Dodgertown Memories

Dick Walsh

The orange juice stand at Dodgertown, Vero Beach, Florida provide the best in Indian River County citrus for those staying on base.

The Pee Wee Reese family is at Dodgertown, Vero Beach, Florida for Spring Training, including (L-R) Dottie, Pee Wee’s wife and Barbara, their daughter. Note the personalized New York license of PW 20. Hall of Fame shortstop Reese played for the Dodgers from 1940-1942 and 1946-1958.

Photo by Barney Stein

We had the big Lister bag out in front. A Lister bag was something that came from the Army. And it was a huge canvas bag, only this was full of orange juice. Down at the bottom, you would squeeze a little handle and out would come orange juice. It was always kept full by Beansie Kunz. Beansie was responsible for the orange juice.

“In the cafeteria, you would be eating, everybody would go through the line, and you would see the kids going through the line with the major leaguers. I never saw anybody ask for an autograph. They would just look up at them in awe. Everybody waited in line, Walter O’Malley waited in line like everybody else. There were no special people in that sense. If there was a VIP who would come to Dodgertown, they would wait in line. Everybody got in line.

“I went down in 1952 and we were allowed to bring the children. We had a little apartment across the road and Pee Wee (Reese) was there, Ralph and Ann Branca lived there. The (Walsh) children loved it. We would drive down from New York, it would take about four days to get there. And Dad (Walsh) would go to work, as much as 14 hours a day.

“One spring, Fresco (Thompson) did not come down to Florida and I had the suite where he was. You were right off the minor league headquarters. The minor league office was right there and the bedroom was right there.

“Walter (O’Malley) would play poker at night with the press and with anybody who really wanted to play. He (O’Malley) loved to play poker. I thought it was always a way to give some money to the writers by not calling on a pot, depending on who the writer was.

“The one time I remember winning a pot in going up against Walter O’Malley, I was bluffing and won the pot. He had a better hand showing than I did, but I actually had the hand with the down cards. I bet, he folded, but I was bluffing based on what I had. Usually, Walter O’Malley was a very good poker player. He would roll that cigar. I always thought he had taken that concept from FDR (President Franklin Roosevelt), being a good Democrat.

“You would get down from the middle of February and not return to Brooklyn until May. That place will always be a part of me.

Dick Walsh