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Bud Holman's Dilemma

E.J. “Buzzie” Bavasi, then the General Manager of the Dodgers’ minor league Nashua, NH club, was dispatched to Florida to meet with Holman and other civic officials about the plan of converting the Naval base into a spring training camp on November 2, 1947. The 31-year-old Bavasi, who arrived by train, was also to meet with representatives of neighboring Fort Pierce and Stuart the following day to review alternate training sites. The Vero Beach hospitality committee was so overwhelming that Bavasi ended up at a “stag” party on the Holman’s ranch and he spent the night there.
“To make a long story short, I never made it to Fort Pierce or Stuart,” recalled Bavasi.2 “Bud Holman met me at the train and he wouldn’t let me go any farther south. The facilities were already there. All we had to do was put in the ball fields. Another thing was having the airport so close. We had our own plane then and we could walk from the airport to the offices. The other places were trying to sell us something. Vero Beach was trying to give us something.”3
Holman had a dilemma when the Naval Air Base which had been used for a training field, was given back to the city of Vero after World War II. He was one of a handful of residents who had originally established the airport in 1929. Born in Versailles, KY on September 18, 1900, Holman opened his successful Vero Beach Cadillac Company in 1925. In 1932, Holman had convinced Eastern Air Lines to make Vero’s airport a fueling stop. Holman and Postmaster J.J. Schumann were instrumental in obtaining direct air mail service for the community in 1935, making it the smallest U.S. city to have the service.
Almost overnight, the airport and Vero Beach became a military community during World War II, after the Navy quickly put up housing on the land where Dodgertown was eventually to stand. Youthful fliers filled not only the skies, but the small Vero Beach land, as well. Dances, parties, church services and hymn sings were held for the military men in the community. Sadly, several were killed in training exercises in defense of the United States. By 1945, the city received the land and training facility back from the U.S. Government under the terms “that any use of the facilities was subject to federal approval and any funds acquired from use or sale of the airbase property must be retained in a special fund and applied exclusively to the maintenance or development of flight facilities.”4 The innovative Holman wanted to find a use for the barracks and the base, thus the idea of the Brooklyn Dodgers with all of their farm teams seemed like a feasible solution.
Holman had met with newly-elected Mayor Merrill Barber about the use of the site. They decided to call upon Rickey and ask him to take a tour. The follow-up site inspection by Bavasi was the clincher.

2 Dodger Edition, Vero Beach Press Journal, March 1, 2002
3 Bill Boeding, Vero Beach Press-Journal, February 20, 1988
4 Joe Hendrickson, Dodgertown

E.J. “Buzzie” Bavasi, general manager of the Dodgers’ minor league team in Nashua, NH, traveled by train to Vero Beach to meet with Bud Holman and other civic officials about the possibility of making the former U.S. Naval Air Station the spring training camp for the Dodgers on Nov. 2, 1947. Dodger President Branch Rickey asked Bavasi to review Vero Beach and other Florida cities as spring training sites.

The barracks, which had neither heat for the cold nights nor air conditioning for the humid days, were two stories high on stilts.

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