Hollywood Stars

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Hollywood Stars
19261957
(19261935, 19381957)
Hollywood, California
Hollywoodstars.jpg HollywoodStarsCap.png
Team Logo Cap Insignia
Class-level
  • Open (1952–1957)
  • Triple-A (1946–1951)
  • Double-A (1926–1935), (1938–1945)
Minor league affiliations
  • Pacific Coast League (1926–1935), (1938–1957)
Major league affiliations
Name
  • Hollywood Stars (1926–1935), (1938–1957)
Ballpark
Minor league titles
League titles 1929, 1930, 1949

The Hollywood Stars were a minor league baseball team that played in the Pacific Coast League during the early and mid 20th century. They were the arch-rivals of the other Los Angeles based PCL team, the Los Angeles Angels.

Hollywood Stars (1926-1935)[edit]

The first version of the Hollywood Stars began its existence in 1903 as the Sacramento Solons, a charter member of the PCL. The team moved to Tacoma in 1904, where it won the pennant as the Tacoma Tigers. During the 1905 season, the team returned to Sacramento to finish out the season, moved to Fresno in 1906 to finish last as the Fresno Raisin Eaters, then left the PCL altogether. The Sacramento Solons rejoined the PCL in 1909, then moved to San Francisco during the 1914 season, finishing out the season as the San Francisco Missions. The team was sold to Utah businessman Bill "Hardpan" Lane and moved to Salt Lake City for the 1915 season. They played as the Salt Lake Bees for the next eleven seasons until Lane moved the team to Los Angeles for the 1926 season. Originally they were known as the Hollywood Bees, but soon changed their name to the Hollywood Stars.

The original Stars, though supposedly representing Hollywood, actually played their home games as tenants of the Los Angeles Angels at Wrigley Field in South Los Angeles. Though the Stars won pennants in 1929 and 1930, they never developed much of a fan base, playing their home games miles from the glamorous Hollywood district. They were merely a team to watch when the Angels were on the road. Attendance had been quite good (by standards of that era) during their inaugural year in 1926, but tapered off after that, exacerbated by the Great Depression.

When, after the 1935 season, the Angels doubled the Stars’ rent, Lane announced the Stars would move to San Diego for the 1936 season, to become the San Diego Padres. Los Angeles became a one-team city once more for the 1936 and 1937 seasons.

Hollywood Stars (1938-1957)[edit]

The second version of the Hollywood Stars joined the PCL in 1909 as the Vernon Tigers. As the Tigers, the team won two PCL pennants (and finished first in another only to lose the postseason series) before moving to San Francisco for the 1926 season. The transplanted Tigers, now known as the Mission Reds or usually just "the Missions," foundered in San Francisco, failing to establish a rivalry with the existing San Francisco Seals.

In 1938 Missions' owner Herbert Fleishaker moved his team back to Los Angeles, and took the name of the departed Stars. After but one season, the team was sold to new owners, among them Robert H. “Bob” Cobb, one of the owners of the Brown Derby restaurant and for whom the Cobb salad is named. The new ownership realized the team needed to represent Hollywood in order to succeed. They sold stock in the team to movie stars, movie moguls, and Hollywood civic leaders ("the Hollywood Stars owned by the Hollywood stars"). (One of these, Gene Autry, subsequently became owner of his own major league franchise, now the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.) Another major investor was William Frawley from TV's I Love Lucy. Moreover, the team actually played in the Hollywood area, beginning in 1939 when 13,000-seat Gilmore Field was opened in the Fairfax District adjacent to Hollywood. (The club played part of the 1939 season in nearby Gilmore Stadium, after having played at Wrigley Field during 1938.)

The new Stars (or “Twinks”) caught on and became a very popular team, winning three pennants before 1958. They had successful affiliations with the Brooklyn Dodgers and Pittsburgh Pirates of Major League Baseball. In 1955, actress Jayne Mansfield was named Miss Hollywood Star. The Stars became genuine rivals of the Angels, and it was not uncommon for fights between the teams to break out during Angels-Stars games. In fact, on August 2, 1953, a brawl between the two teams lasted 30 minutes, broken up only when 50 riot police were sent to Gilmore Field by Chief of Police William Parker, who was at home watching the game on television when the fight started.

the cover of Double Play!

The Twinks were innovators. They began the custom of dragging the infield during the fifth inning, creating an artificial break in the action hoping fans would run to the concessions stands. The team began televising home games in 1939, and in later years televised every home game.

The Stars also had the dubious distinction of being the first team to replace the traditional bloused baseball trousers and stirrup socks with shorts and long socks in 1950. The theory was that players could run faster in this gear than in the baggy wool or cotton flannel uniforms of the day. The new uniforms resembling those worn by female softball players were "too Hollywood" even for Hollywood, as well as being very tough on the legs when sliding. They were soon replaced.

The Stars were immortalized on the 1957 jazz album Double Play! by André Previn and Russ Freeman. The baseball-themed album, with song titles like "Called On Account Of Rain," "Batter Up" and "In The Cellar Blues" features a model on the cover wearing a Stars cap, in a rather suggestive pose by 1950s standards.

The Beginning of the End[edit]

The Columbia Broadcasting System, owner of Gilmore Field, announced plans to raze the facility to build a new headquarters - CBS Television City, as it became known - in 1952. Before Stars' owners could make contingency plans, however, the "other shoe dropped." In October 1957, the Brooklyn Dodgers confirmed their long-rumored move to Los Angeles for the 1958 season, which forced the Stars and the Angels to relocate. The Angels, who had been purchased by Dodgers owner Walter O'Malley prior to the 1957 season, became the Spokane Indians in 1958.

Having no interest in operating the Twinks anywhere but in Los Angeles, the ownership group led by Frank J. Kanne, Jr. was compelled to sell the team, which it did, to a group based in Salt Lake City. The Stars, in a sense, "returned" to Salt Lake City (whence the original Stars had moved in 1926) in 1958, becoming the Salt Lake Bees once more.

Affiliations[edit]

The Stars were affiliated with the following major league teams:

Year Affiliation(s)
1941 New York Giants
1945-46; 1951–52; 1954-57 Pittsburgh Pirates
1947-48 Chicago White Sox
1949-50 Brooklyn Dodgers

References[edit]

  • O'Neal, Bill. The Pacific Coast League 1903-1988. Eakin Press, Austin TX, 1990. ISBN 0-89015-776-6.
  • Snelling, Dennis. The Pacific Coast League: A Statistical History, 1903-1957 McFarland & Company, Inc., Jefferson, NC, 1995. ISBN 0-7864-0045-5.