Former Dodgertown in Vero to Live Again

Minor League Baseball™ announced the formation of a new entity to operate Vero Beach Sports Village (VBSV), formerly known as Dodgertown.  In addition to MiLB, the participants include former Dodger President Peter O'Malley, his sister, Terry Seidler, and former Dodger star pitchers Chan Ho Park and Hideo Nomo.

   MiLB will submit the proposed transfer of its VBSV lease to officials of Indian River County, which owns the facility, for approval.

   Each of the five participants would have an equal ownership share in the new entity.  O'Malley would be the Chairman and CEO, MiLB President Pat O'Conner President and COO and Craig Callan will continue in his current role in the operation of VBSV.  Callan has worked for 33 years at the historic facility.

     The VBSV grounds are where the Dodgers held their spring training camp dating back to 1948, before relocating to Arizona in 2009.    O'Malley served as the director of the facility from 1962-65 before being named Dodgers' President in 1970. For decades, he has also heavily been involved in the promotion of baseball on the youth, Olympic and international levels.   

   Seidler first worked at VBSV in the mid-1950s when she was the secretary for the Dodgertown Summer Camp for Boys.  She owned the Dodgers with her brother Peter from the death of their father in 1979 until 1998.  

   O'Conner joined Minor League Baseball in May 1993 as Chief Operating Officer and was elected President at the Baseball Winter Meetings in December 2007. O'Conner is responsible for overseeing the planning, development and program strategy within MiLB, an organization that encompasses 20 leagues and 247 teams in five countries; the United States, Canada, Mexico, Dominican Republic and Venezuela.

   "This combined effort of Minor League Baseball, the O'Malley and Seidler families and members of our extended baseball family will undoubtedly have a positive impact on Vero Beach Sports Village," O'Conner said. "Peter O'Malley and his family have a long and storied history in Vero Beach and baseball in general, both domestically and internationally.

   "Chan Ho Park and Hideo Nomo provide insight from a player's perspective, as well as enormous credibility in Asia and the Pacific Rim.  We believe this new partnership will enhance our ability to utilize the facility for local, domestic and international sports programs as we continue to attract an array of visitors."

   "I embrace this wonderful opportunity to use this iconic facility that my family has cherished for decades to promote baseball," said O'Malley.  "Vero Beach Sports Village should always be an asset and a jewel to the citizens of Vero Beach and Indian River County and I look forward to adding further luster to its rich history.

   "We know the Dodgers have a long-term spring training commitment with the community of Glendale, Arizona, and our endeavor in Vero Beach in no way impacts that relationship.

   "I am very happy longtime friends Chan Ho Park and Hideo Nomo have joined me in this opportunity – it's exciting. Dodgertown will always be a treasure for the good people in Vero Beach and throughout baseball and anything I can do to help Dodgertown flourish is high on my list of things to do."

   Nomo spent all or parts of seven of his 12 Major League seasons with the Dodgers.  He has been bringing Japanese youth players to the United States for the last couple of years to play against their American counterparts and share information about each other's cultures.

  "Being a part of the group that will operate a facility that provides youths with resources they can use both on and off the field is extremely rewarding," Nomo said. "Those who come to the facility can improve not only as athletes through tournaments and training, but can also develop skills to help them mature into young men and women."

   Park played the first eight of his 17 seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers after signing with them as a 20-year-old free agent in January 1994.  The right-hander also played for the club in 2008.

   "I have many fond memories of Dodgertown from my nine seasons playing for the Dodgers," Park remarked.  "I love it there and look forward to seeing many teams and individuals enjoy all of the unique features of the complex and take full advantage of the amenities it has to offer, as I did when I trained and played there."

   Minor League Baseball began operating VBSV in 2009.  Since then, the 67-acre sports complex and conference center facility has hosted several international teams, including the Chinese National and Italian National Baseball teams on two occasions.  The Chinese National Boxing Team has also trained at VBSV.  

   The SK Wyverns, a South Korean Professional Baseball Team, are the latest international team to train at VBSV. They arrived on November 1 and will hold their winter camp at the facility through the end of the month.

   The Tokyo Yomiuri Giants, with future Japanese Hall of Famers Sadaharu Oh and Shigeo Nagashima, were the first international team to use the facility when they held their spring training at the camp. Rich in international tradition, Dodgertown was the training site for the Giants in 1961, 1967, 1971, 1975 and 1981. The Chunichi Dragons from Nagoya, Japan trained at Dodgertown in 1988. The Samsung Lions professional baseball team from Korea trained at Dodgertown in 1985, 1992, 1993, 1995 and 1997. The Sinon Bulls became the initial Taiwanese team to train there in 1999. In 1994, Waseda University from Tokyo visited Dodgertown for training. Hanyang University from Seoul, South Korea was the first Korean university team to train at Dodgertown in 1996.

   Over the last two years, VBSV has also hosted events such as the Minor League Baseball Youth Leadership Academy, a six-day event that combines the history, principles and structure of the game of baseball to provide an opportunity for at-risk youth to develop and master leadership and life skills; spring training for high school and college baseball teams; the University of South Florida's football training camp; the Washington Freedom professional women's soccer team's training camp; and various other baseball, football, soccer and lacrosse camps.

   Beginning in January 2012, VBSV will also be home to The Umpire School, a 28-day state of Florida accredited school operated by Minor League Baseball that trains umpires in the latest techniques, theories and interpretations. 

   By virtue of the full-service amenities at VBSV, The Umpire School is the only all-inclusive school available among the three accredited ones that provide candidates to the annual Professional Baseball Umpire Corp. Evaluation Course, from which umpires are selected to begin their careers in The Minor Leagues.

Barajas Signs With Pirates
Rod Barajas signed a one-year deal with the Pirates that includes a club option for 2013.

Barajas will make $4 million in 2012, according to an industry source. His 2013 club option is worth $3.5 million and does not include a buyout. A short-term commitment makes sense for the Pirates, who are hopeful that top catching prospect Tony Sanchez will be ready to ascend to the Majors in the next year or two.

Barajas spent 2011 with the Dodgers, where he started 85 games behind the plate and batted .230 with 13 doubles, 16 homers, 47 RBIs and a .287 on-base percentage. He missed nearly a month during the summer while recovering from a right ankle sprain.

Twins, Jamey Carroll Agree on Deal
Free agent Jamey Carroll signed a multi-year contract with the Minnesota Twin to be the team's everyday shortstop. Carroll's agreement with the Twins is for two years and close to $7 million pending a physical.

Carroll, 37, hit .290 in 146 games with the Dodgers last season. He posted a combined .385 on-base percentage out of the leadoff and No. 2 spots in the batting order.

Atlanta, Philadelphia, Detroit, Toronto, Colorado, Cleveland and the Dodgers were among the other clubs that had reportedly expressed interest in Carroll this offseason.

Patrick Soon-Shiong in Dodgers Mix?
Another expensive hat has been thrown into the ring as suitors scramble to make bids for the Dodgers, ESPN reports.

The hat belongs to Patrick Soon-Shiong, the richest man in Los Angeles, according to Forbes and the Los Angeles Business Journal, with a net worth of over $7 billion. The 59-year-old physician, businessman and philanthropist has played a primary role in cutting-edge treatments for a wide variety of cancers. He was a 25-year season-ticket holder for the Lakers before purchasing Johnson's 4.5 percent interest in the team in October 2010.

"I'm truly passionate about basketball," said Soon-Shiong, who was born in South Africa to Chinese immigrant parents. "I'm not as passionate about baseball as I am about basketball, but I watch baseball and I watch football. I love sports in general.

"Baseball is like cricket, and I grew up in a country where they had cricket. So I understand cricket, soccer and basketball. I played basketball at the club level and a little bit in college, so that's why I'm a basketball fanatic."

Although Soon-Shiong says he isn't a baseball fanatic, one of the reasons he may be interested in purchasing the Dodgers is restoring one of the city's iconic franchises back to its former greatness.

"I'm committed to Los Angeles," Soon-Shiong said. "I believe this city has so much to offer. ... My commitment is to Los Angeles, so whatever helps this continue to be a great city, that's what I would be focused to do, and the Dodgers are certainly iconic to Los Angeles."

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