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Branch Rickey's Philosophy

Every inch of space at Dodgertown was carved out to maximize the training, education and practice regimen. It was a baseball factory and Rickey, who was the father of the sport’s modern-day farm system, pushed all the buttons.
“Mr. Rickey functioned with clockwork precision,” said longtime Dodger scouting director Al Campanis. “He used the rotation system — a player would rotate from one learning session to another. At night, the faculty would compare impressions with Mr. Rickey who made an analysis of every boy in camp.”13
Rickey’s teaching philosophy was emphasized in a column by Walter Stewart who quoted the Dodger President’s speech to the minor leaguers, “We must take pains in order to bring about perfection. One of the purposes of this camp — it’s really a school — is to bring you along as rapidly as possible. You must realize, too, that mere physical lack of skills is not always responsible for failure. The man who gets ahead is the one who makes obstacles into mounting steps. It’s either worth the effort or it isn’t. The average major leaguer was in the minors three to four years. We are trying to make your dream come true earlier. We are developing a system that will bring every hidden player potential to the surface. No other organization can offer these advantages. We will do our best, but what is your contribution? It is you who must make the main effort. The future of the Brooklyn baseball team is here.”14
Dodger Vice President and General Counsel Walter O’Malley, who had been a part-owner of the ballclub since his first acquisition of 25 percent stock on November 1, 1944, was one of Rickey’s partners and was involved in the development of the spring training move to Vero Beach. O’Malley became Dodger President on October 26, 1950 after purchasing Rickey’s 25 percent shares of stock. He immediately promoted Bavasi and Fresco Thompson to Vice Presidents. Bavasi would serve as General Manager, while former Dodger player Thompson also served as Director, Minor League Operations. Charlie Dressen was named as new Dodger Manager replacing Burt Shotton, who was known for wearing civilian clothes in the dugout.
O’Malley longed to find a solution to an aging Ebbets Field problem, with its landlocked piece of real estate and parking for only 700 automobiles. He had communicated with such noted architects as Norman Bel Geddes, Lorimer Rich, R. Buckminster Fuller and Capt. Emil Praeger to exchange ideas about stadium design solutions. The spring of 1951 would be O’Malley’s first in charge of the Dodger organization and he immediately went full throttle to implement needed changes and improvements.
In O’Malley’s first spring training, just four months after being named Dodger President, he upgraded the dining service, run by the Harry M. Stevens Company, who brought in their top chef Fred Boratto to work under dining chief Lester Webb. Dodger executives, major league players and the press ate on linen tablecloths and were able to order off a menu including steaks, loin lamb chops, broiled chicken, veal cutlet, roast beef and calves liver. O’Malley also assigned venerable 30-year Brooklyn employee J. Julius “Babe” Hamberger to the salon to greet and take care of the press and visiting dignitaries. Hamberger did virtually everything for the Dodgers, including traveling secretary, ticket seller, ticket taker, turnstile boy, concessions employee, sweeper, scoreboard operator, groundskeeper, announcer and clubhouse man.15 Players and camp personnel consumed some 86 gallons of fresh orange juice each day of spring training that year.16

13 Joe Hendrickson, Dodgertown
14 Ibid.
15 Joe King, The Sporting News, March 7, 1951
16 Special Dodger Section, Vero Beach Press-Journal, February 27, 1958

Dodger President Branch Rickey, the “father” of the player development system, Dodger Manager Burt Shotton, known for wearing civilian clothes in the dugout and a pitcher at Dodgertown.

Dodger major and minor league players use training camp to prepare for all aspects of baseball, including drills such as leading off first base and diving back.

Walter O’Malley immediately upgraded the Dodgertown dining room after his ascent to President on Oct. 26, 1950. By spring training 1951, O’Malley had Dodger executives, major league players and the press dining on white linen tablecloths with a full service menu. However, when the minor league players descended on Dodgertown, dining service reverted to cafeteria style and O’Malley would wait in line with players from the various levels.

J. Julius “Babe” Hamberger takes care of the needs of the press and visiting dignitaries. Hamberger was assigned by O’Malley to handle greetings at the salon. Hamberger worked in several front office positions for the Dodgers over a 30-year career.

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