Today is St. Patrick’s Day and the Dodgers are taking on the Chicago White Sox at Glendale this afternoon. St. Patrick’s Day used to be a big deal when the O’Malleys owned the club. The Dodgers still wear green caps to honor the holiday when they play every March 17. But on this day ten years ago today the Dodgers played their final game at Dodgertown in Vero Beach.
It’s important to remember Dodgertown, which was the Dodger’s spring training home for 60 years. The 2008 season was the final year the Dodgers played at the iconic site before moving into their new digs in Glendale. That year was a strange season for the team. They played the first half of the season in Vero Beach to say goodbye to the old grounds. The second half of the spring was spent in Phoenix since Camelback Ranch was not finished being built. The Dodgers also took a trip to China to play some exhibition games out there.
The final game to be played at the venerable Holman Stadium was on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17. Half of the club was already in Phoenix and the other half of the roster stayed behind. Tommy Lasorda was given the honor of managing the final game at Vero Beach as the Dodgers played the Houston Astros. Who else would be bestowed such an honor?
The Dodgers lost the game 12-10, but the memories flashed before everyone’s face. Former Dodger’s pitcher Carl Erskine played the national anthem on his harmonica during the somber moment. After the game was over all of the players lined up and raised their bats to form a line so Tommy could walk under it. It was similar to a 21-bat salute.
The Dodgers began playing at Holman Stadium in 1953. The Stadium’s design was unforgettable with the palm trees adorning the outfield and the open air dugouts. Tommy made a statement after the game that he was feeling blue. That’s a feeling that personified that spring.
Dodgertown lives on today in a different capacity, but I think it’s important to remember our history on this day. Moving to Glendale did make sense from a practical stand point. It was closer to Los Angeles and the Camelback complex is state of the art with all of the modern amenities installed. But let’s never forget Dodgertown at Vero Beach. On this day, the tenth anniversary of the final game at Dodgertown.