On March 17, 2008, the Los Angeles Dodgers played the Houston Astros in their final game at Holman Stadium. The Dodgers said goodbye to Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Fla., which served as their Spring Training home for 61 years.
The St. Patrick’s Day matchup was not the Dodgers’ final spring game overall in Florida — that came the following day when they faced the Marlins on the road. The Dodgers additionally had representatives in China for exhibition games with the San Diego Padres.
That group was accompanied by manager Joe Torre, which created an opportunity for Tommy Lasorda to lead the team on the grounds he spent many a years. Lasorda addressed the fans in attendance prior to first pitch, but the Dodgers suffered a 12-10 loss.
The L.A. lineup included the likes of Andre Ethier, Rafael Furcal and Juan Pierre. Ethier went 4-for-5 with a triple, home run and three RBI; and Furcal finished 3-for-6 with a triple and home run.
At the time still in Brooklyn, the Dodgers were among the first MLB teams to make their Spring Training home in Florida. For all the history that was created on the grounds, it presented logistical challenges.
The Dodgers were the final Western team who still held camp in Florida before moving into Camelback Ranch for their first game on March 1, 2009. They officially terminated their facility use agreement for Dodgertown on July 14, 2008.
In November of 2018, Major League Baseball announced plans to renovate the facility and in April the following year, revealed it would be renamed Jackie Robinson Training Complex in honor of the famed Dodgers legend.
“I think that’s fantastic,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said at the time of the announcement. “That’s always Dodgertown, so to be named after Jackie, now you’re talking about prospects from our country and outside the country, to be training, it’s fantastic.
“It’s such a great property to be maximized. I have very good memories of going to Dodgertown, hitting late after practice with Tommy Lasorda throwing me BP and telling me to chop down at the ball. I have a lot of good memories.”
The complex now serves as a year-round hub of amateur development initiatives and events focused on diversifying and strengthening the talent pipelines of baseball and softball.