FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 31, 2018
Dodgertown’s first game - March 31, 1948
Historic Dodgertown celebrates today, March 31, as the 70th anniversary of the first game ever played by major league Dodgers at their historic Spring Training site!
In 1948, Dodgertown first opened as a Spring Training camp for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Not only did Dodgertown provide sufficient training facilities for their approximately 600 players in camp, it attained American civil rights history as the first integrated Spring Training headquarters in the South where all players lived and dined together in the same place.
The Dodger minor league players had already been at the base, getting ready for their season while the Dodgers had played most of March, 1948 against their minor league club, the Montreal Royals, and other major league clubs. So, it was an event for the Dodgers and the city of Vero Beach as the Dodgers would play their Montreal farm club on Dodgertown property.
Holman Stadium at Dodgertown did not open until 1953, but a playing area named as “Field No.2” was used as a satisfactory diamond with major league dimensions. Its location was on the opposite side of the road that faced the Vero Beach Airport.
The Governor of Florida, Millard Caldwell and the Mayor of Vero Beach, Merrill Barber were on hand for the game. In addition, the Commissioner of Baseball, Albert (Happy) Chandler was present.
A sellout crowd of more than 5,000 were present and fittingly, it would be Jackie Robinson who would be the first major league Dodger to homer at Dodgertown when he drove a pitch over the left field barrier in the first inning. The Dodgers went onto win the game over the young Montreal players, 5-4. But there was even more history to be made that day.
The Dodgers announced their fine young catching prospect, Roy Campanella, would be added to the Dodgers’ major league roster as the second African-American Dodger position player and third overall player. Jackie Robinson and pitcher Dan Bankhead had played for the Dodgers in 1947, but it would now be Roy Campanella’s proudest day to make a major league team. A photograph taken that day shows Jackie Robinson welcoming Campanella to the ballclub. In July of 1948, Campanella described his selection to the major league club to The Sporting News as “a real thrill.”
Campanella would later win three National League Most Valuable Player Awards in 1951, 1953, and 1955 as a Dodger and play for the 1955 World Championship team. After an auto accident ended his playing career, he became a regular instructor for Dodger catchers in Spring Training at Historic Dodgertown that included John Roseboro, Steve Yeager, Joe Ferguson, Mike Scioscia, and Mike Piazza.
About Historic Dodgertown – Vero Beach, Florida
“A Florida Heritage Landmark”
World-famous Historic Dodgertown – Vero Beach, Florida is a multi-sport, 80-acre complex on Florida’s Treasure Coast managed by former Dodger owner Peter O’Malley in a partnership since 2012. O’Malley, whose family developed and expanded the site formerly known as “Dodgertown” for nearly 50 years, partnered with his sister Terry O’Malley Seidler and former Dodger star pitchers Chan Ho Park and Hideo Nomo.
On November 10, 2014, Historic Dodgertown was named a Florida Heritage Landmark for its unique historic significance extending beyond baseball, as the first completely integrated Spring Training site in the South. The “Baseball and Dodgertown” historical marker is located at the entrance to the conference center.
The home of Dodger Spring Trainings from 1948-2008, it was the starting place for six World Championships and 14 N.L. Pennant-winning teams. Numerous Baseball Hall of Fame players trained on these hallowed grounds, as well as 20 visits from professional teams in Asia.
The all-inclusive facility, owned by Indian River County, gives teams of all ages the unique opportunity to train, play, dine and stay together in on-site villas. Participants utilize one of 10 ½ playing fields (seven are Musco-lighted for night games), including a new cloverleaf of youth baseball/softball fields with concessions area and new multi-purpose field (110 by 130 yards) for football, soccer and lacrosse.
Other amenities include clubhouses, two full-sized weight rooms, dining room, Stadium Club lounge and a competition-size swimming pool. The home of 6,500-seat Holman Stadium, Historic Dodgertown – Vero Beach, Florida provides an all-encompassing experience for guests and is the ideal setting to build a championship team. It’s the perfect location for tournaments, camps, schools, business conferences and seminars.
Continuing its tradition since 1983, the Los Angeles Dodgers Adult Baseball Camp returned to Historic Dodgertown in November, 2014. Visit historicdodgertown.com for more information.
Ruth Ruiz, Historic Dodgertown – Vero Beach, Florida, (772) 257-8532