Rob D. Manfred, Jr. became the ninth Commissioner of Baseball to visit world-famous Historic Dodgertown – Vero Beach, Florida this week. Manfred, who became Commissioner of Baseball on January 25, 2015, met with youth campers and instructors, comprised of many former major leaguers, at the first-ever Elite Development Invitational, operated by USA Baseball and initiated by Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association. The two-week camp at Historic Dodgertown, with 160 youth, ages 13-16, is designed to provide player development opportunities to top prospects from minority or underserved communities throughout the country.
The curriculum has focused on overall character development, strength and conditioning, arm care, MLB scout and college recruiter interaction, NCAA compliance, umpire education/interaction and media training. The camp, which concludes this Thursday, is part of the newly-announced $30 million joint initiative to improve growth in youth baseball and softball by MLB and MLBPA.
Manfred is the 10th Commissioner of Baseball and of those 10, he is the ninth to visit Historic Dodgertown, a year-round, multi-sport training and conference center and former Spring Training home of the Dodgers from 1948-2008.
“It is very significant to have nine of 10 Commissioners of Baseball spend time at Historic Dodgertown,” said Peter O’Malley, Historic Dodgertown Chairman. “All the Commissioners understood the uniqueness and tradition of this site and Vero Beach, Indian River County. Because Historic Dodgertown was the first integrated major league Spring Training camp in the South, it holds special status in baseball history.”
A. B. “Happy” Chandler, the second Commissioner of Baseball (1945-51), visited Historic Dodgertown in 1948 and was present for the first game played on March 31 when Jackie Robinson hit a home run. Ford Frick, the third Commissioner of Baseball (1951-65), participated in dedication ceremonies for Holman Stadium at Historic Dodgertown on March 11, 1953. William D. Eckert, the fourth Commissioner of Baseball, came to Historic Dodgertown during his reign from 1965-68. Bowie Kuhn, the fifth Commissioner of Baseball, was a frequent visitor at Historic Dodgertown.
Peter Ueberroth was the sixth Commissioner of Baseball from 1984-88. Ueberroth and the first Commissioner of Baseball in South Korea General Jyong-Chul Suh were at Historic Dodgertown for an important event during Spring Training 1985. It was the first time O’Malley invited a professional team from South Korea – the Samsung Lions – to train at Historic Dodgertown. The Dodgers made history becoming the first major league team to host and play a game against a team from South Korea, as on March 9 they opened their exhibition schedule with the Lions at Holman Stadium. Ueberroth and his counterpart participated in first pitch ceremonies. The Lions left Dodgertown on March 14 and returned to South Korea, where they captured the first Korean League Championship.
A. Bartlett Giamatti was the seventh Commissioner of Baseball, though his term was brief as he passed away in office in 1989, but he also visited Historic Dodgertown.
Fay Vincent was the eighth Commissioner of Baseball from 1989-92. Vincent has been to Historic Dodgertown on numerous occasions, as he maintains a residence in Vero Beach. Allan H. “Bud” Selig, the ninth Commissioner of Baseball and now Commissioner Emeritus, also visited Historic Dodgertown. Kenesaw Mountain Landis, the first Commissioner of Baseball, served from 1920-1944, thus his term preceded Historic Dodgertown – Vero Beach.