Then, gruffly, "Do you love her?"
"Why don't you marry her?"
Invariably the reason for continued bachelorhood was a lack of funds. So more than once, Campanis says, Rickey would give a young player $500 to get hitched.
Sometimes it was as if Rickey were putting those kids on a couch. "Is there a lot of love in your home?" he once asked a young Tommy Lasorda, while Lasorda was pitching before Rickey in practice. Lasorda was being sent to the International League. And then, "Does your father drink? Does your mother?" After the workout, and after answering a series of what he considered—and still considers—bewildering questions, Lasorda said to Rickey, "From what you've seen, do you think I can pitch successfully in the International League?"
"If you don't, I will be up there to investigate," Rickey said.
For a young catcher like Campanella, who had spent most of his career in the Negro leagues, the Dodgertown facilities and Rickey's emphasis on fundamentals were exhilarating. "I'd never seen anything like this," he says. "I never knew what a sliding pit was. To learn how to slide? Batting cages to hit a ball off a batting tee? Never did see one before. This was the first time I'd ever hit against a pitching machine. I was getting grounded in the basics that the Dodgers always practiced—of throwing the ball to the right base, of learning how to take a lead off first. And there were exercises before you started every day. This was a new challenge to me. This helped me to develop into the player I became."
It was no wonder the Dodgers became known for producing the most fundamentally sound players in the game. Talent varied, of course, but insofar as they could, the players in the Dodger system, from the parent team to the lowest club in the organization, executed in the same way. They all learned together at the same school.
"Dodgertown was like an automobile plant," says Bavasi, now general manager of the California Angels, "only it was designed to make and develop players. It also developed managers: Walt Alston, Dick Williams, Preston Gomez, Tommy Lasorda, Bobby Cox, Don Zimmer, Clyde King, Bobby Bragan, Gene Mauch, Sparky Anderson, Billy Hunter, Gil Hodges, Danny Ozark, Roger Craig, Maury Wills, Frank Howard, Eddie Stanky, Jeff Torborg...."
Besides teaching fundamentals, Dodgertown gave coaches a chance to evaluate all the talent in the system, and to determine which players to sell off as excess. Toward the end of camp the staff would meet every night after dinner, often until well past midnight, moving players around. "They talked about the potential of each ballplayer and where he could play," Alston, a minor league manager then, recalls.