MLB may have departed Dodgertown, but baseball lives on at the longtime spring-training home of the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers. Upcoming renovations and events should be enough to warrant a visit to the historic site–as well as a potential MLB exhibition down the road.
When the Dodgers departed for Camelback Ranch-Glendale in 2008, the future of Vero Beach’s Dodgertown and Holman Stadium was in some doubt. An attempt by Minor League Baseball to manage the facility ended up in financial losses, but a subsequent management deal led by the O’Malley family put the complex on solid footing.
The next step in the long-term future of Dodgertown should come in 2019, as Major League Baseball is poised to assume management of the complex. It’s highly unlikely we will ever see spring training return to Dodgertown, but MLB is looking at upgrades that could make it part of your spring-training travels.
If you remember Dodgers spring training at Holman Stadium, you probably remember a very basic facility: no shaded seating, no dugouts (players sat on benches), a single structure serving as the press box, and limited concessions. It opened as a segregated ballpark, with the left-field berm reserved for blacks.
A day at Dodgers spring training meant getting early to the complex and strolling through the playing fields, bumping into Dodger greats like Sandy Koufax. The paths in the complex were named for Dodger greats.
As part of the makeover, Holman Stadium could see some serious changes. Dugouts have been installed there since the Dodgers departed. Class A Florida State League teams have played a game there in recent years on MLB’s Jackie Robinson Day, and one option under discussion has two MLB teams squaring off to celebrate Robinson’s legacy. MLB has increasingly scheduled regular-season games at third-party sites: in 2019 we’ll see MLB games at the Little League World Series in Williamsport, PA, and the College World Series in Omaha, NE.
But you don’t need to wait for the upgrades to visit Dodgertown in 2019. There is an abundance of baseball being played in January through May: visiting college and high-school baseball and softball teams are on site, and the SK Wyverns of the professional Korea Baseball Organization has held spring training at Historic Dodgertown for seven seasons. SV Wyverns will return in late January through the end of February for their 2019 spring training season.
The Korea-Dodgertown connection is historic. On March 9, 1985, the Lions played the Dodgers in an exhibition game at Dodgertown, as Baseball Commissioner Peter Ueberroth and the Commissioner of Baseball in South Korea General Jyong-Chul Suh were guests of O’Malley and participated in first pitch ceremonies. In addition, former Major League Baseball (MLB) Commissioner Bowie Kuhn was also in attendance. In remembrance of this historic event, a plaque is on the wall on the far side of the press box at Holman Stadium. In 1990, two South Korean coaches from the Lions visited Dodgertown for two weeks to learn training techniques.
Vero Beach is located on Florida’s Atlantic coast, about an hour north of Jupiter’s Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium (spring home of the Cardinals and Marlin), 75 minutes north of West Palm Beach’s FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches (spring home of the Astros and Nationals) and a half hour north of First Data Field (spring home of the Mets). For a full schedule of events at Dodgertown, check out the facility’s website at historicdodgertown.com.