As the Dodgers wrap up their Spring Training home of Vero Beach after 60 years and prepare for the move to Arizona next year, a lot of fuss has been made over this. I've got to be honest here - while I totally understand why people would not be happy about this, I really don't care too much about it. That's it. No disrespect meant to anyone, but where the Dodgers play Spring Training is not exactly a big concern of mine.
With that said, I do have one memory of Vero. Being a New Yorker, the chance to see the Dodgers isn't exactly a big one, but fortunately for me, I do have a brother-in-law that lives near there. So, during Spring Break of my 10th grade year in 1997, the family made the trip to Florida to visit other family members. Luckily for me, a trip to Dodgertown vs. the Mets was in store.
And oh what an interesting game it was. This was during the Billy Russell Era, if anybody even remembers him. For those of you that don't, he's the guy that took over after Tommy Lasorda called it quits. The Mets weren't the powerhouse that they are today, but the Dodgers had the big guns out, especially Mike Piazza and Eric Karros. In other words, my 2 faves.
Ismael Valdez got the start for LA (I have no clue who started for the Mets). It was a bright, beautiful, sunny day. Not a cloud in the sky. A packed house. I even got some autographs beforehand. All in all, a great day for baseball!
And then... Valdez got smacked. Hard. I'm talking really, REALLY hard. My gosh, I thought batting practice ended before the game started. The Mets absolutely unloaded on him. I'm not aware how long he lasted, or was supposed to last, but to get pulled in the middle of a Spring Training game probably doesn't say much for your performance that day.
The final score? 21-8, Mets. Ouch.
The good news is that Piazza launched one out to center, so that was cool. The rest was pathetic. But still, as little as I care about where the Dodgers will be next spring, nothing can change the fact that I was lucky enough to have been to Vero Beach at least once.
Here's some links to Vero Beach stories from ESPN.com:
The final day
E-Ticket: Blue Heaven