What Dodgers owe the Angels

ANGELS shortstop Bill Schuster steals home against the Seattle Rainers (Wikipedia/Los Angeles Daily News).

At this point, I am willing to bet my collection of old Mad Magazines that the Greatest Player (So Far) of the 21st Century – Shohei Ohtani – will be the very next super-free agent to take the field at Dodger Stadium for 2024.

It makes sense. The Blue Crew is the most successful team in Major League baseball and the franchise the most valuable, with the possible exception of the New York Yankees. They’re loaded with money and talent.

Ohtani has stated repeatedly that he wants to play for a winner, and that clearly excludes the Angels. Signing with boys at Chavez Ravine also puts him on the Pacific Coast in a mild climate similar to (and closer to, relatively) Japan.

Sending him to a National League team would have the added bonus to Angels’ fans of not having to see him crush the wobbly Angels pitching staff with Homeric home runs, except during the “Freeway Series” games.

Sending Shohei won’t be the only favor the Angels have given to the Dodgers. In fact, there might not even be a Los Angeles Dodgers if not for the original Los Angeles Angels.

Yes, the original Angels were one of the most successful minor league teams in the nation. The 1934 team, playing in the Pacific Coast League, posted a 137-50 record and is considered the best minor league team in baseball history.

The team was a winner not only on the field, but also at the turnstile, bringing in big crowds to see them at Wrigley Field (not the one in Chicago), and especially so when they played their arch-rivals, the Hollywood Stars.

With that level of success, the Angels established the Los Angeles area as the best candidate for a new home for the Brooklyn Dodgers, who were frustrated in their efforts to build a new, more modern (and bigger) stadium to replace Ebbets Field.

Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley bought the team in 1956 and Wrigley for what is $31.2 million today, promising to keep the Angels in the PCL. Actually, it was a bit of sleight-of-hand and he moved his Dodgers to L.A. for the 1958 season, playing in the Los Angeles Coliseum until the opening of the Dodger Stadium in 1962, where they became landlord to the new Los Angeles Angels as tenants.

Also, the Dodgers swiped the Angels’ cap design of interlocking L and A.

There’s more to the story. In 1945, the teams in the PCL – who played at a very high level – voted to become a major league. The AL and NL wouldn’t “play ball” but if they had, the Angels would have been Southern California’s first big-league team, beating the Dodgers and Giants by 22 years.

Jim Tortolano spends a lot of time on baseball history because the present-day news about the Angels is so depressing.

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