Vero Beach Dodgers
The Vero Beach Dodgers of Vero Beach, Florida, played 27 seasons in the Florida State League. For that entire time, they were a Class A affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers. The team was founded after the 1979 season, and as was generally the case in the FSL in those days, the team seems to have been operated by the parent club. They were added to the league as an “expansion” team, despite the FSL remaining at 10 teams due to the original version of the Dunedin Blue Jays blinking out of existence the same year Vero Beach began.
The VB Dodgers played at Holman Stadium; part of the Dodgers’ former sprawling spring training facility affectionately known as Dodgertown. Despite being a typical Florida State League COTOB, Vero Beach found some ways to flex their creative muscles. Right out of the gate, they used a logo with the letters VB resting atop a halved grapefruit; bookended by two pairs of bright green leaves. The logo is certainly one of the most mouth-watering in minor league history. This is particularly true of the early years, when the logo was oversized on white front crown panels on the cap, presented as if on a clean breakfast plate. This cap would be worn through the 1985 season, when it was replaced by a Los Angeles-esque solid-blue-with-white-button model, which, along with the grapefruit logo, would be worn through the rest of their existence.
On the diamond, Vero Beach fielded nearly every notable young player in the Dodgers’ farm system for two and a half decades. This is a great many great players, and here are some, listed in chronological order: Steve Sax, Alejandro Peña, Sid Bream, John Franco, Sid Fernandez, Mariano Duncan, Juan Guzmán, Darrin Fletcher, Ramón Martínez, John Wetteland, José Offerman, Mike Piazza, Pedro Astacio, Eric Young, Álex Cora, Adrián Beltré, Eric Gagne, David Ross, Shane Victorino, Joel Hanrahan, Franklin Gutierrez, A.J. Ellis, Matt Kemp, Russell Martin, Chad Billingsley, Jonathan Broxton, and Carlos Santana.
Things turned sour for Vero Beach once Los Angeles abandoned Dodgertown and switched their spring training site to Arizona. After the 2006 season, the Dodgers left town and the franchise became the Vero Beach Devil Rays. That arrangement only lasted for a few years before they were moved to Port Charlotte, Florida, where they now play as the Charlotte Stone Crabs.