Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Historic Dodgertown Writes About the Dodgers Connection to Cuba

As relations with the island national of Cuba softens and Spring Training comes to a close for the Dodgers in Arizona, the Historic Dodgertown website put together a timely article that focuses on the Dodgers history of playing in Cuba during Spring.  You can check that out here.

Below is an excerpt:
Prior to making Historic Dodgertown, Vero Beach, Florida their Spring Training base in 1948, the Dodgers trained in Cuba three times, including in 1947. Then Dodger President Branch Rickey sought an isolated location to accommodate Jackie Robinson, the player who would courageously break the color barrier in Major League Baseball on April 15, 1947. From 1900, the Dodgers gained popularity in Cuba, as they frequently played exhibition games there. In 1941-42, the Dodgers held Spring Training camps in Havana. Cuba’s rabid baseball fans appreciated colorful Dodger players like Van Lingle Mungo, Pee Wee Reese, Dolph Camilli and Leo Durocher.
Colorful is putting it lightly. 

No doubt, there a more than a handful of "adult-styled" stories of Dodger misadventures on the island.  Unfortunately, the article at the Historic Dodgertown website doesn't go into any details.  Nevertheless, it's informative and a good read for Dodger history buffs.

BTW, several years ago I interviewed Jim Vitti about his book "Brooklyn Dodgers in Cuba."  He provides background on the Dodger exploits on the island.  You can check that post out here.

Another great thing about the article at the Historic Dodgertown website are the handful of vintage photos that they share; including a pic of several Dodgers shooting guns with Ernest Hemingway.

At the very top, the Brooklyn Dodger players loosen up for another day of Spring Training at Cerveza Tropical Stadium. The stadium in ballplayer jargon, “played big,” as it was reported in the New York Herald Tribune that center field was 505 feet from home plate.

Below is Dodger President Larry MacPhail (left) and Manager Leo Durocher in Havana. MacPhail, the man who first brought stadium lights for a night major league baseball game in Cincinnati, was president of the Dodgers when they won the 1941 National League pennant, their first in 21 seasons. Durocher managed the Dodgers to the 1941 pennant and was later a coach on the 1963 World Championship Los Angeles Dodgers team.

*All photos above courtesy of

(L-R) Historic Dodgertown Vice Presidents Craig Callan, Brady Ballard, Steve Snure, Jeff Biddle and Historic Dodgertown Chairman Peter O’Malley outside the conference center at Historic Dodgertown – Vero Beach, FL.

BTW, History Dodgertown announced today that Steve Snure and Jeff Biddle have each been named Vice President, Historic Dodgertown.

Via the press release:
“Steve Snure is in his 27th year at Historic Dodgertown, starting in 1988 as executive chef during Spring Training for the Dodgers,” said O’Malley. “Steve’s duties expanded to operations manager six years ago and he has always handled his added responsibilities extremely well. 

“Jeff Biddle has been with us since 2009 and he deserves credit for bringing to Historic Dodgertown athletic teams from all over the world year-round. He understands the business of attracting and accommodating unique teams. Steve and Jeff will continue to work closely with longtime Vice President Craig Callan, as well as Vice President Brady Ballard.” 
Congrats, guys.  One of these days I'll have to venture out to Vero Beach and check out the old place.  It's been years since I've visited and I sorely miss the place.

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Branding to the Extreme - Hello Kitty to be Brand Advertiser on Dodger Uniforms!

Nascar has been doing it for decades.  Soccer clubs worldwide do it too.  Heck, nearly every professional sports franchise throughout the world does it.

So, what keeps North American leagues from following suit?

The answer is nothing, and as I have learned today through a source, the Dodgers will be the first Major League Baseball club to sell advertising on their uniforms.

Welcome to the Dodgers, Hello Kitty!

Per an exclusive quote provided to me this morning:
"We are proud to be a partner with global brand Sanrio® Inc., parent company of Hello Kitty.  They have the most recognized brand in the world," said Dodgers Chief Marketing Officer Lon Rosen.  "That rascally cat, not-a-cat, will usher in a new Dodger era.  She... It... Whatever, will represent the Dodger Blue spirit by gracing the right shoulder of our uniforms."
I also understand that for one game this year all the Dodger players will wear a branded Dodger Hello Kitty cap.  Check it out below.

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Weekend Autograph Opportunities: Garvey, Newcombe, Gagne, Davis and Sizemore

Here are this weekends autograph opportunities and events throughout the Southland. As always, be sure to check the Blue Heaven Calendar for other events (a link can always be found on the tab at the top of this page, just left of center), and always confirm with the establishment. Everything is subject to change.  Please email me with any tips about upcoming events in Southern California.  As the rest of the week progresses I'll update this post with other events (if there are any) as I become aware of them.  Also, I don't always list every event below, so be sure to check my Calendar.  I always try to favor free signing events over paying events.  Click on any pic to embiggen.


It's a big Dodger weekend at Frank & Sons.  They are hosting five former Dodger greats this coming Saturday.  Go here or here for information.

Don Newcombe
baseballs & small flats (up to and including 11x14's):  $39.
large flats, figurines, bobbleheads, minis & equipment:  $49.
bats, helmets, jerseys & artwork:  $59.
inscriptions:  $20.
photo-ops:  $49.
stage time:  11:30am - 1:00pm
Tommy Davis
special trading card rate:  $15.
any item:  $20.
inscriptions:  $10.
photo-ops:  $29.
stage time:  noon - 1:00pm
Ted Sizemore
baseballs & small flats (up to and including 11x14's):  $69.
large flats, figurines, bobbleheads, minis & equipment:  $79.
bats, helmets, jerseys & artwork:  $99.
inscriptions:  $29.
photo-ops:  $59.
stage time:  12:30pm - 2:00pm
Eric Gagne
baseballs & small flats (up to and including 11x14's):  $59.
large flats, figurines, bobbleheads, minis & equipment:  $79.
bats, helmets, jerseys & artwork:  $99.
inscriptions:  $29.
photo-ops:  $69.
stage time:  1:00pm - 2:30pm
Steve Garvey
baseballs & small flats (up to and including 11x14's):  $29.
large flats, figurines, bobbleheads, minis & equipment:  $39.
bats, helmets, jerseys & artwork:  $49.
inscriptions:  $20.
photo-ops: $49.
PLEASE NOTE:  NEW stage time:  1:30pm - 2:30pm

Frank & Son Collectible Show
19649 San Jose Avenue
City of Industry, CA 91748

***Please note that the Steve Garvey appearance time has been changed to 1:30 PM to 2:30 PM.

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Dodgers Notes from Spring Training: Spring Game 32 / Road Game 17

Throughout Spring Training the Dodgers PR department sends out helpful daily notes from Camelback Ranch, and I am happy to pass them along.  See what they've written below.


Los Angeles Dodgers (16-9-6) vs. Kansas City Royals (18-10)
Wednesday, April 1, 2015 – 12:05 p.m. MT | Surprise Stadium

LHP Clayton Kershaw (3-0, 1.86) vs. RHP Yordano Ventura (1-0, 5.14)

(Joe Wieland, pic via @Dodgers on twitter)

GETAWAY DAY: The Dodgers take on the Royals today in Surprise in their Arizona exhibition finale, with many of the regulars having already made their way back to Los Angeles ahead of tomorrow’s Freeway Series opener in Anaheim. Yesterday, the Dodgers wrapped up a 15-game slate at Camelback Ranch - Glendale, establishing records in both total attendance (147,066, besting previous high of 136,944 set in 2009) and average attendance (9,804, beating 2014 average of 9,534). In its seventh season playing at Camelback Ranch, the club posted four sellouts and eight of its 15 home games drew crowds of more than 10,000 fans.
  • Los Angeles has the National League’s top winning percentage this spring at .640 (16-9-6) and has already established a record with six ties.
  • This is not an April Fool’s Joke, Opening Day is just FIVE days away!

90 FEET AWAY: The Dodgers came up just short yesterday, leaving the tying and winning runs in scoring position in the ninth, and fell, 2-1, to the White Sox at Camelback Ranch. Chris Heisey’s fifth-inning home run provided the Dodgers’ lone run in support of starter Joe Wieland, who took the loss after allowing just two runs in 5.0 strong innings.
  • Yimi Garcia struck out the side in the eighth inning and has allowed just one run, while striking out 12, in 9.1 innings this spring.

B.A.T.-TER UP: On Monday, the Baseball Assistance Team (B.A.T.) announced that more than 1,400 players, coaches and managers for all 30 MLB clubs collectively pledged a record donation of $2,643,195 to the organization, which is dedicated to confidentially assisting members of the baseball family who are in need with nowhere else to turn. Additionally, the Dodgers (NL) and Tigers (AL) were recognized as the recipients of the Bobby Murcer Award for their generosity and committing the most money to the charity. It’s the fourth time that the Dodgers have won the award (also: 2010, 2011, 2013).
(Metal Detectors at Dodger Stadium, pic via @Dodgers on twitter)

SAFETY FIRST: Dodger fans will experience new security procedures set forth by Major League Baseball beginning with the Freeway Series finale on Saturday, April 4 with the Angels and running through the 2015 MLB season. MLB will be implementing new mandatory security procedures through a metal detector-enhanced screening process. This procedure, which resulted from a recent study of best security practices and MLB’s continuing work with the Department of Homeland Security to elevate and standardize initiatives across the game, will be in addition to bag checks that have been uniform throughout MLB.  Fan screening may be conducted by means of hand-held metal detection or walk-through magnetometers. These procedures were utilized periodically at certain gates during the 2014 season and all 30 Major League Baseball teams will institute these procedures this year.

FOLLOW THE CACTUS LEADERS: The Dodgers have blasted a Major League-leading 46 home runs (three more than the Cubs’ 43) and have a .286 team batting average (3rd, NL) with a .487 slugging percentage (2nd, NL) this spring.
  • Joc Pederson continues to rank among the NL leaders this spring in batting average (.368, 6th), slugging percentage (.754, 1st), hits (21, T-5th), runs (13, T-2nd), total bases (43, 2nd) and home runs (6, T-2nd).
  • Justin Turner has hit safely in 15 of his last 16 games and is batting .477 with six doubles, three homers and eight RBI, while posting a .500 on-base percentage and a .818 slugging percentage in 18 Cactus League games. Turner’s 21 hits this spring tie for fifth-most in the NL.
  • Yasiel Puig ranks among the NL’s best this spring in home runs (5, T-4th) and RBI (13, T-10th); Kik√© Hernandez places among the league’s best in home runs (5, T-4th) and runs scored (12, T-6th).

HAPPY HAPPY!: The Dodgers would like to wish a very happy birthday to Chris Withrow, who turns 26 today! Withrow will start the season on the 60-day disabled list as he continues to rehab from Tommy John surgery and offseason back surgery.

ON THE MOUND: LHP Clayton Kershaw will make his final start of the spring today and is expected to throw about 45 pitches. The 27-year-old last pitched on Sunday against the White Sox, allowing just one run on four hits and striking out eight in 6.0 innings and will make his fourth consecutive Opening Day start on Monday against the Padres. Kershaw is the only pitcher from big league camp heading to Surprise today and will be followed to the mound by minor leaguers.
  • Zack Greinke will make his final tuneup of the spring this morning in a minor league intrasquad game, expected to start at 10:00 a.m. on Field 1 at Camelback Ranch.
(McCarthy, Kershaw, Anderson & Greinke, pic via @Dodgers on twitter)

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Blog Kiosk: 4/1/2015 - Dodger Links - Scully, Santos and Metal Detectors at Dodger Stadium

Spring Training is quickly coming to a close.  The Dodgers played their last home game yesterday afternoon and set a new Camelback Ranch attendance record of 147,066.  That's an average of 9,804 fans per game.  Photo above tweeted by the @Dodgers.

Below are some links to check out:
  • Yeah.  I'm linking to a Bill Plaschke story again: "As Dodgers' TV blackout drags on, they're losing sight of their fans."  He provides a deeply personal look at a 94 year old fan who's life had been centered around the Dodgers and cannot now watch the club due to the cable issues.  
"I feel so helpless," Ballard says. "It's like my team just forgot all about me."
  • Via Curbed LA, "The Vin Scully Map Guide to Los Angeles."  Borrowing the idea of the "Map to the Stars" commonly found on the streets of Los Angeles, Curbed LA shows you everything related to Vin Scully.
  • Metal detectors are coming to Dodger Stadium.  Via Cary Osborne at Dodger Insider, "New MLB security procedures begin Saturday at Dodger Stadium."  I'm surprised that this hasn't happened sooner.
  • The Dodgers are whittling down their relief staff.  Bill Plunkett of the OC Register tells us a bit about it on twitter:

He'd also get the chance to pitch at Dodger Stadium, 25 miles from where he grew up. His parents could come to a lot more games than when he was in Chicago or Toronto.

"It'd be like a dream come true," Santos said. "They're both excited, have their fingers cross and all that stuff, so we'll see."

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