VERO BEACH, Fla., March 12 -- For the time being, Tommy Lasorda still shuffles above the manicured accommodation at Holman Stadium, still ured the applause that arises with his every actualization here. Maury Wills can still sit in a golf barrow aloof above the outfield fence, alive that some of the aforementioned bodies w came to watch him aback he actomed in 1951 -- anew 18, beginning from the projects of Northeast Washington -- would be aback afresh all these years later.
"Back then, it was like I went to addition planet," Wills, the 1962 National League MVP, said Wednesday. "So abounding times today you apprehend the expression, 'The apple is small.' But in tse days, the apple was big."
In tse days, the alley that leads to Dodgertown didn't avowal a Wal-Mart, a Blockbuster, an Applebee's, autritative it the about agnate to every added artery in Florida. In tse days, the Brooklyn Dodgers' move to Los Angeles was still seven years off. And in tse days, the Dodgers were still in the action of about-face an alone Naval Air Station into the alone bounce training adeptness with a history, a panache.
Wednesday, tugh, the Dodgers absent a 10-4 accommodation to the Washington Nationals, and 45 account afterwards the bold finished, groups of admirers afraid out to breeze emblem ptos. Monday, the Dodgers will st the Houston Astros. And two canicule later, 61 bounce trainings afterwards they arrived, the Dodgers will abandon Dodgertown for good.
"It was time," said Lasorda, the longtime administrator and de facto ambador of this place, be he signing autographs or comatose off in the dugout. The thinking: The Dodgers confused to Los Angeles 50 years ago. Their new training abject in Glendale, Ariz., will be four urs by car, 40 account by plane, from Los Angeles.
"If we're activity to accomplish somebody black here, we're activity to accomplish added blessed over there," Lasorda said. "We adeptness lose four, but we'll accretion 44."
If the Nationals confused their bounce me from Viera -- a aculating of band malls off the ancillary of Interstate 95 arctic of actuality -- hardly anyone would flinch. If, say, the Houston Astros best up their accoutrements and absitively to arch west to alternation in Arizona -- as added teams are accomplishing now -- the ociation of Kissimmee adeptness squawk, but the adventure would acceptable accreditation a few sentences in best newspapers, article for readers to skim.
The Dodgers' abandonment from Dodgertown, wever, elicits odes of appreciation, contemplative belief of the way baseball was. "The brotherod we had," said Bill DeLury, a New Yorker w swed up to his aboriginal bounce training in 1951 to ignment the mail allowance and do laundry, "there'll never be annihilation like it."
Aback groundbreaking controlling Branch Rickey and bounded Cadillac banker Bud Holman aing calm to advance the account that angry into Dodgertown in the backward 1930s, they envisioned a actual baseball scol. The old billet acclimated by the Navy became dorms. The aboriginal bounce training, in 1948, circuitous 600 players. Sixty years later, the Dodgers' accessory leaguers still break in tse dorms. Aback Joel Hanrahan, a right-hander now with the Nationals, actomed for his aboriginal bounce training with the Dodgers as an 18-year-old aloof out of aerial scol, he was accepted a suite.
"A suite, in Dodgertown, is not what you want," Hanrahan said.
Six players, one closet, one swer. "It abnormally gets absorbing about cut time, and the buzz rings at 6 in the morning," Hanrahan said, "and there's six bodies in the allowance you're afraid about."
Yet players -- from 60 years ago and now -- babble about some aspects. DeLury remembers the antechamber alfresco the dining room, area 200 adolescent men would aculate nightly to sot pool, accept to the juke box and allocution baseball. "I would airing in through the dining allowance and see Pee Wee Reese sitting there," said Lasorda, w came up as a awkward pitcher. "I'd go through the band and I'd get my aliment and go sit aing to him, and again I'd address me that night and acquaint my mother and ancestor I had banquet with Pee Wee Reese. He didn't say annihilation to me, but I had banquet with him."
Tse belief still abide now. Wills, now 75, is about for a reason. "I'm actuality to advice any kid w wants help," he said. Nationals catcher Paul Lo Duca, a New Yorker w is the son of a Brooklyn Dodgers fan, came up through the Los Angeles system. It wasn't abnormal for him to bolt a abode affair for an bearding 19-year-old left-hander, with Sandy Koufax watching them both.
Aback the O'Malley ancestors endemic the team, the spreads for the players were legendary. Crab legs and sirloin strips -- on the aforementioned night. Lasorda still lds cloister in the aforementioned dining allowance every day.
"It's apparently the alone abode in the accessory leagues," Lo Duca said, "where you could put on weight in bounce training."
But conceivably the one affair that, over the years, absolutely acclaimed Dodgertown was the adeptness of the admirers to collaborate with the players, w airing about the circuitous afar alone by a nylon rope. Lo Duca remembers striding to the acreage through the stands with his spikes on, because that's w the Dodgers were declared to do it. Earlier this week, aback the Boston Red Sox were in town, Gary Bennett -- a adept catcher in his aboriginal year with Los Angeles -- declared the arena by captivation his easily two anxiety apart.
"That's w abundant amplitude we had to airing through the fans," Bennett said. "It's allotment of it. It's like Fenway, Wrigley, Yankee Stadium.
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