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The Biography of Walter O'Malley

First Lady of Dodgers
On July 12, 1979, the First Lady of the Dodgers, Kay Hanson O’Malley passed away. The compassionate and loyal Dodger fan had seen so much in her time. Among them, her husband’s achievement as a student, communicator, leader, sportsman, businessman, innovator, visionary, pioneer and family man. She had achieved a great deal herself, as a loving and dedicated wife, mother of two children, grandmother of 12, community volunteer, recognition as Los Angeles TimesWoman of the Year in 1971 and the ability to continue on and not let her impairment stop her from living a full and exciting life. A true fan of baseball, she kept score for games both at home and on the road. To honor Kay and her affection for the organization, the Dodgers named two team-owned airplanes used for transporting the players for her — the Kay O’, a 1962 Lockheed Electra and the Kay O’II, a 1971 Boeing 720-B Fan Jet.
Twenty-eight days later, Walter O’Malley followed the great love of his life, passing away at the age of 75.
Recognition and sympathy poured in from throughout the country and around the world in honor of O’Malley. In Japan, the Tokyo Giants held a moment of silence and “prayed for the repose of O’Malley’s soul” prior to a game with the Taiyo Whales. The Dodgers and their fans also held a moment of silence, with the flags at the house that he built, Dodger Stadium, flying at half mast in his honor. Tributes and kind words were written and spoken by countless friends, colleagues, fans and media members.
Former Los Angeles Times syndicated columnist Jim Murray wrote: “O’Malley belongs in the Hall of Fame as surely as Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb and certainly Judge Landis. He made more people rich, quicker than the gold strike of the 49ers who beat him west by only a century. Ted Williams might have had the vision to see a ball curving 60 feet ahead, but Walter O’Malley had the vision to see three decades ahead.
“...can anyone deny that what Walter O’Malley did served baseball — if not, indeed, saved baseball? There are now — count ‘em — six major league franchises on the West Coast and two in Texas, where there were none before. O’Malley built a Taj Mahal of a ballpark, setting the tone for subsequent edifices. He brought the game kicking and screaming into the 20th Century.”12

12 Jim Murray, Columnist, Sports, Los Angeles Times, August 10, 1979

Kay O’Malley spent many a pleasant day at Dodger Stadium, with her husband Walter, their two children Terry and Peter and grandchildren. Kay was active as a community volunteer and, in 1971, received recognition as Los Angeles Times’ Woman of the Year.

Los Angeles Times Collection, UCLA Library Special Collections

A visionary and business leader, Walter O’Malley works in his office in Dodger Stadium. O’Malley served as Dodger President from Oct. 26, 1950 through March 17, 1970, when he moved to team Chairman of the Board until his passing on Aug. 9, 1979.

The Tokyo Yomiuri Giants team lines up for a moment of silence for Walter O’Malley, following the passing of the Dodger President on Aug. 9, 1979 prior to a game with the Taiyo Whales on Aug. 12, 1979. O’Malley and the Giants established and maintained friendly relations for more than 20 years. The Giants’ team visited the Dodgertown spring training site on four occasions (1961, 1967, 1971 and 1975), while their manager and two players trained there in 1957.

A scoreboard in Tokyo for the Yomiuri Giants’ game asks fans and players to “pray for the repose of O’Malley’s soul” prior to a game with the Taiyo Whales on Aug. 12, 1979, following his passing on Aug. 9.

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