Started my week-long tour of Grapefruit League camps by hitting Dodgertown in Vero Beach this morning. Plenty of former Giants on-hand, and you can read about that in Wednesday morning’s Times. But my focus for much of the morning was soaking everything in, because there are few places in baseball that have the lore that Dodgertown does. It’s a quaint, tucked-away town, kind of the way you might’ve pictured Walnut Creek before the days of shopping centers and restaurants. Most of the players stay in a fraternity right near the team’s complex, and the fans and players can co-mingle in a way that you don’t see anywhere else in the majors.
Sad thing is — and the more I think about it, the more I think it’s not so much sad as it is just marking the passage of time _ this is the penultimate spring for Dodgertown. The Dodgers are expected in 2009 to move into a state-of-the-art facility that they’ll share with the Chicago White Sox in Glendale, Ariz. The move makes perfect sense, because the site will be closer to the Dodgers fan-base. But you can’t help but feel a bit nostalgic toward a place that features Sandy Koufax Drive, and Jackie Robinson Ave. (every Dodger Hall of Famer has a street named after them).
Anyway, I’ve been to Dodgertown twice now, and that’s all it took to make it into my Top 10. You spring training veterans out there, let me know your favorite spots, and why. Should make for some interesting discussion.