Friday, March 04, 2011

Private Tour Of Historic Dodgertown (Part 3)

The Original Dodgertown was the innovative idea of Hall Of Fame Executive Branch Rickey. As General Manager of The Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1940's, Rickey signed Jackie Robinson to an historic Major League Contract--breaking the color barrier. Then after local segregation laws in Florida wouldn't allow people of different races to mingle--he built Dodgertown as a full-service facility on an abandoned Air Naval Station in 1948.  Under no segregation laws on Dodger owned private property, The Brooklyn and then Los Angeles Dodgers became a team both on and off the field of play. An advantage during the late 40's, 50's and early 60's when The United States Of America was still struggling with race relations.
Continuing our Private Tour Of Historic Dodgertown--Nats320 continues with a look at the practice fields and training facilities in Vero Beach, Florida.

There are six fields surrounding the Dodgertown Campus. Four are full sized diamonds. The remaining two are short fields with infields only for drills. Field #1 and Field #3 (short field) are located on the southwest end of the complex between Pee Wee Reese Boulevard, Don Sutton Court and Holman Stadium. On Field Number 1 is a specially caged-in area directly behind home plate which allowed Team Officials to watch players perform up close and personal.

Just behind Field 1 & 3 and the Tennis Courts is located the first of two Bullpen Mound Warmup areas where six pitchers and catchers can throw to each other at the same time (the other group bullpen mound is located at Holman Stadium).

Located to the Northwest portion of Dodgertown is Field #2 & Field #4 (short field). Field #2 is situated at the corner of Don Drysdale Drive and Vin Scully Way. Field #4 between Roy Campanella Boulevard and Don Drysdale Way. Interestingly, Field Number 2 has picnic tables located behind the screened backstop. When Dodgertown was active for spring training, it is our understanding fans were pretty free to move about the various practice areas alongside Dodger players.

Just across Roy Campanella Boulevard to the south is located the first of two indoor batting cages (the other located at Holman Stadium). The fitness center and weight room is right next door.

Field #5 & Field #6 are the most distant playing surfaces on the property. They are both located east of the living complex behind Sandy Koufax Lane. Both are full size fields and both contain oddities that are noticeable right away. Between Field #5 & Field #6 is an Observation Tower that allowed team officials to take in a birdseye view of all the proceedings on both fields during practices and scrimmages.

Just over the right field fence on Field #6 is a gigantic rope climbing wall. The lower footholds were clearly removed years ago, but it's one of the best sights of the entire landscape. While looking at the "A" shaped wall, we could only wonder how many former players attempted to get over the top? And how many were the butt of jokes by fellow teammates for stumbling or failing.
Our final look at Dodgertown concludes this series and will come next: Holman Stadium, considered by many to be the perfect spring training ballpark.

All Photos Copyrighted--Nats320--All Rights Reserved

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