Historic Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Florida, opened in 1948 and was the first fully integrated Major League Baseball spring training site in the South. For 60 years, the Dodgers gathered here to prepare for the upcoming season. Team members included Hall of Famers Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Don Newcombe, Joe Black and Maury Wills, and local African American youths who came to watch these legendary players began to see the possibilities of integration and have hope for their own futures. The Dodgers played on the same fields in use today by youth, amateur and professional athletes, so when visiting Historic Dodgertown, guests are literally walking in the footsteps of greatness.
Dodgers management, led by Walter O’Malley and Branch Rickey, took the bold step to break the color barrier in Major League Baseball. In 1947, the Dodgers’ Jackie Robinson was the first African American to be signed to a major league sport, and later that season his teammate Dan Bankhead became the first African American pitcher in the majors. From 1945-1946, the Brooklyn Dodgers signed seven of the first nine African American players to professional baseball contracts. It would take more than a decade for all Major League Baseball clubs to have an African American player in a big league game.
In 2014, Historic Dodgertown was named a Florida Heritage Landmark for its significance in the Civil Rights Movement. A historical marker in front of the facility’s conference center commemorates its important role. Today’s Historic Dodgertown is now known as the Jackie Robinson Training Complex. It is an all-inclusive complex where teams can train, play, dine and stay together. Other amenities include clubhouses, a competition-size swimming pool, weight rooms, a dining room, lounge and conference center.