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This Day in Walter O’Malley History

March 20

March 20, 1959

Due to unusually heavy rains in Vero Beach, Florida, Walter O’Malley makes hasty arrangements for the Dodgers to travel to Havana, Cuba to continue their Spring Training exhibition schedule. The Dodger plane was grounded due to bad weather on March 19, but they arrived in time to play the Cincinnati Reds on this day and won, 3-2 before 7,655 “rabid baseball fans at Havana Gran Stadium. The crowd of 7,655 set a new attendance record for major league exhibition games in Cuba, and at the same time proved the largest throng to witness a Spring Training contest this year.”Maximo Sanchez, The Times of Havana, March 21, 1959 On March 21, the Dodgers won the fifth exhibition game in a row, 4-3 over the Reds, before returning to Florida. The added cost for the Dodgers to play in Havana was $4,500.

March 20, 1960

On a Spring Training exhibition trip from Vero Beach, Florida to Orlando to play the Washington Senators, the Dodger Convair-440 plane lost an engine 25 miles from Dodgertown. Capt. H.R. “Bump” Holman and co-pilot Jim Curzon turned the plane around to return to Vero Beach. The Dodgers took the incident in stride, despite the fact that Manager Walter Alston was in the cockpit at the time of the engine failure. Alston told the team, “Sorry I loused it up, fellows.” That helped to ease some of the tension, as Alston later remarked that the plane was flying on half-power over water and swamp land, “Boy, there was no place to land.” The always entertaining Don Zimmer quipped, “Well, the Dodgers are really in trouble now. They put all three of their shortstops on one plane.” Back at Dodgertown, a bus summoned to take the team to Orlando had a dead battery, so the players were forced to drive to Orlando in private cars. The Dodgers beat the Senators, 7-3.

March 20, 1962

Tetsuharu Kawakami, Manager of the Japan’s Yomiuri Giants, and Atsumi Sasaki, team representative, write a letter to Walter O’Malley about their success in winning the 1961 Japanese Championship. Invited by O’Malley, the Giants had started their season by training at Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Florida. “We believe our success in last year’s pennant race was owing to you. Celebrating our victory in 1961 Japanese Championship, we ordered special medals. We thought it was our duty to present you with the medal as a token of our gratitude to you.”

March 20, 1963

According to columnist Bob Hunter in the Los Angeles Herald Examiner, “Mrs. Clarise Harvey, a shut-in from Encino (CA), has presented Kay O’Malley with a Dresden Madonna from her fabulous collection she started making by hand 14 years ago. The pieces have commended national attention.”Bob Hunter, Los Angeles Herald Examiner, March 20, 1963

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