I awoke to an unexpected blanket of snow on Opening Day of the 1985 season. It was one of those Rockwell snowfalls, when winter in its last breaths hasn't the strength for anger any more. Boston glistened in the morning light, like a snowglobe on a windowsill. It was too pretty to last, of course, too fragile to hold back the changing of the seasons. Snowmelt would give way to baseball. It was as fresh a beginning as could possibly be imagined, especially for me, as I headed to Fenway Park for my first Opening Day as a baseball beat writer.
The Grand Olympic Auditorium -- the Grand described the address, not its condition -- was a concrete vault, built for the 1932 Olympics but long since consigned to the indignities of weekly boxing and wrestling. By the time I got there in 1979, to cover the fights for the Los Angeles Times, even those indignities were passing. The networks were beginning to poach whatever attractions they could, leaving the small clubs without the denouement of long-wrought rivalries. It was a failing scene.
I learned a whole heck of a lot about baseball at Dodgertown, mostly because of the way they taught it. You always had the spirit of the man down there: Branch Rickey. Those that followed him passed it on down. Everybody was aware of Branch Rickey, because they never let his spirit die around there. They always said, Mister Rickey did this and Mister Rickey said that. And it's still going on; it's still lasting. Those things never die.
In the spring of 1949, Tommy Lasorda saw Dodgertown for the first time. "Except I couldn't see anything at all," Lasorda said. "I walked through the gates at 10 at night. The place was so dark, you couldn't see a thing. There wasn't one light on. I was scared to death. I was just a 21-year-old kid, an aspiring left-handed pitcher, who didn't know where I was or where I was going or what would end up happening to me."
This spring SI.com senior writer John Donovan is touring the Grapefruit and Cactus leagues to cover baseball's biggest newsmakers. Today he reports from Dodgers camp in Vero Beach, Fla. Next stop: Indians camp in Winter Haven, Fla., on Tuesday.
This spring SI.com senior writer John Donovan is touring the Grapefruit and Cactus leagues to cover baseball's biggest newsmakers. Today he reports from Nationals camp in Viera, Fla. Next stop: Dodgertown in Vero Beach on Thursday.
VERO BEACH, Fla. -- In the fall of 1995, Joe Torre called his brother-in-law with the big news. After being fired by the Mets, the Braves and finally the Cardinals, Torre was getting a chance to manage again. His brother-in-law, a passionate baseball fan from Cincinnati named Gary Even, would be thrilled. "Hey Gary," Torre said. "I got a job."
In baseball heaven, not one cloud dares impede the glorious sunshine. A slight, sweet breeze whispers through the azaleas, palmettos, royal palms and scrub pines. Perfectly groomed diamonds emit a Zen-like tranquility. And the voices and laughter of the Boys of Summer still rise from the hallowed grounds, their names invoking perpetual youthfulness: Jackie, Pee Wee, Gil, Duke and Campy. In Baseball Heaven -- it says so right there on the official Dodgertown vans in Vero Beach, Fla. -- the view is so spectacular that you can see all the way to October.
Spring is coming. And baseball is in the air. Spring training has already started and March Madness is well underway. In today's Top 5 Tips we're going to give you a cheat sheet on how you can follow your favorite sports team this year.
Officials warned millions of people living in southeast Florida to prepare for Tropical Storm Katrina, which forecasters said could strike the coast as a minimal hurricane late Thursday or early Friday.
A tropical storm watch was in effect Wednesday for the southeast Florida coast and parts of the Florida Keys, as a tropical depression southeast of the Bahamas appeared to be picking up steam and approaching tropical storm strength.
It's March and thousands of baseball fans are getting a jump on the season -- and escaping the last gasp of winter -- by flying down to sunny Florida or Arizona to see their favorite teams play spring training games.