This month marks the 50th anniversary of one of the most unique Spring Training weekends in team history. Because of torrential rains in Florida, the 1959 Los Angeles Dodgers played a weekend series against the Cincinnati Reds at Gran Stadium in Havana, Cuba. Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax were the starting pitchers and the Dodgers won both games by scores of 3-2 and 4-3.
Reds general manager Gabe Paul called Bobby Maduro, president of the Cuban Sugar Kings of the Triple-A International League, to ask whether he could take his Cincinnati team to Cuba for the weekend. The Brooklyn Dodgers previously trained in Havana in 1941, 1942 and 1947. The 1959 Sugar Kings were managed by Cuba native Preston Gomez, who was hired to manage the Dodgers’ Triple-A Spokane affiliate in 1960. The Havana club relocated to New Jersey on July 13, 1960.
Major League Baseball returned to Cuba 40 years later in 1999 when the Baltimore Orioles faced the Cuban national team in Havana.
It looks like Manny really will make his debut today. Gorgeous day here in Arizona….
Quite a day here at Camelback Ranch. Not only do we have Team Korea from the WBC on hand (and dozens of Korean media members following their every move), but Manny’s first game is today, so lots of national media as well. It’s getting us ready for the craziness that will ensue at Dodger Stadium during the semis and finals of the WBC March 21, 22, and 23.
Keeping things interesting today, the lineup is pretty much what we’d be in an AL park…
That’s all I have time to post for today. Hope you’ll make it out or tune into the live webcast on dodgers.com
UPDATE: Manny is scratched from the lineup with tightness in his left hamstring. He’ll likely play tomorrow and said he could have played today, but Joe Torre wanted to play it safe.
Mark Langill points out the following:
The return of outfielder Manny Ramirez in 2009 gives the Dodgers their most prolific slugger to begin a season in terms of his 527 lifetime home runs. The previous Opening Day record was the 503 career home runs that Hall of Fame outfielder Frank Robinson brought into his only season with the Dodgers after being acquired from the Baltimore Orioles. Robinson, who was 36 on Opening Day 1972, hit 19 home runs in 103 games with Los Angeles. He played through 1976 and finished with 586 home runs.
Free agent first baseman Fred McGriff joined the Dodgers in 2003 at age 39 with 478 home runs, but hit just 13 in 86 games and the Los Angeles marketing department’s “500” logo anticipating McGriff’s milestone remained in permanent storage. McGriff played one more season in 2004 with Tampa Bay, but hit only two and retired at 493.
When Eddie Murray returned to Los Angeles in September 1997 for his second stint as a Dodger, he had 504 home runs. That number didn’t change as Murray had two singles in seven at-bats and he retired after the season.
The chase for 600 home runs puts Ramirez in uncharted waters as no player has ever hit career home run No. 400 or 500 in a Dodger uniform. The franchise career home run record is held by Hall of Famer Duke Snider, who hit 389 with Brooklyn (316) and Los Angeles (73) from 1947 to 1962. First baseman Gil Hodges holds the Brooklyn franchise record for most home runs with 317 from 1947 to 1957 (and hit 361 overall as a Dodger through 1961 to rank No.2 behind Snider). The record for Los Angeles home runs is held by Eric Karros, who hit 270 from 1992 to 2002.
So who holds the record for owning the most career home runs while wearing a Dodger uniform? Alas, it’s a trick question. Babe Ruth, at the time baseball’s home run king at 714, coached first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers during the 1938 season.
Here’s today’s lineup against the Rangers (who actually have Andruw Jones hitting fourth)
Sorry there was no post yesterday. I actually had to fly back to Los Angeles for the day and it was another reminder just how easy it is to get to LA from here. I was on a plane at 9:10, spent the day in Los Angeles and was back in my house in Glendale by 10:30 p.m. And apparently, a lot of you are starting to realize how close it is, as we had the largest crowd of the year so far here yesterday. From what I understand, it was hard to find a seat!
Same goes for Opening Day, which sold out yesterday when tickets for individual games went on sale. There’s definitely a vibe in the air that’s unlike any other year we’ve had in my recent memory.
In any event, with the day away, I hadn’t had the chance yet to give a shout out to Diamond Leung, the Riverside Press Enterprise beat writer who was laid off last week. Many of you probably read his blog daily and it’s a shame he’s no longer going to be on the beat, as he was really starting to develop a niche. I joked with him recently that despite being at the smallest paper on the beat, that it would be him who was going to solve all the problems of the newspaper industry with some of his new ways of aggregating information. In fact, I’m pretty sure he had a google search on the word ‘Dodgers,’ as he was always telling me about random stuff that I hadn’t even heard about yet.
He’ll certainly be missed not only personally around the stadium, but professionally and we wish him well in wherever his new path takes him. It’s a safe bet he’s going to be a success in whatever that is.
Dodgers and Cubs today, should be a good one. An interesting lineup, to say the least.
M. Jones, LF
Listen in on dodgers.com starting at 1 p.m. MT/12 p.m. PT.
Meanwhile, Camelback Ranch – Glendale was paid a visit this week by LA DodgerTalk, one of the many great blogs out there about the team. Yesterday, we gave Mark Timmons and Roger a tour of the place and they seemed to enjoy the place quite a bit and even did a write up on the site. Great to see all of you out here and hoping the rest of you are making plans to visit later this month.
What an amazing day for Dodger fans. We’ve debated it and made ourselves nuts for four months, but I’m happy to report that pretty much every offseason goal we set out to accomplish was ticked off the list. By most accounts, the top third baseman on the free agent market, the top shortstop, the top outfielder, a good starting pitcher, some relief help and some solid players off the bench. I’m just about ready to get this thing started, but we still have to wait almost a month!
Sorry there was no post yesterday…as you can imagine, it’s been rather busy around here of late. But that’s a great thing. And it’ll only get busier today.
If you want to watch or hear the news conference live at 9:30 PT/10:30 Arizona time, you’ve got several options. In Los Angeles, it’ll be on KCAL and Prime Ticket…and if you’re in your car, listen in on KABC as you pass the billboards that are already up like this one.
Across the country, it’ll be on the MLB Network and if you’re outside the U.S., check it out on MLB.com…
And then, once you’re done watching all that, check in tonight on Prime Ticket at 10 p.m. for the debut of Dodgers Insider: Camelback Ranch, a half-hour special on the place where I sit typing this post.
OK, it’s official. Two photos in one post means it’s time to go. Enjoy the day and welcome back, Mannywood.
It’s a little overcast, but still nice and warm here at the Padres/Dodgers game. If you want to listen in, the Dodger broadcast is on dodgers.com.
The news on DeJesus is that he’ll have surgery this afternoon and the expected recovery time is about four months if all goes well. We certainly wish him well, as yesterday was not a pretty sight.
Casey Blake is improving and could be ready by the weekend. Kuo and Cory Wade both threw bullpens back at the Ranch today.
That’s about the news for now. Nothing new on the Manny front. Here’s the lineup:
M. Jones, LF
For those who remember Snoop’s first pitch last season, he’s obviously on my mind with today’s headline.
Here’s the lineup for the B game that’s going on right now at the replica field at Camelback.
Mitch Jones, 1B
Were any of you out here for the festivities yesterday? If so, what did you think?
Our team historian Mark Langill just pointed out to me that this could be the only time in our lives that we see a Dodger ballpark open. For those who weren’t alive when the team opened Ebbets Field, Holman Stadium or Dodger Stadium, this is going to be one that we’ll all remember for a long time to come.
Also pretty memorable was Vin Scully’s first day at Camelback Ranch, which was yesterday. I had the honor of taking him around and giving him a tour with Billy DeLury, two of the team’s lone “holdovers” from Brooklyn. He seemed sufficiently impressed with the campus, as has just about everyone that I’ve come across. I hope the same holds true for all of you. I even saw a few ITDers at the ballpark walk-through event yesterday, so we know you’re out here!
For those who have been longing to watch a game or hear Vin’s voice, KCAL will bring it to you today starting at noon PT/1 p.m. here in Arizona. Over on radio, Rick and Charley will be there on KABC and Jaime, Pepe and Fernando will do the same in Spanish on KHJ.
Here’s the lineup for today’s opener:
M. Jones, RF