Walter O'Malley The Official Website

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Dodger Planes Take Flight with Holman at Controls

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“I was flying co-pilot with all of them,” said Holman. “A friend of my Dad’s and Eastern’s Chief Pilot named Frank Bennett finally told O’Malley, ‘Why don’t you let Bump fly the darn airplane. He flies it better than all these other guys we’ve had.’ I was still in college, so I couldn’t make all of the trips, but I could make a lot of them. I got all my training from these Eastern pilots. I used Eastern simulators in Flight School in Miami. They let me attend school and classes there in Miami.
“I believe it was sometime in 1953 when I flew my first trip as captain for them. I was still in college then. I majored in citrus, because we had citrus growing down here in Florida, and in business administration. I was really training to grow the citrus groves of my Dad’s. But, I love flying and I did that all my life. It just kind of got in my blood.”
It was the beginning of a long relationship for him as captain, not to be confused with Dodger Hall of Fame shortstop Pee Wee Reese, known to all as “The Captain.” For Holman, he still vividly recalls the excitement of piloting the Dodgers around Florida during Spring Training and eventually across the country.
“I started flying captain, so I went to summer school, so I could get out in January and I could fly during Spring Training the whole year as captain,” said Holman. “We flew every day during Spring Training. We flew the club out of Vero to play around Florida. A lot of times, we made two trips because we only had 20 seats (in the DC-3). We’d go to Tampa and take the airplane over early and let some of the team off and come back and get the rest of them and go back over again. Then, after the game, it was two trips back and forth. We’d also go to New York two to three times a week during Spring Training (to pick up sponsors and VIPs).”
In 1952, O’Malley hired well-known engineer and Naval Captain Emil Praeger to design an intimate ballpark at Dodgertown. Praeger served as consulting engineer on the White House renovations in 1949. O’Malley and Capt. Praeger took time to work out every minute detail on an efficient, low-cost stadium with impeccable sightlines, in which the local fans could be close to the players and the game action. In the January 15, 1953 issue of the Vero Beach Press-Journal it was revealed that O’Malley had decided to name the stadium for the man who had done more than any other to assist in the early development of Dodgertown — Bud Holman.
Ceremonies were held for the opening of “Holman Stadium” on March 11, 1953 and O’Malley unveiled a plaque which read: “The Brooklyn Dodgers dedicate Holman Stadium to honor Bud L. Holman of the friendly City of Vero Beach.” An overflow crowd of 5,532 (in the new 5,000-seat stadium) attended an exhibition game between the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Philadelphia Athletics. Connie Mack, Philadelphia’s owner and Hall of Fame Manager was in attendance for the ceremonies, while Baseball Commissioner Ford C. Frick, National League President Warren C. Giles and American League President William Harridge were also present to celebrate the gala Grand Opening.
Bump Holman recalls the reaction of his family to the good news.
“It was a surprise,” said Holman. “My Mother knew about it. My Dad was the last one to know. She said, ‘Shhh, they’re going to name the stadium here after Dad.’ We were all excited about that. When he was told, Dad was very excited about it and was very proud.”

In 1950, the Dodgers acquired a DC-3 from Eastern Air Lines President Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker. The DC-3 replaced the Twin Beechcraft that former Dodger President Branch Rickey used to fly around Florida and to and from New York to Vero Beach, Florida for Spring Training. Bud Holman is visible looking at the plane, standing on the far right.

Walter O’Malley and Bud Holman shake hands at the dedication ceremonies for Holman Stadium on March 11, 1953. Though he became a rabid Dodger fan, initially Holman knew little about baseball. As an astute businessman, he saw and acted on the opportunity to bring the Dodgers to Vero Beach for spring training. The plaque presented by the Dodgers reads, “The Brooklyn Dodgers Dedicate Holman Stadium to Honor Bud L. Holman of the Friendly City of Vero Beach, Walter F. O’Malley, President, Emil H. Praeger, C.E., Designer, 1953.”

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