Stuff I Didn’t Know About Baseball & Los Angeles

Did you know that if it hadn't been for the attack on Pearl Harbor, the first major league baseball team to move to Los Angeles would have been the St. Louis Browns, in 1942?

Did you know that the Browns had another shot at moving to Los Angeles in 1953, but chose Baltimore instead?

Browns logo.jpgDid you know that the Kansas City Athletics (who are now in Oakland) and the original Washington Senators (who are now the Minnesota Twins) toyed with moving to Los Angeles before the Dodgers did?

Did you know that the only reason Los Angeles was awarded a second major-league franchise after the Dodgers' arrival in 1958 was to thwart plans for a rival baseball league?

Did you know that the Angels' first owner, Gene "The Cowboy" Autry, was originally interested only in broadcasting the Angels, but was encouraged to buy the team when the Dodgers' Walter O'Malley vetoed the choice of Bill Veeck? (Veeck, the goofball promotional genius who revived the Browns' fortunes briefly when he hired a midget to pinch-hit, would have been a perfect fit for Hollywood in the early 60s. That's obviously what O'Malley was afraid of.)

You probably knew that the Angels played at Dodger Stadium from 1962-64, and when they played there, they called the ballpark "Chavez Ravine." But did you know that the '62 team was in first place on July 4th, and was a threat to overtake the Yankees that year until late in the season?

You know that O'Malley as landlord treated the Angels like dirt, so Autry moved the team to Anaheim. But did you know that Long Beach could have had the Angels, but when the city insisted the team call itself the Long Beach Angels, Autry backed out? (In Anaheim, they were known as the California Angels, until 1997, when they became known as the Anaheim Angels. Beginning in 2005, they took on the unwieldy name that only lawyers could love, "the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim." You know all about that.)

These bits of information about Los Angeles' baseball history are included in the Angels' entry in Wikipedia. Thanks to 6-4-2's Rob McMillan for pointing to it. I still can't get over that we almost got the Browns — a baseball team with arguably the most futile history of any major league franchise. In 1942, the L.A. Browns would have been just three years removed from the team that had one of the worst records in major league history, 43-111, a .279 winning percentage.

Of course, the Browns found success as the Baltimore Orioles. In fact, in 1966, the Orioles swept the Dodgers in the World Series, beating Don Drysdale twice and handing the great Sandy Koufax a defeat in the last game he ever pitched. 

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