Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

Daily Dish March 1st, 2002

A great baseball book has hit the market once again. “The Lords of Baseball”, written by Harold Parrott, has been republished through the efforts of his four sons.Harold was the traveling secretary and ticket manager for the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1943 through 1968. He was much more than that to the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers franchise.

He was confidant to Walter O’Malley, Dodger president, Branch Rickey Dodger GM who brought Jackie Robinson into the National league in 1947, and Leo Durocher, manager of Brooklyn until Leo was fired in 1948.

When the book was originally published in 1975, it mysteriously disappeared from the bookshelves. Many claim that the O’Malley’s purchased all the books in order to keep the public from learning the inside, true stories of Robinson’s rise to the majors as well as the motives behind the Dodgers move from Brooklyn to Los Angeles in 1958.

Harold Parrott tells us of secret deals that would have returned hot rookie Pete Reiser, labeled by many a future superstar, back to the Cardinals from Brooklyn in the early 1940’s when Larry MacPhail (Dodger Pres.) agreed to hide Reiser for the Cardinals (and Rickey, St.Louis GM)) in the Brooklyn farm system.

The astute eye of Leo Durocher brought the kid up to the big leagues for Brooklyn. Only Reiser’s penchant for running into the centerfield wall kept him from being a major league icon during his career. He never was returned to St.Louis and Rickey.

Parrott reveals that the Dodgers had so many ticket requests when they moved to LA that they couldn’t play in Wrigley Field in downtown Los Angeles as planned because the park only held 25,000 or so seats. After great debate, they almost moved to the Rose Bowl before settling in the LA Coliseum with its 250 foot left field wall and 93,000 seats.

He writes of the numerous times that Rickey fired Durocher, only to change his mind the next morning. How O’ Malley stood by silently when Durocher was railroaded out of baseball and suspended in 1947 by commissioner Happy Chandler.

In researching this era, I’ve learned from many sources that O’Malley had motives in bringing Durocher back to coach for the Dodgers (contrast to Walter Alston).

In 1962, Durocher coached third base and many say gave the signals he wanted, rather than the strategy dictated by manager Alston. But for Durocher’s daring strategy, Maury Wills might not have stolen 104 bases that season.

Further, Durocher would have brought in Don Drysdale, not Stan Williams, to close the final playoff game in ’62 with the Giants. Needless to say, Williams badly blew the 4-2 ninth inning lead and the pennant to San Francisco, ala 1951 and Bobby Thomson.

Insights into an era of baseball that is still representative of the moves the magnates make today. George Steinbrenner, Bud Selig, Walter O’Malley all cut from the same cloth (what’s in it for me, they ask). Parrott reveals the inner workings of the game in a book that is a must for any fan.

Just the other day, I read the Dodgers will be playing their first spring game in their Florida home, Holman Stadium in Vero Beach this week. The stadium was named in 1950 for Bud Holman, a friend of Walter O’Malley.

Holman, bought most of Vero Beach in the 1930’s and enticed the Dodgers to come down to Vero and train on an old military base in the late 40’s.

The city gave the Dodgers all the land they needed for the Vero Beach baseball complex for virtually nothing. Sounds like O’Malley at work again.

Holman enjoyed his 40,000 acres around the baseball complex. He stocked the lakes with fish, the land with animals for hunting, and Walter O’Malley loved hanging out with him.

Holman’s orange grove exceeded all of Manhattan in size. Holman arranged for Eastern Airlines to fly into Vero Beach (which was hardly on the Florida map at the time) further raisng the value of the surrounding property.

O’Malley couldn’t have been happier. The two millionaires played cards, hunted, and fished all spring and had a grand time. O’Malley named Holman a director of the Dodgers.

Thus when you see a game this spring from Holman Stadium in Vero Beach, remember it was named for the man who carved Vero from the Florida swamp.

Bud Holman, gave the idea to Rickey and O’Malley to bring the entire organization to the middle of the East Coast of Florida to train each spring. They both jumped at the chance.

Rumor has it that Fox wants to move the Dodgers out of Vero and into Arizona very soon. Too bad, I wonder what will happen to Holman Stadium. I’ve been there, it is perfect for spring baseball.

How ironic, because on this occasion Holman and O’Malley created something special not only for themseves, but for the fans and players too.

Move the Dodgers from Vero Beach, I don’t think so.


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