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1979

February 28, 1979

Walter O'Malley sits down with columnist Melvin Durslag and they discuss Spring Training and the business of baseball. Durslag writes of O'Malley's development of Dodgertown that he (O'Malley) has put up the most sophisticated training complex in baseball." 1

March 4, 1979

"Good Morning America" television host David Hartman of "Good Morning America" puts on a Dodger uniform and participates in exercises and a Spring Training workout.   He was videotaped for an episode that was shown on the morning television show. 2

March 4, 1979

Five years before the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, planning was underway to include baseball as a medal sport for the first time in the Games. Bruno Beneck, president of the Italian Baseball Federation and Max Cecotti, executive secretary of the federation, visited Dodger President Peter O'Malley to discuss the nomination of baseball to be included for the Los Angeles Games. 3

March 17, 1979

Popular singing star Toni Tennille and her husband, musician Daryl Dragon, are in Dodgertown to watch Spring Training and she sings the National Anthem before the Dodgers' exhibition game at Holman Stadium with the New York Yankees. 4 The Grammy-award winning artist is a Dodger fan and would later sing the National Anthem at Dodger Stadium for the 1980 All-Star Game. Attendance for the game is 8,200, the largest crowd in Holman Stadium history. 5

March 25, 1979

Sandy Koufax has returned to Dodgertown as a pitching instructor for the Los Angeles Dodgers, offering assistance to major and minor league Dodger pitchers and pitching batting practice at Holman Stadium. Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda said upon seeing Koufax in uniform in Dodgertown, "He (Koufax) doesn't know it, but Koufax is going to be my opening day pitcher." 6

March 31, 1979

Sportswriter Gordon Verrell relates the story of Bill Russell, signed as an outfielder in high school and his conversion to shortstop by the Dodgers. Early in Russell's career, Dodger Manager Walter Alston saw Russell taking fly balls in the outfield and said, "That kid may be the best shortstop we've got." 7   Russell would become the Dodgers' regular shortstop in 1972 and remain there through the 1983 season.

August 10, 1979

Columnist Joe Hendrickson remembers Walter O'Malley and a tip-off O'Malley had when he knew had the cards. "I do remember," wrote Hendrickson, "that O'Malley often won when he wanted to win. When the Lion (O'Malley) put his World Series ring on his cards, indicating he didn't wish to draw further, you knew he had something." 8

August 10, 1979

Third baseman Ron Cey appreciated the benefits of Dodgertown as accomplished by O'Malley. "We (the players) would see him mostly in Spring Training, riding around in his golf cart. He was a very kind man…..You could tell by our Spring Training facilities, which are by far the best in baseball, how much he thought of the players." 9

August 10, 1979

1979 National League Rookie of the Year Rick Sutcliffe told a story of Walter O'Malley and himself in Dodgertown. Sutcliffe said, "I was sick and couldn't make one of the trips. I was in bed and the nurse called, asking if I wanted something to eat. A few minutes later there was a knock on the door. I got up and opened it and there was Mr. O'Malley standing there with a tray. He came in, we sat and talked and then we listened to the game on the radio." 10

August 10, 1979

Sportswriter Jim Alexander of the Riverside Press-Enterprise gathered memories of Walter O'Malley. Former Dodger outfielder Ron Fairly said, "He (O'Malley) was happiest in the spring time, riding around in his golf cart, wearing one of those crazy flowered shirts. He'd get in line in the cafeteria (at Dodgertown) with the players and kid us. Some of those kids didn't even know who he was. They thought he was just some guy who worked around there." Don Newcombe, Director of Community Relations for the Dodgers said, "There's one thing I'll remember in particular. Jackie Robinson and I loved to play golf. But we couldn't play golf in Spring Training because the Vero Beach municipal course wouldn't allow blacks to play. Mr. O'Malley called us in and said, 'I'm going to do something about it. Give me time, and I'll take care of it.' And he (O'Malley) did. Now there's two golf courses on the Dodgertown grounds." 11

August 10, 1979

Columnist Mitch Chortkoff writes of Walter O'Malley and his poker games at Dodgertown. "He (O'Malley) loved to raise (poker stakes). It wasn't the fact he had much more money than others in the game, it was consistent with his personality to make the aggressive move. Sometimes he had the right cards and sometimes he didn't, but all the time he enjoyed watching us squirm. In a nice way." 12

August 25, 1979

Jesse Crawford, the chef at Dodgertown, was asked the difference between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the New Orleans Saints (the Saints trained in Dodgertown in 1974) and he replied, "About two steaks." 13

September 4, 1979

Hurricane David in Florida brought winds up to 90 MPH and Dodgertown was used as an evacuation center for people whose residences were damaged. 14

1979

In the book "Commemorations" published by the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, it was written that Walter O'Malley once said, "The great thing about baseball is that every spring is a new beginning." 15 The Walter and Kay O'Malley Endowment in Mayo Medical School was established to encourage students. In 1980, the Student-Faculty Lounge at the Mayo Medical School was dedicated "Walter and Kay O'Malley Student-Faculty Lounge." 16

1 ^ Melvin Durslag, Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, February 28, 1979

2 ^ Mike Littwin, Los Angeles Times, March 5, 1979

3 ^ Mike Littwin, Los Angeles Times, March 5, 1979

4 ^ Mike Littwin, Los Angeles Times, March 18, 1979

5 ^ Larry Reisman, Vero Beach Press Journal, February 21, 1988

6 ^ Mike Littwin, Los Angeles Times, March 25, 1979

7 ^ Gordon Verrell, The Sporting News, March 31, 1979

8 ^ Joe Hendrickson, Pasadena Star-News, August 10, 1979

9 ^ Los Angeles Times, August 10, 1979

10 ^ Jim Alexander, Riverside Press-Enterprise, August 10, 1979

11 ^ Jim Alexander, Riverside Press-Enterprise, August 10, 1979

12 ^ Mitch Chortkoff, Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, August 10, 1979

13 ^ The Sporting News, August 25, 1979

14 ^ Los Angeles Times, September 4, 1979

15 ^ Commemorations, Mayo Foundation, 1979

16 ^ Los Angeles Dodgers Press Release, October 30, 1980

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