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The Biography of Walter O'Malley



Fans Top Priority
The fans were a large part of his concern on a daily basis. He and his entire organization were committed to a traditional baseball presentation, always making the game the star, with a family-friendly environment at comfortable, safe and clean Dodger Stadium. All Dodger executives, staff and game-day employees understood the policy of serving the fans and were responsive to their needs. Every phone call and letter was answered. O’Malley read and answered every letter he received with help from his able secretary Edith Monak, who worked with him for over 40 years. He talked with fans both at Dodger Stadium and elsewhere to feel the pulse of how his organization was being run and accepted. O’Malley sent regular year-round communications to his season, group and individual mail order ticket purchasers, including the popular Line Drives newsletter.
He also held the line on ticket prices, making Dodger baseball affordable to families. For 18 seasons, ticket prices ranging from 75 cents to $3.50 remained unchanged (see chart), earning Dodger Stadium an extraordinary reputation as a place for a first-rate, inexpensive family outing. The Dodgers set records for attendance, breaking the Major League record in 1962 with 2,755,184. The Milwaukee Braves had gone over the two million barrier for four straight seasons in their new ballpark from 1954-57, after moving from Boston in 1953. The Dodgers would become the first Major League Baseball team to top the three million mark in attendance in 1978.
In 1963, 1965 and 1966, the Dodgers returned to the World Series with the likes of Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale on the mound and hitters like Tommy Davis, Willie Davis, Maury Wills and Ron Fairly leading the way.
It was an exciting era for O’Malley and the Dodgers in their new stadium as they enjoyed success on the field, winning the World Series in 1963 (taking four straight games from the New York Yankees) and 1965 (defeating the Minnesota Twins in seven games), before losing in four straight games to Baltimore in the 1966 Fall Classic. On the Dodgers’ return goodwill trip to Japan after the 1966 World Series, O’Malley was presented with the Order of the Sacred Treasure Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon award from Japan. The high honor was in recognition of O’Malley’s work in promoting friendly relations with Japan through baseball. Director General Kiyosi Mori of Prime Minister Eisaku Sato’s office made the presentation in Tokyo on the tour on November 15.
O’Malley advanced Dodgertown to modern state-of-the-art villas in 1972, replacing the old Naval barracks and continued to improve the finest spring training facility with a new building housing clubhouses, dining room, medical offices, working press room, radio studio, photo darkroom and equipment storage areas in 1974.




Opening Day, April 10, 1962, was a feast for the eyes, with all the anticipation of a new season and a new ballpark as Dodger Stadium makes its debut. Eddie Kasko of the Cincinnati Reds has the honor of getting the first hit in Dodger Stadium, as he doubles to left on the second pitch of the game off Johnny Podres.

AP/Wide World Photos




Dodger ace pitchers Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax celebrate the 1963 World Series title. The duo formed one of baseball’s all-time great pitching tandems.

Copyright © Los Angeles Dodgers, Inc.




Walter O’Malley wears the Order of the Sacred Treasure Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon award presented to him for promoting friendly relations with Japan through baseball. The presentation was held on Nov. 15, 1966 while the Dodgers were concluding their second goodwill tour of Japan in a decade under O’Malley.


As Walter O’Malley developed, built and maintained spring training headquarters at Dodgertown in Vero Beach, FL, the contrast in this 1972 photo is striking in the old barracks used originally in World War II on the U.S. Naval Air Station and the 90 modern villas used to house players, staff, guests and media.

Photo courtesy of Indian River County Historical Society, Inc.



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