January 4, 1957
Walter O’Malley makes his second visit to Los Angeles on a trip to secure the purchase of a Dodger airplane, the Convair 440 Metropolitan twin-engine, from the factory in San Diego. The Dodgers make a major move forward in transportation with the purchase of the 44-passenger plane. O’Malley said, “This is the first time a major league club has bought an airplane. We tried a plane once before experimentally to transport our farm clubs but the DC-3 we used was too small and we decided to get a bigger plane.”Associated Press, January 4, 1957
February 21, 1957
The Dodgers exchange their Fort Worth team in the Texas League for Wrigley Field in Los Angeles, the Pacific Coast League L.A. Angels and territorial rights in Los Angeles with Chicago Cubs’ owner Philip K. Wrigley. As a proponent of Major League Baseball expansion to the West Coast, Wrigley realized that his team in the PCL would be worth much less if a team relocated to Los Angeles, thus he made the important swap. Walter O’Malley further announces that Marvin Kratter, real estate investor, has purchased La Grave Field in Ft. Worth and that the Cubs, in operating the franchise there, would lease the La Grave Field facilities.
Responding to reporters at the announcement of the acquisition of the Los Angeles Angels and Wrigley Field, O’Malley once again discusses the need for a new stadium for the Dodgers in Brooklyn. “Baseball progress,” said O’Malley answering why the Dodgers should leave Ebbets Field, built in 1913. “We have to compete now with a club (Milwaukee Braves) that outdraws us two to one. We have the operation costs of an over-age stadium as compared to favorable rentals of clubs in municipal and county stadiums. The Dodgers paid Federal and city taxes on admissions alone of $495,000, which is more than the player payroll. If we cannot vie with other clubs later on in the acquisition of new talent, we will not be able to compete on even terms.”New York Daily Mirror, February 22, 1957
February 26, 1957
Los Angeles Mayor Norris Poulson and L.A. County Supervisor Kenneth Hahn issue the following statement on their plans to visit Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Florida to encourage the Dodgers to move to Los Angeles. “There was immediate and enthusiastic agreement that there must be a joint effort by the city and county to bring big league baseball to the Los Angeles area as soon as possible. Along with other representatives of both the city and the county, we plan to go to Florida next week to demonstrate to the officials of the Brooklyn Dodgers the sincerity of our interests in bringing a major league franchise here. We also wish, to determine, if possible, the terms and conditions under which a transfer of the Dodger franchise could be arranged.”Los Angeles Times, February 27, 1957
February 27, 1957
Former Dodger Manager and player Leo Durocher writes a letter from Los Angeles to Walter O’Malley stating, “You really took Los Angeles by storm. I never saw a city with as much enthusiasm as was shown here on the day it was announced that you had purchased the Los Angeles (Angels) franchise. Everywhere I went people were asking me (as if I knew) — would the Dodgers be here in 1958. The only answer I could give them was the same thing I have been saying all along — when Los Angeles provides the facilities I am sure a Major League club will then make a move, and not before. There is no question in my mind about the attendance that could be had here when Major League ball does come. We all know what happened in Milwaukee but I would be willing to bet that Los Angeles will outdraw Milwaukee’s highest attendance their very first year here.”
March 1, 1957
New York Mayor Robert Wagner writes a telegram to Walter O’Malley in Vero Beach, Florida stating in part, “The Dodgers are uniquely identified with this city. It would be a great loss to the community if anyone of its three major league teams departed. I realize that the problem of appropriate facilities poses serious problems for the Dodger management. As you know I have been deeply concerned with the problem. I am hopeful that the city administration will be able to aid in its solution. Concrete and constructive suggestions are under consideration. All possible efforts to arrive at a satisfactory solution in the best interest of the community will be made.”
In his internal memo that day, Walter O’Malley writes, “On the eve of the special stockholders and directors meeting we are pleased to receive official word from Mayor Wagner that ‘all possible efforts’ are being made. The Mayor, (Brooklyn) Borough President (John) Cashmore and Commissioner Robert Moses have been concerned for some time about our problem. We trust they will have full support as time is running out. Walter F. O’Malley, President, Brooklyn Dodgers”
March 2, 1957
San Francisco Mayor George Christopher sends a telegram to Los Angeles Mayor Norris Poulson stating, “Re your trip to discuss bringing major league baseball to Los Angeles: We commend your effort regardless of when San Francisco may be considered also. We desire to give you our fullest support and hope you will be successful in your mission. We consider this practically a joint venture and know that if you are successful San Francisco also will eventually receive major league baseball. You may speak for us and we join you in your plea on behalf of Los Angeles. Count on us for full support. Mayor George Christopher.”
March 6, 1957
A delegation from Los Angeles, including Mayor Norris Poulson, John Gibson, president of the City Council; Samuel Leask, city administration officer; L.A. County Supervisor Kenneth Hahn; county chief administrative officer John Leach; and Milton Arthur, chairman of the county recreation commission meet with Walter O’Malley at the Dodgers’ progressive spring training complex, Dodgertown, in Vero Beach, FL and tried to persuade him that they were indeed ready to bring the major leagues to Los Angeles.
March 23, 1957
In an internal memorandum, Walter O’Malley writes that he had a three-hour meeting with New York Giants owner Horace Stoneham following a major league meeting in Clearwater, Florida on March 22. O’Malley writes, “Mr. Stoneham made up his mind sometime ago to move his franchise from New York to Minneapolis. He told me that his decision was quite independent of anything Brooklyn might do. He is prepared to move for the 1958 season. He has already had talks with a man who could be helpful in expediting the delivery of steel which would be needed to enlarge the Minneapolis Stadium. I asked Mr. Stoneham if he had considered San Francisco and he said he was not at all impressed by that location. I believe as a result of this talk that Mr. Stoneham had made a commitment to the Minneapolis people at the time they built the new stadium. He said he would offer the St. Paul Club $50,000 for damages and that he intended to follow the pattern of the Milwaukee payments when they converted their wholly owned farm team to a major league operation...
“I told Mr. Stoneham that I fully briefed Mr. Giles, President of the National League on Brooklyn’s problems and I indicated several possible solutions. Our preference would be to stay in New York but political inertia there seemed to be such that a new stadium could not be expected to materialize for many, many years. Mr. Stoneham said he would talk to Mr. Giles about his own plans and would prefer to tell Mr. Giles directly rather than have me brief Mr. Giles. All I am to do is tell Mr. Giles I had a talk with Mr. Stoneham and that he would hear from Mr. Stoneham on that subject.”
March 25, 1957
Abe Stark, president of the New York City Council, supported and proposed a baseball stadium on part of the Parade Grounds in the Prospect Park section of Brooklyn, which left O’Malley nearly speechless. Stark made the proposal through the Brooklyn Sports Center Authority. He supported the new idea because “the city could deed to the Sports Authority nine and one-half acres on which could be built a 50,000-seat stadium, with underground parking facilities.” Stark objected to the Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues site because “of the exorbitant cost of the land.”The Sporting News, April 3, 1957
“I am disappointed to learn of Mr. Stark’s new idea,” said O’Malley from his Dodgertown headquarters in Vero Beach. “Of late he seemed to show some interest in the Dodgers’ plan.”
April 9, 1957
Dodger executive Arthur E. “Red” Patterson writes a file memorandum to Walter O’Malley’s secretary Edith Monak stating, “Walter O’Malley met at a luncheon with (Brooklyn Eagle Publisher) Frank Schroth and (Brooklyn Sports Center Authority member) Charles Mylod today. During conversations about the progress being made toward a new Stadium in Brooklyn, O’Malley went on record that the Brooklyn ball club was ready, willing and able to build a new Stadium in Brooklyn or Los Angeles...‘The Brooklyn Dodgers will have a new ball park,’ Mr. O’Malley said. ‘We will play our schedule of games somewhere. I will continue down the road toward that ball park until I reach a fork in the road. At that time I must decide which road to take, leading toward Los Angeles or to the new park in Brooklyn.’”
April 11, 1957
Walter O’Malley writes an internal memo that addresses his thoughts on a number of issues: “While I was at a conference with (Baseball) Commissioner (Ford C.) Frick at his office Robert Moses called and I suggested that I drop out to his house later in the afternoon. I met Bob at his home in Babylon and we frankly discussed the general political apathy toward the new stadium in Brooklyn. Bob said there was not a chance of the Atlantic & Flatbush site being approved. Marketmen presented a problem and perhaps more important was the Borough President’s determination that the site was wrong. Borough President (John Cashmore) shows some interest in the site on the other side — the one which Clarke & Rapuano recommended. I told Bob that either site would be acceptable to us although we did prefer the LIRR one. Bob suggested that I be realistic and appreciate that the political implications were such that we just could not work out a solution in Brooklyn unless we were interested in the Parade Grounds. We discussed this quite frankly and we both can see many objections to it, minimum rapid transit facilities and also minimum parking. I then suggested that inasmuch as Bob was willing to give up park land which up until this point I thought was “verboten” would he then consider letting us build our own stadium on a lease basis in Ft. Greene Park. He told me that this could not be done — that the topography was against it and also Park Department needs. I told him that if the Dodgers would have to go out of Brooklyn any site would have to be weighed against such available locations such as Los Angeles. In other words, the Brooklyn Dodgers would not be Brooklyn anywhere else.”
April 17, 1957
Walter O’Malley sends a letter to Capt. Emil Praeger, from the design and engineering firm of Praeger, Kavanagh, Waterbury in New York, stating, “Dear Emil: Here is a large scale plan of Los Angeles Coliseum as well as a small scale plan and photograph. Be good enough to have someone show how this could be laid out temporarily for a baseball field. I need this information rather quickly. Sincerely, Walter F. O’Malley”
April 19, 1957
Harold W. Kennedy, Counsel for Los Angeles County, wrote an opinion to the Board of Supervisors regarding baseball as a “public purpose.” Kennedy writes, “The County clearly possesses the basic power to supply a facility with which to adequately present major league baseball games.” Kennedy issues a press release detailing his position on May 6, 1957.
April 22, 1957
The Brooklyn Dodgers play their first of eight games at Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City, NJ and defeat the Milwaukee Braves, 5-1. It is the second consecutive season that the Dodgers have played selected “home” games in Jersey City and away from Ebbets Field in Brooklyn under an agreement made by Walter O’Malley and Jersey City officials on August 17, 1955. At the time of the announcement, O’Malley sent a message to appointed and elected officials that there was urgency in getting a response to his quest for land and a final solution to the aging Ebbets Field problem with its limited parking for only 700 cars.
May 2, 1957
While visiting Los Angeles from May 1-5, Walter O’Malley takes a 50-minute helicopter ride to view prospective sites for a new stadium. He rides in the two-seat helicopter with pilot Capt. Sewell Griggers. They depart from the Sheriff’s station at Biscailuz Center. On the ground waiting for them are Los Angeles County Supervisor Kenneth Hahn, Undersheriff Peter Pitchess and Del Webb, co-owner of the New York Yankees. Also, O’Malley surveys the mammoth Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for possible temporary use by the Dodgers until he can build and privately-finance his dream stadium.
May 3, 1957
Discussions between officials of Los Angeles, including City Attorney Roger Arnebergh, and Walter O’Malley were held at the Statler Hotel. The result of this meeting produced a document known as “The Arnebergh Memorandum”. The memo is as follows: At a conference today, held at the Statler Hotel, discussion was had involving the possibility of bringing Major League Baseball to Los Angeles. It was indicated that the City and County should be prepared to make an offer containing the following provisions:
- City and/or County to acquire and deed to the Major League Baseball club 350 acres in Chavez Ravine, including the present 257 acres now owned by the City, the additional acreage to be adjacent thereto. Such 350 acres to comprise an approximate circle, if possible.
- City and/or County to provide access roads.
- City and/or County to superficially pave parking roads.
- City to accept dedication of circumferential roads.
- The 350 acres, together with improvements, etc., to go on tax rolls.
- There should be no deed restrictions on use of such 350 acres except that a modern major league stadium will be built and Major League Baseball brought to Los Angeles.
- Major League Baseball club, at its sole cost and expense, to build modern baseball stadium and bring major league team to Los Angeles.
- Wrigley Field to be deeded to City and/or County in present condition as partial consideration for said 350 acres, with restriction against Major League Baseball being played in Wrigley Field.
- Major League Baseball club, as further consideration for said 350 acres, will agree to construct, maintain and make available to the public, free of charge, various recreational facilities such as tennis courts, junior league baseball field, basketball courts, etc., these to be more specifically determined later.
- As further consideration for said 350 acres, Major League Baseball club to agree to admit, at specified times, juveniles to ball games free, as an aid to the City and County in combating juvenile delinquency, etc.
May 10, 1957
At the invitation of New York Giants’ owner Horace Stoneham, Walter O’Malley joins him and San Francisco Mayor George Christopher at the Hotel Lexington regarding discussions the Giants are having about relocating to San Francisco. At that meeting, a handwritten outline is drafted on Hotel Lexington stationery for a lease which would eventually become the basis for the Giants lease in San Francisco.
May 16, 1957
Abe Stark, president of the New York City Council, proposes Ebbets Field site to be rebuilt to accommodate 50,000 and parking for 5,000 through the acquisition of adjacent land. His proposal was rejected by Walter O’Malley and Robert Moses, Parks Commissioner for the City of New York.
May 20, 1957
Walter O’Malley sends a letter to Braven Dyer of Sports Parade, Los Angeles Times, in which he says, “You might be interested in this additional point, I have not at any time asked anyone to build me a new stadium either in New York or in Los Angeles. This is important in the solution of the entire problem. The money we have made in baseball by the sale of our real estate in Brooklyn, Montreal and Ft. Worth is to be invested right back into baseball in the form of a new modern stadium. If I am successful in this effort I will have made the greatest financial contribution to baseball that has been made by any ball club in the entire history of the game and that might help a little bit to take the sting out of ever suspected ‘money greedy baseball magnets.’”
May 28, 1957
The National League owners, meeting in Chicago, granted the New York Giants and the Dodgers permission to move to San Francisco and Los Angeles, respectively, if the two clubs would shift together before October 1, 1957. The next day, New York Mayor Robert Wagner requested a meeting with O’Malley and Giants’ owner Horace Stoneham.
June 4, 1957
At the request of New York Mayor Robert Wagner, a meeting was held with Walter O’Malley and Giants’ owner Horace Stoneham about the future plans of the two National League teams. The owners made it clear that they were neither committed to stay in New York or move to the West Coast. Stoneham had originally wanted to move to Minneapolis-St. Paul, site of his Triple-A affiliate, and pay a territorial fee to disband the minor league team, but O’Malley and others suggested that he consider burgeoning San Francisco as a new locale for the Giants. This way, costly travel expenses for all other National League clubs would be more economical, plus the longtime rivalry would be maintained, if the Dodgers also decided to go to the West Coast.
June 26, 1957
In testimony before the House Antitrust Subcommittee of the Committee of the Judiciary in Washington, D.C. before Chairman Hon. Emanuel Celler, Walter O’Malley was asked repeatedly whether the Dodgers were going to play baseball in Los Angeles in 1958. O’Malley’s response: “I do not know the answer for two reasons. One, I do not know what the result of Mayor Wagner’s study in New York City will bring. Two, I do not know whether or not Los Angeles will be ready for major league baseball next spring.”
Responding to charges that O’Malley was playing New York against Los Angeles for the purposes of going to the highest bidder, he explained, “It is a very simple situation, Mr. Chairman. I started out in 1947 trying to get a new ball park for the Brooklyn Dodgers in Brooklyn. We hired an engineer, we conferred with our civic officials, and made very serious studies of various sites.
“It developed that at that time the way could not be found to condemn land to assemble a plot large enough, and, of course, the ball club very properly does not have the legal right to condemn land. But it was hoped that there was enough of a public purpose in the activities surrounding a ball club, particularly if it could be tied in with other things of civic importance such as the relocation of a meat market. The meat market men said that if they were relocated, they could bring the price of meat down 5 cents a pound in Brooklyn. That seemed to be a pretty good civic proposition. There was a traffic intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush which is a very bad one, and some day it is going to be cured.
“That, too, becomes part of a civic purpose in trying to assemble the land at Atlantic and Flatbush. Then there is a question of parking in that area of our community where our department stores are located. Some parking facilities were needed in that area. There was also the observation that the property for the most part was substandard, and had been so designated by Mr. (Robert) Moses as subject to a study for slum clearance.”
O’Malley continues his statement, “Then we had a railroad station at that project, an old-fashioned, real old country depot that also was dirty and improperly planned, and when the Long Island Railroad came out of bankruptcy, part of the agreement under the Railroad Redevelopment Act passed by the Legislature of New York provided that the railroad would have to purchase, I believe it was, $200 million worth of modern rolling stock and put on that railroad.
“At the time I presented this site for consideration, none of that new equipment, which was then on the tracks of the railroad, could come into Brooklyn, and those of us in Brooklyn were embarrassed because, if you wanted to get into a modern car, an air-conditioned car, you had to go to Manhattan, which meant that women coming in from the island to do their shopping in the summer months would not come in in the old Camp Yaphank troop trains into Brooklyn when they could get a modern air-conditioned car right into the shopping center of Manhattan.
“This plan would have provided for track curvatures so that the new railroad equipment could come into Brooklyn. We then would have had a railroad depot that we could have been proud of in Brooklyn. We would have relocated our meat market. We would have had parking facilities. We would have cleared up a traffic intersection that was terrible. And all of this would have magically left enough acres of land on which a ball park could be built, at the cost of the owners of the Brooklyn Ball Club, not one penny of which was to be paid by the city of New York. I think that is very important to know.”Verbatim Transcript of House Antitrust Subcommittee of the Committee Judiciary before Chairman Emanuel Celler, June 26, 1957
Harold “Chad” McClellan begins his job at City Hall (Room 189) as the negotiator on behalf of Los Angeles City and County in discussions with Walter O’Malley and the Dodgers. Los Angeles Mayor Norris Poulson appointed McClellan, the President of Old Colony Paint and a former Under-Secretary of Commerce for International Affairs in the Department of Commerce in the Eisenhower Administration to lay the groundwork for a potential contract to be voted on by the City Council.“The Truth About the Dodgers” by Chad McClellan, August 9, 1963
August 5, 1957
In its “Study of Finances Required for Brooklyn Stadium” report released on this date, consulting engineers for the Brooklyn Sports Center Authority Madigan-Hyland concluded that a domed stadium would run an estimated $12,502,000 and approximately $3 million less without the dome. “The stadium should be considered as a general-purpose facility which would be of wide service, not only as a major league ball park, but also as the site for staging other events. The principal use of the stadium is to serve as a home for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Since there are only about seventy days a year when the stadium would be used for Dodgers events, the facility is available for other uses during most of the year.
“The stadium would be ideally suited for football, basketball, boxing, tennis and various types of track events. While the present preliminary design and cost estimates have not made allowances for it, the stadium also could be equipped for use by ice events; ice hockey, ice shows and public skating. The stadium would also be available for revenue-producing events outside of the field of sports.”
August 16, 1957
The City of Oakland sends a copy of the resolution passed by the City Council. “If and when your Major League Baseball team considers moving to the Pacific Coast, the City of Oakland is very anxious to offer you a new home. We can offer two suitable Ball Park sites, close in to East Oakland alongside the Oakland-San Francisco Freeway, twenty-five minutes from downtown San Francisco. Each site contains a minimum 30 acres. We have financing available and so stated in writing from private sources who will build a first-class, dome covered Ball Park, with a minimum of 45,000 seats. Oakland is 8-10 degrees warmer in climate than the west side of San Francisco Bay, which is near the ocean, and also Oakland is the county seat of the second largest county in the State of California. Los Angeles County being the largest. The ballpark to be constructed will take into consideration many of your special desires and would be available for your use in the first quarter of 1959. If you are at all interested, please contact us and we assure you that all correspondence and information will be held in the strictest of confidence as per your instructing.” The resolution was signed by the City of Oakland Baseball Committee, Chairman, Councilman Fred Maggiora.
August 19, 1957
The New York Giants announce that they are leaving New York and the Polo Grounds to move to San Francisco for the 1958 season.
August 21, 1957
Los Angeles City and County Negotiator Harold “Chad” McClellan conducts his initial meeting with Walter O’Malley in New York.
August 26, 1957
The Dodgers issue an announcement stating in part: “The recent announcement (on August 19) that the Giants are leaving New York City has produced renewed interest in the Dodger problem here and abroad...Locally, the Dodgers are on the record as offering to build their own stadium with their own money at Atlantic & Flatbush Avenues if the land can be made available promptly and at common sense figures. For over a year the Dodgers have had a standing offer to put $5,000,000 in a new stadium to pay $500,000 annual rental plus 5% of gross admissions as a New York City amusement tax. If all efforts fail locally the Dodgers could buy the necessary land in Los Angeles on which to build their own stadium, which would be on the tax rolls. The same program has been offered to New York City where the Dodgers only need the help of the city in condemning the land.”
August 28, 1957
Robert Moses, Parks Commissioner for the City of New York, writes a letter to Peter Campbell Brown, Corporation Counsel, City of New York, stating in part, “The Atlantic Avenue site is dead for a Sports Center. Time, delays and other factors have killed it. Nor will the improvements other than a Stadium work there without housing...What remains is Flushing Meadow.”
September 8, 1957
Brooklyn Borough President John Cashmore sends a telegram to Walter O’Malley asking him to “withhold final commitment” with Los Angeles as he is still “striving to arrive at a solution of the problem here.”
September 10, 1957
Walter O’Malley writes an internal memorandum regarding the Brooklyn Stadium. “Mr. Mylod’s Brooklyn Sports Center Authority is to come up for consideration before the Board of Estimate on September 18th. Mr. Mylod and I are concerned about a letter that Commissioner Robert Moses wrote to Peter Campbell Brown dated I believe August 28, 1957, in which Commissioner Moses kills the Atlantic & Flatbush Avenue site and persists in making a play for the Flushing Meadow site in Queens. This is a further bit of sabotage which together with the recent quotes of Abe Stark, City Council President, indicates that there is no sincere administration desire to work out a solution here in Brooklyn. Walter F. O’Malley.” The same day, a story breaks on Nelson Rockefeller’s interest in keeping the Dodgers in New York.
September 11, 1957
Robert Baldwin, the mayor of the Borough of South Plainfield, NJ, writes a letter to Walter O’Malley asking him to consider moving the Dodgers to his city, formerly known as “New Brooklyn.” He writes, “You have the Team, Rockafeller (sp.) has the money, and we have the land.”
September 16, 1957
The Los Angeles City Council passes a resolution, by an 11-3 vote, which “approves and authorizes Mr. H. C. McClellan (the appointed negotiator on behalf of the City and County) or such other person as may subsequently be designated by the Mayor and the Chairman of the Board of Supervisors to submit to the Brooklyn National League Baseball Club” a firm plan to attract the Dodgers to Los Angeles. Council President John S. Gibson, Jr. called it “an excellent business deal for Los Angeles.” It was pointed out in the council meeting that Dodger President Walter “O’Malley would build his own park and pay some $300,000 a year in taxes on the property, which now returns nothing to the city.” Councilman Ernest Debs said, “I think it is a good agreement. Much better for the city than San Francisco got with the New York Giants.”Long Beach Independent, September 17, 1957
September 17, 1957
Members of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approve a resolution “determining that County of Los Angeles will make available $2,740,000 to City of Los Angeles for public approach road improvements to the Chavez Ravine area and instructing chief administrative officer and road commissioner relating to funds required.” The resolution was adopted by a unanimous 5-0 vote of the County Supervisors, including Kenneth Hahn, John Anson Ford, Herbert C. Legg, Burton W. Chace and Warren M. Dorn to include the commitment of funds in the 1958-59 budget (Motor Vehicle Fund) to the City of Los Angeles. The Supervisors emphasized that “Major League Baseball would be a recreational and economic asset to this community.”
September 18, 1957
Walter O’Malley, New York Mayor Robert Wagner and financier-philanthropist Nelson Rockefeller meet at Gracie Mansion to discuss Rockefeller’s proposal to keep the Dodgers in New York. The meeting had been scheduled for September 17, but was postponed to 10 a.m. on this date.
Rockefeller originally planned to purchase for $1.5 million the property that the city would then condemn in downtown Brooklyn. Madigan and Hyland engineering firm had placed the cost of condemning the land at $8 million. Later, Rockefeller’s offer grew to $2 million. In effect, the $2 million would be a loan to the Dodgers with interest and the acquisition of 12 acres in order to build a stadium. Rockefeller called his offer “a realistic reflection of today’s real estate values” and “a basis for permanent improvements which would increase values in the entire area and add to the city’s tax revenues so as to offset a temporary loss to the city in the price of the land.”New York Post, William H. Rudy, September 20, 1957
September 19, 1957
Dodger Counsel Henry J. Walsh and Sylvan Oestreicher arrive in Los Angeles to prepare contract with City Attorney Roger Arnebergh and other representatives.
September 20, 1957
Walter O’Malley attends another meeting with New York Mayor Robert Wagner and Nelson Rockefeller at City Hall. Also included at the 3 p.m. City Hall meeting were Brooklyn Borough President John Cashmore and Thomas Goodfellow, president of the Long Island Rail Road, to discuss the proposed Atlantic and Flatbush site for the new stadium. Rockefeller commented that the Dodgers were willing to invest their own money for a stadium and that the city’s right to condemn the necessary land for slum clearance and re-sell it had been confirmed by Corporation Counsel Peter Campbell Brown. O’Malley stated, “If we are to stay, we must not only receive the site that is best suited for our purpose, but we must also be given terms that are most reasonable and fair.” New York City Controller Lawrence Gerosa, a longtime opponent of any stadium proposal, called it a “giveaway” of taxpayers’ money.
Rockefeller then upped his bid to $3 million, but the Board of Estimate did not reach a decision during a three-and-a-half hour special meeting. Rockefeller would lease the land back to the Dodgers for 20 years at which time O’Malley would have to pay $4,500,000. In addition, the Dodgers “would have to pay all real estate taxes and assessments.”New York Journal American, September 21, 1957 Then, if O’Malley did not purchase the land, it would be repurchased by the city at the price that Rockefeller had originally paid. An emergency board meeting had been held, after O’Malley, Mayor Wagner and Rockefeller met at Gracie Mansion on September 18, with O’Malley agreeing to delay any action in Los Angeles until the board could be consulted.
October 1, 1957
National League owners unanimously vote to extend the deadline for two weeks — until October 15 — for the Dodgers to decide on a proposed shift of the team to Los Angeles.
October 4, 1957
In an internal memorandum, Walter O’Malley revisits the sequence of events that will lead to making his final decision regarding the future home of the Dodgers. “Following the public announcement of the Los Angeles (Angels) purchase, a group of Los Angeles people including the Mayor, City Council members, City Administrator, County Supervisors and Assistant County Administrative officer volunteered a visit to Vero Beach, Fla. At the conclusion of the meeting a memorandum was prepared which covered the important points. You will note that in this memorandum we were dealing with from 450 to 600 acres and there were to be no restrictions whatsoever on the property.
“The next significant step was my acceptance of an official invitation from Los Angeles to visit the city. I did that in May. I first called on the Mayor and the City Council and then the Board of County Supervisors...I was then officially invited to inspect Chavez Ravine and to fly over it in a helicopter which I did...This was followed by a meeting with administrative officers for the county and the city, the lawyers for both groups and I believe some engineers. A memorandum of this meeting was prepared by City Attorney Roger Arnebergh and you will note that the acreage dropped from the original 450 to 600 acres to 350 acres. Our engineer had prepared plans for the land, a model of the stadium and actual models showing Chavez Ravine in its present condition as well as one showing it in its improved condition with a stadium and the parking fields.
“Considerable delay followed this meeting in May until the next official step which was the appointment of an official negotiator, Mr. H. C. McClellan, who, I was told, was empowered to represent the City and to coordinate efforts with county supervisors. Between the date of the May meetings and Mr. McClellan’s appointment there had been other official meetings, one of which took place in Washington with Mr. Arthur Will, County Administrative Officer. There was also a meeting in New York with (L.A.) Mayor Poulson. From the time of Mr. McClellan’s appointment, however, all our talks were directly with him. Mr. McClellan and I finally agreed on terms which are now before city council for approval in the form of an ordinance.
“It is important to note that the land has been further reduced and now is approximately 307 acres, less 40 acres for a youth recreational center. You will be meeting with officials who in the discharge of their duties will want to know why this much acreage is needed...For the purpose of making this example clear suppose we consider the amount of the acreage after the loss for that area that will be taken up by the reservoir is 300 acres in round figures. 20% of that or 60 acres will be required for interior roads. This leaves us a net of 240 acres. 40 acres however, will be reserved for recreational purposes which will reduce the net acreage to 200. The stadium itself will occupy 20 acres thus bringing us down to 180 acres available to parking. It is not sound engineering to plan more than 120 cars per acre. 180 acres then would park less than 22,000 automobiles and this is a total short of the facilities we believe ideal for regular season, exhibition games, World Series, All Star games, etc. It would be absurd to be victims of the too little and too late philosophy. Our study of Los Angeles shows that the number of patrons per car is approximately the same average as in Texas where there are less than two people per car. Therefore, a 50,000 seat stadium should have parking provisions for at least 25,000 cars particularly in the absence of a rapid transit system.
“The proposed stadium would be the first really new and modern stadium to be erected in the last 25 years and it is one that should be designed with future as well as present problems in mind. Baseball capital has not built a stadium in the past 25 years and those that were built were financed by municipal and county governments and rented at nominal rentals to baseball clubs. For the most part these are municipal ‘white elephants.’”
October 7, 1957
The Los Angeles City Council votes 10-4, with one absence, to adopt Ordinance #110,204 officially asking the Brooklyn Dodgers to relocate to Los Angeles and bind the city by contract with the Dodgers. The contract required Walter O’Malley and the Dodgers to build and privately finance a 50,000-seat stadium; develop a youth recreation center on the land at $500,000 initially plus annual payments of $60,000 for 20 years; and pay $345,000 in property taxes in 1962, putting the land on the tax rolls for the first time in years. Also, O’Malley and the Dodgers would transfer team-owned Wrigley Field, then appraised at $2.2 million, to the city.
October 8, 1957
The Dodgers officially notify the National League of their intention to shift their franchise to Los Angeles by issuing the following statement: “In view of the action of the Los Angeles City Council yesterday and in accordance with the resolution of the National League made October first, the stockholders and directors of the Brooklyn Baseball Club have today met and unanimously agreed that the necessary steps be taken to draft the Los Angeles territory.” Also on this date, Walter O’Malley cited four reasons the Dodgers were unable to remain in Brooklyn after a decade of exploring options with the city to assemble land in order to build his own stadium. His four reasons, “1 -- The desire for a new ball park to replace the aging and outmoded Ebbets Field. 2 — Insufficient parking space adjacent to the ball park. 3 — Dwindling attendance. 4 — A New York City amusement tax of 5% on admissions.”Los Angeles Times, October 9, 1957
October 9, 1957
Alfred J. Bailey of the Brown, Harris, Stevens, Inc. Real Estate firm writes a letter to Walter O’Malley stating, “After reading the newspaper today I suppose this letter would have little interest to you, however, being a native of Brooklyn, I would like to see the Dodgers remain in New York City and represent the entire City, possibly being known as the New York Dodgers. We are offering for sale the Polo Grounds which has a seating capacity of 56,000 which I believe is about 20,000 more seats than most of the other baseball stadiums. It is only exceeded by the Yankee Stadium with 67,000 seats. The New York Giants have a lease to March 1962 at a rental of $74,000 net per year which is a low rental. As the Giants, according to reports, are scheduled to go to San Francisco, I believe they will surrender their lease. The property involved is the Polo Grounds and the parking lot which accommodates about 1800 cars...If it is not too late to discuss the matter, I would like to arrange an appointment to discuss the proposition with you.”
October 23, 1957
Thousands of spectators, invited dignitaries, 200 newsmen and two bands were among those to greet the “Los Angeles Dodgers” to their new home at a welcoming celebration at Los Angeles International Airport. As Walter O’Malley stepped off the plane, an uninvited gentleman served him a summons which challenged the city’s approved contract with the Dodgers. Los Angeles City Councilwoman Rosalind Wyman and L.A. County Supervisor Kenneth Hahn, who were both vitally instrumental in bringing the Dodgers to their new home, welcomed O’Malley and the Dodgers at the steps of their team-owned Convair 440 airplane with the words “Los Angeles Dodgers” painted on it. Because of strong head winds, the Dodger contingent, which included selected players, arrived more than two hours late for the festivities due to an unexpected fuel stop in Oklahoma City. Wyman shouted into a microphone, “Welcome to Los Angeles.” In a brief press conference in the airplane, O’Malley said that he would have his staff evaluate both Wrigley Field and the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum as places to play home games. He also mentioned his radio and TV policies were not yet established in Los Angeles. O’Malley thanked the writers stating, “In my years I have long been exposed to the metropolitan press and frankly, never before have I seen such a fine job of trying to honestly tell in a simple story a most complex operation like the transferring of a major league franchise.” For O’Malley, this was just his fourth visit to Los Angeles.
October 28, 1957
A huge civic welcoming luncheon honors the Dodgers at the Statler Hotel in Los Angeles, as Walter O’Malley and his front office expresses great thanks to the city and the fans. An enormous banner stretched across the front of the packed ballroom of 1,100 fans reading, “The Greatest Catch in Baseball.” Several Dodger players were in attendance, including Roy Campanella, Duke Snider, Gil Hodges and Pee Wee Reese. O’Malley told the audience, “I want to pay my respects to everyone who has been so wonderful to us. We of the Dodgers are a family people. And I assure you there never will be a time when anyone connected with the Dodgers will have to apologize for his conduct. This is a grass-roots movement. You can feel it at every turn — on the streets, in the cabs, all over the city. People, in welcoming us, make us feel they mean it and we want you to be proud of the day you decided to make the Dodgers the Los Angeles Dodgers.”
December 1, 1957
Walter C. Peterson, City Clerk for the City of Los Angeles, announces enough valid signatures on petitions have been collected to put the city’s contract with the Dodgers on a referendum challenging its validity on June 3, 1958. This is the start of “Proposition B,” the baseball referendum in which voters in the city are asked to vote “Yes on B” to support the previously approved contract between the Dodgers and the city or vote “No on B” to void the agreement.
December 13, 1957
Bob Cobb, former owner of the Hollywood Stars of the Pacific Coast League and creator of the Cobb Salad at The Brown Derby restaurant that he owned, had some strong words about the situation Walter O’Malley found himself in after bringing the Dodgers to Los Angeles. “I’m shocked at the unbelievable position in which Walter O’Malley finds himself. We invited this man to Los Angeles. He didn’t solicit us. Los Angeles is acting like the homeowner who invited his relative to come live with him. After the relative moves, bag and baggage, he says: ‘Sorry, Gramps, but you can’t stay in the parlor! I’m not even sure I have a room for you. What’s more, you’ve got to pay the mortgage on the house!’ Now, I’ve lived in Los Angeles 43 years and I emphatically believe that the advent of the Dodgers is the greatest move since the motion pictures came to Hollywood. And it will do exactly as much for this community.
“If the Dodgers attract 2,000,000 people their first year and half of them are from outside the city, those 1,000,000 visitors will spend an average of $20 per person for travel, food and lodgings here. That’s an extra $20,000,000 in just one year! But that’s beside the point. We have in Mr. O’Malley a man who is prepared to spend $15,000,000 to bring the majors, to pay $300,000 taxes on Chavez Ravine, to build the most modern ball park in the U.S., to bring the second best team in baseball. And what does he get? The same sort of welcome we might accord a leper!
“Do you remember that open-handed delegation of city officials who flew to Florida last March to woo him here? Where are they now? Hiding under rocks for fear of their political future?...How much is O’Malley expected to take? Look at this Coliseum setup. Now, that’s city-owned. If you invite this relative to move west, you’d expect to let him have a room, temporarily. But look what it would cost Gramps if he moved in: He’d lose concessions. That’s $500,000. And as an ex-ball club owner, I’ll tell you that no ball club can run without concessions. Reconstruction costs $250,000. Extra lights, $150,000. Restoring the Coliseum when he’s through, another $250,000. Say he got rent as low as $100,000, add it all up, and that’s $1,250,000 for only one season.
“But you can’t stop progress. We’re going to have not one, but two, major league clubs here within five years. Where? Well, this second club will settle in Orange County, probably Anaheim. That’s where the Hollywood Stars were going if the majors hadn’t come...The world is moving west, and Mr. O’Malley is moving with it.”Jeane Hoffman, Los Angeles Times, December 13, 1957
December 17, 1957
Pasadena Mayor Seth Miller announces that, after two public hearings, the board of directors (or City Council) approved by a 6-1 vote to authorize City Manager Don McMillan to enter into negotiations with Walter O’Malley for terms of occupancy of the 100,000-seat Rose Bowl. The famed Rose Bowl was to serve as a temporary home for the Dodgers beginning with the 1958 season and would have required significant modifications to accommodate a baseball field. According to The Sporting News, the Dodgers had sold 30,000 season tickets (box and reserved) to date and the capacity of team-owned Wrigley Field was just 22,000.
December 19, 1957
National League President Warren Giles writes a letter to Walter O’Malley stating: “Press accounts indicate you will negotiate for the right to play some or all of your games in the Rose Bowl, which I understand is located within the city limits of Pasadena and of course outside the city limits of Los Angeles. There are two problems confronting us on that; one is very, very important. It is my belief that unless you would play a substantial number of your home games in a park located within the city limits of Los Angeles, the National League could not be considered as occupying Los Angeles territory in 1958. The other problem is, your club is considered to be the Los Angeles member of our league (or at least it will be when arrangements are finally completed) and therefore if you wanted to play a limited number of games outside of Los Angeles, league consent is required, just as it was in the Jersey City situation. Because of the park difficulties you are encountering, I feel the necessary consent to play a few games in Pasadena would be granted, but nevertheless it is a problem with which you are confronted. To play all of your games outside of Los Angeles would, in my judgment, leave the Los Angeles territory open and I am not sure but that some club might under our rules be able to move into Los Angeles, and at probably no cost to them. This would confront the league with a serious situation.”
December 20, 1957
By a 4-4 vote, the Los Angeles Coliseum Commission killed a plan to make it financially attractive to the Los Angeles Dodgers to play home games in the Coliseum for the 1958 and 1959 seasons. With eight of the nine commissioners in attendance at the meeting, Commission President Jim Smith’s plan failed to receive the six affirmative votes needed to pass. The commission was comprised of three representatives each from the city, county and State Sixth District Agricultural Association. Voting for the plan were Smith and the other two state representatives George E. Kinsey and Don Loker and County Supervisor Kenneth Hahn. Voting against the plan, County Supervisor Warren M. Dorn said it would be a “breach of faith” for the Commission to interfere with on-going negotiations between the Dodgers and the City of Pasadena for use of the Rose Bowl. Other votes against the plan were cast by Burton W. Chace and two city representatives, Mrs. Harold Morton and Dr. Vierling Kersey.Los Angeles Examiner, December 21, 1957
December 30, 1957
Comedian extraordinaire Bob Hope presents a special award to Walter O’Malley at the Los Angeles Times 15th Annual Sports Award Dinner held at the Cocoanut Grove. O’Malley was in town to attend the Rose Bowl game on New Year’s Day and resume negotiations with Pasadena officials regarding playing Dodger home games at the Rose Bowl. Describing O’Malley’s predicament, Hope called the Dodgers, “the orphans of baseball” for not knowing where they would play in April of 1958. He quipped the Dodgers may be the first major league team in history to play “house to house.”Los Angeles Times, December 31, 1957
January 1, 1958
Along with his wife Kay and grown children Terry and Peter, Walter O’Malley attends the Rose Parade in Pasadena. A float called “The Big League” sponsored by the City of Los Angeles and representing Major League Baseball’s arrival to the Southland is included for the first time in the parade. Guests of Los Angeles County Supervisor Warren Dorn, the O’Malley family later attends the Rose Bowl game, sitting with current New York Yankee Manager Casey Stengel, as Ohio State defeats Oregon, 10-7. Stengel was also a former Brooklyn Dodger player and manager.
January 6, 1958
For the third time, Walter O’Malley meets with officials from Pasadena regarding possible use of the Rose Bowl as a temporary home for the newly-arrived Dodgers. O’Malley has discussions with Pasadena City Manager Don C. McMillan and Asst. City Manager Robert McCurdy. National League President Warren C. Giles also lends support at the meetings.
January 12, 1958
Along with his family, Walter O’Malley attends the East-West Pro Football Game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. It is the first time they had attended an event at the 100,000-seat stadium. Five days later, O’Malley concludes his search for a place for the Dodgers to play beginning in April 1958, as he reaches a two-year lease agreement with the Coliseum Commission.
January 13, 1958
Walter O’Malley and Don C. McMillan, Pasadena City Manager jointly issued a statement regarding the failure of the Rose Bowl in Pasadena to accommodate the Dodgers’ needs. “The cost of transforming the Rose Bowl into a major league stadium would amount to a minimum of $750,000,” the statement read. “The alteration would leave physical scars on the beautiful Rose Bowl. This amount of money could not be amortized in a short-term two-year lease after the payment of what in itself would be a substantial annual rent. In closing the negotiations Mr. McMillan expressed his deep admiration and appreciation of Mr. O’Malley and his fine staff who had worked long and diligently in a sincere effort to solve the overwhelming problems. It is our hope that all the citizens of Pasadena will give their complete and wholehearted support to the Dodgers’ organization in the solution of their problem and will continue their interest in our national sport of baseball. Mr. O’Malley is most appreciative of the courtesy of the Board of Directors of Pasadena in inviting the Dodgers to use the Rose Bowl. The City Manager’s staff has worked diligently to find a solution.”
O’Malley enlisted the use of a police car to hustle from the failed negotiations in Pasadena, to Wrigley Field, some 13 miles away, to make another announcement. He felt “constrained to select Wrigley Field as the site for the 1958 major league games.” But when pressed by reporters if that was his final decision, he said, “Well no. I’m not burning any bridges behind me.” O’Malley still wanted to pursue the 100,000-seat Coliseum, rather than 22,000-seat Wrigley Field (which could have been enlarged by some 1,600 to accommodate only 23,600 fans, but also had limited parking around the ballpark).
January 17, 1958
By a 9-0 vote, the Coliseum Commission in Los Angeles grants Walter O’Malley permission to play Dodger games at the 101,000-seat Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for the 1958 and 1959 seasons. O’Malley’s so-called “3 a.m. Plan,” which came to him in the middle of the night due to lack of sleep, enabled the baseball diamond to be located on the west end of the massive Coliseum and did not remove any of the physical properties of the stadium. O’Malley pledged to pay $300,000 per annum for rent, the highest paid anywhere by a baseball team. In his personal appointment book, O’Malley writes, “Coliseum Clincher!!!!!”
January 24, 1958
At a special meeting of the Board of Directors of the Dodgers held at 215 Montague Street in Brooklyn, Walter O’Malley notifies the Directors that he has received an offer from Mrs. Mary Louise Smith (widow of O’Malley’s former partner John L. Smith) to sell her stock in the Dodgers. The Board of Directors unanimously accepts the terms of the sale proposed by Mrs. Smith.
January 28, 1958
In the offseason, prior to the Dodgers’ first game in Los Angeles, catcher Roy Campanella is involved in a single-car automobile accident, as his car slides off an icy road and crashes into a light pole, leaving the three-time National League MVP paralyzed from the neck down. Walter O’Malley immediately visits him at Glen Cove Community Hospital in Long Island, New York. O’Malley assisted the Campanella family in Roy’s long rehabilitation process and later hired him to work in Community Relations and lend his expertise to Dodger catchers in the organization.
January 29, 1958
The Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce issues the following statement, “The Board of Directors of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce ENDORSES Ordinance No. 110,204, authorizing and approving contract between the City of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Dodgers, which ordinance will be submitted to the electors of the City at the State Direct Primary Election to be held June 3, 1958, and recommends a “YES” vote on the ballot proposition (Proposition B).” The statement continues, “Not since 1923 when the Yankee Stadium was built, has a major league baseball stadium been constructed with private money. In the four moves of major league clubs other than Los Angeles during the past ten years, every city or county in which a stadium was located has constructed (or agreed to construct) the stadium and all facilities at its own expense and rented it to the ball club. The Los Angeles Dodger contract is the only one under which the ball club would build its own stadium, relieving the taxpayers of the heavy capital expense and providing for substantial tax income from the property.”
February 10, 1958
At a special meeting of the Board of Directors of the Dodgers, Walter O’Malley informs the Directors of the proposed license agreement submitted by the Los Angeles Coliseum Commission for the rental of the facility for the 1958 and 1959 seasons ($600,000 for two years). The Board unanimously approved a motion to execute the license agreement.
February 21, 1958
Walter O’Malley signs the lease agreement with the Los Angeles Coliseum Commission for a two-year period at $300,000 per annum.
March 1, 1958
The Dodgers sign a contract to pay the Pacific Coast League $450,000 for territorial rights in Los Angeles and an additional $23,000 to the Pioneer and the Arizona-New Mexico Leagues for the transfer of the PCL franchise into those leagues.
March 19, 1958
The Dodgers spend approximately $315,000 to transform the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for baseball purposes, including the addition of a 42-foot high screen in left field to offset the short 251-foot dimension to the fence.
April 15, 1958
Playing the first major league game on the West Coast and west of Kansas City, the Los Angeles Dodgers lost to the San Francisco Giants 8-0 at Seals Stadium before a standing room only crowd of 23,448. Right-hander Ruben Gomez pitched a complete-game six-hitter for the Giants and Daryl Spencer hit the first home run in a major league game on the West Coast, a solo shot off Don Drysdale in the fourth inning. Pitching in relief of Drysdale, Don Bessent surrendered a solo homer to Orlando Cepeda in the fifth to make it 7-0 Giants. The Giants had 11 hits, including two each by rookie third baseman Jim Davenport, Willie Mays, Jim King and Gomez. Dodger President Walter O’Malley attended the game in San Francisco.
April 18, 1958
Thousands of Angelenos greet the Dodgers at a massive downtown parade and welcoming ceremony on the steps of City Hall. The motorcade ends at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum as the Dodger then play the first major league game in Los Angeles. The Dodgers and veteran pitcher Carl Erskine beat the San Francisco Giants, 6-5, before a major league record crowd of 78,672. 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.
May 15, 1958
Walter O’Malley addresses the California State Assembly Committee on Governmental Efficiency and Economy regarding his proposed new stadium in Los Angeles: “The Dodgers propose to build the first truly modern baseball stadium in the country. The last stadium to be built with baseball money was Yankee Stadium in 1923. The stadia built since that date in Milwaukee, Kansas City, Baltimore, St. Paul, and generally in most cities having new baseball facilities, have been built and maintained on tax-exempt property. The proposed stadium in San Francisco follows the same pattern.
“We were advised that Los Angeles was not prepared to build a stadium for us on tax-exempt property. This fitted in with my own thinking. It so happens that for ten years I have been old-fashioned enough to believe that a ball club should build its own stadium on its own land and that the stadium and land should be subject to normal taxes. The stadium in Chavez Ravine, therefore, is to be financed by the Dodgers, and the stadium and the land will be subject to normal taxes.
“Most people are familiar with the public conception of our new stadium. In beauty, landscaping, maintenance, and comfort, it will be absolutely the finest baseball park in the nation. We feel sure that it will be a conversation piece and a point of interest for residents to show their out-of-town visitors, even when events are not scheduled there.
“The Milwaukee Stadium has been a terrific success, but from an engineering standpoint, it is merely a more up-to-date copy of Ebbets Field. I do not mean this as criticism, but it is a fact that wherever there is a post or column to obstruct the fans’ view in Ebbets Field, there is one present in Milwaukee. Like Ebbets Field, the Milwaukee Stadium starts from the ground and goes 180 feet vertically up in the air. This means a large percentage of the fans have to walk a great vertical distance to their seats. Because I believe our patrons are entitled to greater comfort, our stadium is designed so that parking shelves will be on the same level as the patron’s seat.
“Our stadium will have five different levels, taking full advantage of the steep terrain at Chavez Ravine. Out of this rugged area it will be possible to carve enough level shelves to accommodate the stadium and approximately 17,500 automobiles. It is interesting to note that Santa Anita racetrack and Hollywood Park can accommodate 40,000 patrons, and they each have parking for 30,000 cars. Since we plan to accommodate 52,000 persons on a given day, we are hopeful that we can expand our parking area.
“We must recognize that the football Coliseum will not do as a permanent Major League baseball park. Commissioner of Baseball Ford C. Frick, and the President of the National League, Warren Giles, have been out-spoken in indicating that we have approval only on a temporary basis to occupy the Coliseum. The future of the franchise is dependent on a new Major League baseball park being built with a traditional playing field of proper Major League dimensions. The Dodgers want to stay in Los Angeles and build such a park.”
O’Malley also stated that the Dodgers would host approximately 600,000 youngsters, 100,000 youth recreation workers, 100,000 service men and ladies, 5,000 hospitalized veterans, 5,000 blind, 5,000 deaf, and 5,000 senior citizens to games in 1958. He said, “Measured in terms youth recreation hours, this program will possibly exceed the entire youth program of any other city in the country. It has been said the above program would indicate a contribution by the Los Angeles Dodgers to the community of a sum in excess of one million dollars per year.”Statement of Walter F. O'Malley, President of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Before Assembly Committee on Governmental Efficiency and Economy on May 15, 1958
Los Angeles Mayor Norris Poulson also addresses the Committee on Government Efficiency and Economy stating: “Many people think that I, as Mayor, originated the whole idea of bringing baseball to Los Angeles and formulated the contract with the Dodgers. Now, actually, the move to bring major league baseball to Los Angeles started long before I took office on July 1, 1953. Actually, I was one of those who believed in caution in approaching this situation. I not only wanted to bring baseball to Los Angeles but I wanted to bring one of the best teams in the major leagues. During all this time pressure was continually building up. Los Angeles must have major league baseball. This pressure came from many sources. It grew so strong finally that there was an outcry that I was not moving fast enough. I was being criticized. Actually, all this time I was trying to move ahead cautiously, to evolve an acceptable plan to bring a major league team here...I met Mr. O’Malley for the first time at Vero Beach in...1957. We had no specific program to offer, but we did impress upon him the great possibilities which existed in Los Angeles for major league baseball, reciting the figures of professional football, the attendance at track meets and all athletic events, which far surpassed any other area in the United States. In addition, I told him that this was one place where he wouldn’t have the rain-outs, which are a dead loss to any baseball club. There were many other reasons that we advanced, but we stated frankly that we had nothing specific but we thought we could work out something, and that we would like to have the Dodgers come to Los Angeles.
“At no time was any secret agreement arrived at with Mr. O’Malley. All of the conferences were attended by all of our group and those representing the County. Mr. O’Malley, who at that time was only lukewarm on the idea of coming to Los Angeles, finally came up with a memorandum of all of the things he would like to have if he moved here. There was nothing secret about it. This memorandum was given to a large number of City and County officials as a basis to start negotiations.
“I had held several luncheons with civic leaders in Los Angeles and newspaper representatives and some of the members of the Council who were interested and members of the Board of Supervisors, including Mr. John Anson Ford. Then I suggested that negotiations had reached the point where we should have a high class, able negotiator to finish the job. I felt unable to do it, and furthermore thought that it was not my function. We wanted someone who could be viewed as impartial in bringing together the thinking of the city, the county, and Mr. O’Malley, and one whose integrity could not be questioned. About this time Mr. H. C. McClellan had resigned as Assistant Secretary of Commerce, a man who had negotiated a contract for the Federal Government in Italy far greater than this one, and, since negotiating this contract, has negotiated a transaction in Japan of greater magnitude. He is a past president of the National Association of Manufacturers and a very successful businessman in his own right. I went over personally and saw (County Supervisor) Mr. John Anson Ford and asked if Mr. McClellan was satisfactory to him, and he agreed. I then called Chad McClellan and asked him as a public service to be the official negotiator for Los Angeles City and Los Angeles County. From then on, you have heard the story. I took no active part in the negotiations nor in the writing of the contract. However, I was fully apprised at all times and was in accord.”
May 26, 1958
O’Malley issued a lengthy press release recapping all of the ways that the Dodgers had acted in good faith in moving west, stating the following: “The National League does have the right to move the franchise BUT I shall fight any such attempt with all my strength. The players and our staff want to stay in Los Angeles. We like the location, the weather, the fans and the attendance records. We plan to be in Los Angeles PERMANENTLY. I pledge myself to try to keep major league baseball here.
“We appreciate the contract with the City and County of Los Angeles negotiated with the Dodgers has the support of every worthwhile civic organization...
“It is a miserable situation which finds our players and staff worrying over the opposition of two councilmen and one minor league owner. We regret being in the throes of a political controversy instead of a contender in the National League race for the pennant. J.A. Smith testified he and his brother own the San Diego Baseball Club and that he put up about 40% of the money to circulate the Referendum petition. His San Diego interest in keeping major league baseball out of Los Angeles is obvious. Without his contributions we probably never would have had the Referendum. As to the councilmen, they are public officials and they voted on the matter. I regret that they want to second-guess the official vote of their body.
“The Dodgers have acted in good faith and have obligated themselves as follows:
- We have already moved the franchise to Los Angeles.
- A contract has been signed by the Dodgers and Giants to pay the Pacific Coast League $900,000 for this privilege.
- We have contracted to pay the Coliseum $600,000 in round figures for a two-year lease. We receive no parking fees at the Coliseum.
- We have spent $300,000 converting the Coliseum for temporary baseball use, including restoration to original conditions for the following: Mary’s Hour, Scout-O-Rama, collegiate track meets, American Legion fireworks and college and professional football games at a cost of another $50,000.
- We gave up the Fourth of July date plus other dates to accommodate traditional tenants.
- We still own and maintain Wrigley Field. In addition, we are maintaining Ebbets Field in Brooklyn and Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City. We are the only ball club in the country with three vacant ball parks while paying the highest rental in the country to play in a converted one.
- We have committed ourselves by contract to build what I know will be the finest and most modern baseball stadium in the world at Chavez Ravine. We will make up all excess costs for grading and interior roads. Yankee Stadium was built in 1923 with baseball money. All other major league stadia since have been built with taxpayers’ money on tax-exempt property. When the Braves move[d] from Boston to Milwaukee they became tenants in County Stadium. When the Browns went from St. Louis to Baltimore they moved into Municipal Stadium. Kansas City purchased the Blues’ Stadium from the Yankees and refurbished it for major league ball and the Philadelphia Athletics. San Francisco has voted on a bond issue to house the Giants in their new ball park. The Dodgers, on the other hand, will build, finance and maintain a baseball park, pay taxes and become part of your Los Angeles family. We believe this shows our faith in BASEBALL and LOS ANGELES.
- We have committed ourselves by contract to donate to the City of Los Angeles for twenty years a $500,000 Youth Recreation Center and to financially support it at the rate of $60,000 per year.
- We have committed ourselves and contracted to turn over Wrigley Field — land, stadium, equipment and lights — to the City of Los Angeles. This has been appraised at $2,250,000 by the City. Reproduction costs have been testified to as $4,250,000 by City officials. (Several years ago Mr. Wrigley had a careful study made and reproduction cost at that time was given as $4,500,000.) We bought Wrigley Field and the Los Angeles minor league franchise for $3,000,000.
- We have kept every promise we made and we know the City and County will do likewise.
“In view of the above,” O’Malley continued in the press release, “it is inconceivable that there is any merit to the suggestions made by opponents of major league baseball that this contract should be renegotiated. IT CANNOT BE RENEGOTIATED. There is a serious business recession on now as all wage-earners and business people know. Suppose the Dodgers at this delicate time had the temerity to ask that the contract be renegotiated downward? Can you imagine the uproar these same critics would raise? The Dodgers signed the contract offered to them and intend to remain honorable in its performance. The present referendum has already brought us to the time of economic recession. Immediate construction at Chavez Ravine would help employment and business and fulfill our National League commitments to be in the new ball park for the 1960 season.
“We are BASEBALL folks — not oil operators or real estate promoters. Out of 314 acres in a rugged terrain we can carve only enough shelves for the Stadium, Youth Center and parking fields for 17,500 cars.
“Finally, let me say this. All my inclinations are not to get into this fray. I have carefully refrained from doing so.
- We will fight to stay in Los Angeles.
- There is neither the time nor the willingness on either side to renegotiate what is already a fair contract — and suffer the chance of still another referendum election.
- The National League — and not the ball club — controls the franchise. They could force us to move if we cannot provide the home we promised them by 1960.
- We have fulfilled and will fulfill all conditions of the contract — and are confident that the voters will want to do likewise.”
June 1, 1958
In preparation for voting on the “Proposition B” referendum, a live, five-hour Dodgerthon is held on KTTV Channel 11 in Los Angeles. A jam-packed lineup of civic leaders, celebrities and sports stars including Jerry Lewis, Ronald Reagan, George Burns, Chairman Joe E. Brown of the Taxpayers’ Committee for “Yes on Baseball,” Dean Martin, Jack Benny, Laraine Day, Debbie Reynolds, Ray Walston, Casey Stengel and Jackie Robinson (via tape) all participate. Also, on this day, in what Walter O’Malley describes to L.A. City Councilwoman Roz Wyman as “one of the most important games in Dodger history,” the Dodgers blanked the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field, 1-0, behind the pitching of Stan Williams, who made his first major league start. Don Zimmer singled in the fourth inning to drive in the only run. The Dodgers then return home and are warmly greeted by 7,500 enthusiastic fans at Los Angeles International Airport, as the Dodgerthon program continues live with interviews of the players by Vin Scully. “It’s the biggest welcome I’ve ever seen,” said Dodger Manager Walter Alston. In his personal appointment book, O’Malley simply jots, “Dodgerthon!”
June 3, 1958
The largest turnout for a non-presidential election (62.3%) results in Los Angeles voters passing “Proposition B” referendum with 351,683 voting in favor of the previously approved contract between the Dodgers and the City of Los Angeles, clearing a major hurdle for Walter O’Malley and the Dodgers to begin the construction of Dodger Stadium. During the evening, O’Malley attends the Dodger game against the Cincinnati Reds at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum where he focuses on the voting returns, while watching the Dodgers lose 8-3. Even with a growing margin for the “YES” vote on “Proposition B,” O’Malley refused to comment about the lead, other than to say, “I well remember Charles Evans Hughes going to bed thinking he had won (the 1916 Presidential race) and waking up to find he had lost. And I can recall putting in an order for champagne when the Dodgers led the Giants 2-0 (actually 4-1) in the ninth inning of the playoff for the pennant in 1951. Bobby Thomson hit that unforgettable home run and the Giants had the champagne party. This thing isn’t won yet. I doubt if there will be anything conclusive until late afternoon (June 4). The only one sure of winning tonight was Cincinnati.” The final margin of victory for “Proposition B” was 25,785 votes.
June 13, 1958
Walter O’Malley sends a letter to Los Angeles Mayor Norris Poulson “relinquishing unto the City of Los Angeles” any and all mineral rights from the approved contract between the Dodgers and the city. In that contract, the Dodgers would have received “one-half of all monies, payments, royalties and other consideration received by City from said mineral rights which would be placed in a special trust fund by City and such funds shall be expended solely for the purpose of providing and maintaining recreational facilities to promote the youth program of Ball Club.”
July 14, 1958
The City of Los Angeles’ previously approved contract with the Dodgers is ruled invalid by Superior Court Judge Arnold Praeger, which sets off a series of appeals and legal challenges. In his press conference, Walter O’Malley states, “It would not be good tactics to discuss another contract while this one is involved in litigation. I am perhaps a stubborn man. But we were offered the Chavez Ravine site, accepted it and came out with the intention of building a park on it. We are not abandoning the program. There is no possibility of us going into Wrigley Field and our stay at the (Los Angeles Memorial) Coliseum definitely is on a temporary basis.” O’Malley also issued the following statement, “Early settlers found the overland trail to the West long and arduous. We have the same faith they had. We fully expect all difficulties to be honorably resolved within the law. The building of your modern baseball stadium is unfortunately further delayed but I believe is worth the fight.”