Carl Erskine’s footage of Historic Dodgertown
Dodger pitcher Carl Erskine started the first spring game played at Holman Stadium, Dodgertown, Vero Beach, Florida on March 11, 1953. That was one of two historic starting assignments for the man they called “Oisk” from Anderson, Indiana. The other was the first Dodger game played in Los Angeles at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum on April 18, 1958. Erskine won both games. At Dodgertown, Erskine had his 8mm camera with him for the dedication ceremonies of Holman Stadium, privately built by Dodger President Walter O’Malley and he captured this rare color footage. The stadium was named for prominent Vero Beach community leader Bud Holman, the man most responsible for attracting the Dodgers to train there in 1948.
Images of the dedication plaque ceremony with O’Malley and Holman and game footage of Duke Snider, Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella and Erskine are all included before an overflow crowd of 5,532.
Erskine described why Dodgertown is so important to him: “My connection with Dodgertown started the first year there in 1948. I trained there through 1959. I pitched the opener of Holman Stadium in 1953, winning against Connie Mack and the Philadelphia Athletics, 4-2 and took some footage before the game. Someone on the bench took me getting a base hit and pitching. I did a few spring trainings working with the pitchers, then 46 fantasy camps and finally, in 2008, attended the last (Dodger) game in Vero. I played the national anthem and was the last uniformed player to leave the field at Vero. I have lots of memories of Vero.”
Erskine won 122 games for the Dodgers, pitched in five World Series and tossed no-hitters in 1952 and 1956. He also set a single-game record (since broken) of 14 strikeouts against the New York Yankees in the 1953 World Series. Erskine also is known for playing a “mean” harmonica, having performed our national anthem at Dodger Stadium and Holman Stadium. In 1979, Erskine’s achievements were recognized as he was inducted into the Indiana Baseball Hall of Fame. In recent years, he has penned the entertaining and acclaimed books: “Carl Erskine’s Tales from the Dodger Dugout: Extra Innings,” and “What I Learned from Jackie Robinson, A Teammates Reflections On and Off the Field”.