03/25/2008 9:34 AM ET
Old meets new in the Florida State League
Jackie Robinson Ballpark continues to be a mainstay
By Danny Wild / Special to MLB.com
Minor League Baseball provides an interesting mix of constant change and long-standing history. As the 2008 season approaches, MiLB.com takes a look at what you can expect in the Carolina League, both new and old.
Yankees rename Legends Field
Perhaps the most popular Spring Training destination in Florida is taking on a new, yet very familiar name. The Yankees will rename Legends Field, their Grapefruit League and Florida State League complex for the past 13 years, George M. Steinbrenner Field. "The Boss" moved the Bombers' Spring Training site to Tampa in 1996 and the complex has essentially served as a second front office for the Yankees. The Steinbrenner family endorsed some renovations to the 11,000-seat stadium over the winter, including a new party deck in right field.
Morrison takes over at Vero Beach
Jim Morrison, who managed the Columbus Catfish to a South Atlantic League championship in 2007, was named manager of the Vero Beach Devil Rays in December. The 2008 Vero Beach staff will also include some familiar names such as coach Brady Williams, pitching coach R.C. Lichtenstein, and trainer Joel Smith are all returning to the dugout.
Hyde the new boss at Jupiter
Former Minor League catcher Brandon Hyde will take over as manager for the Jupiter Hammerheads this season after leading the Double-A Carolina Mudcats to 60 wins last summer. The former White Sox farmhand led Long Beach State to the College World Series in 2002.
Brevard County welcomes Guerrero
Former Class A West Virginia manager Mike Guerrero was named the new skipper for Brevard County in December. Guerrero managed the Power into the South Atlantic League finals last fall after finishing the regular season with the best record in the Sally League. Former Power hitting coach Corey Hart will also join Guerrero along with returning pitching coach Fred Dabney and trainer Tommy Craig.
Florida native Smith joins Miracle staff
Former Fort Myers catcher Jeff Smith was named manager of the Miracle in October and will be the first person in club history to ever play and manage. Smith takes over for Kevin Boles, who led the Twins affiliate to a 70-70 record in 2007. Smith led the Beloit Snappers to the Midwest League championship game in 2007.
Jackie Robinson Ballpark turns 94
One of the oldest ballparks in America, Daytona's Jackie Robinson Ballpark will open its nearly 100-year-old gates to fans again this spring. The historic field, home of the FSL's Daytona Cubs, opened on June 4, 1914 as Daytona City Island Ballpark and was the site of the first integrated professional baseball game when Montreal's Jackie Robinson rode into town in 1946. The stadium, which does not host Spring Training, opened the same year as Wrigley Field. In 1998, the stadium was listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its status in the civil rights movement.
Murphy returns as president
Chuck Murphy returns in 2008 for his 19th season as Florida State League President. Murphy has led the league for a long time -- Ronald Reagan was just leaving Washington when Murphy took over in Florida. The St. Lucie Mets have won the four league titles since Murphy has been in charge.
Fan favorite Sojo leads Tampa
Former Yankees infielder Luis Sojo will return for his third season as manager of the Tampa Yankees in 2008. Sojo won four World Series with the Yankees and has seen similar success at the Minor League level. The Venezuelan native led Double-A Norwich is the Eastern League crown in 2002 before he joined came to the Florida State League three seasons later.
Holman Stadium lives on
The Dodgers may have left Dodgertown, but Vero Beach residents will still have the Devil Rays to watch at Holman Stadium. A Spring Training landmark since 1953, Holman Stadium remains one of the oldest and most loved ballparks on Florida's east coast and will again host the Florida State League's Vero Beach Devil Rays in 2008. The palm tree-lined ballpark features unique open-air dugouts and intimate seating for fans looking for a peek at Tampa Bay's talented future.
Murray, Buffet, Goldklang keep Miracle alive
Part-owners Bill Murray, Jimmy Buffet and the Goldklang family continue to watch their Fort Myers club grow on Florida's west coast. The Miracle, who begin their 17th season in the Florida State League at Fort Myers in 2008, have not won a league crown since 1985.
Hammerheads, Cardinals return to Roger Dean
Further proving that sharks and small birds can coexist peacefully, Roger Dean Stadium will again serve as the home for both the Jupiter Hammerheads (Marlins) and Palm Beach Cardinals (St. Louis) in 2008. The mega baseball complex has 12 full-size training fields in addition to Roger Dean, a 6,800-seat ballpark with outfield grass picnic areas that opened in 1998. Both the Hammerheads and Cards have shared the ballpark since 2003 -- the facility is the only one in the country which serves as home to two Minor League Baseball teams.
Danny Wild is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.