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1983

February 19, 1983

Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda opened Spring Training with a speech to his players. At one point, Lasorda urged his younger minor league players to compete for jobs held by major leaguers. Pitcher Jerry Reuss, a free spirit in the clubhouse, spoke up in the middle of Lasorda's speech, "I wonder who (new Dodger coach Joey) Amalfitano is thinking about right now," as the clubhouse broke up in laughter. Amalfitano would be the Dodgers' third base coach from 1983 through the 1998 season. 1

February 22, 1983

Dodger outfielder Rick Monday and catcher Steve Yeager flew to Vero Beach on the red eye to get to Dodgertown this year. However, Monday and Yeager showed up briefly at the clubhouse with their golf clubs and an excuse not to practice. Monday told Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda that "(Steve) Yeager and I flew all night and we're too tired to practice. C'mon, Boomer (Yeager's nickname), we have a 10 a.m. tee time (for golf)." And the two baseball players played golf that day. 2

March 10, 1983

Dodger Manager Walter Alston is elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame on this date. Sportswriter Gordon Edes quotes Hall of Fame manager Casey Stengel on the time Stengel was asked who was the best modern-day manager in baseball. Stengel replied, "That fella (Alston) with the Dodgers. He wins with young players, old players……He wins in a small park, a big park, and in-between, one (park) with volleyball net in left field, (the Los Angeles Coliseum). You could look it up."   Alston won four World Championship as a Dodger manager, including the Dodgers' first World Series in 1955. He would later win World Series with the Dodgers in 1959, 1963, and 1965. Alston would manage 11 seasons where the Dodgers won more than 90 games and finished his managerial career with 2,042 wins, at that time the fifth largest number in baseball history. Alston watched the Dodgers play a Spring Training game at Holman Stadium after the announcement of his election. When asked how he would celebrate the Hall of Fame honor, Alston replied, "I think I already have." 3

March 14, 1983

William Nack of Sports Illustrated magazine writes a feature on Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Florida in the March 14th issue. Nack writes, "The spirit of the past is always right around a corner at Dodgertown, and the way you get to Field 2 is this: You can enter Dodgertown by turning off Vero Beach's 26th Street into Duke Snider Drive and then take a left on Vin Scully Way, which runs right past the field along the leftfield line. Or you can turn in at the main gate, onto Jackie Robinson Avenue. Then you head straight for a hundred yards or so. Don't turn left (what else) on Sandy Koufax Lane because that breaks like a good curve past the villas-small, one-bedroom, one-bathroom structure where most of the players live, two to a unit. Keep going until you get to Roy Campanella Drive. Take a right, and, if you're on foot, walk straight on, through the gap in the fence and over the pitchers' mound, until you reach…Roy Campanella." Nack tells the history of Dodgertown from the earliest days to the current moments and how it has benefited the organization. "On the field," narrates Nack, "there were so many players running around that each one not only wore a number but the numbers were of different colors-orange, maroon, yellow, purple, black, green, blue, brown, white, and red-so one No. 46 could be distinguished from another." The Sports Illustrated writer states, "It was no wonder the Dodgers became known for producing the most fundamentally sound players in the game. Talent varied, of course, but insofar as they could, the players in the Dodger system, for the parent team to the lowest club in the organization, executed in the same way. They all learned together at the same school." Nack concludes the article by writing, "What (Branch) Rickey originally conceived, the idea of a baseball college, (Walter) O'Malley carried out and improved on." 4

March 17, 1983

Spring Training can be a long, repetitive process with exercises, drills, and games. To break up the monotony in March, the Dodgers weekly had special events at Dodgertown where players and their families would be invited to enjoy spending an evening with plenty of party appropriate food and special activities. Christmas in Dodgertown began in 1979 and included a tree, the arrival of Santa Claus, presents with a traditional Christmas dinner and snow! Dodgertown Director Craig Callan said, "We have about 20 tons of snow brought in (for Christmas in Dodgertown)." Other events held for Dodger players and their families in Spring Training were "Country Western Barbecue" with pony rides, a country band, line dancing, and traditional Western-style food around a bonfire. "Seafood Night" included dinner with a wide variety of assorted fish with all the fish caught fresh from Florida waters.[1] Other Dodgertown festival themes through the seasons were "50s Night", a celebration of the 1950s with diner style hamburgers, hot dogs and French fries, and plenty of 50s music with hula hoops and as always, St. Patrick's Day. 5

March 18, 1983

Columnist Chuck Johnson of The Tidings newspaper writes about the annual Memorial Mass held at Dodgertown in Spring Training. The idea originated with Kay O'Malley, the wife of team owner Walter O'Malley. She felt it was important to remember everyone as a tribute to those members of the Dodger organization and Dodgertown guests who had passed away in the 12 months from the previous Mass. An honored Dodgertown tradition at the Mass is to mention the names of persons who in the last year had most recently gone before. All previous names celebrated were listed in the Memorial Mass program given to participants. For many Spring Trainings, the Mass has been conducted by Monsignor Irvine Nugent of St. Helen's Church. 6

March 24, 1983

Orel Hershiser was asked in Spring Training of his thoughts when he learned the Dodgers had put him on the 40-man roster in November, 1982. Hershiser said, "I sat there thinking about Vero Beach (Dodgertown), about having my own locker in the big league clubhouse with my own uniform. Sometimes you kick yourself because you're really a Los Angeles Dodger." 7

March 28, 1983

Sandy Koufax tells the story in 1966 on why he did not pitch the season opener for the Dodgers. "In 1966, I hadn't been to Spring Training because of the holdout. (Koufax and Drysdale did not agree to their 1966 contract until March 30th of that year). I didn't pitch Opening Day. (Dodger Manager) Walt Alston said I wasn't ready yet. I went the next day (the second game of the season)." 8

May 16, 1983

Vero Beach Dodger Manager Stan Wasiak is interviewed on his 34th season as a minor league manager. Wasiak began his managerial career in 1950 with a minor league club in Valdosta, Georgia where his players included major leaguers as Joe Pignatano and Roger Craig. Due to a serious illness in 1982, Wasiak was out for most of the season, but did return for one game to keep his current streak in managing continuing. In 1978, Wasiak won the 2,000th game in his career in the minor league career with the Lodi (Class A) Dodgers in the California League. Dodger President Peter O'Malley honored Wasiak with his presence in pre-game ceremonies at the Lodi ballpark to celebrate the feat. 9   Among Dodger players who played under Wasiak in the minors were John Franco, Mike Marshall, Alejandro Pena, Ron Roenicke, Rick Rhoden, Steve Sax, Fernando Valenzuela and Geoff Zahn. Wasiak would become the all-time winning minor league manager in 1985 for the Vero Beach Dodgers.

September 2, 1983

The Vero Beach Dodgers win their first Florida State League Championship as they defeated Daytona Beach, 6-4. The Dodgers had lost the first two games of the best-of-five series, but won three straight games, including the championship game at Holman Stadium. Mariano Duncan, a future major league Dodger, stole four bases in the game as Brian Innis was the winning pitcher and Rafael Montalvo saved the game in relief. 10

October 23, 1983

The first ever Dodgertown "Adult Fantasy" Camp opened as 61 men and one woman, Los Angeles Timesphotographer Jayne Kamin, participated. Among the first-ever group of adult campers were two legislators from the state of California and a bus driver from New York City.[1] For six days, the campers learned fundamental baseball skills from former Dodger players Hall of Famers Roy Campanella, Don Drysdale, Tom Lasorda, and Duke Snider participated as well as Dodger standouts Joe Black, Tommy Davis, Carl Furillo, Lou Johnson, and Ron Perranoski. The campers slept in the villas at Dodgertown, dressed in Dodger uniforms in the Dodger clubhouse, had their own baseball card made and played in camp games. Dinner every night had the former Dodgers speak of their experience as major league players and the "Most Valuable Players" of that day's game were presented with the "Mr. Potato Head" award, an honor used as a motivational tool by the 1983 National League Western Champion Dodgers. 11

1 ^ Mark Heisler, Los Angeles Times, February 20, 1983

2 ^ Mark Heisler, Los Angeles Times, February 23, 1983

3 ^ Gordon Edes, Los Angeles Times, March 11, 1983

4 ^ William Nack, Sports Illustrated, March 14, 1983

5 ^ Amy Clark, Florida Today, March 17, 1983

6 ^ Chuck Johnson, The Tidings, March 18, 1983

7 ^ Ken Gurnick, Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, March 24, 1983

8 ^ Mark Heisler, Los Angeles Times, March 28, 1983

9 ^ Gordon Verrell, The Sporting News, May 16, 1983

10 ^ The Sporting News, September 19, 1983

11 ^ The Sporting News, November 14, 1983

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