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 eventual transfer of the Braves would be a key to opening the door for relocation in the National League, as no movement had occurred by franchises in 50 years. But with the Braves’ shift to Milwaukee for the 1953 season, the Dodgers in Brooklyn and the Giants in New York, both playing in stadiums built in the 1910s, had to at least take note of possible opportunities in the future from alternate sites. As Milwaukee’s attendance was nearly twice that of the Dodgers, O’Malley felt added pressure to resolve the new stadium issue for fear of not being able to compete with the Braves.

The city of Vero Beach could not have been prouder of new Holman Stadium. For Holman, the honor was one of civic pride in the small-town community, though his son Harry “Bump” Holman stated in an interview about his father, “He really didn’t know anything about baseball.”James Kirley, Vero Beach Press-Journal, February 20, 1988 However, Bud Holman knew spring training baseball was good for the community and he later became a rabid fan of the Dodgers.

The name of Vero Beach is somewhat of a puzzlement. Though theories abound, one of the most popular ones is when “Henry T. Gifford asked the United States Post Office for permission to establish a post office in his own home (on September 28, 1891). Ironically, on the application it appears the U.S. Postmaster thought ‘Vero’ was an error, and he wrote over the first letter and put a ‘Z’ to make it ‘Zero.’ Mr. Gifford corrected the postmaster by drawing the letter ‘V’ with very thick lines.”Pamela J. Cooper, Indian River County Main Library, Florida History & Genealogy Dept., Dec. 3, 1996, rev. April 2001 Some believe that Gifford’s wife was actually named Vero. Whatever its actual origin, Vero Beach grew in popularity and prominence largely due to the vast publicity it received after the Dodgers arrived there. The writers from New York put Vero Beach datelines on their stories, explored surrounding attractions such as the McKee Jungle Gardens and it was not too long before the lure of warm weather and the Dodgers brought many snow birds south to see it for themselves. Some permanently fled the snow and city life of New York for the slow-paced Eastern seaboard town.

While nothing is ever easy when dealing with cities and municipalities as O’Malley would repeatedly find out whether it was in New York, Vero Beach or Los Angeles, he did what he needed to do to keep advancing forward. In Vero Beach, the city had agreed to turn over gate receipts of two spring exhibition games to the Dodgers in order to have the ballclub install lights on “No. 3 Field,” as it was called at Dodgertown. But, since the 1952 arrangement would precede the new construction, O’Malley and the Dodgers wanted to wait and transfer the installation of lights to Holman Stadium, which would also permit use of the park for other city sports activities. Holman himself wrote O’Malley in Brooklyn and tried to assist in smoothing over the Vero Beach City Council members who were opposed. Eventually, a deadline for installation of lights was extended per O’Malley’s request from June 15 to July 30 to work everything out satisfactorily.

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  • Dodger Manager Charlie Dressen (far left) and Walter O’Malley (second from left) stand in the Holman Stadium scoreboard in right field to promote the upcoming 1953 season.Dodger Manager Charlie Dressen (far left) and Walter O’Malley (second from left) stand in the Holman Stadium scoreboard in right field to promote the upcoming 1953 season.
  • Vero Beach tourism grew largely because of the association with Dodgertown.Vero Beach tourism grew largely because of the association with Dodgertown.