Sunday, March 20, 2016

It's The Ding of Aluminum Bats At Dodgertown Now

Robinson. Hodges. Reese. Campanella. The Duke. Koufax. Alston.

And then the likes of Wills and Garvey and Orel and Piazza.

They all came through here every March.

They have the word, "historic," in front of Dodgertown, which means it's a real old place by Florida standards.

The Brooklyn Dodgers -- and then the Los Angeles Dodgers -- used this patch of grass across from the Vero Beach Municipal Airport to get ready for the Major League Baseball seasons from 1948 to 2008. I went to one of the last games here in 2008 when Joe Torre and the New York Yankees stopped in for a game against the former team from Brooklyn.

The razzle-dazzle of MLB spring training amenities had bypassed what Dodgertown could offer. No fancy suites or craft beer restaurants. There also weren't the modern training facilities that new spring training complexes now offer.

Dodgertown has history and fun street signs named after famous oldtime Dodgers players.It just didn't have the snazzy bells and whistles that modern MLB spring facilities have these days.

But I'm a sucker for baseball romance and crappy cheap beer, so even before the Dodgers scooted out of Vero Beach for Arizona, I used to watch the Single A Vero Beach Dodgers games in 2002 and '03 when I worked for a daily newspaper in Melbourne, NY.

The major leaguers don't train at Dodgertown anymore, but there's still baseball -- and other sports -- played here.

Instead of the Big Leagues, you have Spring Break high schoolers and college kids playing on the Holman Field (built in 1953 out of an abandoned Navy base) in the month of March at Dodgertown.

Even pro football teams from Canada come down to Dodgertown to training for their regular seasons.

Ol' Holman Field is, well, old. The seats are showing the wear and tear of decades of use and exposure to the humid Florida air.

While the big leaguers aren't playing there anymore, the crack of the wooden back has been replaced with the ding of the aluminum bat.

There are still enough great touches at Dodgertown to drop you into the time machine.

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