Dodgers' spring training home gets new name
VERO BEACH, Fla. — Peter O'Malley announced on Thursday that Vero Beach Sports Village, longtime site of the world-famous spring training home of the Dodgers, will now be known as "Historic Dodgertown – Vero Beach, Florida."
O'Malley has signed a licensing agreement enabling his partnership to utilize the new name in cooperation with the Dodgers and Major League Baseball. O'Malley also unveiled a new Historic Dodgertown – Vero Beach, Florida logo.
"We appreciate the extraordinary cooperation of Dodger President Stan Kasten and the Dodger organization in recognizing the significance of this unique site," said O'Malley, the Dodger president from 1970-1998. "We also are grateful to Major League Baseball for working with us, perpetuating the history and tradition of Historic Dodgertown and what it has meant to the game for decades."
Last June, O'Malley and Indian River County agreed to a long-term lease extension through April 2019.
Joe Flescher, chairman, Indian River County Commission said, "We are excited that going forward the site will be known as Historic Dodgertown – Vero Beach, Florida. It embraces the rich tradition of the property and what it has stood for since 1948. We appreciate the leadership of Peter O'Malley to seek the new name, so it accurately reflects this community icon."
The Historic Dodgertown-Vero Beach, Florida logo incorporates the dual-pronged banner-style pennant used throughout Dodger history on media guides, yearbooks and program covers.
Historic Dodgertown was the Spring Training home of the Dodgers beginning in 1948 and continuing through 2008. Originally, the property was a U.S. Naval Air Station during World War II and, after it closed in March 1947, it was transferred to the City of Vero Beach. In 1947, Vero Beach business leader Bud Holman pursued the Dodgers in trying to find a use for the land and abandoned Naval barracks. The Dodgers agreed to a lease and set up their 1948 Spring Training headquarters in Vero Beach for 26 minor league teams and more than 600 players.
Dodger Hall of Famers Jackie Robinson, Pee Wee Reese, Duke Snider, Roy Campanella, Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Don Sutton, Walter Alston, Tommy Lasorda, Branch Rickey and Walter O'Malley all spent years enjoying the grounds where Historic Dodgertown stands. The same is true for legendary Dodger broadcasters Vin Scully, Red Barber and Jaime Jarrin, all Hall of Famers. Professional teams from Asia, including the Tokyo Giants, have trained on site 19 times.
"Each spring, Historic Dodgertown served us well by bringing everyone in the organization together at a critical time just before Opening Day," said Peter O'Malley. "A Triple-A manager would be with a rookie player and a future Hall of Famer sitting in the same dining room or walking to a practice field. It gave us togetherness. The impact it made is reflected in the championships won. Six Dodger World Championship and 14 National League Pennant-winning teams prepared for the season, starting here on day one."
Scully first visited Dodgertown in the spring of 1950. He said, "No other place in the world holds as many memories for me as Dodgertown."
Today, the multi-sport complex has never been more active year-round. Historic Dodgertown expanded its multi-purpose fields and facilities in May 2012, with a cloverleaf of four new girls' softball and youth baseball fields. Two months later, a new multi-purpose field (110 by 150 yards) was opened.
Reactions from the Dodgers
Dodgers' Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda:
"I remember the last time I walked off the field at Dodgertown, knowing that I would probably never return. I thought of the 60 years of going there for spring training. It's the greatest spring training complex in the United States. I'll never love anything the way I loved going to Dodgertown."
Dodgers' Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax:
"Spring training at Dodgertown was something very special to me because of its rich history and the people who experienced Dodgertown. It was a wonderful time. We were isolated there and players spent a lot of time together and we grew very close. When I got there, I had the opportunity to meet and play with so many great players—Duke Snider, Roy Campanella, Gil Hodges, Pee Wee Reese, Jackie Robinson, Don Newcombe, Carl Furillo and on and on. These were all the folks I rooted for in Brooklyn. I have so many great memories. Dodgertown is truly a historic place."
Two-time National League batting champion Tommy Davis:
"When I think of Dodgertown, the first thing that comes to mind is the nine fields and that we had to run to every one of them. And I loved the great food. Seriously, I'll always treasure the opportunity I had to get to know guys from different parts of the country and to develop a great camaraderie with them. I was young when I was there and I had to learn about a lot of things, so the opportunity to absorb all that information was something I loved."
Dodgers' All-Star pitcher and ESPN broadcaster Orel Hershiser:
"My time at Dodgertown was priceless. Doing what you love in a place where everything is first class. Thanks to the O'Malley family!!!"
Dodgers pitching great Fernando Valenzuela:
"I get very emotional when I think about Dodgertown and my first spring training. It was great for a rookie who just wanted to play baseball. It has everything you could possibly want to get ready for the season. You can eat, sleep and train there and never have to go anywhere else. It brings back a lot of good memories for me."
Former Dodgers All-Star shortstop, coach and manager Bill Russell:
"I always looked forward to going to Dodgertown for spring training. It was a wonderful atmosphere and put you in a great frame of mind to start a new baseball season and give you the confidence you needed to try to win a championship."
Former Dodgers outfielder and now team broadcaster Rick Monday:
"I had images of Dodgertown from listening to and watching games being broadcast from there when I was a kid growing up in Santa Monica. When I was traded to the Dodgers, I got a chance to visit this magical place. Dodgertown was the Disneyland of baseball. With its fields, living quarters, dining room, lounge and hallways filled with the history of the Dodgers, it had great facilities to get you ready for the championship season. I fell so in love with it, I now make my home in Vero Beach."
All-time Dodgers' pinch-hitting great Manny Mota:
"Dodgertown is a very, very special place. Just hearing the word `Dodgertown' brings back a lot of great memories. I cherish the time I got to spend there with Walter O'Malley and the entire O'Malley family. I have great respect and admiration for the O'Malley family. A few years ago I asked my wife where she wanted to go on vacation and she said 'Dodgertown."
Former Dodger first baseman and now FOX broadcaster Eric Karros:
"I grew up in a household where my dad was a huge Brooklyn Dodgers fan as a kid and I heard about Dodgertown and had seen pictures of it, but as a player that's where you really understood the history of the Dodgers. You realized you were a part of more than just the ballclub you were playing on at that particular time. As a player at Dodgertown, the thing I remember most is the interaction with the fans and the accessibility the fans had, unlike any other spring training site. It made for a very intimate environment. It was very peaceful, very calming. It was baseball in its purest sense."