Historic Dodgertown (Vero Beach, Florida), where the L.A. Dodgers trained until 2008. By the time I found this place, the Dodgers had already moved to Camelback Ranch (Glendale, Arizona). They share the facilities with the Chicago White Sox. Dodgertown captures that old-time spring training feel. Players would enter the field by literally walking stadium stands the same way the fans did. There is no tunnel, hallway, gate, or magic door. Something else unique about this park is that the dugout is caged in.
Originally known as Holman Stadium, it was built in 1953 from an abandoned Navy housing base area. Vero Beach was a military community that grew quickly during World War II. The timing could not have been better as Branch Ricky’s farm system concept would catch on with other teams and what we now know as the Minor Leagues. Brooklyn Dodgers players, coaches, and staff would eventually land here in Dodgertown as new tenants in the late 1940’s.
On the day that I visited Dodgertown, there was not a soul in sight; no sign of any gate being kept, not even a parking attendant. Surreal; I kept asking myself if this was the place. I made my way through the park and sat down on the first base side. I stared at the field and wonder what it was like to see those Dodger Legends walk around. As I held that thought, players started to walk through the stands and down to the field to practice. It was as if I was not there. I never found out where they came from. Like I said, there was not a soul in sight; a field of dreams moment.
They were the SK Wyverns a professional baseball team training for the 2012 Korean Baseball Organization (KBO), hence the flags of South Korea and the U.S. beyond centerfield. They trained here in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and came back in 2019; another partnership between SK Wyverns and the Dodgertown Family with the same commitment of sportsmanship.
Last year, MLB announced that it would rename Dodgertown as “Jackie Robinson Training Complex.” They recently assumed operational control with plans for a “year-round hub of amateur development initiatives and events” and “a yearlong schedule honoring Jackie’s legacy.”