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This Day in Walter O’Malley History

March 12

March 12, 1952

Walter O’Malley announces that a unique arrangement has been formed between the Dodgers, the Happy Felton Knothole Gang TV pre-game show which airs before every Dodger home game, Loew’s Theaters, MGM Pictures and WOR-TV. The $150,000 sponsorship deal of the Knothole Gang program by MGM Pictures and the 83 Loew’s Theaters in the New York metropolitan area involves cross-promotion activities, including appearances by Dodger players with Felton at theaters on Saturday mornings. A special newsreel, featuring Felton and the Dodgers filmed at Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Florida, was to air at all area Loew’s. A portion of the income derived at the theaters was to benefit sandlot baseball. “This is a significant association involving TV, the motion picture industry and baseball,” said O’Malley. “The impact of this popular pre-game program will be studied this year to determine if these groups can co-ordinate their future plans to bring at least portions of the big games to theater TV screens.”The Sporting News, March 12, 1952

March 12, 1953

Bob Curzon of the Vero Beach Press Journal writes in his notes, “We spied an extra workman among the ground crew working on the field at Holman Stadium the other day. The fellow was busy raking the sod part of the new infield. He looked familiar to us and he rightly should...He was Walter F. O’Malley, president of the Dodgers! Mr. O’Malley is as proud of the new Holman Stadium as Pap Dionne was when his quints were born.”Bob Curzon, The Dodger Bullpen, Vero Beach Press Journal, March 12, 1953

March 12, 1953

Milwaukee Brave outfielder Andy Pafko speaks of Dodger President Walter O’Malley and of his high regard for him and the Dodger organization. “I have nothing but the greatest respect and admiration for the entire organization. They were wonderful to me the two years I was with them. Mr. Walter O’Malley sent me a nice letter after I was sold, in which he told me how much he regretted letting me go. He thanked me for the contribution I made to the club’s success in the two years I was with Brooklyn. He’s (O’Malley’s) one of the finest gentlemen I know.” Los Angeles Times, March 13, 1953

March 12, 1959

Kay and Walter O’Malley, National League President Warren C. Giles, Bud Holman, Vin Scully and several Los Angeles sportswriters flew in the Dodger plane from Vero Beach, Florida to Havana, Cuba to tour the Sports Coliseum complex and grounds. The welcoming committee includes several Cuban sports officials, including Bobby Maduro, President of the Cuban Sugar Kings, and his General Manager Paul Miller. Due to heavy rains during the next week of Spring Training, O’Malley was able to hastily arrange for two exhibition games to be salvaged by playing them in Havana.

March 12, 1960

At a Vero Beach, Florida Citizens banquet held at the Elks Club, Walter O’Malley receives a special award naming him “Grandfather of the Year.” Kay and Walter O’Malley’s first grandchild, John Seidler, was born the previous August. Bob Hunter, correspondent of The Sporting News presented their “Men of the Year” Awards for 1959 achievements to Walter Alston as “Major League Manager of the Year,” E.J. “Buzzie” Bavasi as “Major League Executive of the Year,” Pete Reiser as “Minor League Manager of the Year” and Frank Howard as “Minor League Player of the Year.” Also at the banquet, guest speaker Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker, World War I flying ace and Eastern Airlines President, mentions that when he travels he frequently hears of Vero Beach and the Dodgers. “This is a fact you should always keep in mind,” Rickenbacker tells the audience. “It is publicity you just can’t buy.”The Sporting News, March 23, 1960

March 12, 1965

Walter O’Malley invites comedian and actor Jackie Gleason to the St. Patrick’s Day celebration at Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Florida. O’Malley writes, “John Aaron of CBS told me that he thought a Brooklyn boy might be lonesome on St. Patrick’s Day so I am delighted to invite you and any of your group to attend our ‘wing ding’ on the 17th. I could send our Electra plane to pick you up and return you. All the Dodgers would be delighted to greet you.” Gleason had recently moved his television show home from New York to Miami.

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