Timeline of Baseball's Historic Expansion to the West Coast



October 14, 1946

Dodger Vice President and General Counsel Walter O’Malley writes a letter to designer-engineer Capt. Emil Praeger of Madigan & Hyland in Long Island City, New York stating, “Your fertile imagination should have some ideas about enlarging or replacing our present stadium (aging Ebbets Field).”

October 22, 1946

Designer-engineer Emil Praeger, a Naval captain, responds to Walter O’Malley’s letter about the possibility of replacing an aging Ebbets Field in a letter: “I saw one of the last Brooklyn — St. Louis games and have followed this year’s attendance record. Brooklyn could certainly use a larger stadium. You may be interested to know that at the request of Admiral Moreell I prepared a design for a proposed memorial stadium for Washington, D.C. I have some photographs of a model which was made of this design, renderings and layout plans and if you are interested in seeing them I will be glad to have copies made and forwarded to you. Nothing quite like it has been built and I think that it has some very interesting features. I have been out of the Navy for several months and have been busy on some very interesting projects.”


February 21, 1948

At a Dodger Board of Directors Meeting at 215 Montague Street in Brooklyn, designer Norman Bel Geddes presents his report, per his retainer, regarding the possibility of rebuilding or renovating on the existing Ebbets Field site. Bel Geddes and the board studied the report for several hours. According to minutes of the meeting, “It was agreed Mr. (Walter) O’Malley might explore the possibilities of acquiring land in the Borough Hall section of Brooklyn as a possible site for a new stadium. The Board felt that such a location was preferable to the present site giving consideration to the demands of the playing schedule, and the possibility of building elsewhere without disturbing the schedule.Minutes of the Board of Directors meeting, Brooklyn National League Baseball Club, February 21, 1948

March 15, 1948

Referring to a story that Brooklyn is to have a new stadium, Walter O’Malley issued the following statement to the press: “The rumor is not substantially correct. Norman Bel Geddes (industrial designer and theater architect), however, has submitted an interesting study of what could be done at the present Ebbets Field site. The total cost would exceed six million dollars. We appreciate that Brooklyn fans are entitled to more seats in a modern stadium, but it just does not seem possible in the near future.”

March 18, 1948

Emil Praeger, a distinguished Naval captain who developed the original design of the concrete floating breakwater during World War II and was in charge of all engineering projects for the Department of Parks in New York City, submits a preliminary report to Dodger Vice President and General Counsel Walter O’Malley outlining options for a suitable site for a new baseball stadium in downtown Brooklyn. In the study, Capt. Praeger writes, “An extremely desirable site for a new stadium in that borough (of Brooklyn) is in the Downtown District in an area bounded by Myrtle Avenue on the north, Ashland Place on the east, Lafayette Street on the south and Fleet Street on the west...The plot would be adequate and suitable in all respects for a modern stadium.”


June 17, 1952

Dodger President Walter O’Malley writes a letter to The Brooklyn Eagle publisher Frank Schroth about the possibility of building a stadium with a retractable dome. He wrote, “I believe Brooklyn needs a modern athletic stadium seating approximately 52,000 people. A modern stadium with a movable roof would provide convention facilities unequalled elsewhere. Such a stadium could house motor boat, automobile, flower, sportsman and other shows and attractions. Such a stadium would have to be strategically located to give maximum convenience for rapid transit patrons. Present and future parkways should be designed to provide accessibility. The stadium could offer all year round parking facilities.

“Many special purposes to which the stadium could be put would include skating on artificial ice in the winter months and roller skating all year round. Such a stadium would lend itself to top attraction football games, boxing and basketball events and other recognized sports.

“We have definite ideas as to where such a stadium should be located and the site would be nearer Wall Street and Rockefeller Centre [sic] than the Polo Grounds, Yankee Stadium or Ebbets Field.

“Brooklyn has an international reputation as a baseball town. Much of the mention that the Borough receives, and some of it facetious, is in reference to baseball. If this is an asset, I believe it is, let us capitalize on the fact and encourage the erection of the first all purpose sports and convention arena indoor and outdoor in Brooklyn.

“I wish this were Bob Moses’ idea and not mine as he has the know how and zeal to see it through.”


June 18, 1953

In his letter to Robert Moses, Parks Commissioner for the City of New York, Walter O’Malley explains the need for the Dodgers to find a solution to an aging Ebbets Field. “My problem is to get a new ball park — one well located and with ample parking accommodations. This is a must if we are to keep our franchise in Brooklyn. Could I see you at Babylon or anywhere at your convenience to get this off my chest?”

October 20, 1953

Los Angeles Examiner columnist Vincent X. Flaherty writes a letter to Walter O’Malley in an effort to convince him that Los Angeles was the best place for the Dodgers. Flaherty wanted O’Malley to meet with the Los Angeles Citizen’s Committee for major league baseball. The impressive committee members included Chairman Conrad Hilton, along with Leonard Firestone, Howard Hughes, Edwin W. Pauley, Gregson Bautzer, Louis B. Mayer and Reese Taylor (President of Union Oil). Flaherty wrote, “I have said privately among them that it might be a good idea to try and get the Dodgers, even though it might be impossible. So even if it is impossible, this idea, would you come here anyway and listen to a couple of propositions?” Flaherty concludes by informing O’Malley that “the clamor has picked up astonishingly here within the past couple of years...There is no doubt whatever that the best and biggest franchise in baseball will materialize right here.”


May 24, 1954

Walter O’Malley shows his disapproval of an admissions tax to be placed on tickets sold at Ebbets Field and warns the tax on amusements would be adverse to the interests of the City of New York. O’Malley sends a telegram to New York City Mayor Robert Wagner stating, “You should not do anything to force baseball (from New York) to other cities. You know what the municipal authorities of Baltimore and Milwaukee have done to attract and maintain major league franchises. Los Angeles, Dallas, Havana, Montreal, Toronto, Kansas City and the twin cities of St. Paul-Minneapolis are ready to put money on the barrel head to get a major league baseball franchise. Against this competition our city is going in reverse.” Despite O’Malley’s plea, the plan did pass to levy a five percent admissions tax on tickets to all New York baseball parks, theatres, movies and other places of amusement. When passed, the Dodgers faced an additional tax burden of $165,000 annually from this action.

June 18, 1954

New York Mayor Robert Wagner signs into legislation a new five percent admissions tax to be levied on sports teams, movies, theatres and other amusements. Originally, Mayor Wagner had indicated to Dodger President Walter O’Malley and others that the tax on amusements was to be temporary until State relief was granted. However, in 1955, despite O’Malley asking for relief of this tax which cost the Dodgers $165,000 per year, the “nuisance” tax was not abolished. The tax was estimated to yield $16,700,000 a year to the city.New York Times, June 30, 1954

September 23, 1954

Walter C. Peterson, City Clerk of Los Angeles, sends a letter to Major League Baseball owners informing them of the City Council’s resolution which expresses its desire to bring a major league team to Los Angeles.


May 26, 1955

Walter O’Malley sends a letter to noted architect-inventor R. Buckminster Fuller stating: “For some time we have been considering a new stadium for our Brooklyn Dodgers...My experience in operating a number of typical but antiquated stadia has convinced me that we lose a great deal of money each year because of inclement weather and for some time I have been talking about building a new stadium that, among other things, would have a dome over it of a translucent material...Baseball companies, unfortunately, do not have the resources of the large industrial companies. Price would become an extremely important issue...I believe this would open up a new horizon in baseball...I am not interested in just building another baseball park.”

May 31, 1955

Two and a half years before the Dodgers arrive in Los Angeles, in a key proposition that helped to shape the future of baseball in L.A., the citizens of L.A. vote down a bond issue calling for $4,500,000 to build a 63,000-seat “major athletic stadium.” According to writer Gladwin Hill, “The lack of a suitable baseball park has been widely analyzed as the number one obstacle to the extension of big league baseball to the nation’s third largest metropolitan area. Los Angeles has two teams in the Pacific Coast League, the (L.A.) Angels and the Hollywood Stars. They play respectively at Wrigley Field and Gilmore Stadium. Neither park is of big league caliber. The city’s biggest amphitheatre, the Memorial Coliseum, scene of big football games, will hold up to 100,000. But its oval design will not accommodate a good baseball park layout.” The proposition was defeated by 160,000 to 131,000 votes. It set the stage for Walter O’Malley, who kept the newspaper clipping in his “new stadium” file, to privately finance and build his own stadium.Gladwin Hill, Special to The New York Times, May 30, 1955 and June 2, 1955

August 17, 1955

Walter O’Malley served notice to all that his intentions were serious, as the 1956 Dodgers would play seven “home” games, one game against each National League opponent, plus an initial exhibition game in Jersey City, New Jersey’s Roosevelt Stadium. O’Malley, who worked out a lease for the ballpark, sent a message to the politicians and officials that there was an urgency in getting a response to his quest for land and a final solution to the aging Ebbets Field problem. O’Malley would pay $50,000 to help upgrade Roosevelt Stadium (30,000 capacity and parking for 4,000 cars) for major league games. In the Dodger press release that day, O’Malley explained, “We plan to play almost all of our ‘home’ games at Ebbets Field in 1956 and 1957 but will have to have a new stadium shortly thereafter. Our present attendance studies show the need for greater parking. The public used to come to Ebbets Field by trolley cars, now they come by automobile. We can only park 700 cars. Our fans require a modern stadium — one with greater comforts, short walks, no posts, absolute protection from inclement weather, convenient rest rooms and a self selection first come, first served, method of buying tickets. Baseball, with its heavy night schedule is now competing with many attractions for the consumer’s dollar and it better spend some money if it expects to hold its fans. Racing has found a way to get State legislation and financing for a super-colossal proposed race track. I shudder to think of this future competition if we do not produce something modern for our fans. We will consider other locations only if we are finally unsuccessful in our ambition to build in Brooklyn.”Official Dodger press release, August 17, 1955

August 22, 1955

Walter O’Malley receives a letter from Walter C. Peterson, City Clerk for the City of Los Angeles, that the City has adopted a resolution proposed by Councilwoman Rosalind Wyman once again conveying their interest in persuading a major league baseball team to relocate to Los Angeles. The resolution further adds that if O’Malley is unable to meet in Los Angeles with council representatives, Councilwoman Wyman and Councilman Ed Roybal were authorized to contact him in New York.

September 1, 1955

Los Angeles City Councilwoman Rosalind Wyman writes a letter to Walter O’Malley regarding the city’s interest in obtaining a major league baseball team. Wyman and fellow Councilman Ed Roybal ask O’Malley to meet with them in New York several weeks later. Wyman writes, “We have been authorized by the Los Angeles City Council to discuss the matter with you for the purpose of bringing recommendations back to them.” On September 7, 1955, O’Malley declines the request because of preparations for Dodger postseason activities and to focus his attention on building a stadium in Brooklyn.


April 21, 1956

New York Governor Averell Harriman went to Brooklyn to sign a bill (Chapter 951 of the Laws of 1956) to create the Brooklyn Sports Center Authority into law and vowed his support to Walter O’Malley and the Dodgers. Nearly 100 other figures from politics and sports gathered in the office of Brooklyn Borough President John Cashmore to watch Gov. Harriman sign the bill into law. According to an interim report of the Brooklyn Sports Center Authority, “This law created the Brooklyn Sports Center Authority for the purpose of constructing and operating a sports center in the Borough of Brooklyn at a suitable location in an area bounded by DeKalb Avenue, Sterling Place, Bond Street and Vanderbilt Avenue, for the use of such amateur, professional and scholastic sports events as the Authority shall deem advisable and for the conduct of meetings, exhibitions and other events of civic, community and general public use. The Mayor implemented this law on the 24th day of July, 1956, by the appointment of Robert E. Blum and Chester A. Allen as members of the Authority and Charles J. Mylod as Chairman.”Interim Report of Brooklyn Sports Center Authority, November 15, 1956 Blum was a Vice President of Abraham & Straus department store, while Allen was President of the Kings County Trust Company and Mylod, a lifelong Dodger fan, was President of Goelet Realty Company. None of the three was paid, but were to oversee the Authority’s issuance of $30,000,000 in its own tax-exempt bonds to carry out a four-phase civic improvement program, including a new 50,000-seat Dodger Stadium.

June 12, 1956

Dodger President Walter O’Malley writes a note to himself “for stadium file” stating, “Bob Moses sent a memo to (New York) Mayor (Robert) Wagner dated April 23 — In this memo he recommends Flat (Flatbush) & Atlan (Atlantic) site but for a small stadium. A map accompanied the memo. This could be important.”

October 5, 1956

A note from Vincent X. Flaherty, columnist of the Los Angeles Examiner, delivered to Walter O’Malley during a 1956 World Series game from Dodger executive Arthur E. “Red” Patterson read, “Dear Walter, (L.A. County) Supervisor Kenneth Hahn is here from Los Angeles. As things stand, he has the Washington franchise...Hahn is authorized to offer you immediate playing facilities for next April.

  1. Los Angeles will build finest park in world and will give you all concessions.
  2. LA will pay for all maintenance.
  3. All LA wants is the right to parking concessions which will hold 20,000 cars.

If Hahn can get Dodgers he will not take Washington.
Will you meet him after game?
Vince Flaherty
P.S. LA also will buy out Wrigley. Know this is a hell of a time to bother you but I must do this before any deal is closed with Washington.”
One of Supervisor Hahn’s business cards was attached with the note and his seat location Section 5, Row T, Seat 10 was jotted down, as well.
O’Malley wrote on the note and returned it to Patterson to tell Flaherty, “Not interested as our Brooklyn Stadium matter is progressing satisfactorily. Will be at Yankee Headquarters tonite. WFOM”

October 9, 1956

Walter O’Malley sends a letter to Thomas M. Goodfellow, President, Long Island Railroad, stating, “I will be leaving for Hawaii and Japan but I want you to know that the Stadium Authority is coming along wonderfully well and we are now back to the original site and the original design and it looks like Capt. (Emil) Praeger will be our engineer and of course he will want to cooperate very closely with you and your people.” Goodfellow was supportive of O’Malley’s plan to build a dome stadium at the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues in Brooklyn, which would have rehabilitated the entire area, continued as a transportation hub for fans traveling to the stadium from suburbs and aided the LIRR to straighten its tracks and get more modern equipment.

October 11, 1956

In his first-ever visit to Los Angeles, Walter O’Malley holds a press conference at the Statler Hotel and tells the gathering that there are “three reasons why his National League Club was not available to Los Angeles.” He states, “1 — In the last 10 years Brooklyn has drawn more people than any other baseball club except the Yankees. 2 — Substantial progress is being made toward a new stadium in Brooklyn. 3 — The Los Angeles franchise is owned by my good friend Phil Wrigley and I wouldn’t be guilty of invading a friend’s territory.”Paul Zimmerman, Los Angeles Times, October 12, 1956 O’Malley, National League President Warren C. Giles and Dodger Manager Walter Alston attend the press conference as the N.L. Champion Brooklyn Dodgers are on a stopover en route to Hawaii and then to play a Goodwill Tour in Japan.

October 30, 1956

New York real estate investor Marvin Kratter pays $3 million to the Dodgers to purchase Ebbets Field in Brooklyn and arranges to lease it back for three years (plus two option years through 1961) from Kratter’s assignee, Tillie Feldman. According to Associated Press, “Negotiations for the sale had been going on for months. Walter O’Malley, president of the club who is now with the Dodgers on their tour of Japan, has been quoted as saying the field was outmoded as a baseball park. A committee representing the Brooklyn Sports Center Authority is making a survey as to the feasibility of building a huge sports center which the Dodgers could call home. Henry J. Walsh, attorney for the ball club, said the sale was in no manner a preamble to the removal of the Dodgers to another city.”

November 21, 1956

A joint study by the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks and the City Planning Department on “Possible Sites for the Construction of a Major League Baseball Park in Los Angeles” is submitted. George Hjelte, General Manager of the City’s Department of Recreation and Parks and John E. Roberts, Director of Planning for the City wrote to the Los Angeles City Council, which had requested the study on June 31, 1956, that the purpose of the study “is to determine the ‘most suitable location for the construction of a major league baseball park in this City,’ an investigation of the cost of the land and design or construction of the stadium, or the cost of related elements such as parking areas or structures, earthwork or streets has not been made. In their findings, four specific locations were suggested: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Wrigley Field, Chavez Ravine and Garbutt Estate in the Silver Lake District. In the study, comments regarding Chavez Ravine include: “Most of the property considered for this use is owned by the City of Los Angeles and is vacant. Abutting land is in private ownership and, except for a few small residences, is vacant. The rugged topography of this area does not appear to be desirable for proposed use. Although possible to design a major league baseball park with essential large flat surfaces, and necessary parking areas, such facilities would involve extensive earthwork and retaining walls.

“Chavez Ravine appears to present problems for the installation of a major league baseball park because of the present inadequate street system for anticipated traffic demands. The expense of correcting the same and preparing the site for use should be carefully balanced against land plus development costs at other locations. The site is satisfactory, however, with respect to population distribution, land use, land availability.”City Plan Case 7581, Council File 74388, City of Los Angeles, November 21, 1956

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