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This Day in Walter O’Malley History

August 15

August 15, 1951

Variety, the newspaper of show business, provides a report of the first major league baseball game televised in color by CBS that features the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Boston Braves in a game played August 11th. The review in Variety stated, “Despite the cloudy weather, the lenses transmitted beautifully true color, which heightened both the ‘information’ and enjoyment of the game...The sharp contrast of the white ball against the green infield furnished an amazingly clear picture of the path traveled by the ball from the pitcher to the catcher...Simple (advertising) signs were given added impact when seen in their natural colors...Cameras also settled consistently on the Schaefer scoreboard, since Schaefer bankrolls the Dodgers games via WOR-TV...While plays around the infield were handled okay, too often the cameras lost the action on long balls hit to the outfield...Now that CBS has proved the value of color to baseball, it should be especially interesting to watch its success with the series of nine Saturday afternoon college football games it has coming up in the fall.Variety, August 15, 1951 Also, on this date, National League President and soon to be elected Baseball Commissioner Ford Frick sits with Dodger President Walter O’Malley as they watch the Giants defeat the Dodgers, 3-1 at the Polo Grounds.

August 15, 1953

Dodger President Walter O’Malley presents a check for $15,000 to Dr. Harry Rogers of the Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute for the Damon Runyon Cancer Fund.

August 15, 1955

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City of New York Parks Commissioner Robert Moses writes a sharp letter to Walter O’Malley and provides little encouragement for the opportunity to build a new Dodger Stadium in Brooklyn. “In answer to your letter of August 10th, I can only repeat what we have told you verbally and in writing, namely, that a new ball field for the Dodgers cannot be dressed up as a ‘Title I’ project...We are for private enterprise, and if you can sell the present Dodgers field and the other holdings around it and make a substantial profit, that is certainly your right. If you can sell the Dodgers’ franchise to someone else and it is in your interest to do so, then in spite of any feeling I might have of the need for keeping as many attractions in Brooklyn as possible, I would have to agree that you would be strictly within your rights. On the other hand, I don’t see how you can have the nerve to indicate that you have not received proper support from public officials involved. Every reasonable, practical and legal alternative we have suggested has been unsatisfactory to you. The record shows we have made many suggestions, even though it is not part of our official duties. Let’s be honest about this. Every conference we have attended over several years including the last one at the News began with a new Dodger Ball Field as the main, primary objective with other improvements a peripheral and incidental purpose. However, if the Board of Estimate on the advice of the Borough President of Brooklyn wants to put through a reasonable sensible plan for highway, railroad terminal, traffic, street, market and relative conventional public improvements, and incidentally, wants to provide a new Dodgers Field at Flatbush and Atlantic, you can be sure that my boys will fully respect the wishes of the Board and do everything possible to help.”

August 15, 1956

Walter O’Malley responds to a fan indignant about his treatment after the fan had reached into the field of play to get a struck ball. “I have your nice letter of the 13th, and there are paragraphs with which I am deeply in sympathy. As a matter of fact, on the way home from our defeat last evening I was stopped by a motorcycle policeman and given a traffic ticket. I did not like that but I must recognize the right of the officer to enforce certain regulations. The same thing is true in the ballpark. You can appreciate what a mess it would be if every fan in the park felt he had a right to trespass on the player’s area to snag balls in play. No one stops a fan getting a ball that is hit into the stand. We are bound by strict baseball playing rules that provide a fan interfering with a ball in play on the player’s side of the rail must be ejected from the park. All regular baseball fans know this rule but they understandably try to get away with a violation if they can. I am sure when you think the whole problem out you will realize our people were not unreasonably (sic) and perhaps you were a little over-ambitious to get something that your ticket did not entitled you to.”

August 15, 1956

The Sporting News editorial praises Walter O’Malley for a comprehensive proposal to help support minor league baseball. “Walter O’Malley, president of the Brooklyn Dodgers,” wrote The Sporting News, “has offered a bold and imaginative proposal. He suggests an All-American Baseball Day in early June, when 20 picked teams of major leaguers would play in 20 minor league parks throughout the country with the net proceeds going toward the aid fund. Whether this plan, or some other method, such as the channeling of a portion of the majors’ television and radio fees into an assistance fund would be most desirable remains to be determined. But in any event, the O’Malley proposal provides a starting point for discussion.”The Sporting New, August 15, 1956

August 15, 1958

Speaking before the Rotary Club in Los Angeles, Walter O’Malley hopes for a February, 1959 date to begin construction on Dodger Stadium. “I am keenly disappointed,” said O’Malley, “that work on the stadium hasn’t already begun. I had hoped to get a bulldozer up in the ravine last month to begin shoving a pile of dirt around, even if it was simply pushing the same pile back and forth. We want to build our dream stadium — the best of any in the world and the first one to be built with private funds since 1925 (actually 1923).” O’Malley also responded to how the Dodgers were coping with the left field screen in the Coliseum during the 1958 season. “Our pitchers don’t like the screen in left field and our hitters haven’t discovered it yet.” O’Malley did go on to praise the fans in Los Angeles. “I honestly believe that here in Southern California, with the focal point in Los Angeles, we have the finest sports-minded public in the United States.&#8221The Sporting News, August 27, 1958

August 15, 1963

The New York Journal American tells the tale of a young, responsible Dodger fan and his letter to Walter O’Malley. Ralph Haffley, 9 years old, of Richmond, Minnesota, attended a Dodger game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. He found a dime in the parking lot, thought the money belonged to Walter O’Malley and sent the dime back in a letter to O’Malley. The Dodger owner’s response was a color team photo of the Dodgers and a return of the dime to Ralph. O’Malley wrote the youngster, “Finders’ keepers. It’s your dime.”New York Journal American, August 15, 1963

August 15, 1971

United States Federal Judge Irving Kaufman attends a Dodger game and meets with Dodger Chairman of the Board Walter O’Malley before the game. Kaufman attended Fordham University School of Law at the same time as O’Malley and graduated from the law school at the age of 18. Kaufman served notably as a federal judge and was elevated to the United States Circuit Board of Appeals.

August 15, 1978

Walter O’Malley is the first recipient of the August A. Busch Award for “meritorious service to baseball.” The award, made by Tiffany, is given to the present honoree for one year and is also presented with a miniature for permanent keeping. O’Malley was presented the award at Grant’s Farm in St. Louis, Missouri, at the quarterly meeting of major league baseball owners.

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