Walter O'Malley Enshrined in National Baseball Hall of Fame Ceremony
What They’re Saying About O’Malley
“In 1950, I did perhaps two innings a game, maybe the third, maybe the seventh, if Red (Barber) or Connie (Desmond) had to leave, I would fill in and fill in the cracks. And in the winter of 1950 and 1951, the head of the Dodgers had changed. Branch Rickey was gone and Walter Francis O’Malley had taken over. And to be honest, I had no contract, nor did I have any idea that I would continue to have a job. And this is the man to the core. One morning the phone rang and I picked it up and it was the new owner of the Dodgers. It was not a secretary, it was not a public relations man, it was not a director of broadcasting, it was the owner calling the third string kid announcer. And he said, ‘Vin I’m sure you’re wondering about whether you are coming back with the ballclub.’ Now, remember all of the things that he had to do in taking over the team and somehow he decides to call this kid and tell him that he has a job. As our association grew closer and closer, I really and truly always felt in my heart that he was my second father. We talked about a lot of things over those years, and hardly ever baseball, but about life… God bless him.”-- Dodger Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully about Walter O’Malley
“Fifty years ago, a man with a great vision brought Major League Baseball to the West Coast. Fifty years ago, I was hired as one of the two announcers to broadcast the Dodger games in Spanish. Mr. Walter O’Malley…was the architect of the marriage between baseball and Spanish radio. Mr. O’Malley was the first major league executive who insisted in taking the game to this large segment of the population. That is why he hired Mr. Buck Canel to broadcast the first baseball games in the language of the Latino community in New York (on WHOM in 1954). When the Dodgers came to the West Coast, one of the first priorities of Mr. O’Malley was to study the demographics of Southern California. In the Spanish radio industry, Walter O’Malley was and still is our champion, our pioneer, because he was the first one to truly believe that the Latino market would be, in a matter of a few years, what it is today – a very, very, very strong supporter of the game of baseball. The first time I met him, I was so nervous. Bill Beaton, the owner of KWKW (Radio) took me to meet this great man. I was so nervous, I was afraid of him. But, he was so kind, so gracious to the point that he took this 22-year-old kid, who couldn’t speak English, on a personal tour of the Dodger offices at the old Statler Hilton Hotel at the corner of Figueroa and Wilshire. Later on, he would very often ask me to walk with him in Dodger Stadium, because he wanted to know the needs of the Hispanic community. He wanted to know what the Dodgers could do in order to serve the needs of the community.”-- Dodger Hall of Fame broadcaster Jaime Jarrin about Walter O’Malley
“A half-century after Walter O’Malley moved to California to trigger dramatic shifts in the Major League landscape, he returned to New York for eternal rest as one of the newest members of the Baseball Hall of Fame…
“Peter O’Malley held the grateful spotlight, but was surrounded by a large contingent of family members who had made the pilgrimage to Cooperstown to honor their patriarch’s memory. Those present included both of Walter O’Malley’s children (Peter and older sister Terry O’Malley Seidler), a dozen grandchildren and 23 great-grandchildren.
“‘Everyone is very proud,’ Peter O’Malley had remarked earlier. ‘And he was very close to Bowie Kuhn and would have been pleased to know he was being inducted alongside him. They both cared deeply about the integrity of the game.’
“Walter O’Malley’s induction comes 38 years after he turned over the Dodgers presidency to his son and nearly 29 years after his death.
“‘To see Walter O’Malley finally recognized is very special,’ said Steve Garvey, the first baseman in one of the Dodgers’ most glorious eras.
“During O’Malley’s tenure, talk often centered around ‘the Dodger family.’ The entirety of the time he ran the Dodgers, O’Malley hired only two managers – Charlie Dressen in 1951 and Walter Alston in 1954. That kind of practice is a relic, but some of that Dodger family remains intact.
“‘In all honesty, he was like a second father to me,’ said Vin Scully, who has been announcing Dodger games since the Brooklyn days.
“Jaime Jarrin has been the voice of the Dodgers’ Spanish radio network since they arrived in Los Angeles and said, ‘(O’Malley) was the first person who understood the potential of the Hispanic market in Southern California.
“‘Dad would be proud to know he was a member of the Class of 2008, and he’d be organizing a party for each of you,’ Peter said in summary. ‘And he could throw a heck of a party.’”-- Tom Singer, MLB.com and baseballhalloffame.org, July 27, 2008
“O’Malley’s legacy includes:
- -- bringing Major League Baseball to the West Coast;
- -- construction of Dodger Stadium as Major League Baseball’s first privately financed stadium since Yankee Stadium in 1923;
- -- keeping ticket prices the same from 1958, the Dodgers’ first season in Los Angeles, through 1975, with a top price of $3.50;
- -- enhancing and modernizing the Dodgertown complex in Vero Beach, Fla., which served as the Dodgers’ spring training site from 1948 through this spring (2008); and
- -- presiding over an organization known for success on the field, stability in key positions and being a model franchise from a business standpoint.
In O’Malley’s 38 ½ seasons as majority owner, the Dodgers won 11 National League pennants and four World Series championships, while employing just three managers (Chuck Dressen, Walter Alston and (Tommy) Lasorda) and three general managers (Buzzie Bavasi, Fresco Thompson and Al Campanis.)”-- KTLA News and Video, July 28, 2008
“O’Malley was an absolute visionary. In the stadium he built and the domed one he wanted to build for Brooklyn in the early 1950s. In taking a leadership role in internationalizing baseball. An only child who ran a sports franchise like it was family. And most importantly, in recognizing that half the country did not have big-league baseball, identifying Los Angeles as the place to open this new frontier and then having the remarkable courage to do something about it.
“O’Malley was a bright and clever man, and that should not ever be used against him. He spoke his mind, went after what he wanted, was unafraid to take a stand.
“‘He was a man’s man,’ (Vin) Scully said. ‘He truly was.’
“O’Malley actually wanted to keep the team in Brooklyn, building it a domed stadium 10 years before the Astrodome. Attendance was in decline, Ebbets Field was small and badly aging.
“But Robert Moses, the powerful head of New York’s Triborough Bridge an Tunnel Authority, wanted the new stadium in Queens – the current home of the Mets – and blocked O’Malley’s efforts in Brooklyn.
“‘It’s taken a long time for people, especially in the East, to finally understand why he left Brooklyn,’ Scully said. ‘He left because he had to leave. He was pushed out really. Because he could not possibly continue to compete where he was.’…
“At the same time he came to Los Angeles, he helped broker the Giants’ move from New York to San Francisco. Both proved spectacular successes. The face of baseball would never be the same, or so grand.
“At that time, no team played west of St. Louis. The Dodgers and Giants opened the doors that led to the Angels, San Diego Padres, Oakland A’s, Colorado Rockies, Seattle Mariners, Arizona Diamondbacks, Texas Rangers and Houston Astros.
“His successes are finally being recognized unfettered by ancient emotion…
“It is time to salute, time for a proper legacy.”-- Steve Dilbeck, Los Angeles Daily News, July 27, 2008
“WALTER O’MALLEY-- The Associated Press, July 27, 2008
Born Oct. 9, 1903 in the Bronx…Acquired a piece of the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1944 and made a detailed study of baseball management in an effort to create a modern franchise…Became Dodgers president in 1951…Hired only two managers in the time he operated the franchise, Charlie Dressen and Walter Alston, who combined to win nine pennants and four World Series…When New York development czar Robert Moses prohibited a new stadium in Brooklyn to replace aging Ebbets Field and offered only a site in Queens, O’Malley relocated the team to Los Angeles for the 1958 season…Died Aug. 9, 1979.”
“Walter O’Malley-- USA Today, July 25, 2008
-- Elected by veterans’ committee
O’Malley, former owner of the Dodgers, is largely responsible for Major League Baseball’s expansion to the West Coast when the Brooklyn Dodgers moved to Los Angeles in 1958. O’Malley built and designed Dodger Stadium, which opened on April 10, 1962. The Dodgers won four World Series titles and 11 NL pennants during his ownership.”
“‘It was 1955, I was just an errand boy, an office boy, the lowest of the lows,’ (Billy) DeLury remembers. Yet one day that winter, a club official approached the kid and asked for his size. Size? Shirt size? Shoe size? ‘They said they wanted my ring size,’ DeLury remembers. ‘And I said, ‘Holy mackerel.’
“Holy O’Malley. The Brooklyn Dodgers owner was buying the most menial Dodgers employee a World Series ring commemorating the Dodgers’ first world championship.
“‘I was a nobody, and Walter made me feel like a somebody,’ DeLury says. ‘It was the treasure of my life.’
“So, too, for many Angelenos, was Walter O’Malley himself, the giant, cigar-chomping man who gently bent down and touched us all.
“Today’s speeches will proclaim how O’Malley was voted into the Hall of Fame on the basis of that grand gesture that moved the Dodgers to Los Angeles and led baseball to the West Coast.
“But he is there because of the little things.
“He was not about giant sweeping moves, but tiny bits of stability.
“His 29 years of Dodger ownership, including 19 years as team president, were built not only on the Drysdales, but on the DeLurys.
“That office boy has now been a Dodgers employee for 56 years and counting…
“‘Walter O’Malley made it so you never wanted to work anywhere else,’ DeLury says…
“The only people O’Malley treated with more care than his employees were his team’s fans. Today, when an owner moves to a new city and eventually builds a new ballpark, ticket prices routinely rise yearly.
“Under O’Malley, do you know how many times Dodgers ticket prices increased from 1958 to 1975.
“Today, fans’ letters to owners often go unanswered or receive a form-letter reply.
“Many years ago, when a young fan sent O’Malley a letter asking what he should do about a dime he found in the Dodger Stadium parking lot, the owner wrote back: ‘Finders keepers.’
“Walter O’Malley not only helped rake the dirt at a brand-new Dodgertown when nobody was looking, he insisted on building Holman Stadium with no dugouts so the fans could better see their heroes.
“He was so close to his players, he arranged for an honorary exhibition game at the Coliseum for a paralyzed former star who never even played in Los Angeles.
“The fans were so close to O’Malley, 93,103 turned out that night to honor this stranger, Roy Campanella.
“‘It was more about winning or losing,’ DeLury says. ‘It was about family.”-- Bill Plaschke, Los Angeles Times, July 27, 2008
“Walter O’Malley. The pioneering owner’s relocation of the Brooklyn Dodgers to the West Coast after the 1957 season helped usher in a new and prosperous era for the game.”-- Joe Hoppel, The Sporting News, July 26, 2008
“Walter O’Malley-- Phil Rogers, Chicago Tribune, July 26, 2008
As owner of the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers, O’Malley instigated the franchise’s western movement. Along with a simultaneous move by the New York/San Francisco Giants, the move in 1958 made baseball truly a national pastime. He oversaw both the building of Dodger Stadium near downtown Los Angeles and a highly successful era for the Dodgers, who under O’Malley won pennants with pitching staffs that included Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale and Don Sutton. He only hired two managers during the years he ran the franchise. Charlie Dressen led the Dodgers to two pennants and Walter Alston to seven pennants and four World Series titles.”
“Walter O’Malley was born on Oct. 9, 1903, and died on Aug. 9, 1979. He served as owner of the Dodgers from 1950-79 and was a friend of Japanese baseball, having taken his club on goodwill trips to Japan in 1956 and 1966, and he also hosted Japanese team visits to the Dodgers spring training camp in Vero Beach, Fla.”-- Wayne Graczyk, The Japan Times Online, July 27, 2008
“But to argue (Walter) O’Malley did Brooklyn wrong is not right.
“As books such as Neil Sullivan’s ‘The Dodgers Move West’ and Michael Shapiro’s ‘The Last Good Season’ demonstrate, and the aforementioned HBO documentary has shown, the Dodgers moved because New York City politicians weren’t nearly as interested in keeping the Dodgers as Los Angeles politicians were in attracting them.
“O’Malley had tried for years to complete a stadium deal to replace aging Ebbets Field, a 32,000-seat stadium crammed into one city block that had only 700 parking spaces. The question was never if the Dodgers needed a new stadium. It was where one could be built. O’Malley first broached the idea of building one in 1946…
“In exchange for assistance in purchasing the parcels of lands, O’Malley would build a stadium and parking garage with his own money.
“Repeat: O’Malley offered to build a 100-percent privately financed Major League Baseball stadium, the first since Yankee Stadium had been constructed in 1923, and the land once the city acquired it.
“If O’Malley had intended to move the team all along, as detractors contend, he would’ve arranged a meeting then. ‘He was very sincere about wanting to stay in Brooklyn,’ (author Michael) D’Antonio said. ‘It’s clear that Robert Moses never intended to help him do that. Even as Moses was going through the motions and pretending to support the development of a stadium that would satisfy O’Malley, he was telling others it would never happen…
“‘Only in the end out of frustration did he decide to move,’ said Peter O’Malley, who succeeded his father as president of the Dodgers. ‘The best way to emphasize that, when he landed in L.A. and announced the team was going to play here the following spring, he didn’t have a place to play.’
“O’Malley’s move opened the door for the national pastime to spread nationally. As the late Jim Murray, the revered Los Angeles Times columnist, wrote in his autobiography: ‘O’Malley’s vision had been 20/20. He not only helped O’Malley, he helped baseball. The game has never been known for its far-seeing approach but, in spite of the fact that he was driven to it by a pack of vacillating politicians in New York, O’Malley made the right historical choice. He followed the rest of the population west.’”-- Brian Ettkin, Albany Times Union, New York, July 25, 2008
“(Walter) O’Malley’s son, Peter, said his father’s influence on (Commissioner Bowie) Kuhn and his predecessors, Gen. William Eckert and Ford Frick, and his fellow owners was overstated. But he said: ‘He was prepared. He knew the issues. I don’t know if anybody knew them as well, and he knew what he thought was the right way to proceed and how best to advocate them…
“And while Branch Rickey is rightly credited with the signing of Jackie Robinson and other black players, (author Michael) D’Antonio said that it was all done under O’Malley’s watch and continued after he executed a buyout of Rickey’s share of the team in 1950.
“His son said his father tried, as far back as 1946, to build a modern ballpark in Brooklyn; when that ambition was rebuffed, he would not accede to moving to Queens, the alternative pushed by the powerful Robert Moses.
“‘My dad’s effort, for more than 10 years was unprecedented,’ Peter O’Malley said. ‘And finally, he said, ‘I can’t make a go in Brooklyn.’”-- Richard Sandomir, The New York Times, July 27, 2008
“I believe Walter O'Malley deserves much of the credit for helping make baseball the great game it is today.
“The Los Angeles franchise is one of the greatest in history. Branch Rickey established the pattern; O'Malley embellished it.
“It was O’Malley, unable to get a new stadium in Brooklyn, who talked New York Giants owner Horace Stoneham into joining him on the West Coast, in San Francisco. That created a natural rivalry, with the teams fairly close together. Stoneham was almost ready to take his team from the Polo Grounds to Minneapolis before O’Malley convinced him otherwise.
“St. Louis was the most western city in the Major Leagues before the Dodgers and Giants moved to California.
“The Dodgers prospered in Hollywood, even at the cavernous Coliseum. Just one year after the move, they won the World Series, beating the Chicago White Sox in six games.
“I ran across an old newspaper clipping the other day, with a picture of O’Malley proudly looking over an architect’s drawing of the proposed Dodger Stadium.
“The gem of a ballpark opened on April 10, 1962, and to this day, even with the 20-something new ballparks that have risen, Dodger Stadium is still one of the finest. For me, it remains near the top of my list.
“And it was O’Malley who designed it, privately financed it and oversaw every detail of its operation.
“For O’Malley, the only way was the Dodger Way. Dick Williams, a highly successful manager who’ll also be inducted on Sunday, grew up in the Dodgers system. He loves to talk about how O’Malley’s influence filtered down to the lowest Minor Leaguer.
“O’Malley believed in stability. He was not a grass-roots baseball man per se, but he trusted people to do their jobs and called that the strength of any organization.
“No one can knock the success of the Dodgers, and because of that success, the man who had much to do with it is going to the Hall of Fame.”-- Hal Bodley, MLB.com, July 22, 2008
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“Peter O'Malley knows how his late father, Walter, would have reacted if he had lived long enough to see his election and induction into Baseball’s Hall of Fame.
“‘The first thing he would have done, if he was alive, he would have called all the people who worked with him and thanked them for making it all possible,” said Peter O'Malley. “As president, the way he ran the business, he believed in stability and very little turnover. It was the strength of the organization. The management team worked as well as the team on the field.’…
“Tom Lasorda will attend the ceremony as part of a Dodgers delegation that will also include Hall of Fame broadcaster Jaime Jarrin and executives Peter Wilhelm, Billy DeLury and Sam Fernandez. Lasorda earned election to the Hall in 1997 after managing for the O'Malley Dodgers for two decades.
“‘All I can say is that it’s about time,’ said Lasorda. ‘He deserves it. He’s a pioneer. He made a tremendous change in the game, opening up the West Coast to Major League Baseball.’
“Peter O'Malley agreed that his father’s achievement was ‘long overdue,’ as the senior O'Malley died in 1979 at age 75. Peter O'Malley said that his father served for 28 years on MLB’s executive council and was instrumental in the early stages of the game’s international growth.
“O'Malley, 70, said that his father often spoke about the Hall of Fame, but not in the context of being elected to it.
“‘He had the greatest respect for the Hall of Fame,’ he said. ‘He said it was so important, and not just for the game of baseball but all sports, and not just in the United States but all over the world.’
“Fred Claire, who eventually became the Dodgers’ general manager, served as vice president of public relations for the senior O'Malley…
“‘He was a man of such great vision, more than anything,’ recalled Claire…‘Look at the building of Dodger Stadium, his view of television, of marketing, of free agency and the changing game. He just had the ability to see things so clearly.’
“Peter O'Malley said that his father's legacy is more encompassing than simply moving his team west.
“‘No. 1, he spent 10 years trying to find a way to stay, to build a ballpark that he would operate,’ he said. ‘He made a tremendous effort to stay. The HBO special [“The Brooklyn Dodgers: Ghosts of Flatbush”] focused on that effort, on my father addressing the aging Ebbets Field situation, wondering where would they play, wondering what would he do and where would they go.
“‘Secondly, I think his building Dodger Stadium was a crowning achievement, and it’s still a jewel. He designed it, built it and privately financed it. He did more than open up the West. When he opened Dodger Stadium, he got the attention of the world. The day he opened Dodger Stadium, April 10, 1962, that was the happiest day of his life.’”-- Ken Gurnick, MLB.com, July 22, 2008