Homage to a Horsehide Visionary

 

Class of ’26 and ’59 | To this day, there is a fading legion of New York baseball fans who scowl at the mention of the late Walter O’Malley C’26—the man who, after buying the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1950, moved the beloved Bums to Los Angeles in 1958. For Los AngeleŇos, of course, the image is quite different—O’Malley brought them one of the most successful, fan-friendly franchises in the world; built a beautiful, privately financed stadium; and opened up the American West for baseball.

Top: The Walter O’Malley website is a multimedia trove of Dodger-centric baseball history. Above: Peter O'Malley (left) and Walter at Dodger Stadium in 1970.

Both sides—and anyone remotely interested in baseball history and the business of sports—should check out www.walteromalley.com, a new website devoted to the legacy of O’Malley, whom ABC Sports ranked as one of the 10 Most Influential People “off the field” in sports history. The 800-page site is the brainchild of his son, Peter O’Malley W’59, who succeeded him as president of the Dodgers in 1970 until 1998, although the elder O’Malley stayed on as CEO until his death in 1979.

“This site allows us to centralize my Dad’s story for baseball fans from around the world,” said Peter O’Malley. “We plan to include more moments of historical significance as this work-in-progress continues. Baseball was not a hobby, but his full-time career and passion.”

In addition to the lengthy biography—which chronicles, among other things, O’Malley’s unsuccessful efforts to procure land for a new stadium in Brooklyn—the site is a trove of more than 1,000 photographs, letters, video and audio clips, and memorabilia, including articles from The Pennsylvanian reporting O’Malley’s elections as president of the junior and senior classes at Penn. O’Malley’s visionary emphasis on appealing to a multicultural audience is reflected in the fact that the website can be read in English, Spanish, and Japanese.

In the end, even those old die-hard Brooklyn Dodger fans would have to reconsider their enmity. As Los Angeles Times columnist Jim Murray wrote when O’Malley died in 1979: “Ted Williams might have had the vision to see a ball curving 60 feet ahead, but Walter O’Malley had the vision to see three decades ahead … He brought the game kicking and screaming into the 20th century.”—S.H.

© 2004 The Pennsylvania Gazette
Last modified 07/01/04




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