A unique model showing how Dodgertown – Vero Beach, Florida looked in the mid-1950’s, commissioned by Peter O’Malley, President, Los Angeles Dodgers (1970-1998) and gifted to Indian River County, will be on display at the County building lobby starting on November 5, according to Jason Brown, County Administrator. The model was created by Brett Pevey, 24, of Glendora, CA. The model includes the former U.S. Naval Air Station barracks that remained from World War II and inhabited by the Dodgers for 23 years; iconic Holman Stadium; three baseball fields; batting cages; a sliding pit; orange trees; and the competition-sized swimming pool. While a student in college, Pevey spent the better part of the last two years researching photos and crafting the model. His attention to every detail is what makes the nearly 3 x 5 foot model so special.
“Dodgertown has long been an iconic feature of Indian River County and it continues to positively impact our community to this day. We are very grateful for Mr. O’Malley’s continued support of Indian River County and for providing us the ability to proudly showcase the rich history of Dodgertown to every visitor of the county administration building,” said Brown.
O’Malley said, “I was truly amazed when I saw the photographs of the other stadium models made by Brett and it occurred to me that Historic Dodgertown deserved a model showing how it looked in the 1950’s. I asked Brett if he could do it working from old pictures and his answer was ‘I would really enjoy that.’ He is a special, young talent and his work belongs in Vero Beach and Indian River County. Well done.”
One of the unique features is the replication of the barracks, which were wooden and elevated by stilts, surrounded by tall Australian pine trees, and used to house all Dodger teams and personnel from 1948-1971. It was here that a significant step forward in civil rights history took place. The
military was still segregated during World War II.
It was not until the Dodgers arrived that the barracks became integrated, as Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Don Newcombe, Dan Bankhead, Joe Black and Jim Gilliam were among the first African American players to stay in them in the late 1940’s and 1950’s. Dodgertown was the first Major League Baseball team to fully integrate their Spring Training facilities in the South.
Earlier this year, Historic Dodgertown received recognition as it was included on the U.S. Civil Rights Trail, a collection of churches, courthouses, schools, museums and other landmarks primarily in the southern states. The barracks had no heating or air conditioning and paper-thin walls, but when Walter O’Malley began his first Spring Training as Dodger President in 1951, he upgraded the facility. There was a central lobby area outside the dining room which brought everyone together to socialize, play pool, cards, ping pong, chess, checkers, go to the canteen or mail a letter at the post office.
Pevey’s Dodgertown model is at 1:32 scale. To create the model, he initially drew sketches to determine the size needed and then combined a variety of materials during construction, including basswood, wood sticks for the Holman Stadium light towers and seating areas, foam core on the embankment at the stadium and felt grass for the playing fields and other areas of the complex.
Pevey researched the popular color of cars in the mid-1950’s and strategically placed just a few of them that were in use at Dodgertown, because the players didn’t have cars in camp in those days. He included Holman Stadium, opened March 11, 1953, and the Royal palm trees which
enhanced the beauty of the embankment in the outfield. They were a gift from May Smith, widow of Dodger partner and 25 percent stockholder John L. Smith, Chairman of the Board, Pfizer. When Holman Stadium was constructed, a man-made, heart-shaped lake was simultaneously created by digging up the sand, muck and marl. The two acre lake was created as a valentine from Walter O’Malley to his wife, Kay and is represented as part of the model. The model is available for viewing during normal County business hours.