Kay O’Malley, First Lady of the Dodgers

“My life is my church, my family, my friends and baseball,” Kay O’Malley, wife of Dodger President Walter O’Malley said when she was named Los Angeles Times’ Woman of the Year in 1971.

Katherine “Kay” Hanson, daughter of New York Judge Peter B. Hanson and his wife Elizabeth, grew up in Amityville, Long Island, New York as next door neighbors with Walter and his parents. Kay and Walter enjoyed riding bikes, dancing, barbecues, swimming and boating in the Great South Bay. The two fell in love, but when Kay developed cancer of the larynx and had an experimental operation in 1927, it left her with a voice box which was permanently impaired and she was unable to speak again above a barely audible whisper. If there was any doubt of his intentions, Walter told his father, “She’s the same girl I fell in love with.”

Walter and Kay O’Malley at the family greenhouse in Amityville, New York, where the Dodger President enjoyed spending time cultivating exotic orchids.

Kay graduated from College of New Rochelle and attended St. John’s Law School. But, she set aside her plans to become an attorney in order to marry Walter in 1931 and later raise two children – Terry and Peter.

Kay and Walter shared a common interest in baseball and raising exotic orchids. He joined the Dodgers as General Counsel in 1942 and Kay became a passionate scorekeeper for all Dodger games. In 1950, Walter was named Dodger President and Kay clipped and saved articles about the Dodgers. In 1953, as a valentine to his wife, Walter developed a heart-shaped lake when Holman Stadium at Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Florida was being built. During the family’s first trip to Japan, Kay made many friends on the 1956 Dodgers Goodwill Tour. That trip was a memorable occasion for the O’Malley family as it got to spend a month traveling together and staying with the players and their wives.

When the Dodgers arrived in Los Angeles, Kay drove Walter to and from their Lake Arrowhead cabin for many years, prior to purchasing a home closer to Dodger Stadium. In the 1960s, her love toward all she knew and met in Dodgertown led her to propose a Memorial Mass for those employees, guests, and baseball officials who had visited there and passed away. The names of all the departed since the previous Spring Training were printed in a program with all others that had gone before and their names were read by the priest conducting the service. The annual service began in the 1960s and continued until 2008, Dodgertown’s final season. Two Dodger-owned airplanes were christened in her honor – the Lockheed Electra II was named Kay ’O and the Boeing 720-B Fan Jet was the Kay O’ II. She was asked by Walter to throw the ceremonial first pitch at Dodger Stadium on Opening Day, April 10, 1962. 

Always by his side, Kay and Walter shared many happy times with their family and dozen grandchildren at the time of their 1979 passing. Kay’s active involvement in the community led to her receiving the Times’ honor.