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1997

February 22, 1997

Dodger pitcher Hideo Nomo was asked about his pioneer step to go from pitching in Japan to pitching in the major leagues and how it affected other Japanese pitchers to take their chance in the United States. "Even if I didn't succeed, I showed it was possible to play in America." 1

February 27, 1997

The Vero Beach Press Journal special Spring Training section talks of the history of the Dodgers and the city of Vero Beach. "While the Los Angeles Dodgers have called Vero Beach their spring-training home for 49 years, the relationship goes deeper. Since the Dodgers' arrival in 1948, the team has strived to become great neighbors in Indian River County. The entire organization continues to work toward this by supporting many community oriented projects. For example, in 1986, the Dodgers "adopted" Dodgertown Elementary School, formerly named Clemann Elementary School. This was not simply a name change for the school -- it was an identity change as well. From guest speakers to the construction of the new library, the Dodgers have continued to assist the school…..The Dodgers also boost the local economy. It is estimated that $20 million is brought into Vero Beach and Indian River County as a result of spring training……Milt Thomas, director of economic development for the Vero Beach-Indian River County Chamber of Commerce said, "It is not just an economic impact. The Dodgers are a part of our identity as a community." 2

March 5, 1997

Former Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda accepts a phone call in the Holman Stadium press box and it is there that he is told he has been elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Lasorda said, "It's the most precious day of my life. I'm overwhelmed. I can't believe this happened to me at this point of time." 3   Dick Crago, the public address announcer for Holman Stadium, told the crowd of the event as it made Dodgertown history. Lasorda spoke of his admiration for Dodger President Peter O'Malley. "I want to thank Peter O'Malley. It's a privilege and an honor to have been the manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers." O'Malley then retired Lasorda's number and named the road to enter Dodgertown, "Tommy Lasorda Lane." 4 Lasorda said of the street designation in Dodgertown. "When you want to meet someone there, tell them to meet you at the corner of Jackie Robinson Avenue and Tommy Lasorda Lane." 5 The Hall of Fame celebration included the Lasorda family restaurant in Exton, Pennsylvania. "You should see it here," said Harry Lasorda. "This place has been buzzing all day long. I can hardly talk. I still can't believe it. The Hall of Fame. The greatest ballplayers in the world are there. And now, so is my brother." 6   Current Dodger manager Bill Russell said of the moment, "His record speaks for itself. He never tried to get the credit. He just went out and did his job. If you thought he wasn't a good manager, this proves that he was." 7   Mike Piazza said of his former manager, "I think his baseball knowledge and expertise is underrated because of how flamboyant and knowledgeable he is. It's good not only what he has accomplished as a manager, but what he's done for the game. He's devoted his entire life to baseball." 8   Lasorda concluded by saying, "I've accomplished everything I wanted to. I've managed 20 years. I've managed world championship teams. I've managed All-Star Games. I've managed the greatest players who ever played the game of baseball. I've achieved everything, but to achieve something like this is the epitome of it all. I remember coming here for the first time in 1949. There were 780 players in camp. There were 26 farm teams. And there were 50 free agents. I outlasted every one of them in that camp. And now I'm a Hall of Famer. I can't believe it." 9

March 9, 1997

Larry Felser, columnist for the Buffalo News, wrote his impression of Dodgertown. "If you have never been to a baseball spring training camp, the place to start is Dodgertown. There is no other like it. The ambience is incomparable…..I once saw the former manager of the Dodgers' Class A teams visit the big league camp with his wife. In most organizations, the pecking dictates that somebody that far down is treated like a serf. Not the Dodgers. (Tom) Lasorda not only greeted the couple warmly, but made sure all the Dodger brass were present and that the red carpet was rolled out." 10

March 11, 1997

Steve Kim, the representative for Chan Ho Park, said of the young right hand pitcher's first major league victory in April, 1996, "They compared it to South Korea winning its first gold medal in the Olympics." 11

March 23, 1997

Orange County Register columnist Mark Whicker wrote this about Dodgertown, "This town (Vero Beach) is like the franchise (Los Angeles Dodgers). Traditional, understated, proudly outdated…..Dodgertown is a memorial to days of company teams with "Welcome Home Dodgers" banners….The Dodgers strive to be special, and so Vero must be special too." 12

1 ^ Bob Nightengale, Los Angeles Times, February 22, 1997

2 ^ Vero Beach Press Journal, February 27, 1997

3 ^ Bob Nightengale, Los Angeles Times, March 6, 1997

4 ^ John Strege, Orange County Register, March 6, 1997

5 ^ Bob Nightengale, Los Angeles Times, March 6, 1997

6 ^ Bob Nightengale, Los Angeles Times, March 6, 1997

7 ^ Bob Nightengale, Los Angeles Times, March 6, 1997

8 ^ Bob Nightengale, Los Angeles Times, March 6, 1997

9 ^ Bob Nightengale, Los Angeles Times, March 6, 1997

10 ^ Larry Felser, Buffalo News, March 9, 1997

11 ^ Kevin Acee, Los Angeles Daily News, March 11, 1997

12 ^ Mark Whicker, Orange County Register, March 23, 1997

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