Results tagged ‘ smoltz ’

The First 2-Team Spring Training Complex – West Palm Beach 1962-96


WPB Municipal

Built in 1962 for the Atlanta braves and eventually home for the Montreal expos…twice,  this complex became the training grounds for a lot of growth in our baseball industry and even though it has been demolished,  it is still producing some interesting stories in baseball today .   Many may not know but thiscomplex was actually the first dual use spring training venue to be used by two MLB organizations.   The Braves had use of the main stadium and 4 fields and the Expos had use of 2 fields and 2  half fields.  Both MLB teams changed in the stadium so everyday the Expos would have to walk by the Braves as they practiced on the main field and head back to the “backfields”.   We also had FSL West Palm Beach Expos, 4 instructional leagues, fantasy camps, high school sports, concerts, etc..  It was fun managing the complex between  1988-1996.  Many past employees that were with these clubs during the 90’s call it the glory years for the braves & expos organizations.   I guess if you look at the past couple years of  HOF editions : Smoltz, Glavine, Maddux, Martinez, Randy Johnson and Bobby Cox  it makes sense.  

What I find amazing today is not only did this spring training site start a trend for numerous other dual team spring training sites in AZ but it was also a GM maker.   I’m talking about between 1989 and 1996 when the braves and expos were both considered the hottest teams in the national league.  The molding of past and current GM’s  and asst GM’s during this era is somewhat mind-boggling.   Just a sampling of current and recent GM’s from both organizations that came out of West Palm Beach during that short 7 year time-frame included good friends like- Dave Dombrowski, Bill Stoneman, Dan Duquette, Neal Huntington, Bill Gievett, Frank Wren. John Schuerholz,  Dayton Moore,  Kevin Malone, Omar Minaya, Jim Beattie, Chuck Lamar, Dean Taylor.     I’m sure I probably left out a few others and there were numerous Assistant GM’s that came out of WPB too.  …And we can’t forget about the All-star scouting directors/farm directors like Gary Hughes, Paul Snyder, Ed Creech, Kent Qualls, etc…

i recall The competition between these two teams during ST was fierce during those years.  They saw each other everyday and played each other more times than they wanted to but in the end…based on the careers of some the GM’s , players and the success of the clubs they were better for it.   

Congrats to MLB 2014 HOF’s Glav , Mad-dog and Frank


Congratulations to the Hall of Fame Class of 2014.  Tom Glavine and Greg Maddox along with Frank Thomas.  The Braves 1-2 punch had some help with an awesome manager Bobby Cox and pitching coach Leo Mazzone. You can throw in  Smolzty, Avery and Merker and then Wohlers to close which kind of made it an unbeatable rotation.

Having worked for the Braves and managed the Spring training fields where Glav and Mad-dog competed during the 90’s it didn’t take a rocket scientist to realize this duo was destined for the HOF.   West Palm Beach was the Braves spring home from 1962-1996.  I started in WPB in 1988 and moved with the  Braves to Disney in 1996 for a few more years during the Braves magical run.

Mad-dog and Glav would typically be the first guys to arrive in every morning around 7am.  Always walk across the field to say hello,  ask what the day looked like,  which golf course to hit in the afternoon, where to fish,  etc..   They were always appreciative of the field and our crew.  Many times bringing breakfast sandwiches for the crew.    I would walk in the locker room and  ask how the mound performed that day and both would be happy to offer comments.   These guys were SO consistent.  I recall after a game where Maddox pitched in the bullpen,  he thought the home plate was turned a little.    Sure enough we put a string on it and it was off by ¼ inch.    On another occasion,  I asked him to come out to see the mound  at Disney.  He had thrown that day (which I didn’t get a chance to attend due to other mickey mouse duties)  and I told him thanks for the autograph.  He asked what i meant  and I told him he  always leaves a distinct pattern with his push off toe after each pitch.     His foot placement across the clay and landing area was exactly the same every single time he pitched.

These guys set the tempo for the many winning seasons they had in the 90’s.  Bobby would remind me every spring “this is where we start winning Mur so get us going right! ”    With these two on the mound… that was easy!

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