This Day in Dodger’s History: Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale Made Dodgertown Debuts 60 Years Ago Today
By Scott Andes
Today is a historic day in Dodger history. Some of the young kids may not know or remember, but the Dodgers used to call their spring training home in Vero Beach Florida. The complex was affectionately termed “Dodgertown”. The historic Dodgertown at Vero Beach Florida was the Dodger’s spring training home from 1948-2008. The historic Dodgertown at Vero Beach is now officially a Florida Heritage landmark, and rightfully so. Nowadays the site operates as an 80-acre multi-sport facility that hosts a wide variety of sporting events.
On this day in Dodger history exactly 60 years ago today on March 18, 1955 two Dodger rookie hurlers made their Vero Beach debuts for the Boys in Blue. Both aces had their first opportunities to showcase their talents for the Dodgers as their careers would eventually become intertwined. One young left hander you may have heard of before. Some youngster named Sandy Koufax. The future hall of famer made his debut in a game at Holman Stadium against a collection of minor league all-stars at age 19.
Koufax was pitching on a 17,000 dollar bonus, and apparently there was an editing mistake in the paper that night that listed Koufax as a right handed pitcher. Talk about a blunder. Also making his Vero Beach debut for the Dodgers that spring (According to reports, Drysdale actually made his official debut ten days earlier, but did pitch in the same game) was a big mean right hander named Don Drysdale.
Call to the Pen
Koufax pitched to seven batters that night, whiffing five and walking two in two frames of work, despite dealing with a sore back. The 18-year old Drysdale also impressed the organization in that same game by throwing four frames, and whiffing eight.
The Dodgers had to keep Koufax on the Major League roster because the left hander’s signing bonus was more than 4,000 dollars. That made Koufax a “bonus baby”, and the club had to keep him on the Major League roster for at least two years before sending him to the minors, or risk losing him. I think we can say that the move worked out for everyone involved. What do you think?