Peter O'Malley returns, will oversee former Dodgertown complex
Minor League Baseball announced Thursday it was going into a new partnership with O’Malley, his sister Terry Seidler and former Dodgers pitchers Hideo Nomo and Chan Ho Park to operate the old Dodgertown complex in Vero Beach, Fla.
Renamed the Vero Beach Sport Village after Frank and Jamie McCourt moved the team’s spring training camp to Arizona in 2009 and refused to allow it to still be called Dodgertown, the complex has struggled financially under MiLB.
O’Malley and Seidler, of course, are the former longtime owners of the Dodgers who sold the team to Fox, who in turn sold it to the McCourts.
O’Malley will serve as chairman and chief executive officer of the facility that is now leased from Indian River County. MiLB President Pat O’Connor will act as chief operating officer and Craig Callan will continue as the camp director. Callan has worked at the facility for 33 years.
Dodgertown was always a unique spring-training facility, housing several players and the minor leaguers and having its own dining hall. Its park-like setting enabled fans to meander throughout the complex where players were readily available for autographs. The O’Malleys always encouraged a family-style atmosphere with traditional barbeques and parties that included players and their families.
Some of O’Malley’s fondest team memories harken back to Dodgertown, and now he’s returned, though in a statement he was careful to say the new partnership would have no effect on the Dodgers’ current situation in Arizona.
“I embrace this wonderful opportunity to use this iconic facility that my family has cherished for decades to promote baseball,” O’Malley said. “Vero Beach Sports Village should always be an asset and a jewel to the citizens of Vero Beach and Indian River County and I look forward to adding further luster to its rich history.
“We know the Dodgers have a long-term spring training commitment with the community of Glendale, Ariz., and our endeavor in Vero Beach in no way impacts that relationship.”
The addition of Japan’s Nomo and South Korea’s Park are further evidence of O’Malley’s continued interest in international baseball. Both will help bring youth and developmental teams from their home countries to work at the 67-acre complex.
-- Steve Dilbeck
Photo: The Dodgers' former spring training facility in Vero Beach, Fla., in 1999. Credit: Colin Bradley / Reuters