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This Day in Walter O’Malley History

January 19

January 19, 1953

Walter O’Malley writes an Inter-Club Communication memo to Dodgertown Director Edgar Allen regarding plans for the clubhouse at Vero Beach. “On Friday several sets of corrected plans for the clubhouse were mailed to Bud Holman. Be good enough to get them from him and make them available to contractor (C.R.) Cruze. The first small sheet, drawing #7C, has to do with flood lighting layout and details. The plan for the dugout is included and is an extra job that we want Cruze to do. I am satisfied that he will do it and bill us at a fair price. O’Malley also noted about the press box roof that “This is a job that Cruze should also start at his earliest convenience. No further plans need to be drawn as he has the imagination to do the job to make it attractive and colorful. If any of you have ideas as to how to brighten it up by different building materials, go ahead. For example, Walter Sexton might want to see the outside made of cypress slabs.” Dairyman and cattle rancher “Waldo” Sexton was one of Vero’s pioneers and builders, including his partnership in the McKee Jungle Gardens tourist attraction, restaurants like Waldo’s and The Ocean Grill and the popular Driftwood Inn hotel.

January 19, 1959

Walter O’Malley writes a letter to New York Yankees General Manager George Weiss regarding playing an exhibition game in Los Angeles as a tribute to Roy Campanella. O’Malley said, “It is my idea that such a game would have tremendous appeal and be a real fine thing for Baseball in the field of public relations. The Hearst papers in New York and Los Angeles have been trying to promote a game for Roy Campanella and at one point the interest became so great, I had to fly to New York to have luncheon with Max Kase to ask that they side-track the idea until Roy’s condition would improve. Roy is now able to move about and will no doubt spend considerable time in Vero Beach this Spring with us.” The tribute game was agreed to by the Yankees and a major league record crowd of 93,103 watched the Dodgers play New York on May 7, 1959 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

January 19, 1959

Appearing on NBC’s “Today” Show, Walter O’Malley is interviewed by Jack Lescoulie about the Dodgers’ seventh-place finish in 1958. O’Malley noted that the attendance was almost double that of Brooklyn in 1957 and would have been even better but for the dismal performance on the field. According to The Sporting News, “When Lescoulie observed that the Dodgers had departed Brooklyn despite good gates, O’Malley corrected him, pointing out that they left because they wanted a modern, up-to-date park, something that was denied them in Brooklyn.The Sporting News, January 28, 1959

January 19, 1962

Los Angeles Examiner Publisher Franklin S. Payne writes a letter to Walter O’Malley about the day the Dodgers broke ground for Dodger Stadium (September 17, 1959). “The minute the first shovel of dirt was turned, then all of us Dodger boosters knew that your dream and our dream was finally going to become a reality.” Payne continues that Sam Sansone, head of The Examiner Photo Department saw the shovel and some dirt used from the groundbreaking ceremonies and asked what Payne was going to do with them. Sansone made a container for the dirt and the shovel and then Payne displayed it on his desk. Payne offered the container to O’Malley “as a memento of one of the greatest things that ever happened in Southern California.” He concluded, “The Dodgers have done more to pull this great community together into one unit than any other one thing that I can think of.”

January 19, 1966

Walter O’Malley predicts in an interview with the Los Angeles Times that pay-TV for baseball will make a comeback. He had experimented with the concept in Brooklyn in the 1950s, but the movie industry quashed the idea. “I wish it would start right now,” he said. “But I’m afraid it will be several years. They’re experimenting now with some novel approaches. One of them would be to bounce the signals off satellites. The subscriber would have a bowl-like device on his roof to receive the signal.”

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