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Over at the sliding pit, Johnny Neun, who once played baseball with Ty Cobb, watched as a dozen eager rookies demonstrated their sliding prowess.
"Use the slide you know best," ordered Neun. "No fancy stuff, just your best slide."
A lanky kid came loping down the runway, then leaped at the bag as if a bottomless pit lay between. He landed on his stomach in the sawdust.
"Your best slide! Your best slide!" screamed Neun.
The kid reddened. "That was my best, sir."
When it rains in Florida it falls in big globs, spanking the streets and sidewalks as it lands. It falls on children going to school and old men playing shurffleboard, but worst of all it falls on ball fields. And when it does, there isn't much a ballplayer can do but go inside and wait for it to stop.
At Vero Beach, the Dodgers waited in the lobby of the old Navy barracks they call home during the training season. The lobby is large. In one corner is a pool table, in another a few chess sets and checkerboards, and in a third some bridge tables. Scattered about are easy chairs and sofas and a few potted palms. On the walls are large pictures of the Dodgers' pennant-winning teams and in between them are smaller pictures of the men who won those pennants.
Roy Campanella, looking trimmer than he did a year ago, sat on a sofa with a newspaperman, smoking a cigar and discussing his battered right hand, the Dodgers' prospects for the coming season and his heir apparent, young John Rosboro.
Manager Walt Alston passed through the lobby to mail some letters. He stopped at a window and gazed out at the gray sky. "Still raining," he said to no one in particular. "I doubt if we'll get in a workout today."