March 21st, 2010 16:09 EST
From Dodgertown to the Valley of the Sun to Dodger Stadium
When I was growing up in Southern California I would go to a Dodger game every Friday night. The Los Angeles Dodgers were one of the power houses of the National League during the 1970s. They had lots of raw talent with players like Steve Garvey, Ron Cey, Bill Buckner, Davey Lopes, Bill Russell, Joe Ferguson, Steve Yeager, and Jimmy Wynn just to name a few, the Dodgers were the team to beat during that decade of baseball.
They also had a very good manager after their original manager since the 1950s Walt Alston left the team to retire. Tommy Lasorda who is now the Vice President of the Dodgers baseball operations managed the team through the 1970s.
Lasorda managed to take to the Dodgers to the World Series in 1974, 1977, and 1978. If anyone of you are avid baseball fan like myself, then you were a part of those great World Series games between the Dodgers and Oakland A`s in 1974 and the New York Yankees and Dodgers in 1977 and 1978. These World Series games were full of many memorable moments.
Who can forget the great catch made by Joe Ferguson in one of the games in 1974 when a fly ball was hit to Jimmy Wynn in centerfield. The A`s had a man on third base who was planning to tag after the catch for the go ahead run in the game. Joe Ferguson who was playing right field at the time knew Jimmy Wynn had an earlier injury that affected his throwing arm and he probably would not be able to gun down the A`s runner at third trying to tag. Ferguson out of nowhere cut in front of Wynn, snagged the ball and threw a canon shot strike to Steve Yeager who was playing catcher at the time for the Dodgers to cut down I believe if I remember correctly, Sal Bando who was trying to score for the A`s.
What about the memorable moments of the great Mr. October Reggie Jackson for the Yankees who always seemed to come to life and rack up lots of home runs during the month of October for the Yankees in post season play. Every time Reggie Jackson came to bat during post season games, the crowd would chant Reggie! Reggie! Reggie! If the Yankees were playing at home. I think I even remember some of the fans chanting Reggie! When the Yankees played at Dodger Stadium in one of those World Series games.
I remember those Friday night games at Dodger Stadium watching greats like Pete Rose, Willie Stargell who I saw hit a home run over the right field bleacher at Dodger Stadium and into the parking lot one game, Dave Winfield, Dave Kingman who would either always strike out or hit a home run, there was really never any in between when he was batting, and many other great who are now in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
I also remember those foot long Dodger dogs which were to me probably as a kid one of my favorite foods to eat. The Dodger Dog was a hot dog a foot long and came with a drink the size of a liter bottle of soda. You could dress up the hot dog anyway you wanted but to me, no matter what condiments I put on it, it tasted great just because I was eating it at Dodger Stadium and watching a great game between the Dodgers and whatever team they were playing at the time. Also, if I remember correctly, the whole meal only costs $1.50 compared to the prices of today at many baseball stadiums. Oh, those 1970s memories!
This is the essence of the Los Angeles Dodgers franchise and what is known as Dodger Blue. If you ever lived in Los Angeles then you know how much this franchise means to the city and the people of Los Angeles. The Dodgers have always been associated with Vero Beach and Dodgertown during spring training.
Holman Stadium in Vero Beach, Florida was built in 1953 and was the site of all Dodger spring training games. The Dodgers also shared Holman Stadium with the Florida League Vero Beach Devil Rays through the 2008 season.
The Dodgers moved their spring training operations to Glendale, Arizona in 2008 but to keep the memory of Dodgertown alive for the franchise, they are planning to rename the neighborhood around Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles to Dodgertown. This will keep the long tradition and spirit of Dodgertown alive for the fans. The last spring training game for the Dodgers at Holman Stadium was March 17, 2008.
The statistics of Holman Stadium consist of an initial construction cost of $117 Million dollars, the field dimensions are 340 feet to left field, 400 feet to dead center field, and 340 feet to right field. The playing surface is real grass not astro turf, and the year it opened was 1953.
Holman Stadium has not been used just by the Dodgers for training. In the past the New Orleans Saints, Kansas City Chiefs, and the Philadelphia Eagles of the NFL have hosted training camps there as-well as the Miami Hurricanes, teams from Japan such as the Chunichi Dragons, the Osaka Buffaloes, and LG Twins from Korea have all been a part of springtime at Holman Stadium.
Since the Dodgers have left Vero Beach and Holman Stadium there have been many other professional sport ventures considering taking part in future training there. To me, any other team other than the Los Angeles Dodgers and the franchises rich tradition and history holding training in Vero Beach and Holman Stadium will never be the same. Dodgertown will always be associated with the Dodgers no matter what team decides to occupy their training at Holman Stadium and Vero Beach, Florida.
Judyth Piazza chats with Baseball Hall of Famer, Tommy Lasorda
T. Wood`s Sport Show host, Todd Wood sits down with Tommy Lasorda