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The Biography of Walter O'Malley

O'Malley Dodger Connection
It was while practicing law that O’Malley connected with George V. McLaughlin, the powerful civic leader and Brooklyn Trust Company president. McLaughlin, known as George the Fifth, was as close as anyone who could be called a mentor to O’Malley. While still at Penn, O’Malley’s father, Edwin, had introduced him to McLaughlin, the former New York City Police Commissioner. The nearly bankrupt Dodger organization was in arrears in paying its mortgage loans to the Trust Company and O’Malley was assigned by McLaughlin to keep an eye on the ballclub’s legal and business affairs, whose financial condition was in question.
Eventually, O’Malley made another bold career move, permanently leaving his successful New York law practice in 1943 to join the Dodgers as their full-time Vice President and General Counsel, replacing former U.S. presidential candidate Wendell L. Willkie, who was in ill health and had left to publish his book, “One World.” O’Malley was presented opportunities to purchase stock in the ballclub in two separate transactions in 1944 and 1945. On November 1, 1944, he joined with Dodger President Branch Rickey and Andrew Schmitz, a prominent Brooklyn insurance executive to purchase 25 percent of the stock from the estate of former part-owner Ed McKeever. In the second transaction on August 13, 1945, O’Malley, Rickey and John L. Smith, who was then Vice President and later President of Pfizer Chemical, purchased 50 percent of the stock from the estate of Charles Ebbets. Schmitz sold his shares to the triumvirate, raising their total stock held to 75 percent, with the balance owned by Dearie McKeever Mulvey, daughter of the late Brooklyn team President Steve McKeever.
In 1946, O’Malley wrote Capt. Emil Praeger for his architectural ideas to either renovate or design a new ballpark in Brooklyn. The former Naval Captain was an engineer for the renovation of the White House in 1949 and several United Nations buildings in New York in 1953. Praeger would later play a major role in the design of Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, teaming with O’Malley on the 11th stadium site for which they prepared plans and blueprints. Also in 1946, Rickey signed four-sport star Jackie Robinson to a Montreal Royals minor league contract, which led to the historic 1947 breaking of the color line in Major League Baseball. At the time, O’Malley was part-owner, Vice President and General Counsel of the Dodgers.

Stationery from Walter O’Malley’s law offices, with partner Ray Wilson, at 60 E. 42nd Street in New York City.

Original Brooklyn Dodgers stock certificate issued to Walter O’Malley and signed by Dodger President Branch Rickey on Sept. 25, 1945. O’Malley and Rickey each owned 25 percent of the Dodger stock in 1945.

Kay and Walter O’Malley with their two children, Peter and Terry, circa 1939.

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