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The Biography of Walter O'Malley



International Baseball Outreach
Devoted full-time to baseball, O’Malley was named to the important leadership committee, the Major League Executive Council in 1951 and served until 1978, the longest tenure ever. He resolved challenges and helped shape the course of Major League Baseball, as one of its most influential and forward-thinking owners. O’Malley dealt with issues ranging from television, antitrust exemptions, selection of three Commissioners of Baseball and player pension plans, to the global expansion of the game.
While helping to direct baseball’s complicated business matters and solve issues of that era, O’Malley passionately guided his own organization to prominence on and off the field. In fact, the Dodgers, encouraged by the State Department, made an important goodwill tour to Japan following the 1956 season, even visiting Hiroshima, which had been the recipient of the U.S. atomic bomb just 11 years earlier. But, O’Malley believed in the unity of nations in a sports setting, forging partnerships that were built for the common good of the game and each country. The Dodgers made another successful trip to Japan in the fall of 1966. Invited by O’Malley, the Tokyo Giants made reciprocal visits to use the training facilities at Dodgertown in 1957, 1961, 1967 and 1971.
O’Malley’s international outreach was widespread, as the Dodgers staffed nearly entire teams in Winter Leagues in the Dominican Republic, Cuba and Puerto Rico, sent scouts to search for talent around the globe and conducted educational exchanges. They invited representatives from many countries to study and learn about coaching and training techniques at Dodgertown. As early as 1964, the Dodgers made a trip to Mexico City to play exhibition games against the Red Devils. Mexico’s President Adolfo Lopez Mateos was in attendance and tossed the ceremonial first pitch.
When the Dodgers made the transition to Los Angeles following the 1957 season, O’Malley had exhausted all political possibilities in his desire to remain in Brooklyn and to privately finance the stadium. The Dodgers played seven “home” games at Jersey City, New Jersey’s Roosevelt Stadium in 1956 and eight in 1957, as O’Malley made it known to officials that there was an urgency in getting a response to his quest for land and a final solution to the aging Ebbets Field problem. He had sold 43-year-old Ebbets Field in October, 1956 and leased it back for three years to give him time to build a new stadium. O’Malley had identified land and tried to work with the frustrated New York Governor-approved Brooklyn Sports Center Authority, which was under funded and stalled in getting its business off the ground. Additionally, he had heard varied suggestions about where to relocate the Dodgers, including one idea between a cemetery and a body of water, to which O’Malley responded, “I don’t think we’ll get many customers from either place!”6 He also paid a hefty five percent New York City admissions tax, resulting in a payment of $165,000 per year. The jovial Irishman seemed to take most of the rejection in stride, as he did not want to leave his own New York roots, but he had simply run out of feasible options.

6 Time Magazine, “Walter In Wonderland,” April 28, 1958


On their fall 1956 goodwill trip to Japan, the Dodgers were invited to visit Hiroshima. The Dodger organization presented a plaque to Japanese officials which stated in part, “May their souls rest in peace and with God’s help and man’s resolution peace will prevail forever.”


The Dodgers designed a special logo for their second goodwill trip to Japan in 1966.


Walter O’Malley confers with Jersey City, NJ officials to use Roosevelt Stadium for selected Dodger home games in 1956 and 1957 on Aug. 22, 1955, while he tries to find a permanent solution to the aging Ebbets Field problem. Seated next to O’Malley is Mayor Bernard Berry of Jersey City, while standing from left are Jersey City Comissioners Lawrence Whipple and Joshua Ringle, along with Dodger Vice President Fresco Thompson.

AP/Wide World Photos



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