First Major League Game in Los Angeles Walter O'Malley The Official Website

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History in the Making: First Major League Game in Los Angeles

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Only after doors kept closing on him in Brooklyn in his decade-long challenge to replace aging Ebbets Field with its limited parking for 700 cars did O’Malley then look to broaden baseball’s borders. The footprint of the 16 major league teams extended no farther west than Kansas City in 1957. For several years, Los Angeles officials had tried to convince Major League Baseball that their city was ready to earn “big league” status and needed the popular Dodgers. Parallel to their friendly persuasion were the extended efforts of O’Malley to design, build, privately finance and maintain baseball’s first dome stadium at the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues in Brooklyn. But, try as he might, O’Malley kept getting blocked in his request for assistance in assembling the needed land, which he would have purchased.
The last straw seemed to come when powerful Robert Moses, Parks Commissioner for the City of New York, insisted on pointing O’Malley out of Brooklyn to Flushing Meadows, Queens to land that O’Malley and his highly-regarded engineer Capt. Emil Praeger had rejected years earlier because of its poor foundation.1
The announcement that the Dodgers were drafting the Los Angeles territory on October 8, 1957, following the L.A. City Council’s approval of a contract with O’Malley and the Dodgers, set the wheels in motion for the significant westward expansion of major league baseball. While the Dodgers were heading to Los Angeles, the New York Giants had announced on August 19, 1957 that they were already moving to San Francisco for the 1958 season.
Horace Stoneham, owner of the Giants, had previously decided to relocate to Minneapolis. However, O’Malley suggested to Stoneham that he reconsider San Francisco. O’Malley even helped arrange a meeting at New York’s Hotel Lexington between San Francisco Mayor George Christopher and Stoneham to discuss possible terms of an agreement.
San Francisco voters had agreed to fund a municipal stadium, while Los Angeles voters turned down a proposition to subsidize a stadium in May 1955, long before the Dodgers considered Los Angeles. But, that was more than acceptable to O’Malley, who had made it clear that he desired to design, build, privately finance and maintain his dream baseball stadium. O’Malley saved the newspaper clipping of the decision of L.A. voters in his files.

1 Letter from Capt. Emil Praeger to Walter O’Malley, December 14, 1954

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Letter from renowned engineer Capt. Emil Praeger to Walter O’Malley on December 14, 1954 regarding various concerns with land being considered as a site for a new ballpark for the Dodgers in Flushing Meadows, Queens.

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Press release and announcement made by the Dodgers on October 8, 1957, the day after the Los Angeles City Council voted to enter into an agreement with the Dodgers and asked them to relocate.

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The Los Angeles Mirror News published a special souvenir edition welcoming the Dodgers and included caricatures of Dodgers players and owner Walter O’Malley, as well as delighted fans with open arms. Los Angeles Mayor Norris Poulson had proclaimed “Welcome Dodger Week” beginning on April 13.

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