Categorized | Mark Timmons

The Hitchhikers Guide to the Universe that is Camelback Ranch

I have been to Spring Training every year that Camelback Ranch has been in existence…. as well as the last several years (I think it was 7 or 8 in a row) at Vero Beach for that matter.

For the record, I was in love with Vero.  I thought that there could never be another place like it.

After all, it was hallowed ground.

When I  walked the morning fields at what was once Dodgertown, I swear I could hear and see the ghosts of Jackie Robinson, Don Drysdale, Gil Hodges, Duke Snider, Carl Furillo, Junior Gilliam,  Roy Campanella, Mike Sharperson and other Dodger legends playing catch on the morning-dew shiny, wet grass of the back diamonds right there in Vero Beach with Walter Alston and Walter O’Malley watching in the background.

I once saw SANDY KOUFAX throwing on one of the back diamonds when he was in his early 50′s.  The writers said he was hitting 90 MPH on the gun.  He left after a small crowd gathered (typical Sandy).  That was a magical time.

I loved Bobby’s Restaurant which was on the beach in Vero.  The walls were lined with photos of current and former Dodgers.  Tommy was all over, as were the Walters, Sandy (who lives in Vero) and so many other Dodgers I  can’t count.  I once looked down and saw Sandy Koufax in the car beside me at the stoplight.  He gave the little smile he does, and sped away in his Mercedes.

Vero Beach was  a magical place.  I was there for the last game.  Carl Erskine played the National Anthem on his harmonica and Tommy Lasorda told the fans that if they didn’t root for the Dodgers they might not get into heaven (Tommy was always so subtle).

Clayton Kershaw gave my 6 year-old son his first autograph before that game.  As I walked out after the game, I knew that no place would ever replace Vero Beach.  I knew the move to Arizona had to happen, but I just knew that it couldn’t be a good thing, this Camelback Ranch.

However, I went down the first year for a week and I was blown away.  It wasn’t Vero (nothing ever could be) but it was AS GOOD…  actually better than Vero Beach.  It was different, but better.  I was in love again….

The rest of this week, I will tell you how to maximize your experience if you are going to Camelback Ranch this year.  Stay tuned.

About Mark Timmons

When you see the invisible, you can do the impossible!

7 Responses to “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Universe that is Camelback Ranch”

  1. Bobby says:

    nice Mark.

    I went to Vero once in 2000, and was blown away by it as well. Really cool place to visit if you’re a Dodger fan.

    I do look forward to maybe a trip to Camelback this or next year.

  2. RogerCraig says:

    I was at Vero Beach Dodgertown a few years ago, and was really shocked how few people were there. I was able to stroll the grounds early in the morning as the players were doing their drills and there were only maybe two dozen people. I think the game that I attended had less than 2,000 people, so it was no surprise to me that the Dodgers moved. I understand that the crowds quadrupled the last year they were there.

  3. dogleg says:

    I live in South Carolina and i went to Vero many times,I miss
    Spring Training with the Dodgers.
    Vero gave fans like myself a chance to see the Dodgers.

  4. Bobbie17 says:

    Camelback Ranch is not as good as 3/4 of the other Cactus League sites. It’s in the

    middle of nowhere and is sterile. It IS big, though. I guess size counts. It’s the only modern Cactus League site that does not have cup holders. You never have

    offered souvenir cups. The place is McCourt cheap, and I’ve been there every year

    since it was opened. No change. I love the Dodgers, but Camelback needs more

    fan friendly attention.

    • Bobbie17 says:

      How can we get these guys to sell even overpriced Cokes in souvenir cups? I have every other one but the Dodgers. When you ask the vendors, they don’t know why they don’t have them. I’ll be there in 4 weeks and will try again.

  5. Mark_Timmons says:

    Bobbie,

    And to think that McCourt spent about $25 million more than the White Sox did. The training facilities (fields, etc.) are top notch, however.

  6. Pete Matthews says:

    I went to Vero with my wife and my best baseball bud drove over from Va. to join us. It was the last year Vero was operating as Dodger the S.T. We drove from SoCal and it was my journey to baseball Mecca. We had 3 games and alot of memories. I think some of the greats still roamed the fields like in the Field of Dreams…Sat with a few old timers and talked of the old days and it was epic… I like Camelback and glad it’s a little closer now, but it aint Vero….

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