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St. Patrick's Day and the Dodgers: the passing of a special time

March 17, 2010 | 11:16 am

Dodgers-green_400 They’ll be wearing the green, but little else will feel like St. Patrick’s Day when the Dodgers host the White Sox on Wednesday.

St. Patrick’s Day used to be the biggest day of the spring during the Dodgers’ 61-year stay in Vero Beach, Fla. It was less a day than an event.

It seemed an all-day, and, for many, all-night celebration. It harkened to the O’Malleys' Irish roots, and the family made it a special happening.

Since several players, all of the minor leaguers and much of the front office staff stayed at Dodgertown in the old barracks, they would be on base and all seemed to participate. They would dine on Irish food in the evening, then move down the hall to the infamous Dodgertown lounge for the green beer. A festive mood enveloped the entire base.

The Dodgers will wear their once-a-year green Dodgers caps today, a move long ago copied by most teams. There will be green uniforms and bases.

And that will really be the end of any nod to St. Patrick’s Day. I understand the logistical reasons for moving to Phoenix, and the camp has a more practical, functional layout.

But there has been a noticeable trade-off in a connection to family ownership and the community. Vero Beach embraced the Dodgers, not only financially, but emotionally. It was their team. Now the Dodgers feel like just another Phoenix-area ballclub.

Vero Beach identified with the Dodgers so deeply, that because of the way the O’Malleys treated the day, the entire town adopted St. Patrick’s Day like a special holiday.

Time marches on, but this one connection is a lamentable passing.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: The Dodgers say goodbye to Vero Beach on St. Patrick's Day 2008. Credit: Orlin Wagner / Associated Press