Artifacts from the collection of Peter O’Malley, President, Los Angeles Dodgers from 1970-1998 and his family are currently prominently displayed at three Southern California baseball exhibits, including the Japanese American National Museum, Los Angeles through September 14; the Nixon Presidential Library, Yorba Linda through October 5; and the Reagan Presidential Library, Simi Valley, through September 14.
At the Japanese American National Museum, 30 of O’Malley’s artifacts are on display at the “Dodgers: Brotherhood of the Game” exhibit, in conjunction with the Los Angeles Dodgers. A one-of-a-kind Dodgers’ autographed Noritake porcelain plate with signatures of 10 Baseball Hall of Famers, including Jackie Robinson, is on display for the first time in the United States. The plate, signed by 40 in total, was presented to Dodger President Walter O’Malley by members of the traveling party, who visited the Noritake factory during the Dodgers’ 1956 Goodwill Tour to Japan. Renowned sports writer Sotaro Suzuki, a Hall of Famer in Japan, also signed the plate. Also in the exhibit is a Happi coat belonging to Peter O’Malley from the Dodgers’ 1966 Goodwill Tour to Japan. Happi coats were presented to Dodger players and members of the traveling party during the team’s 1966 Goodwill Tour to Japan. The front of the coat with cherry blossoms reads “Welcome, World Peace and Dodgers”.
Five Dodger miniature baseball bats were created for the openings of several significant Dodger youth and adult baseball fields, privately built by former Dodger President Peter O’Malley. Those include in Tianjin, China (Sept. 12, 1986), Managua, Nicaragua (Jan. 18, 1992) and Dublin, Ireland (July 4, 1998). Mini-bats were also made for the Dodgers’ 1993 Friendship Series as they traveled to Taipei, Taiwan and Fukuoka, Japan.
Also featured in the exhibit:
*An original letter from Jackie Robinson to Dodger President Peter O’Malley on June 8, 1972, in which Robinson expresses his appreciation for retiring his uniform No. 42 during Old-Timer’s Day ceremonies four days earlier at Dodger Stadium. Robinson wrote, in part, “I want you to know that I was never so moved by the response of the fans as on that day.”
*On November 1, 1959, Jackie Robinson’s mother, Mallie, writes a letter to Norris Poulson, Mayor of Los Angeles (1953-1961) in support of Dodger President Walter O’Malley, when O’Malley was trying to privately build Dodger Stadium.
*A Tommy Lasorda original hand-written letter to express appreciation to Dodger President Peter O’Malley on December 19, 1981, following the Dodgers’ World Championship season. Lasorda writes, in part, “I will be starting my thirty third year with the Dodgers. I’ve enjoyed every one of them, but 1981 has to be the greatest of them all…We brought the Championship back to L.A. where it belongs…”
*Chan Ho Park and Hideo Nomo autographed photograph to then Dodger President Peter O’Malley, who made the historic international signings of the pioneering pitchers in 1994 and 1995, respectively. Park was the first player from South Korea to sign and play in Major League Baseball, while in 1995, Nomo became the first Japanese player from Japan’s Pacific or Central Leagues to play in MLB since Masanori Murakami in 1965.
Twenty more O’Malley artifacts are on display in the Nixon Presidential Library’s “Play Ball! Presidents and Baseball” exhibit.
*A wristwatch presented to Dodger President Walter O’Malley as “Brooklyn’s Catholic Man of the Year Award” by Congressman John F. Kennedy, after JFK’s talk to the dinner gathering at the Cathedral Club on January 17, 1952. The back of the watch is inscribed: “CATHEDRAL CLUB OF BROOKLYN Presented to Walter F. O’Malley by Hon. John F. Kennedy, January 17, 1952, MAN OF THE YEAR AWARD”.
*A 10-foot long, framed original color seating chart of Dodger Stadium, circa 1960. The seating chart concept for the new Dodger Stadium was created by Capt. Emil Praeger for Dodger President Walter O’Malley, who collaborated on the design, with a color palette for seating levels “from the land to the sky.” Praeger, senior partner of Praeger, Kavanagh and Waterbury of New York, was a Navy captain and the consulting engineer for the structural and foundation design for the 1949 White House renovation.
*Hall of Famer Dodger pitcher Sandy Koufax autographed baseballs, one from each of his four no-hitters (including a perfect game) presented to Dodger President Walter O’Malley in 1962, 1963, 1964 and 1965. Koufax, considered the greatest left-hander of all-time, autographed baseballs from June 30, 1962, when he beat the New York Mets, 5-0; on May 11, 1963, as he defeated the San Francisco Giants, 8-0; on June 4, 1964, when he blanked the Phillies in Philadelphia, 3-0; and on September 9, 1965, as he pitched a perfect game against the Chicago Cubs, 1-0, at Dodger Stadium.
*A hand-written note to Peter O’Malley from President George H.W. Bush on June 15, 1991 regarding his previous night’s visit to Dodger Stadium for a game between the Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals. Bush sat in O’Malley’s president’s box and signed a ticket, which is also on display. Mr. Bush is the only U.S. President to attend a game at Dodger Stadium while in office.
At the Reagan Presidential Library, visitors to “Baseball! Celebrating Our Great American Pastime” exhibit will be able to view the original Dodger Stadium model. It was presented as a gift to Dodger President Walter O’Malley from his friend Mervyn LeRoy, renowned producer-director. LeRoy commissioned it from Warner Bros. Studios, circa 1960.
The model was produced from original Dodger Stadium plans by O’Malley and Emil Praeger, distinguished Navy Captain and engineer of both Holman Stadium, Dodgertown, Vero Beach, Florida and Dodger Stadium. The pastel colors used in Dodger Stadium, same as when it opened April 10, 1962, are shown in the model, as Praeger wanted to celebrate the concept of “from the land to the sky”. It is the first time it has been publicly displayed since winter of 1961-62 at the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce and in Bank of America headquarters downtown.