Friday, August 30, 2013

Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Florida is Back

The Guggenheim folks continue to build Dodger fan goodwill by being the exact opposite of Frank McCourt.

Word came down yesterday that the former Spring Training home of the Dodgers in Vero Beach, Florida will make an important change.  Once dubbed Vero Beach Sports Village, it will now pay homage to it's important past by being renamed to “Historic Dodgertown – Vero Beach, Florida.”

Check out this great photo of former Dodger owner Peter O'Malley with the new signage below.

This is great news.  I had several opportunities to visit this complex when the Dodgers had Spring Training there several years ago, and I enjoyed every single minute of it.  The facility was a quaint homespun kind of place that made me feel like I was at a little league ballpark- except with a bunch of seats.  It was homey and personal, and you couldn't help falling in love with it. 

Now, after several years of having McCourt refuse to allow them to acknowledge their Dodger past, the new owners, along with MLB's help, worked to make sure it maintains its important lineage.

Per a press release:
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.”
Something I had forgotten about:
In January 2012, O’Malley saved Dodgertown and formed a partnership including his sister Terry O’Malley Seidler, former co-owner of the Dodgers, former Dodger star pitchers Chan Ho Park and Hideo Nomo and MiLB to manage the property.
Park and Nomo's ties to the franchise appear to be as strong as ever.

Go ahead and check out Dodgertown's new website here.

And here are some great quotes from some Dodger legends about the Dodgers former Spring Training home.
Dodgers’ Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully:
“No other place in the world holds as many memories for me as Dodgertown.”

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 Maury Wills:
“I first went to Dodgertown shortly after I turned 18. I had grown up in the projects in Washington, D.C. and didn’t know anything about the world and had no clue about life. My growth as a man started at Dodgertown. I got to live my passion for baseball and it all started when I got to go to Dodgertown.”

Dodgers’ two-time All-Star Game MVP Steve Garvey:
"With Dodgertown, the O'Malley family created the ultimate environment from which to cultivate, develop, and nurture their ideal of what a professional baseball franchise should be."

Former Dodgers All-Star second baseman, major league manager and now Dodgers’ coach Davey Lopes:
“Dodgertown was ahead of its time as a baseball training complex. Dodgertown was Vero Beach. It was like a town. It had everything. You never had to leave the grounds.”

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 All-Star third baseman and 1981World Series tri-MVP Ron Cey:

“Dodgertown was the ideal spring training facility for us. It gave us a great comfort level with everything that was going on. Everything you needed to succeed at baseball was at your fingertips and you didn’t have to worry about anything else, other than preparing for the season and hopefully winning 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.”

Member of Dodgers’ 1988 World Championship team Mickey Hatcher:
“Having the opportunity to train at Dodgertown matured me as a player and as an individual. It taught me a lot about what baseball is really about. Being around Peter O’Malley and his family brought a great closeness, and getting to meet the players I played with and those from the past and sharing stories with them was an unbelievable experience.”

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.”

Retired MLB umpire Bruce Froemming:

“To start the spring at Dodgertown was a huge perk for me before those long seasons. Everyone there treated me like a part of the family. It was the best and I’ll never forget those years.”

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