Los Angeles Angels

Wed, 05 Nov 2008 02:12

The history of the Los Angeles Angels

Information about the mlb team Los Angeles Angels.

Anaheim, California is home to many sports teams. The Los Angeles Angels are among their most popular ball clubs. Those who are not familiar with the history of this baseball team would get confused on why Anaheim is the home of a Los Angeles-named club. This was caused by a recent acquisition of the Disney Company, which wanted to promote their park in Anaheim. The team has won a single World Series title in their 47 years of existence. Although this number may seem small in comparison with other teams, the Los Angeles Angels has seen many playoff battles but were not able to go to the next level.

The Los Angeles Angels entered the American League in 1961 as an expansion team, coming from the Pacific Coast League. The team’s first owner was Gene Autry, a performer known more as the Singing Cowboy. However, becoming the team owner was not what Autry had in mind when he wanted to work with the Los Angeles Angels. Autry was hoping to secure broadcasting rights for the Angels’ first games. There were other owning bids for the Los Angeles Angels including Hank Greenberg, a Hall of Fame baseball player, and Bill Veeck, a popular promoter of Major League Baseball. Yet, when they failed to secure the ownership of the Angels, the title was given to Autry.

During the team’s first year in the league, the Los Angeles Angels managed to get a 70-91 record. They were ahead by 9 games from the other expansion team of that year, the Washington Senators (now known as the Texas Rangers). Their roster that time was a combination of Steve Bilko and Albie Pearson. Bilko was already familiar with the fans since he had been a member of the team since they were with the Pacific League. Meanwhile, Pearson was the 1958 MLB Rookie of the Year. The team played at the Los Angeles Wrigley Field during their first season but was forced to move to the Dodger Stadium in their second year.

The change of scenery would give big problems to the Angels as they had to pay large lease fees to the owner of the Dodger Stadium. Team owner Gene Autry looked for a good place to play while still retaining their strong fan base. His search led him to Anaheim, California. The move was completed in 1966. Their transfer also prompted the board of owners to rename the team to the California Angels. In their first year in Anaheim, the Angels secured the best attendance record in the whole American League, with over 1.4 million people going to their home games.

There were many popular Los Angeles Angels players during the 1960s to 1970s. Leading the way was Alex Johnson, who got an American League batting title in 1970. The Angels also had the services of pitchers Clyde Wright and Ken McBride. Jim Fregosi, the 1967 Gold Glove Award winner, was also part of the team. Manning the outfield for the Los Angeles Angels were Albie Pearson and Leon Wagner. The team also had Buck Rodgers as their catcher. These players had strong connections to the team, thus it was not surprising that Fregosi and Rodgers became future team managers of the Angels.

The Los Angeles Angels had their first taste of the playoffs when they acquired Nolan Ryan from the New York Mets for Jim Fregosi. Ryan, a relief pitcher for the 1969 Mets championship team, enjoyed success with the Angels as he helped the squad to the 1979 playoffs. He teamed up with Don Baylor, the first designated hitter to win a Most Valuable Player award. The 1979 Los Angeles Angels team boasted of many strong offensive players. They had Rod Carew, Bert Campaneris, Bobby Grich and Dan Ford. Yet, they still lost that year’s American League Championship Series to the Baltimore Orioles.

During the 1980s, the Angels were doing better as a team, but always came up short to achieving a World Series appearance. They won two American League West championships in the 1980s but failed to qualify for the World Series match. In 1982, the Angels were battling the Milwaukee Brewers to earn a spot in the World Series. The Los Angeles team already led the series, 2-0 but they surprisingly lost their next three games, giving the series to Milwaukee. Trying to shrug off this humiliating loss, the Angels got another shot at glory in 1986. Facing the Boston Red Sox, the Angels only needed a single strike to compete in the World Series. However, they were again foiled, thus irking their fans.

The Angels wanted to change their luck during the 1990s. However, many incidents affected the team’s winning campaign. Their owner, Gene Autry, was having health problems and could not manage the team properly, leaving the job to his wife, Jackie. There were also some moments when the Disney Company, a minority owner of the club, handled the team’s business. In 1992, the team’s roster had a major accident when their bus crashed in New Jersey. Injuries were sustained by twelve members of their team. Even their manager at that time, Buck Rodgers, got hospitalized on that incident.

The team’s luck was looking to change during the mid-90s when the Angels had an 11-game lead over their rivals, giving them the top spot in the American League. Yet, after losing shortstop Gary DiSarcina, the team lost a lot of games until the Seattle Mariners managed to tie with their record. The two teams were forced to have a division-title playoff and the Mariners, led by pitcher Randy Johnson, went on to win the game. With all these bad things happening to the Angels, rumors started circulating that the team was cursed. However, the team was not deterred as it continued to push for a World Series championship.

They got their chance at glory in 2002, when the team (already known as the Anaheim Angels) made significant changes in their uniform. The Angels placed third in the American League West division but got a wildcard berth after winning 99 games. They then defeated the New York Yankees and the Minnesota Twins which gained them a slot in the World Series. Here, they met with Barry Bonds’ San Francisco Giants. With the stacks against them, the Angels proved their doubters wrong by winning the World Series. The series’ MVP was the Angels’ third baseman Troy Glaus.

In 2005, the team officially changed their name to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Although met with protests from various groups, the team won a court verdict that allowed them to keep their name. The Angels also became constant playoff contenders, even though they have not earned another slot at the World Series since 2002. The Angels won another American League West title in 2007 after beating the Seattle Mariners. However, they were not able to go very far in the playoffs after they were hit by several injuries to key players. In that year’s American League Division Series, the Angels lost to the Boston Red Sox. They would win the West title again in 2008 but also lose yet again to the Red Sox in the American League Division Series.