Dodgers World Series Ring Walter O'Malley The Official Website

The Early Years
Entering The...
The Dodger Saga
A New Era Begins
Ebbets Field Revisited
The Memorable...
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L.A. Sends a Message
This is Next Year!
Putting Their Domes...
The Political Game
Los Angeles Bound
Where to Play in L.A.
Curveball Right...
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The Red Head is a...
1959: A Year of...
Home Sweet Home
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The Last Inning
The Biography of Walter O'Malley

Curveball Right Down the Middle
“In view of the above,” O’Malley continued in the press release, “it is inconceivable that there is any merit to the suggestions made by opponents of major league baseball that this contract should be renegotiated. IT CANNOT BE RENEGOTIATED. There is a serious business recession on now as all wage-earners and business people know. Suppose the Dodgers at this delicate time had the temerity to ask that the contract be renegotiated downward? Can you imagine the uproar these same critics would raise? The Dodgers signed the contract offered to them and intend to remain honorable in its performance. The present referendum has already brought us to the time of economic recession. Immediate construction at Chavez Ravine would help employment and business and fulfill our National League commitments to be in the new ball park for the 1960 season.
“We are BASEBALL folks — not oil operators or real estate promoters. Out of 314 acres in a rugged terrain we can carve only enough shelves for the Stadium, Youth Center and parking fields for 17,500 cars.
“Finally, let me say this. All my inclinations are not to get into this fray. I have carefully refrained from doing so.
  1. We will fight to stay in Los Angeles.
  2. There is neither the time nor the willingness on either side to renegotiate what is already a fair contract — and suffer the chance of still another referendum election.
  3. The National League — and not the ball club — controls the franchise. They could force us to move if we cannot provide the home we promised them by 1960.
  4. We have fulfilled and will fulfill all conditions of the contract — and are confident that the voters will want to do likewise.”

In an Associated Press poll published on May 24, 1958, the “No on Proposition B” referendum voters were ahead by a 44.7 to 43.3 margin, while 12 percent had “no opinion.”93 The City Council had already approved of the Chavez Ravine contract by a 10-4 margin, but opposition grew from individuals who mistakenly didn’t believe O’Malley’s private enterprise should receive any special concessions using public money.
The “Proposition B” referendum vote took place on June 3, 1958 and O’Malley and the Dodgers, using all means of communication available, including straightforward television messages, brought their side of the story to the public. Two days earlier on Sunday, June 1, as the Dodgers completed a road trip in Chicago, a live, five-hour Dodgerthon on KTTV Channel 11 was held in support of the contract and O’Malley’s new stadium. A jam-packed lineup of civic leaders, celebrities, and sports stars, including Jerry Lewis, Ronald Reagan, George Burns, Chairman Joe E. Brown of the Taxpayers’ Committee for “Yes on Baseball,” Dean Martin, Jack Benny, Laraine Day, Debbie Reynolds, Ray Walston, Casey Stengel and Jackie Robinson (via tape) participated on the show. The culmination of the show was the Dodgers’ arrival via United Airlines at Los Angeles International Airport before thousands of adoring fans who crashed their way through the gate to push onto the tarmac and greet their hometown heroes. The next night O’Malley made his key points for supporting Proposition B on local television (Channel 13), while on the same show his opponent J.A. Smith gave opposing viewpoints.

93 Los Angeles Examiner, May 24, 1958, AP Poll

The Dodgers staged a live, five-hour Dodgerthon on June 1, 1958, two days before the election, explaining their side of the “Proposition B” debate on KTTV Channel 11.

Courtesy of University of Southern California, on behalf of the USC Specialized Libraries and Archival Collections

A June 2, 1958 telegram to Walter O’Malley from Harpo Marx, who had a lot to say.

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