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St. Patrick's Day Parties A Legend At Dodgertown

Tip O’ the Dodger ‘Green’  
One of Walter O’Malley’s favorite times of the year was the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day at Dodgertown. The March 17 parties that he and his wife Kay hosted were legendary and are a piece of Dodger history. The holiday magically transformed Dodger blue into Luck of the Irish green for a glorious day.
O’Malley’s bloodlines can be traced to famed County Mayo, Ireland on his father’s side. Walter’s great grandfather John O’Malley and his wife Margaret Collins were married in County Mayo before immigrating to the United States.
With great respect for Irish traditions, Walter started to host St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in 1951, his first spring training as Dodger President. That year, he invited Dodger executives and staff, as well as representatives from the New York Giants, to a party at a Miami Beach hotel. The Dodgers played the majority of their spring training home games in Miami at that time.
Beginning in 1952, O’Malley moved the parties to Vero Beach, Florida, home base of the Dodgers’ spring training activities, where they were first held at the famed tourist spot McKee Jungle Gardens in the Hall of Tara before moving to Dodgertown. Decorations, hats, skits, music, dancing, food and drink were the ingredients blended to create a successful evening.
Of that 1952 event and its 130 guests, Roscoe McGowen wrote in The Sporting News, “Sure, an’ it was no place for an Orangeman when The O’Malley of County Mayo and the Dodgers tossed a party in honor of St. Patrick in the Hall of Tara. Everything was green — there wasn’t a chance of getting an orange juice — including the draft beer and the ice cubes. The O’Malley had special labels on the bottles of Irish cheer, which was called ‘Old O’Malley,’ a whiskey which will be 12 years old in 1964.
“Among those present was Edmund Boots, executive vice president of U.S. Steel, who was listed as Eddie Boots in a quartet called ‘The Mayo Minstrels.’ The other three were Gerald Cleary, who operates the Sea Breeze and Orange Terrace here; Ralph Galvin, proprietor of a swanky hostelry called Shadow Lawn and Harry Kurzon, real estate and insurance man here. These fellows can sing.
“Mrs. John Smith, stockholder in the Dodgers, was present, and two National League umpires, Larry Goetz and Jocko Conlan, joined in the fun. Conlan, one of the highest Irish tenors around set one of the high spots of the evening when he sang a love song to Kay O’Malley, while Greg Mulleavy, a normally quiet and soft-spoken fellow who is a scout, wielded a shillelagh and directed proceedings with a constant stream of brogue-tinged orders.”

Walter and Kay O’Malley were hosts of the annual St. Patrick’s Day parties at Dodgertown.

Walter O’Malley stands above the “Erin Go Bragh” sign, part of the elaborate decorations at St. Patrick’s Day celebrations at Dodgertown.

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