Sunday, March 21, 2010


Saturday after the Mets game in Jupiter, I headed over to the old Dodgertown complex in Vero Beach to see what's what. The complex is still called "Dodgertown", and it's still open. In fact, nothing really has changed except that the advertising inside the stadium is gone. Jackie Robinson Ave. still intersects Roy Campanella Blvd. The Dodgertown Conference Center still stands. There was a person at the desk in the registration office that helped me out when I got there.

She said that I could leave my car where it was (not near the stadium) and walk through the complex over to the Stadium to see whatever game was going on (which she confirmed that baseball was being played there). So I got to see a little bit more of Dodgertown than I had seen in my previous visits to see the Dodgers, and I got over to the stadium and saw one gate open, walked in, and up the steps on the first base side that I had walked up so many times between 2004 and 2008.

There was baseball being played. It was a team of 14 year olds from the Jupiter area against a team of 14 year olds from the Tampa area. I looked around to see that the stadium hadn't changed. The various signs telling you where you were or what's what were left in tact, including the Dodgers logos on some. The press box and concession stands were shut down. The seating area was the same multi-colored design (yellow and red sections in the outfield, blue on the infield). Some seat colors were faded, just as I had remembered it. Advertising on the wall was no more. The Dodgers logo behind home plate was also gone. But on the field was baseball.

I think the best way to describe this was ghost-like. It wasn't a ghost town. There were about 2 dozen people in the stands plus the players, coaches, and umpires on the field. But I felt like I was walking through a ghost. Think the movie Field of Dreams, where Kevin Costner's character builds a real baseball field for what are essentially ghosts of baseball players from the past. Now juxtapose that. In Dodgertown, it's real players playing on a field that you thought was dead and gone but appears to be there.

It was quiet. No PA system. No music. No scoreboard operation (the only advertising remaining was on the scoreboard, which hadn't been changed since the last Dodgers game in 2008).

I saw a few innings of baseball, wandered around to see this glorified baseball field, and thought to myself that 2 years ago after the final game that I never thought I would be inside this stadium again, but here I was.

Ray McNulty from the local paper here in Florida has a piece on Dodgertown too. Sadly, Ray reports that the complex's name will be changed to the "Vero Beach Sports Village". Some background on the current complex - Minor League Baseball runs the place and leases the facility, and they came up with the name. The Dodgers own the name "Dodgertown".

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