DECEMBER 6, 1960 | ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI • Cowboy TV star Gene Autry won the approval of major league baseball owners meeting in St. Louis on this date in 1960 to put an American League team in Los Angeles. The team would be called the Angels (today’s Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim). They would begin play in 1961.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing. Los Angeles Dodgers‘ owner Walter O’Malley, who had just moved the Dodgers to LA from Brooklyn in 1958, had been adamantly opposed to having an American League team in the LA market. According to the Associated Press (AP), O’Malley made a surprise peace proposal to Gene Autry’s group to allow the expansion Angels into his territory, with certain conditions. One of them was where the new team would play.
At the time, even the Dodgers didn’t have a ballpark to call their own. They played in the LA Coliseum while Dodger Stadium was under construction and wouldn’t be ready until 1962.
O’Malley insisted that the Angels play in Wrigley Field (pictured below) – no, not the Wrigley Field in Chicago, the one in Los Angeles. A replica of the Chicago landmark existed in Los Angeles at the time, but had a seating capacity of only about 20,000. It had been home to the Pacific Coast League Angels before major league baseball moved to Los Angeles.
O’Malley also wanted the Angels to become tenants of Dodger Stadium when it was finished. The Angels knew they would probably have to take the Dodgers up on the deal for a couple years, but had plans to build their own ballpark down the road, which they did. Autry moved the team to Anaheim in 1966, and changed the name to the California Angels.
Associated Press (AP), via Oakland Tribune, December 7, 1960