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Dodgers threaten to leave Los Angeles - 1958?!

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  • Dodgers threaten to leave Los Angeles - 1958?!

    I was doing research on the LA Times blog when I came across this little doozy, referencing a May 24, 1958 article about the Dodgers already threatening to skip town:

    The Toronto Dodgers?

    Apparently, it wasn't looking good for Proposition B (which would have formalized the agreement the city made with the Dodgers to build a ballpark at Chavez Ravine. So shaky that the National League was making veiled (and not-so-veiled) threats to move the team again if it wasn't passed. Less than a week after the Dodgers played their first game in the city, and the specter of Minneapolis, Houston and Toronto were already being held over LA's head. Ouch.

    I can't help but wonder what old Horace Stoneham was thinking at the time in San Francisco, with the prospect of being left all alone on the West Coast being dangled in front of him.

    Needless to say, Proposition B passed, the Dodgers got their shiny new stadium, and Minneapolis, Houston and Toronto had to wait for big league ball. But I think it is interesting, in light of O'Malley's fractured relationships with New York politicians, to note that he went to LA full of the same bombast. Maybe Robert Moses looks a little better in comparison now.

    The blog also has some great scans of sports pages, chronicling this issue. Not going to include them here, since they're huge, but you can find them at these links:

    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/thed...523_sports.jpg
    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/thed...524_sports.jpg

    And here's the actual ballot put before the voters:
    Attached Files

  • #2
    I think they would have had to go back to NY at the time. They still had the lease on Ebbets Field that they were paying on. Toronto was not major league ready until the 70s. I had heard Phoenix, but they weren't ready until the 90s. Minnesota is possible since it was major league ready.

    Nothing other then a return would have made sense but as history shows us the move didn't make sense anyway.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by six4three View Post
      I was doing research on the LA Times blog when I came across this little doozy, referencing a May 24, 1958 article about the Dodgers already threatening to skip town:

      The Toronto Dodgers?

      Apparently, it wasn't looking good for Proposition B (which would have formalized the agreement the city made with the Dodgers to build a ballpark at Chavez Ravine. So shaky that the National League was making veiled (and not-so-veiled) threats to move the team again if it wasn't passed. Less than a week after the Dodgers played their first game in the city, and the specter of Minneapolis, Houston and Toronto were already being held over LA's head. Ouch.

      I can't help but wonder what old Horace Stoneham was thinking at the time in San Francisco, with the prospect of being left all alone on the West Coast being dangled in front of him.

      Needless to say, Proposition B passed, the Dodgers got their shiny new stadium, and Minneapolis, Houston and Toronto had to wait for big league ball. But I think it is interesting, in light of O'Malley's fractured relationships with New York politicians, to note that he went to LA full of the same bombast. Maybe Robert Moses looks a little better in comparison now.

      The blog also has some great scans of sports pages, chronicling this issue. Not going to include them here, since they're huge, but you can find them at these links:

      http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/thed...523_sports.jpg
      http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/thed...524_sports.jpg

      And here's the actual ballot put before the voters:
      six4three -
      it would be great if you could post this in the Los Angeles Dodgers forum, or History of the Game. Both are forums were people can have decent discussions.

      Comment


      • #4
        I had read several accounts where OMalley thought about Phoenix if LA voted him out. He said on several occasions that the fans in Brooklyn would kill him if he went back.
        It was east coasters that bailed OMalley out in LA, especially Frank Sinatra. They held the Save The Dodgers telethon out there, and put it on Gene Autrey's TV station. Where was Sinatra when they left Brooklyn??? And he was a Dodger fan ! As for Autrey, when he was given the Angels franchise, his 'friend' OMalley screwed him every way possible. What a nice payback from the slime ball !!! (this has been written about in several books)

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by mandrake View Post
          I had read several accounts where OMalley thought about Phoenix if LA voted him out. He said on several occasions that the fans in Brooklyn would kill him if he went back.
          It was east coasters that bailed OMalley out in LA, especially Frank Sinatra. They held the Save The Dodgers telethon out there, and put it on Gene Autrey's TV station. Where was Sinatra when they left Brooklyn??? And he was a Dodger fan ! As for Autrey, when he was given the Angels franchise, his 'friend' OMalley screwed him every way possible. What a nice payback from the slime ball !!! (this has been written about in several books)
          Did he ever even visit NY after the move?

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by aqib View Post
            Did he ever even visit NY after the move?
            I don't think so, but Stoneham returned to NY on Willie Mays night at Shea Stadium in 1973.

            Stoneham was booed, but in my opinion, not loud enough.
            Last edited by Let's Go Mets!; 06-03-2008, 02:28 PM.
            Let's Go Mets!
            New York Mets fan since 1962

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by aqib View Post
              Did he ever even visit NY after the move?
              The answer is "NO". He knew he was "red meat" here, and would never chance it!

              There might have been a slim chance that he came in the dead of night, for whatever reason,...and left the same way. Truthfully, I don't think that ever happened.

              c.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by mandrake View Post
                It was east coasters that bailed OMalley out in LA, especially Frank Sinatra. They held the Save The Dodgers telethon out there, and put it on Gene Autrey's TV station. Where was Sinatra when they left Brooklyn??? And he was a Dodger fan ! As for Autrey, when he was given the Angels franchise, his 'friend' OMalley screwed him every way possible. What a nice payback from the slime ball !!! (this has been written about in several books)
                Yes, there was a five-hour "Dodgerthon" to raise support for Proposition B.

                But I don't see any mention of Sinatra. Dean Martin, yes, but not Sinatra.

                Autry didn't own KTTV. In 1958, it was owned by the parent company of the Times.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by DODGER DEB View Post
                  The answer is "NO". He knew he was "red meat" here, and would never chance it!
                  I'm ashamed to admit I had the misfortune of riding an elevator with O'Malley at Dodgertown in 1976. Actually my friend and I were alone, when the elevator suddenly stopped and Walter O' wheeled his wife in. He was very friendly too. He talked to my pal, then looked me right in the eye and cracked a joke, but I refused to laugh. I totally ignored him the short time we were together and he knew it.

                  Nevertheless, I'm sure such a man could care less.......
                  Last edited by Let's Go Mets!; 06-04-2008, 01:21 PM.
                  Let's Go Mets!
                  New York Mets fan since 1962

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Let's Go Mets! View Post
                    I'm ashamed to admit I had the misfortune of taking an elevator with O'Malley at Dodgertown in 1976. Actually my friend and I were riding alone, when it suddenly stopped and Walter O wheeled his wife in. He was very friendly too, he looked me right in the eye and cracked a joke, but I refused to laugh at it. I totally ignored him and he knew it. Nevertheless, I'm sure such a man like could care less............
                    He was a heartless and souless excuse for a human being. But, to your credit, you reacted as a real human being. THEREIN lies the difference!

                    c.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by DODGER DEB View Post
                      He was a heartless and souless excuse for a human being. But, to your credit, you reacted as a real human being. THEREIN lies the difference!

                      c.
                      I was 26 at the time. It's good I was not ten years younger when it happened. I shudder to think what other Brooklyn Dodgers fans would have said or done in the same situation.

                      Nevertheless, everytime I see film clips of Walter O' riding in that big open convertible during the 1958 LA welcoming ceremony, I still keep thinking of JFK.
                      Let's Go Mets!
                      New York Mets fan since 1962

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by DODGER DEB View Post
                        The answer is "NO". He knew he was "red meat" here, and would never chance it!

                        There might have been a slim chance that he came in the dead of night, for whatever reason,...and left the same way. Truthfully, I don't think that ever happened.

                        c.
                        Deb...are you sure?

                        Didn't he come east to sit in the Los Angeles National League box during the 1963 World Series against the Yankees?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by MATHA531 View Post
                          Deb...are you sure?

                          Didn't he come east to sit in the Los Angeles National League box during the 1963 World Series against the Yankees?
                          I don't recall that, MATHA, but you may be right. I do know he was scared to death to come here. So, perhaps he had an army protecting him from the masses.

                          c.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            If proposition B had failed, I think the Dodgers would have moved to the Ft Worth area, probably by way of Jersey City while facilities in Ft Worth were being upgraded. I don't think they would have returned to Ebbets Field, even though I think they could have played there until 1961. I found a story form 1954 saying that the Dodgers were pondering a move to Ft Worth, since they had the territorial rights to that city.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by EdTarbusz View Post
                              I think they could have played there [Ebbets] until 1961.
                              Ed, there was a three-year leaseback arrangement between the Dodgers and Marvin Kratter. It covered 1957 (the Dodgers' last season) and 1958-59 (what I call the "twilight" years). The Dodgers had a further two-year option but declined to pick it up. I have to check again when exactly they took that decision.

                              There's a photo where Dodgers rep Matt Burns is handing over the keys to Seymour Goldsmith from Kratter Corp. on New Year's Day 1960. (Another one I particularly like is from the NY Times in late 1959. There's a watchdog named Angel on the field in the foreground and in the background you can see soccer goalposts -- the last athletic use the stadium saw.)

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