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BIG BUSINESS AT VERO BEACH

March 28, 1955
March 28, 1955

Table of Contents
March 28, 1955

Pat On The Back
  • A salute to some who have earned the good opinion of the world of sport, if not yet its tallest headlines

Table of Contents
Events & Discoveries
Golden Gloves
Athletes Vs. Altitude
  • At Mexico City, competitors in the Pan-American Games met an unexpected foe. In the rarefied air 7,600 feet above sea level, they are being felled by anoxia

Sport In Art
Bowling
Horses
Big Business
Boating
Motor Sports
Snow Patrol
Fisherman's Calendar
Acknowledgments
Tip From The Top
Tennis
  • By William F. Talbert

    There are signs that tennis may be breaking out of Forest Hills

Anniversary
19th Hole: The Readers Take Over

BIG BUSINESS AT VERO BEACH

Or, for that matter, at any baseball club's spring training site where there's lots more involved than meets the eye. For the Dodgers, for instance, it's a yearly bill of more than $250,000

Behind the colorful scene of spring training's purposeful confusion, painted here by John Groth, lies a side of the baseball picture seldom seen or heard of by the fan. Here the concern is not with batting averages but with bats; not with a pitcher's won-lost records but with the muscles of his arm; not with filling up a hole in the infield but with filling players' stomachs with the proper food. This is the business side of spring training—and it's a big business indeed.

This is an article from the March 28, 1955 issue Original Layout

In the case of baseball's largest training camp, Dodgertown at Vero Beach, Fla., it's business requiring an outlay of at least a quarter of a million dollars. No one knows to the last penny how much more. It's not that no one's looking. It's simply terribly complicated. Part of it is easy. Baseballs: $10,000. Two gross of broken bats: $792. Laundry: $9,424.70. But the Dodgers and 16 minor league clubs are in the picture, each a financial entity, each a part, sometimes disproportionately, always to some extent arbitrary, of the total cost as arrived at by the calculated whim of a harassed auditing department. Ten of the clubs are "working agreement," meaning that their stock is owned by non-Brooklyn interests and their training expenses are in varying degrees absorbed by them; the rest are Brooklyn owned. Exhibition games by the Brooklyn clubs soften the prodigious training expense, returning something over $100,000 of the spring training "nut." But with an operating deficit of around $150,000 annually, spring training for the Dodger organization is not the kind of big business you'd want to be passing on to your indigent nephew.

Dodgertown itself is 109 acres, four practice diamonds and a modern stadium with a seating capacity of 4,100. It is four automatic pitching machines and five batting cages. It is a former Naval Air Station, leased to the Dodgers by the City of Vero Beach. It is, to alleviate the intense preoccupation with baseball, a two-acre artificial lake stocked with bass and brim, an orange grove, a nine-hole pitch-and-putt course, a swimming pool, tennis, basketball and badminton courts, Ping-pong tables, a motion picture theater and a soda fountain. It is 2,510 bed sheets and 4,224 towels and, in the kitchen, 66 (Brooklyn should excuse the word) bains-marie of assorted sizes.

It is also, from the time the first players emerge pale into the southern sun until the club house man sweeps up the last pair of dirty inner socks from beneath the locker about seven weeks later—435 exceptionally skilled athletes, an overhead of more than 150 managers, scouts, grounds keepers, cooks and busboys, medical and administrative personnel.

It is big. It is business. It's spring training, 1955.

The story is told of how in 1924 John Ringling induced John McGraw to bring the Giants to Sarasota when spring training was not quite what it is now. It happened, nevertheless, that when the Giants landed, the hotel Ringling had set aside was too small—to put it mildly.

"What did you expect?" McGraw bellowed at Ringling. "Nine men?"

ILLUSTRATIONJOHN GROTH