“Haven of Tolerance”:

Dodgertown and the Integration of Major League Baseball Spring Training

By Jerald Podair
  • 1948 Dodgertown employees raise a welcoming banner to everyone who is staying on the Dodgertown base in Vero Beach, Florida for Spring Training. The banner concept remained a Dodgertown tradition for players for the next 60 seasons. In 1948, it marked the first integrated Spring Training Camp for baseball in the South where all players, regardless of color, shared the same dining and living accommodations.Click image for a larger view1948 Dodgertown employees raise a welcoming banner to everyone who is staying on the Dodgertown base in Vero Beach, Florida for Spring Training. The banner concept remained a Dodgertown tradition for players for the next 60 seasons. In 1948, it marked the first integrated Spring Training Camp for baseball in the South where all players, regardless of color, shared the same dining and living accommodations.
  • (L-R) Jackie Robinson; Roy Campanella. Jackie Robinson offers a congratulatory handshake to catcher Roy Campanella, March 31, 1948. The Brooklyn Dodgers have acquired Campanella from their Montreal AAA minor league team to add him to the Dodgers’ major league roster. On this date, the game is the first to be played by the Brooklyn Dodgers in Vero Beach at Dodgertown, the first racially integrated Spring Training camp in the South.Click image for a larger view(L-R) Jackie Robinson; Roy Campanella. Jackie Robinson offers a congratulatory handshake to catcher Roy Campanella, March 31, 1948. The Brooklyn Dodgers have acquired Campanella from their Montreal AAA minor league team to add him to the Dodgers’ major league roster. On this date, the game is the first to be played by the Brooklyn Dodgers in Vero Beach at Dodgertown, the first racially integrated Spring Training camp in the South.
  • An aerial view of the Dodgertown barracks in Vero Beach, Florida. The integrated barracks and dining room of Dodgertown are located in the buildings toward the center of the photos and Dodgertown Field No. 1 is located just west of the buildings.Click image for a larger viewAn aerial view of the Dodgertown barracks in Vero Beach, Florida. The integrated barracks and dining room of Dodgertown are located in the buildings toward the center of the photos and Dodgertown Field No. 1 is located just west of the buildings.
  • (L-R) Dodgertown Director Spencer Harris; Vero Beach business leader Bud Holman; Branch Rickey. A Dodgertown tradition is to name a street after a Dodger player or person has been named to the Hall of Fame. Here, Bud Holman, prominent Vero Beach business leader for whom Holman Stadium was later named, adds the final touches to a street sign “Branch Rickey Boulevard” for the current Dodger President in 1948, the first season for Dodgertown. Rickey was later elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1967.Click image for a larger view(L-R) Dodgertown Director Spencer Harris; Vero Beach business leader Bud Holman; Branch Rickey. A Dodgertown tradition is to name a street after a Dodger player or person has been named to the Hall of Fame. Here, Bud Holman, prominent Vero Beach business leader for whom Holman Stadium was later named, adds the final touches to a street sign “Branch Rickey Boulevard” for the current Dodger President in 1948, the first season for Dodgertown. Rickey was later elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1967.
  • The Dodgertown dining room at the Spring Training base in Vero Beach, Florida. From the first season in 1948, the Dodgertown dining room and their living quarters were desegregated for all players and personnel, an important and vital aspect of Dodgertown.Click image for a larger viewThe Dodgertown dining room at the Spring Training base in Vero Beach, Florida. From the first season in 1948, the Dodgertown dining room and their living quarters were desegregated for all players and personnel, an important and vital aspect of Dodgertown.
  • (L-R) Peter O’Malley; Walter O’ Malley. Peter O’Malley, the President of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Walter O’Malley, the Chairman of the Board of the Los Angeles Dodgers, are seen in a 1970s photo on a day at Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Florida. Walter O’Malley was one of four Dodger co-owners when Dodgertown opened in 1948. It would be Walter and Peter O’Malley who would later modernize Dodgertown, including new villas for living quarters and a nine-hole and 18-hole golf course. In 1962, Peter O’Malley was the Dodgertown Camp Director who integrated Holman Stadium for all fans.Click image for a larger view(L-R) Peter O’Malley; Walter O’ Malley. Peter O’Malley, the President of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Walter O’Malley, the Chairman of the Board of the Los Angeles Dodgers, are seen in a 1970s photo on a day at Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Florida. Walter O’Malley was one of four Dodger co-owners when Dodgertown opened in 1948. It would be Walter and Peter O’Malley who would later modernize Dodgertown, including new villas for living quarters and a nine-hole and 18-hole golf course. In 1962, Peter O’Malley was the Dodgertown Camp Director who integrated Holman Stadium for all fans.
  • A postcard of the nine-hole golf course and wildlife sanctuary at Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Florida. Walter O’Malley had opened a pitch-and-putt course in 1954 and added a nine-hole golf course in 1965, so all players could enjoy a relaxing game as two local existing golf courses were segregated.Click image for a larger viewA postcard of the nine-hole golf course and wildlife sanctuary at Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Florida. Walter O’Malley had opened a pitch-and-putt course in 1954 and added a nine-hole golf course in 1965, so all players could enjoy a relaxing game as two local existing golf courses were segregated.
  • An aerial color view of Dodger players at Dodgertown in Vero Beach in the late 1940s, reminiscent of the LIFE magazine cover of minor league Dodger players in 1948.  Don Newcombe, the only major league player ever to win the Rookie of the Year, the Most Valuable Player Award and the Cy Young Award, stands on the far left in the first row at the front.  Jackie Robinson, the first African-American to play in the major leagues in the modern era, stands on the far left in the third row.  Fresco Thompson, the Dodgers’ minor league director, stands on the far right wearing a white Brooklyn hat.Click image for a larger viewAn aerial color view of Dodger players at Dodgertown in Vero Beach in the late 1940s, reminiscent of the LIFE magazine cover of minor league Dodger players in 1948. Don Newcombe, the only major league player ever to win the Rookie of the Year, the Most Valuable Player Award and the Cy Young Award, stands on the far left in the first row at the front. Jackie Robinson, the first African-American to play in the major leagues in the modern era, stands on the far left in the third row. Fresco Thompson, the Dodgers’ minor league director, stands on the far right wearing a white Brooklyn hat.
  • The Florida Heritage Landmark, dedicated at Dodgertown on November 10, 2014, tells the history of Dodgertown and its impact upon baseball and American civil rights.  Dodgertown was conceived by team President Branch Rickey and along with co-owners Dearie Mulvey, Walter O’Malley, and John L. Smith, determined the Spring Training base would be integrated for all players.  The Dodgers would hold their Spring Training at Dodgertown through the 2008 season. The site continues to function today as “Historic Dodgertown,” a multi-sport training and conference center.Click image for a larger viewThe Florida Heritage Landmark, dedicated at Dodgertown on November 10, 2014, tells the history of Dodgertown and its impact upon baseball and American civil rights. Dodgertown was conceived by team President Branch Rickey and along with co-owners Dearie Mulvey, Walter O’Malley, and John L. Smith, determined the Spring Training base would be integrated for all players. The Dodgers would hold their Spring Training at Dodgertown through the 2008 season. The site continues to function today as “Historic Dodgertown,” a multi-sport training and conference center.