The Dodgers purchase 6,702 riser-type seats for $1 each from Ebbets Field (owned by Marvin Kratter) for use at Holman Stadium.
Chick Walmsley is appointed camp supervisor of Dodgertown. Walmsley was previously the concession director for the St. Paul Saints, a Dodger minor league team in Minnesota. 1
The Yomiuri Giants from Tokyo train at Dodgertown. It was the first complete team from Japan that trained at Dodgertown and in the United States, which furthered the friendly relations developed between the two countries. Previously, in 1957, two Giants players and the manager had visited Dodgertown during Spring Training. The Giants returned in 1967, 1971, 1975 and 1981. In all but 1975, the Giants went on to win the Japan Series.
On March 31, 1961 at 7:30 p.m., famed evangelist Dr. Billy Graham held a Good Friday service at Holman Stadium during his Florida Crusades, joined by a Crusade choir of locals numbering nearly 400. 2
At age 24, Peter O’Malley becomes Director of Dodgertown, his first full-time job, in January. He managed Dodgertown, overseeing a permanent staff of 21, until January 1965, when he is named General Manager of the Spokane Indians in the Pacific Coast League. In the New York Daily News, Jimmy Powers describes O’Malley’s responsibilities on June 4, “Young O’Malley immerses himself in all phases of baseball – press and radio relations, selling scorecard advertising, redecorating and refurbishing Dodgertown, hiring and directing personnel, handling airplane reservations, operation of a kitchen that serves 1,500 meals daily, setting up concessions and keeping the books.” 3
Melvin Durslag writes in his column in The Sporting News, April 11, “Where seating in the baseball stadium here (Holman Stadium in Vero Beach) has always been segregated, Walter O’Malley removed the signs this year, inviting Negroes to sit anywhere in the park. Perhaps 99 per cent continue to occupy the old Jim Crow seats but, slowly, more are expected to make the shift. In town, O’Malley’s popularity hasn’t thickened.” 4
Bowdewijn Maat, a 19-year-old outstanding amateur player of Holland, was invited to Dodgertown for two weeks to study American methods of training and playing baseball. During his stay, the Dutch college student was a guest of Dodger owner Walter O’Malley. He was sent under sponsorship of the Royal Dutch Baseball Association. 5
On May 31, Bud Holman passed away at his Blue Cypress ranch. The rancher, citrus grower, automobile dealer, airport terminal manager for Eastern Air Lines had been a good friend of the O’Malley family, Dodgertown and the entire Vero Beach community. In 1953, O’Malley named the ballpark at Dodgertown “Holman Stadium” in honor of the influential businessman most responsible for attracting the Dodgers to Vero Beach for Spring Training activities beginning in 1948.
On September 23, the Dodgers purchase 110.4 acres of airport land, building and improvements for $133,087.50 from the City of Vero Beach. The agreement, approved by the Federal Aviation Agency, benefited the city’s general fund as the land goes on the tax rolls.
On March 19, the City of Vero Beach finalized an agreement with the Dodgers, who became the only major league club in Florida to own and maintain their own Spring Training site. In later years, the Dodgers purchased another 340 acres to expand their base.
On March 31, Dodger Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson returns to Dodgertown as a baseball broadcaster during ABC-TV’s trial run of a national telecast. According to The Sporting News, “‘Isolated cameras’ and ‘stop-action’ shots are just two of the innovations which fans will be able to enjoy. The Cardinal-Dodger exhibition game at Vero Beach was a trial run of the new techniques.” 6 In 1965, Robinson was paired with Chris Schenkel for ABC-TV Saturday Game of the Week telecasts.
In 1965, Walter O’Malley hired Ike Ikuhara, a graduate of Waseda University in Japan, to work in various departments and learn the business of baseball. His first job in 1965 was as an assistant in Spokane, WA at the Dodgers’ Triple-A farm team. On the Dodgers’ second Goodwill Tour to Japan following their appearance in the 1966 World Series, the highly-educated and respected Ikuhara served as a team ambassador and interpreter. By 1967, he joined the Dodger front office and helped many departments. In 1982, Ikuhara was named Assistant to the President. He authored two baseball books printed in Japanese (“The Man Who Survives the Race” in 1984; “A Winning Tradition” in 1985) and, in summer of 2002, was posthumously honored with induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Japan.
In the mid-1960s, the tradition of the annual Memorial Mass was initiated by Kay O’Malley to commemorate those individuals who worked, or were guests, at Dodgertown through the years. They are respectfully remembered by name each spring.
The Dodgers invited Ricardo Garza, a top player from Mexico, to study and train at Dodgertown.
In 1965, O’Malley opened a true nine-hole golf course, named Dodgertown Golf Club, which was available to Dodger players, as well as the public. Dedication ceremonies were held when the Dodgers arrived for 1966 Spring Training. O’Malley provided recreational opportunities on base for all of the players. African-American players, who were precluded from golfing at one of the two golf courses in Vero Beach, were then able to participate on the Dodgertown course.
On March 14, Sports Illustrated features a photo essay of Dodgertown by photographer James Drake in an article titled, “Vero: Baseball By The Numbers.”
The Dodgers plant a grove of grapefruit trees (683 trees in all – 329 red grapefruit and 354 white grapefruit) at Dodgertown.
On January 8, Dick Bird is appointed the new managing director at Dodgertown. He holds a degree in hotel management from the University of Florida and was the head golf pro at Riomar Country Club. 7
On June 6, the Dodgers announce the establishment of 120 acres of training grounds at Dodgertown as a wildlife sanctuary. A news release states, “There has just been consummated with the Florida Audubon Society and its Pelican Island Chapter a cooperative agreement to this effect. Already 150 posted signs are being erected along the property boundaries, and rustic signs will be soon be built and placed, with the caption, “DODGERTOWN WILDLIFE SANCTUARY IN COOPERATION WITH FLORIDA AUDUBON SOCIETY, PELICAN ISLAND AUDUBON SOCIETY.” The wildlife sanctuary idea was proposed by Walter and Kay O’Malley and was fostered by Thomas T. Coxon of Vero Beach. Coxon was a charter member of the Pelican Island Chapter and its conservation chairman. Dick Bird, managing Director of Dodgertown, has direct responsibilities for overseeing the sanctuary. He has been appointed as honorary ranger by the Audubon Society and the Pelican Island members will serve in the areas of development and patrol. Attracted to the grounds by a heart-shaped lake, numerous species of birds flock to the Dodgertown Sanctuary. “Birdwatching is fast developing into one of the country’s leading recreation activities,” said O’Malley. “Birds must have the proper environment to feed, nest and raise their young. This, we hope, Dodgertown will in part provide in the Vero Beach section.”
The Yomiuri Giants make their second of five trips to train at Dodgertown.
The Shed restaurant is purchased from Don Miles and operated and used by Dodgertown.
- 1 ^ The Sporting News, December 28, 1960
- 2 ^ Vero Beach Press-Journal, March 30, 1961
- 3 ^ Jimmy Powers, New York Daily News, June 4, 1962
- 4 ^ Melvin Durslag, The Sporting News, April 11, 1962
- 5 ^ The Sporting News, March 16, 1963
- 6 ^ Oscar Kahan, The Sporting News, April 17, 1965
- 7 ^ The Sporting News, January 8, 1966