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This Day in Walter O’Malley History

April 18

April 18, 1953

Walter O’Malley sends a letter of congratulations to Captain Eddie Rickenbacker, America’s ace fighter pilot and President of Eastern Airlines, stating, “All of the Brooklyn Dodgers extend to you sincerest congratulations on Eastern Airlines Twenty-fifth Anniversary. As an organization we are most appreciative of the extraordinary courtesies and accommodations extended to us over the years by your fine company, by you personally, (Eastern Director) Bud Holman and (Eastern Vice President) Jack Frost.”

April 18, 1958

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New to the West Coast, the Dodgers begin play in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum before a whopping major league record crowd of 78,672, following a parade through downtown L.A. and welcoming ceremonies on the steps of City Hall. The Dodgers defeated the San Francisco Giants, 6-5. The first major league pitch in L.A. is thrown by Dodger right-hander Carl Erskine. Introduced by emcee Joe E. Brown during pregame ceremonies were California Governor Goodwin Knight, Attorney General Pat Brown, Walter O’Malley, Giants President Horace Stoneham, Los Angeles Mayor Norris Poulson, San Francisco Mayor George Christopher, Baseball Commissioner Ford C. Frick, National League President Warren Giles, Dodger stockholders Mr. and Mrs. James Mulvey and Baseball Hall of Famer Sam Crawford. The day’s largest ovation was when Roy Campanella’s name was called. The Dodger MVP catcher was in a New York hospital paralyzed from his automobile accident four month’s earlier, but he was represented on the field by Toluca Lake (CA) Grammar School student Scoop Remenih.

April 18, 1958

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The Los Angeles Evening Mirror News prints a souvenir edition welcoming the Dodgers to L.A. for the first season of Major League Baseball. A smiling Walter O’Malley is depicted in a cartoon with several Dodger players and fans greeting their new team with open arms.

April 18, 1962

The Sporting News prints this editorial shortly after Dodger Stadium opened for National League play on April 10, 1962: “The Dodgers’ new home in the West was unveiled on opening day and drew unrestrained praise from everyone who saw it. Commissioner Ford Frick used just one word — ‘incredible’ — to describe his feelings about the stadium Walter O’Malley built...the Dodgers won a remarkable race against time to have the park in shape for use. A long siege of bad weather in Los Angeles had raised doubts that it could be done. This is the first stadium built by a baseball owner in 40 years. O’Malley and the Dodgers had to fight many battles to achieve this dream. The beautiful stadium is a fine tribute to Walter O’Malley and his associates.”The Sporting News, Editorial, April 18, 1962

April 18, 1963

Walter O’Malley holds a meeting at Dodger Stadium with Harlem Globetrotters boss Abe Saperstein regarding the possibility of the world-renowned ’Trotters playing basketball at Dodger Stadium. The groundwork was set for the only basketball game ever played at Dodger Stadium on February 2, 1964.

April 18, 1967

The Dodger home opening night activities include two ceremonial pitches by recently retired superstar Sandy Koufax, while current players Don Drysdale, Ron Fairly and John Roseboro help to raise the American flag along with representatives of the U.S. Navy and Marines.

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