Los Angeles Angels (PCL)
|Los Angeles Angels
(1892–1893, 1895, 1899–1957)
Los Angeles, California
|Minor league affiliations|
|League||Pacific Coast League (1903–1957)|
|Major league affiliations|
|Minor league titles|
|League titles||1903, 1905, 1907, 1908, 1916, 1921, 1926, 1933, 1934, 1947, 1956|
The Los Angeles Angels were a team based in Los Angeles, California that played in the Pacific Coast League from 1903 through 1957, after which they transferred to Spokane, Washington to become the Spokane Indians. Los Angeles would later become the host city to a Major League Baseball team, the Los Angeles Dodgers, in 1958 after the Brooklyn Dodgers moved to Los Angeles. This move made the PCL obsolete and it would eventually become a minor league affiliate of the MLB.
From 1903 through 1957, the Los Angeles Angels, a PCL team, were one of the mainstays of the Pacific Coast League, winning the PCL pennant 12 times. The Angels, along with the Portland Beavers, Oakland Oaks, Sacramento Solons, San Francisco Seals, and Seattle Indians were charter members of the Pacific Coast League which was founded in 1903. From 1903 through 1925, the team played at 15,000-seat Washington Park (also known as Chutes Park), just south of downtown Los Angeles. Both the team and the park were founded by James Furlong "Jim" Morley (1869-1940), an entrepreneur involved in bowling, prize fighting, billiards, and gemstones as well as baseball. During this time, the Angels (or Looloos or Seraphs as they were sometimes called), won pennants in 1903, 1905, 1907, 1908, 1916, 1918, and 1921. In 1918, the team finished second in regular season play, but won the postseason series against their cross-town rivals at the time, the Vernon Tigers. During the period 1915 to 1921, the Angels were owned by John F. "Johnny" Powers, Los Angeles socialite. The 1916 team was managed by Frank Chance, baseball Hall of Famer, noted as part of "Tinker to Evers to Chance"
In 1921, the team was purchased by chewing-gum magnate William Wrigley Jr., the owner of the Chicago Cubs of the National League. When Wrigley could not get the city of Los Angeles to make the improvements to Washington Park he requested, he began construction of his own 21,000-seat stadium, appropriately named Wrigley Field, at 42nd Place and Avalon Boulevard in what is now known as South Central Los Angeles. The Angels began play at Wrigley in 1926, and responded by winning their eighth PCL pennant, finishing 10 1⁄2 games ahead of the second-place Oakland Oaks. Wrigley Field was famous for being the setting for the show "Home Run Derby".
The Seraphs won the pennant again in 1933. In 1934, they fielded what is regarded as one of the greatest teams in the history of baseball. The 1934 Angels finished at 137-50 (.733) — 35 1⁄2 games ahead of the Mission Reds on an annualized basis (the PCL used a split season format that year). They were so good that their opponent in the postseason series (which the Angels won) was an all-star team composed of players from the other seven PCL teams.
The team won pennants in 1938, 1943, 1944, and 1947, with the 1943 team being considered among the best in league history. For the next eight years, however, the Angels struggled to remain mediocre at best. In 1949, the Seraphs finished in last place, for only the third time in 47 years. Then, after finishing third in 1955, the Angels won what would be their last pennant in the PCL in 1956. Led by their portly, popular first baseman Steve Bilko, the Seraphs finished 101-61 (.637), 16 games in front of the runner-up Seattle Rainiers.
The franchise history after leaving Los Angeles includes stays in Spokane, Washington as the "Indians" from 1958–1971 and Albuquerque, New Mexico (where it assumed the name Albuquerque Dukes, a venerable baseball franchise name in the "Duke City") from 1972 to 2000. The franchise was sold and became the third incarnation of the Portland Beavers from 2000 to 2010. In 2010, the franchise was purchased by San Diego Padres principal owner Jeff Moorad, after the Portland City Council chose to build a new soccer-only facility over a proposed joint-use baseball and soccer stadium. Moorad intended to have the team play in Escondido, California starting in 2013; however, those plans fell through. The franchise was temporarily relocated to Tucson, Arizona for the 2013 season, and nicknamed the Tucson Padres. In 2014, they moved to El Paso, Texas where they are known as the El Paso Chihuahuas.
In 1909, the PCL added two teams to become a six-team league (in 1919 it added two more). One of the new teams was located in the nearby town of Vernon, and the Angels had their first cross-town rival in the Vernon Tigers. Why Vernon, a small town? it was one of only two cities in Los Angeles County that was “wet” (i.e., sale of alcohol was legal). With alcoholic beverages as an attraction, the Tigers attracted big crowds by the standards of the day, and won three pennants during their 17-year history. In 1919, the Tigers were purchased by Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle. Opening day in 1919 featured a preliminary "game" which included Arbuckle, Tom Mix, and Buster Keaton. With the ratification of the 18th Amendment and the criminalizing of alcohol consumption, however, crowds became sparse and the Tigers were sold to San Francisco interests and moved there for the 1926 season.
The move of the Tigers prompted the owner of the Salt Lake Bees to move his team to Los Angeles for the 1926 season, where the team began play as the Hollywood Bees, but soon changed their name to the Hollywood Stars. This first version of the Stars, though supposedly representing Hollywood, actually played home games as tenants of the Angels at Wrigley Field. Though the Stars won pennants in 1929 and 1930, they never developed much of a fan base. They were merely a team to watch when the Angels were on the road. After the 1935 season, the Angels doubled the Stars’ rent, whereupon the Stars moved to San Diego for the 1936 season, becoming the San Diego Padres, and Los Angeles became a one-team city once more for the 1936 and 1937 seasons.
In 1938, the old Vernon Tigers, who had played in San Francisco as the Mission Reds since 1926, moved back to Los Angeles, this time as the second version of the Hollywood Stars and, like their predecessors, played their 1938 home games in Wrigley Field. After one season, though, the team was sold to new owners, among them Robert H. Cobb, owner of the Brown Derby restaurant and for whom the Cobb salad is named. They sold stock in the team to movie stars, movie moguls, and Hollywood civic leaders. Moreover, the team actually played in the Hollywood area, beginning in 1939 when Gilmore Field was opened in the Fairfax District adjacent to Hollywood.
The new Stars (or “Twinks”) caught on and became a very popular team, winning three pennants before 1958. They were genuine rivals to the Angels, and it was not uncommon for fights between the teams to break out during 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 beginning of the end
Early in 1957, Philip Wrigley, who had inherited the team from his father, sold the Angels and Wrigley Field to Brooklyn Dodgers owner Walter O'Malley for the then-astronomical sum of $3,000,000 and the Fort Worth Panthers of the Texas League. O’Malley assured the PCL owners that he intended to operate the Angels as a PCL team as had the Wrigleys. He kept his promise – for only one season. The ownership of the minor league team also gave O'Malley exclusive rights to major league baseball in Los Angeles and he used this to relocate the Dodgers.
After the 1957 season the Angels and the Stars were relocated when the Dodgers confirmed their long-rumored move to Los Angeles for the 1958 season. The Angels became the Spokane Indians in 1958. The Stars, in a sense, "returned" to Salt Lake City (whence the original Stars had moved in 1926), becoming the Salt Lake Bees once more.
The new Los Angeles Dodgers would adopt the interlocking "LA" cap logo of the Angels, with a color change to Dodger Blue and white.
The Angels were affiliated with the following major league teams:
Notable Angels with MLB experience
- Gene Baker
- Steve Bilko
- Cliff Chambers
- Chuck Connors
- Gavvy Cravath
- Sam Crawford
- Brad Hogg
- Tommy Lasorda
- Clarence Maddern
- Gene Mauch
- Bobo Newsom
- Andy Pafko
- Jimmie Reese
- Bill Sarni
- Jigger Statz
- Dixie Upright
- Dennis Snelling, The Greatest Minor League: A History of the Pacific Coast League, 1903-1957 (McFarland, 2012; ISBN 0786465247), p. 15.
- Snelling, The Greatest Minor League, p. 16.
- "Portland City Council Approves Soccer Deal for PGE Park," The Oregonian, February 3, 2010.  Retrieved 02-20-2011
- "Council votes to Bring Baseball to Escondido," San Diego Union-Tribune, December 15, 2010.  Retrieved 2-20-2011
- "Padres' Triple-A Club to play in Tucson in '11," San Diego Padres Official Website 
- "Mayor decides against veto, baseball in downtown by 2014", KVIA  Retrieved 09-20-2012
- Hill, Benjamin (October 22, 2013). "Chihuahuas rule the day in El Paso". MiLB.com. Minor League Baseball. Retrieved October 22, 2013.
- Richard Beverage, The Los Angeles Angels of the Pacific Coast League: A History, 1903-1957. McFarland & Company, Inc., Jefferson, NC, 2011. ISBN 978-0-7864-6520-0.
- 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.