Turn Back The Clock Tuesday: Baseball moves west

On this day in 1957, owners approved a move that would change everything Photo: NY Giants owner, Horace Stoneham (left center) and Dodgers owner, Walter O'Malley (right center)/AP

LOS ANGELES, May 28, 2013 — Turn Back the Clock Tuesday turns the clock back 56 years to the year 1957. On this date in 1957, the National League owners voted unanimously to allow the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants go where no Major League team had gone before, the west coast.

The vote would open the doors that allowed baseball to flourish across the country. Until this point, Major League Baseball was confined to the east coast and midwest. The fact that teams were now flying to different cities for games instead of taking trains made a move to the west coast feasible.


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Three teams around this time were looking for new stadiums or cities. The Brooklyn Dodgers wanted a new stadium in Brooklyn to replace the aging Ebbetts Field. The New York Giants were looking to leave the Polo Grounds, which was falling apart. The Washington Nationals, also known as the Senators unofficially, had already sold their stadium back to the city of Washington D.C. and were looking for a new city.

The city of Los Angeles started putting the feelers out for the Washington Senators and hoped to convince the team to move to L.A. When Brooklyn owner, Walter O’Malley, got wind that L.A. was looking for a team, he jumped in and started negotiating with them.

At this same time, the New York Giants were considering moving to Minneapolis. They already had their top farm team, Minneapolis Millers, there and held the rights to a Major League franchise in the area.

The Washington Senators were in talks to move their club to San Francisco. Walter O’Malley needed a team to move west with him. O’Malley convinced Horace Stoneham to take the San Francisco deal proposed by San Francisco’s mayor, George Christopher.


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The Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants were set to leave the city of New York in 1958. They would bring with them the many years of historic rivalry to California. Brooklyn would become the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York would become the San Francisco Giants.

To help facilitate a move to San Francisco, the Giants traded their top farm team in Minneapolis for the San Francisco Seals, which belonged to the Boston Red Sox. The Giants would play their first two seasons in San Francisco at Seals Park, where the minor league team played, before moving in 1960 to Candlestick Park.

The Dodgers would play their first four seasons at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum before moving into the newly built Dodger Stadium in Chavez Ravine in 1962.

In 1961, the Washington Senators finally left D.C. and headed for Minnesota to become the Twins. Washington D.C. would be awarded an expansion team that same year, also called the Senators. That version of the Senators eventually left in 1971 to become the Texas Rangers. This left D.C. without a major league franchise until the Canadians failed to keep the Montreal Expos in Canada. The Expos became the Washington Nationals in 2005.


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The vote on this day in 1957 changed Major League Baseball forever. It also helped change the landscape of America. While this move was probably inevitable at some point, the fact that two of the storied franchises in baseball history and bitter rivals to boot made the monumental move in the same year to the same part of the country is something that will probably never happen again.

Kevin J. Wells writes about Major League Baseball and punk rock music.  Follow him on Twitter @WellsOnBaseball

 


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Kevin J Wells

Kevin J. Wells was born and raised in the Los Angeles area in a town called Montrose.  He currently plays guitar for and is a founding member of the Los Angeles punk rock band Emmer Effer.  He has worked in a number of different career fields including Behavioral Therapy, Commodities, Insurance, and most recently a food cart in Portland, OR. Kevin has been both a sports and entertainment columnist and editor for The Washington Times Communities since January 2013.

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