Dodgers World Series Ring Walter O'Malley The Official Website

The Early Years
Entering The...
The Dodger Saga
A New Era Begins
Ebbets Field Revisited
The Memorable...
Searching for New...
L.A. Sends a Message
This is Next Year!
Putting Their Domes...
The Political Game
Los Angeles Bound
Where to Play in L.A.
Curveball Right...
The Red Head is a...
1959: A Year of...
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Home Sweet Home
Construction of...
L.A.'s Sparkling New...
1963: A Taxing Year...
The Business of..
Growing the Game...
Moving to Chairman...
The Last Inning
The Biography of Walter O'Malley

1959: A Year of Change
The transplanted Dodgers finished a woeful seventh place (21 games off the pace) in their first season in Los Angeles, trying to adjust to their new city, new stadium surroundings and new home. But, in 1959, everything would turn around for the organization trying to regain its footing in virgin territory.
In a seemingly never-ending battle, a series of lawsuits were filed to block the approval of the city’s contract with the Dodgers, further delaying construction of Dodger Stadium. One suit eventually went to the California State Supreme Court which overruled the lower court and voted unanimously (7-0), siding with the city’s and O’Malley’s position on January 13, 1959. The decision stated that the city could “hold harmless” the “public purpose” clause of the Housing Authority agreement deed restrictions. The State Supreme Court reaffirmed its opinion in a refusal to reconsider on February 11 of that same year. In the meantime, California Governor Edmund G. Brown pledged to sell 36 acres of state-owned land in Chavez Ravine to the city of Los Angeles to complete the agreement on the stadium site for $170,780.98 After additional attempts to appeal to the California State Supreme Court in April 1959 by attorney Phill Silver, who represented the opponents of the city’s contract with the Dodgers, the court upheld the constitutionality of the agreement. But, Silver then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court challenging that the city denied due process to residents of Chavez Ravine, who had not adhered to the repeated orders to leave the land and were illegally living there. The appeal request was not heard by the U.S. Supreme Court and was dismissed on October 19, 1959.
A special exhibition game against the New York Yankees was held to pay tribute to paralyzed Dodger catcher Roy Campanella on May 7, 1959. His car slid off an icy road and crashed into a light pole on January 28, 1958 leaving him paralyzed from the neck down. Immediately, O’Malley visited him at Glen Cove Community Hospital in Long Island, NY.
O’Malley worked for a long time in formulating the concept of a series of exhibition games with the Yankees. Originally, the game was suggested by the Hearst Newspapers in New York. Later, O’Malley and Yankees’ owner Del Webb, along with executives E.J. “Buzzie” Bavasi, Dan Topping and George Weiss, worked out arrangements to play a game in Los Angeles. O’Malley agreed to pay the Yankees their travel expenses and approximately $85,000 for the trip. He also provided Campanella with one-half of the proceeds from the game, setting up an account with the three-time MVP catcher’s attorney to monitor the funds.

98 Los Angeles Times, February 18, 1959

A special ticket with the photo of catcher Roy Campanella, who was honored during an exhibition game between the Dodgers and New York Yankees on May 7, 1959. A major league record crowd of 93,103 attended the game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

Roy Campanella never had a chance to play in Los Angeles. The Hall of Fame catcher was paralyzed after suffering injuries in a Jan. 28, 1958 automobile accident in New York.

Copyright © Los Angeles Dodgers, Inc.

Photographers surround Roy Campanella before he throws out the ceremonial first pitch during a special exhibition game in his honor on May 7, 1959 at the Coliseum.

Copyright © Los Angeles Dodgers, Inc.

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