1977

7 ^ Bob Hunter, Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, March 11, 1977

8 ^ Bill Shirley, Los Angeles Times, March 10, 1977

9 ^ Bill Shirley, Los Angeles Times, March 10, 1977 

10 ^ Bob Hunter, Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, March 22, 1977

11 ^ Don Merry, Los Angeles Times, March 19, 1977

12 ^ Bob Hunter, Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, March 21, 1977

13 ^ Jim Murray, Los Angeles Times, March 31, 1977

14 ^ Red Barber, Tallahassee Democrat, April 3, 1977

15 ^ Don Merry, Los Angeles Times, April 3, 1977

16 ^ Furman Bisher, The Sporting News, April 30, 1977

17 ^ The Sporting News, May 7, 1977

18 ^ Dick Young, The Sporting News, August 27, 1977

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