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The Biography of Walter O'Malley



Team Success
The Dodgers were teeming with some of the game’s most significant players in O’Malley’s era, including Hall of Famers Jackie Robinson, Pee Wee Reese, Duke Snider, Roy Campanella, Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale and Don Sutton. The baton was passed to the next generation, as the famous infield of Steve Garvey, Davey Lopes, Bill Russell and Ron Cey, all raised in the Dodger player development system, guided the team to another successful decade. Manager Alston retired and was succeeded by popular Lasorda on September 29, 1976. Lasorda would be a stable figure in the Dodger dugout for 20 years. Both Alston and Lasorda entered the Baseball Hall of Fame for their success.
O’Malley’s Dodgers finished either first or second place in 12 of 19 seasons that he was at the helm (1951-69), including eight N.L. Pennants in 1952, 1953, 1955, 1956, 1959, 1963, 1965 and 1966. The Dodgers won World Championships in 1955, 1959, 1963 and 1965 under O’Malley. On March 17, 1970, O’Malley’s son Peter was named President of the Dodgers, a position he held for the next 28 years, winning the World Series in 1981 and 1988. From 1970 until August 1979, Walter O’Malley would serve the Dodgers as Chairman of the Board, continuing to guide the path of Major League Baseball through his work on the Executive Council, besides his tremendous outreach to the greater Southland community and his involvement with numerous charities.
The Dodgers made World Series appearances again in 1974, 1977 and 1978. In 1979, the Dodgers signed a young left-handed pitcher who would enthrall the hearts and minds of their fans in a magical 1981 season. For years, O’Malley had asked his scouts to find a Mexican player to appeal to the growing Latino fan base in Los Angeles. When it finally happened, they certainly got more than they realized as Fernando Valenzuela, from a tiny village in Mexico, became larger than life in Los Angeles, the United States and a national hero in his home country. Unfortunately, O’Malley would never see the results of this diamond in the rough. Also in June 1979, the Dodgers scouted and signed another fine young pitcher by the name of Orel Hershiser, who would, years later, make headlines for his heroics on the mound.
And so it was that O’Malley dined with world leaders, was honored by Pope Paul VI, received the B’nai B’rith “Man of the Year” award, the George Washington Carver Supreme Award of Merit for “contributions to sports, better race relations and human welfare” and the Silver Beaver Medal by the Boy Scouts. A not-so-complicated man, Walter O’Malley loved life and his family, a wide circle of friends, cooking for everyone, a good game of poker, an even better cigar, cultivating orchids in his greenhouse and most of all, baseball.




Walter O’Malley selected two Dodger Managers — Walter Alston (right) and Tommy Lasorda -- who would ultimately take their rightful place in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Alston managed the Dodgers for 23 seasons and won four World Series titles (1955, 1959, 1963 and 1965), while Lasorda managed for 20 seasons and won two World Championships (1981 and 1988).

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Mrs. Mallie Robinson, the mother of Hall of Fame Dodger infielder Jackie Robinson, presents Walter O’Malley with the George Washington Carver Supreme Award of Merit for “contributions to sports, better race relations and human welfare” in 1959. University of Southern California President Rufus Von KleinSmid is in the middle.

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Walter O’Malley and his son Peter, who became club President on March 17, 1970, teamed for 48 years to lead the Dodger organization to attendance records, six World Championships and international prominence.

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