After six decades of vacationing in Vero Beach, the Dodgers are departing Dodgertown for the last time.
(Shouldn’t that be *61* Memorable Years?)
The Los Angeles squad played its final spring training game in Florida on Monday - a 12-10 loss to the Houston Astros. (Seems Houston has L.A.’s number these days.) But now the Blue Crew will be packing up and trading beach sands for desert sands, as the team will start training in a new facility in Arizona next season.
Which is just as well, as Vero Beach was a great spring getaway for players and fans when the Dodgers were still in Brooklyn - and in the same time zone as their training facilities. But it makes more economic & logistical sense to have the Dodgers facilities closer to home - now that they’ve had 50 years to build a new fan base.
But as the LOS ANGELES TIMES points out, it was still hard for some fans to say goodbye:
“It’s St. Patrick’s Day. I’m Irish. And I’ve never felt so little like celebrating in my life,” said Clifford Bombard, a Dodgers fan from Virginia who was born the same year — 1948 — the Dodgers started training in Vero Beach. “It’s a little bittersweet. I understand why they’re going and all that stuff. But I’m still going to miss the heck out of them.”
Nancy Taylor, a Brooklyn native who, like Bombard, was born the year the Dodgers moved to Vero Beach, was more direct. “I think it stinks,” she said.
And it was really hard for some of the old-timers on the team:
“Both the Dodgers and Astros hustled off the field after Monday’s game to allow Hall of Fame manager Tom Lasorda, who has spent more springs in Vero Beach than anyone, to walk off alone, passing between two rows of Dodgers players who held their bats aloft in tribute.
And that’s when Lasorda began to weep.”
How touching. Too bad new manager Joe Torre wasn’t there, but he was occupied with other matters - like Chinese cheerleaders.
Well, it’s the end of another baseball era - until construction delays in Glendale force the Dodgers to come back to Vero Beach in 2009.