Public invited to view baseball matchups
By Jessica Creagan
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY -- Between umpires, international baseball teams and a wedding party, the staff at Historic Dodgertown are seeing a lot more traffic these days.
This week marked the official start of high school and college spring training baseball games at Historic Dodgertown and this is just the beginning, staff said.
Over the course of the next two months, more than 130 teams from all over the United States and Canada will spend their spring break in Vero Beach playing baseball, a press release said.
Brady Ballard, vice president of Historic Dodgertown, said this weekend Indian River State College will join with them to present the Florida Junior College crossover softball tournament, featuring teams from Central Florida, Hillsborough, Broward and Miami-Dade community colleges, Polk State, St. Petersburg and Eastern Florida State colleges and school from Illinois, Pennsylvania and Indiana.
Admission to the softball tournament is $5 per person. Full passes for all spring training games are $20 per person and parking is free.
Mr. Brady said with these tournaments, local restaurants and hoteliers should see a boost in sales as the teams often come with family and friends who also want to enjoy and relax on their spring break vacation.
Statistics gathered by the Treasure Coast Sports Commission show that during recent President's Day weekend tournament at Historic Dodgertown, 21 out of 28 area hotels were sold out, Mr. Brady said.
Some of that capacity could have been people looking to escape the zero degree temperatures of the northern states, but many are due to the tournaments.
"We're very glad for our hotel partners and for the community," Mr. Brady said.
International teams have also been training at Historic Dodgertown, including the Italian National team, the South Korea Wyverns and teams from Canada and France.
Although this season brings a lot of baseball-related activities to Historic Dodgertown, the venue is capable of handling many things at the same time.
"Just a couple of weeks ago we had a wedding at Holman Stadium. It was a small party and they were married on the mound and had a reception in the Jackie Robinson room."
For history buffs or sports fanatics, getting married at Holman Stadium can be quite exciting.
"I think the groom had on a Los Angeles Dodgers tie," Mr. Ballard said with a chuckle.
Another wedding is scheduled for May, but wedding bells won't be the typical sounds coming from Historic Dodgertown, Mr. Brady said.
Corporate groups will be coming in for conferences, soccer teams, softball teams and football teams are already booked to use the facilities in the upcoming months.
A glance at the schedule shows an exciting baseball game on April 15 at Holman Stadium.
The Brevard County Manatees and the Lakeland Flying Tigers, members of the Florida State League will play a regular season game at Holman Stadium on April 15 at 6:30 p.m., in celebration of Jackie Robinson Day.
"Historic Dodgertown is truly the cradle of baseball's racial integration," said Minor League Baseball President and CEO Pat O'Conner in a press release.
"The activities on those hallowed grounds and the exploits of Jackie Robinson changed not only baseball, but America and the world," he said.
Mr. Brady said the Historic Dodgertown organization is thrilled to host the game and bring professional baseball back to Holman Stadium for a night.
The evening will also be a fundraiser for the United Way of Indian River County, he said.
The cost to attend is $5 per person. Children 3 and younger will be admitted free. Tickets will be sold in advance and can be purchased at the offices of the United Way of Indian River County.
Tickets will also be sold on the day of the event and concessions will be available. Gates open at 5 p.m. with the first pitch at 6:30 p.m., a press release said.
For more information about Historic Dodgertown, visit www.historicdodgertown.com.