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This Day in Walter O’Malley History

March 14

March 14, 1951

A new-fangled training device ordered by the Dodgers called a “Cricket Cradle” makes its debut at Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Florida. Ordered by Branch Rickey before he departed the Dodgers and joined the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Dodgers received six of these contraptions made in England for about $50 each. Cricket players from England use the device to warm up. An Australian cricket player, who came upon this in England, wrote a letter to Rickey in the summer of 1950. Rickey ordered six “Cricket Cradles” for Dodgertown. Players throw the ball onto the unit with bowed wooden slats and watch it bounce off in unexpected directions. They then retrieve the ball like they would when going after a ground ball. It is a new kind of “pepper” with the ball deflecting on various angles to the infielders. Walter O’Malley, interested in the “Cricket Cradle,” presided over their installation, while Rickey ordered several more for the Pirates’ training camp.

March 14, 1957

Delivery of the new Dodger aircraft, a Convair 440, is made to the Brooklyn Dodgers in El Paso, Texas. The Dodgers used the Convair 440 for four seasons and it was the plane that brought the first contingent to Los Angeles on October 23, 1957.

March 14, 1958

Associated Press reports, “President Walter O’Malley of the Los Angeles Dodgers tonight joined the ranks of opponents to pending sports antitrust legislation. In a letter to Rep. Patrick J. Hillings (R-Cal.), O’Malley specifically went on record against a bill by Chairman Emanuel Celler (D-N.Y.) of the House Judiciary Committee.”

March 14, 1961

A letter of agreement is sent from Walter O’Malley to Jack Yount of Vinnell Constructors, the construction company handling the building of Dodger Stadium, amending the original contract to increase job costs by $4.4 million for additional labor, form materials and equipment rentals.

March 14, 1964

Mexico’s President Adolfo Lopez Mateos makes a surprise visit to watch the Los Angeles Dodgers at Mexico City Rojos Diablos (Red Devils) exhibition game before a capacity crowd of 24,000 who cheer wildly. Prior to the game, the Mexico City team approaches the President’s box to pay their respects. Then the crowd erupts in approval when, in a gesture of friendship, the Dodgers remove their caps and salute President Mateos. Sitting nearby Mateos was Walter O’Malley, who was presented a huge sombrero compliments of Mateos. “The Dodgers have been in Japan, Cuba, Venezuela, Panama and the Dominican Republic,” said O’Malley. “But the enthusiasm of the President of Mexico, and that of the fans, was unprecedented in our travels. I was greatly impressed with the popularity of baseball as well as the Dodgers in Mexico. We hope to return soon and we also hope to sign a Mexican player. Little League has a tremendous number of teams in Mexico, which speaks well for baseball south of the border.”Bob Hunter, The Sporting News, March 28, 1964 The Dodgers defeat the Mexico City Reds, 10-3, to win the first two exhibition contests.

March 14, 1968

Academy Award-winning actor Jimmy Stewart writes a thank you letter to Kay O’Malley in which he says, “Dear Kay, Thank you very much for your thoughtful note about the Floyd Miller story in the paper. Gloria (Stewart’s wife) joins me in all our best to you and Walter and all your Dodgers.” In the article written by Stewart as told to Miller, Stewart relates how his father Alexander bonded with him after they went to see the funeral train for President Warren Harding about 20 miles away from their hometown of Indiana, Pennsylvania. Alexander Stewart handed his son two pennies and told him to place them on the railroad tracks before the train arrived. He did and after the train passed, Jimmy picked up the flattened Indian head coins. His father took one and placed it in his pocket and Jimmy kept the other one. “For years, Dad and I carried those coins flattened by the weight of history. And the knowledge of what we shared made me feel very close to him,” Jimmy wrote in the article that appeared in the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner.

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