Spring’s Eternal at Dodgertown

The Sporting News list of 100 Most Powerful People in Sports for the 20th Century, December 1999

  1. Pete Rozelle
  2. Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis
  3. Roone Arledge
  4. Branch Rickey
  5. Marvin Miller
  6. David Stern
  7. Rupert Murdoch
  8. Avery Brundage
  9. Ban Johnson
  10. Muhammad Ali
  11. Walter O’Malley
  12. Steve Borstein
  13. Phil Knight
  14. George Halas
  15. Babe Ruth
  16. Walter Byers
  17. Lamar Hunt
  18. Ted Turner
  19. Paul Brown
  20. Michael Jordan
  21. Jackie Robinson
  22. Pierre De Coubertin
  23. Juan Antonio Samaranch
  24. Donald Fehr
  25. Tex Rickard
  26. Roy Hofheinz
  27. Horst Dassler
  28. Red Auerbach
  29. Bill France Sr.
  30. Arnold Palmer
  31. Al Davis
  32. Birch Bayh
  33. Billie Jean King
  34. Paul Tagliabue
  35. Charlie Finley
  36. Clarence Campbell
  37. George Steinbrenner
  38. Peter Ueberroth
  39. Bert Bell
  40. Jacob Ruppert
  41. Dick Ebersol
  42. Mark McCormack
  43. Al Neuharth
  44. Tex Schramm
  45. Bill Veeck
  46. Arthur Ashe
  47. Howard Cosell
  48. Fathers Theodore Hesburgh and William Beauchamp
  49. Don King
  50. Connie Mack
  1. David Falk
  2. John Wooden
  3. Andre Laguerre
  4. August Busch Jr.
  5. Peter Seitz
  6. Roger Penske
  7. Wilt Chamberlain
  8. Jack Nicklaus
  9. Bill France Jr.
  10. Bowie Kuhn
  11. George Preston Marshall
  12. Ed Barrow
  13. Abe Saperstein
  14. John McGraw
  15. Larry MacPhail
  16. Dick Schultz
  17. Gary Bettman
  18. Adolph Rupp
  19. Walter Brown
  20. Jesse Owens
  21. Deane Beman
  22. Phog Allen
  23. Wellington Mara
  24. Charles Comiskey
  25. Eddie Robinson
  26. Knute Rockne
  27. Arch Ward
  28. Jerry Jones
  29. Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.
  30. Bobby Orr
  31. Art Rooney
  32. Alan Eagleson
  33. Pele
  34. Bud Selig
  35. Tommie Smith and John Carlos
  36. Pat Summit
  37. Laurence Tisch
  38. Bobby Jones
  39. Tiger Woods
  40. Leigh Steinberg
  41. Henry Iba
  42. Bill Bowerman
  43. Anatoli Tarasov
  44. Albert “Happy” Chandler
  45. “The Voices of Baseball” — Mel Allen, Red Barber, Vin Scully, Harry Caray, Jack Buck, Ernie Harwell,Bob Prince, Etc.
  46. Sonny Werblin
  47. Ed and Steve Sabol
  48. J.G. Taylor Spink and C.C. Johnson Spink
  49. Wayne Gretzky
  50. The Famous Chicken

ABC Sports ranks the Top Ten Most Influential People "off the field" in sports history as voted by the Sports Century panel in December, 1999

  1. Branch Rickey
  2. Pete Rozelle
  3. Roone Arledge
  4. Marvin Miller
  5. Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis
  6. David Stern
  7. Avery Brundage
  8. Walter O’Malley
  9. George Halas
  10. Mark McCormack

Attendance 1953-1957 Brooklyn Dodgers vs. Milwaukee Braves

Attendance 1953-1957 Brooklyn Dodgers vs. Milwaukee Braves

The Dodger Board of Directors authorized the construction of a stadium in Vero Beach on June 10, 1952, noting “FURTHER RESOLVED that this Board of Directors thank the City Council of Vero Beach for their cooperation in making the building of the new stadium in Vero Beach possible.”

On July 16, O’Malley named H.J. Osborne as the contractor to construct the stadium, which was designed by Capt. Praeger with considerable input from O’Malley, whose expertise included an engineering background from the University of Pennsylvania, where he was a two-time class president. Osborne had 90 days to complete the “grading, concrete, fill work, ramps and fence.”Vero Beach Press-Journal, July 17, 1952 Interestingly, a newspaper account reported that noted architect Norman Bel Geddes, who had designed Futurama at the New York World’s Fair, was to be involved on the stadium project, instead of Praeger was incorrect. In O’Malley’s handwriting on an official Dodger press release draft, he wrote the words, “Geddes has nothing to do with this job.” Apparently, since both Bel Geddes and Capt. Praeger had been to Vero to meet with O’Malley it had caused the later confusion.Bob Curzon, Vero Beach Press-Journal, March 13, 1952

In fact, O’Malley wrote a letter to Bel Geddes on December 11, 1952 stating, “Have a good trip to Jamaica and enjoy your three months there...Capt. Praeger and I are trying to stimulate some interest in a new stadium (in Brooklyn) and if we get any place, there might be an opportunity for you to volunteer your unique talents. You will be interested in knowing that we completed our little stadium at Vero Beach in 55 days, 5000 seats at a cost of $30,000. We are quite pleased with the result.”O’Malley letter to Norman Bel Geddes, December 11, 1952

O’Malley desired a stadium which had perfect sightlines — no poles to obstruct the customer’s view of the field. He also wanted an intimate ballpark, especially capturing the feeling of bringing the players and fans close together during spring training. After all, these were only exhibition games that were to be played in Vero Beach.

Construction carried on throughout the course of the fall. Contracts were awarded for various parts of the stadium construction, including seats, press box, lights and refreshment stands, lowering costs and expediting the process. Local contractor C.R. Cruze handled the contract to build dressing rooms, public toilets and press box. Jesse Swords was low bidder on the land preparation work, while Osborne handled the concrete work. Originally, O’Malley decided on a 4,200-seat stadium, but later announced the total capacity had been expanded to 5,000. Some 2,000 portable stadium seats from the Polo Grounds were purchased for one dollar per metal chair by O’Malley from Horace Stoneham, owner of the New York Giants.O’Malley letter to Horace Stoneham, November 18, 1952

In a letter to David Bissett, Superintendent, Plant Introduction Garden of the U.S. Department of Agriculture on October 16, 1952, O’Malley wrote, “We have just completed the building of an unusual type stadium. The stadium was built by excavating 20,000 cubic yards of sand, marl and muck. The excavation from which this fill was obtained has now been made into a two acre fish lake and is being stocked by the United States Wild Life Service. The fill formed in mounds which were compacted and rolled, over which four inch reinforced concrete was poured to make the stands. We are anxious to achieve a maximum of attractiveness by way of unusual plantings as the design of the stadium depends on the plantings for eye appeal.”O’Malley letter to David A. Bissett, Superintendent, Plant Introduction Garden of the United States Department of Agriculture, October 16, 1952

When Vice President, Minor League Operations Thompson first saw the new stadium he said, “It is much more than I expected. It is one of the most beautiful little stadiums I have ever seen.”Joe Hendrickson, Dodgertown

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  • Holman Stadium with its 5,000 seats is the centerpiece of the Dodgertown complex.Holman Stadium with its 5,000 seats is the centerpiece of the Dodgertown complex.
  • The <i>Vero Beach Press Journal</i> creates a lengthy special section in the paper as the 1952 Dodgers arrive.The Vero Beach Press Journal creates a lengthy special section in the paper as the 1952 Dodgers arrive.