So, here is part 2 of the Father's
Day Week extravaganza...
A SINGING COWBOY & THE JUDGMENT OF SOLOMON
As most of you HH’ers know, the Angels came into existence during the ’61 baseball winter meetings. Gene Autry had attended to try and get broadcast rights to this new team, and ended up being selected as owner. Upon hearing this news, my Dad couldn’t have been happier. There was going to be another local MLB team? They’re going to be named the Angels, taking the name from the AAA team he had vigorously supported in the past? The owner will be Gene Autry, a man known for integrity...especially in relation to that GDOM? To Dad, this was a grand slam. This was a team he could support with all his full-throated passion! In his eyes, this new baseball team was destined to be the anti-Dodgers (little did he know how true that would be for the first 2 decades).
Autry had only a few short months to put a team together. They quickly decided to make Wrigley Field – LA their home for that inaugural season. My Dad told me I attended 3-4 games that first season (I have zero memories of attending any games at Wrigley). Dad just loved it, with the team even bringing back Steve Bilko of the old AAA Angels. My Dad couldn’t believe his eyes…Steve Bilko in a full-fledged MLB Los Angeles Angels uniform.
They didn’t do all that well their first year, finishing 8th out of 10 teams (divisions would not arrive for another 7 seasons). But, they had some young, exciting prospects to look forward to over the next few years. Dad thought they would become more competitive and soon surpass the Dodgers in popularity. Take that you cheating lying GDOM!
Now what was that about a fickle mistress? Oh yes.
The Dodgers had played their first 3 seasons at the LA Memorial Coliseum. For the ’62 season, Dodger Stadium was scheduled to open. This was enticing to Autry, since the Angels organization and MLB acknowledged Wrigley Field was not fit for the MLB. The dimensions were too short, and the facilities were not adequate for an MLB team. Autry and O’Malley negotiated a deal for the Angels to play at Dodger Stadium. A sticking point was that O’Malley wanted 50% of the concession sales...at Angel home games! My Dad was…well whatever the word is to describe a state of mind where someone he already hated is now kicking his favorite owner (and team) squarely between the legs. Apoplectic doesn’t quite capture the elevated anger and contempt for that GDOM.
When Autry relented to that GDOM (what choice did he have?), my Dad was almost beyond despondent. How could he go and watch the Angels – his LA Angels – play at the home of the most despised rival, owned by that GDOM? Angel baseball at Dodger Stadium? And give 50% of every dollar spent to that GDOM? He swore and cursed and got angrier. Later, he thought, contemplated, analyzed and agonized. Then, he…started the process all over again. Years later, my Mom would refer to this time period as the "Dark Ages".
Slowly, he arrived at an epiphany. A decision was at hand. He had a solution to his conundrum! He decreed thusly;
I) He (and we) WOULD attend Angel games at Chavez Ravine! Hallelujah!
II) BUT (you knew that was coming), we would not spend one DAMN cent on concessions or parking…no hot dogs, no sodas, and definitely no parking inside the gate. My Dad made it clear…don’t even THINK about buying anything…even if it’s your money. Period!
III) Oh, one last commandment. We could never, ever refer to this new place as "Dodger Stadium". We had to call it "Chavez Ravine".
He was giddy with glee as he felt he’d given his fickle mistress the finger of fate. Was this a case of splitting the baby in half? Not quite...perhaps it was more like a ritual circumcision. One way or the other, it all worked out. As a family, we were going to continue to enjoy Angels baseball live and in person. Hurray!
Part 3 will be "hiking" into
Dodger Stadium Chavez Ravine..and other assorted adventures.