DEC 6 IN BASEBALL HISTORY – AL now in LA

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.

Contributing source:
Associated Press (AP), via Oakland Tribune, December 7, 1960

 

DEC 5 IN BASEBALL HISTORY-INTERLEAGUE PLAY BEGINS

DECEMBER 5, 1996 | NEW YORK, NEW YORK • It became official on this date in 1996. For the first time in the 125-year history of major league baseball, the Cubs will play the White Sox, the Yankees will play the Mets, the Dodgers will play the Angels in regular season games. Eventually all National League teams would play all American League counterparts. Welcome to interleague play.

Interleague play was part of an agreement players unanimously approved to end four years of nasty labor unrest between players and owners that prompted a strike and cost the devotion of millions of fans.

Interleague play started with the 1997 season. Before then the only time a National League team played an American League team was in the World Series.

Some fans feel it should still be that way. But it can’t be denied many teams have seen a boost in attendance. Welcome to interleague play.

CONTRIBUTING SOURCE:
Associated Press (AP) December 6, 1996

DEC 4 IN BASEBALL HISTORY-NO MORE BONUS BABIES

DECEMBER 4, 1964 IN BASEBALL HISTORY | HOUSTON, TEXAS • It was trumpeted as the end of the “bonus baby” – throwing of tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands, of dollars (a lot of money in those days) at wide-eyed kids expected to become the next Mickey Mantle or Sandy Koufax. Too often these “can’t miss” prospects didn’t pan out. The owners wanted no more bonus babies.

They met in Houston on this date in 1964 to put an end to the chasing of unproven kids by hordes of scouts with wads of cash. Instead, the owners approved an amateur draft. The first one was held in 1965.

Blow are the first ten #1 picks. Some had decent careers. Most were mediocre. Some, well, have you ever head of Steve Chilcott? Chances are “no.” He never made to the big leagues. The second pick that year was Reggie Jackson.

1965 Rick Monday, Kansas City A’s
1966 Steve Chilcott, New York Mets
1967 Ron Blomberg, New York Yankees
1968 Tim Foli, New York Mets
1969 Jeff Burroughs, Washington Senators
1970 Mike Ivie, San Diego Padres
1971 Danny Goodwin, Chicago White Sox
1972 Dave Roberts, San Diego Padres
1973 David Clyde, Texas Rangers
1974 Bill Almon, San Diego Padres

There is still chasing after kids and some significant bonuses because the team that drafts the player retains the rights to signing a him only for a period of time until the next year’s draft. If a prospect is not signed he can re-enter a future draft and be chosen by any team but the one which selected him the previous year, unless the player consents.

Generally, those eligible to be drafted are:
•  Residents of the US or Canada including Puerto Rico and other territories
•  HS grads who have not yet attended college or junior college
•  College players who have completed their junior year
•  Junior college players
•  Players 21-years of age and older

While there are no more bonus babies, “free agency” has driven salaries into another stratosphere.

Sources/more information:
Complete draft information
Amateur draft rules 
United Press International, Houston, Texas, December 5, 1964

DEC 2 IN BASEBALL HISTORY: RUNNING OFF AT THE MOUTH

DECEMBER 2, 1952 | PHOENIX, ARIZONA – New York Yankees manager Casey Stengel went on a verbal rampage on this date in 1952. His running off at the mouth was targeted at several teams and Jackie Robinson.

Robinson, who became the major league’s first Black player five years earlier, stirred up emotions a few days earlier by criticizing the Yankees for not having hired a Black player. According to the United Press news service, while at a banquet in Phoenix Stengel let fly:

“I don’t care who you are in this organization, you’re going to get along and make the big team if you’ve got the ability. We’ve got good coaches, a good front office, good scouts and good minor league managers, and we’re not going to play a sap at second base just because somebody said we ought to put him there.”

Even after Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947 it took a while for most teams to integrate. The Cleveland Indians and St. Louis Browns also integrated in ’47, but it took thirteen more years for all sixteen teams to put African Americans on their rosters.

Stengel also lashed out at the Cleveland Indians boss,

“Why does Hank Greenberg of Cleveland say, ‘I hate the Yankees?’ He should say that he ought to hate himself for not winning the pennant with the kind of a pitching staff he’s got. When do teams in this day fail to win pennants with three twenty-game winners on their pitching staff. The Yankee players don’t hate the Cleveland players, they hate you Mr. Greenberg.”

Stengel also blasted Washington Senators owner Clark Griffith who had accused the Yankees of shady dealing in going after one of their players.

The Yankee manager finished running off at the mouth by promising a 5th straight American League pennant in 1953, which is exactly what the Yankees did, and went on to win their fifth straight World Series.

Contributing Sources:
Carl Lundquist, United Press (UP), December 3, 1952
When teams integrated
World Series results

NOV 28 IN BASEBALL HISTORY: Monty Stratton’s career ends suddenly

NOVEMBER 28, 1936 | DALLAS, TEXAS  The 26-year old ace of the Chicago White Sox had his right leg amputated on this date in 1938. Monty Stratton accidentally shot himself in the leg while hunting the day before. The story appeared to be, ‘Monty Stratton’s career ends suddenly.’ Stratton had other ideas.

According the New York Times, the accident happened while Stratton was hunting for rabbits on the family farm. He slipped and fell, accidentally discharging his shotgun. The pellets ripped into his right leg, striking a major artery. Doctors were forced to remove the leg.

The 6-foot 5-inch Stratton had pitched five seasons for the Sox before the accident. He went 15-5 and 15-9 the previous two seasons. He spent the two seasons after he lost his leg coaching for the White Sox and pitching batting practice. But he was determined to pitch competitively again.

Stratton was fitted for a wooden leg. He got himself back in shape. Though he never pitched in the major leagues again, Stratton pitched in the minor leagues for Sherman and Waco, Texas, going 18-8 and 7-7 in 1946 and 1947.

While Monty Stratton’s career ended suddenly, his inspiring story is depicted in the 1949 film, The Monty Stratton Story  starring James Stewart.

Contributing Sources:
Monty Stratton
Associated Press (AP), The Montreal Gazette, November 29, 1938
Monty Stratton minor leagues stats

a STORY from today in baseball history