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Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history

Category: September 21, 2008 - September 27, 2008

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Angels hire new GM, September 24, 1968

Walsh named Angel general manager

'I think that the sun will be shining very soon in Anaheim.' -- Bill Rigney, Angel field manager

Peggy Fleming at the Fabulous Forum!

1968_september_24 By Keith Thursby
Times staff writer

The first time the Angels looked to the Dodgers for new leadership, it didn't work out too well.
Dick Walsh had a long career with the Dodgers and was a key executive during the team's early years in Los Angeles. He was commissioner of the North American Soccer League when the Angels hired him to replace the team's original general manager, Fred Haney.
"In Dick Walsh we have acquired one of the bright young minds in baseball," team president Robert Reynolds told The Times' Ross Newhan. "We are happy that he is returning to his first love."
Walsh looked like a perfect choice. He was only 43, had run a professional sports league and had baseball experience with a winning franchise.
"I will not trade just for the sake of making a trade," Walsh told Newhan. "As for the future, I think the Angels' basic need is in the area of hitting. Jim Fregosi and Rick Reichardt give us a nucleus and we must build on that."
The Times' story on Walsh's hiring included the news that Manager Bill Rigney signed a new two-year contract. "I think that the sun will be shining very soon in Anaheim," Rigney said.
A few days later, The Times had a small story on the Angels signing another former Dodger employee, Harold (Lefty) Phillips as director of player personnel. He would replace Rigney and become the Angels' second manager early in the 1969 season.
The Walsh/Phillips era in Anaheim was short and not so sweet.
Walsh made several trades, the biggest involving Alex Johnson, Tony Conigliaro, Sandy Alomar and Ken McMullen. Johnson won a batting title with the Angels but seemed to be in constant trouble. Conigliaro, a star with the Red Sox who was severely injured when he was beaned by the Angels' Jack Hamilton, didn't even last a season in Anaheim. Alomar cost the Angels popular second baseman Bobby Knoop, but Alomar was a solid player and younger and faster than Knoop. McMullen had one solid season for the Angels, but was traded to the Dodgers after the 1972 season in a huge deal that involved Frank Robinson, Andy Messersmith and Bobby Valentine among others.
Walsh was fired by the Angels in the fall of 1971. Phillips had already been let go. "There were so many different things," Gene Autry told The Times in a story that ran Oct. 21. "It wasn't the trades he made. Anybody could come up bad on trades. But for the good of the team and the morale of the team and the employees, we had to make a change."

Los Angeles County supervisors divert money for Dodger Stadium roads, September 24, 1958

Chavez Ravine funds go elsewhere

County money intended to build roads into Dodger Stadium will be diverted to other projects.

Wait a minute! IMDB says this is W.R. Burnett's "Asphalt Jungle" turned into a western

1958_september_24_page By Keith Thursby
Times staff writer

The Board of Supervisors found more than a million reasons not to wait for the Chavez Ravine legal mess to be settled.

With plans for a new baseball stadium still delayed in the courts, the supervisors agreed to use $1,350,000 allocated to build roads leading into the ballpark elsewhere in the county.

Supervisor Frank G. Bonelli said his proposal "does not indicate lack of faith that the Dodgers will ultimately have a ballpark" but that "they may be in the courts for years and meanwhile we need the roads in other sections of the county."

The plan was to split the money equally in the five supervisors' districts. Bonelli asked the road department to provide a list of the most needed projects.

A short story in The Times noted that Supervisor John Anson Ford said his district didn't need any new roads. Bonelli and Supervisor Warren Dorn, The Times reported, both said they could make good use of Ford's share.

Films in production -- Wizard of Oz, September 24, 1938



Nearly 500 people are dead from a hurricane that tore through the northeastern United States. Damage is so great that no reliable estimates are available. The death toll is Rhode Island, 240; Massachusetts, 112; Connecticut, 65; New York, 50; New Hampshire, 13; Vermont, 2; New Jersey, 2; Quebec, 2.

Czechoslovakia mobilizes its army in preparation for war with Germany. France also warns that it will come to Czechoslovakia's aid if the Nazis attack.

Quote of the Day:

"I cannot say it is hopeless."
Neville Chamberlain.

In sports, UCLA defeats Iowa, 27-3 and USC meets Alabama at the Coliseum.

"Bopped around for four years by everybody but the Westlake School for Girls, the Trojans are supposed to be fired for a comeback that will match anything Alabama ever put over in Pasadena," Braven Dyer writes.   

Note: Average weight of the Trojan line is 208; the backfield, 188.

Houston takes stock of historic sites after Hurricane Ike

Photograph by J.R. Gonzales, Bayou City History blog

The Houston Public Library, where trees were knocked down by Hurricane Ike.

My fellow history blog colleague, J.R. Gonzales at the Houston Chronicle, who is still without electricity after Hurricane Ike, takes an inventory of how historic sites in Houston and Galveston weathered the storm. He says that many buildings suffered flood damage, but remain standing.  According to one post, the 1861 customs house used as the headquarters of the Galveston Historical Society was flooded with 8 feet of water.  The 1877 tall ship Elissa rode out the storm but lost several sails.


Fire closes Ventura Freeway; milestone for Rams star, September 23, 1968


Above, a fire closes the Ventura Freeway from Camarillo to Woodland Hills.

By Keith Thursby
Times staff writer

Dick Bass, a three-time Pro Bowl running back who played for the Rams from 1960-69, scored three touchdowns and became the 12th man in NFL history to gain 5,000 or more yards as the Rams coasted to a 45-10 victory over Pittsburgh.

Bass was presented with the game ball after a four-yard gain that put him over 5,000 for his career. "I accepted it but I wasn't in the right frame of mind for an award," Bass told The Times' Mal Florence. "I was mentally ready for the game--nothing else."

Florence described Bass as "the mod fullback with the stylish wardrobe." This would be the last full season for Bass, who was the second overall pick in the 1959 draft. He spent 13 more years with the Rams in the broadcast booth as an analyst. He was only 67 when he died in 2006.



Movie star mystery photos

Los Angeles Times file photo

1935_1017_borg_2 Update: Our mystery guest was identified almost immediately yesterday by Steven Bibb. Because he guessed so quickly that this is Ariane Borg, I deferred his answer for a day to see if anyone else would get it.

At left, news of Ariane Borg's arrival in Los Angles, Oct. 17, 1935.

This is a third photo of our mystery guest, who was misfiled as Veda Ann Borg. The Times published a fair number of articles about her in the mid-1930s, noting that she had been brought over from Europe for a movie as the next Garbo or the next Dietrich and had done very little work since, although she was kept on contract. The Times credits her with at least one and possibly two films at MGM, although she's not listed in the imdb credits for either one. I don't have access to either of the films to check.

According to her entry in the French version of Wikipedia, she went back to Europe to celebrate her birthday with her family and was stuck there during World War II. Plans for an American comeback after the war never materialized and she abandoned any hope of a show business career.

So sorry, only one guess was even vaguely warm. Not Lucille Ball and not Vera Hruba Ralston. This is going to be a toughie.
2008_0825_mystery_photo And the original photo of the mystery woman who is not Veda Ann Borg.

O.J. Simpson leads USC to 29-20 win over Minnesota, September 22, 1968

"My solution for the world's ills is for everybody to take off their clothes and jump in a big pile..." -- David Carradine


1968_september_22 By Keith Thursby
Times Staff Writer

O.J. Simpson started his Heisman Trophy-winning season with four touchdowns in USC's 29-20 victory over Minnesota.

Simpson scored twice in the fourth quarter. "I thought that now is the time to decide whether we're really good, to find out just what kind of football team we have," Simpson told The Times' Dwight Chapin.

Defensive tackle Tony Terry said the victory was just a matter of time. "You know why?  Because we have O.J. All you have to do is give him the ball."

Black civil rights leader stabbed; Dodgers win, September 22, 1958

Martin Luther King Jr. hospitalized

Woman judged insane after plunging a letter opener into the civil rights leader's chest.

King_stride_freedom_2 Black civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., 29, is in critical condition at Harlem Hospital in New York after being stabbed in the chest with a 7-inch steel letter opener while signing copies of his book "Stride Toward Freedom" at Blumstein's department store.

Police say Izola Ware Curry, 42, an African American woman, not only stabbed King but was carrying a pistol in her dress. According to a witness, Curry said: "I've been after him for six years. I'm glad I done it."

Authorities suspected Curry was mentally ill and placed her under observation at Bellevue Hospital. However, she insisted "I'm not ill," and when a reporter asked "When did you first decide to kill Mr. King?" she snapped: "Who said I wanted to kill him?"   

King remained in critical condition after the attack, and a few days later, he developed pneumonia. He was released from the hospital Oct. 3, 1958. Curry was charged with attempted murder and committed to Matteawan State Hospital after being judged insane.

While in the hospital, King expressed no bitterness toward Curry. Upon his release, he said, according to the New York Times: "Our society needs to be more concerned about mental health and social problems which contribute to this matter. We should go out with determination to solve many of the social problems which contributed to conditions that lead up to incidents like this."

A signed copy of "Stride Toward Freedom" sells for thousands of dollars today.

Bonus factoid: According to the New York Sun, Blumstein's department store was boycotted in the 1930s because it only hired whites. Afterward, it began hiring African Americans, including the nation's first black Santa Claus.

Holocaust remembered.


Braves win pennant.

Dodgers boost radio ratings, September 21, 1958

KMPC thrives on Dodger diet

Station at 710 on the AM dial wins the local radio pennant. (Not to be confused with KPMC, 1560)

Above, back in the days when there were beauty contests for every subject, even to encourage people to vote.

1958_0921_sports By Keith Thursby
Times staff writer

The Dodgers were a run-of-the-mill team in 1958 but they were a hit on the radio.

Don Page, writing the Radio Beat column for The Times, praised Dodger broadcasters Vin Scully and Jerry Doggett.  "Their descriptions were always of high caliber and of remarkable clarity," wrote Page.

The Dodgers quickly became ratings winners for KMPC.  Page reported that the station "consistently smothered all opposition with phenomenal ratings, even beating television marks in the same time periods."

KMPC was a big sports station in Los Angeles for many years but wouldn't air the Dodger games much longer. The website, a must read for any Dodger fan, has among its many historical items a letter from Gene Autry to O'Malley dated Nov. 24, 1959 telling how much the Singing Cowboy regretted losing the Dodgers to another station for the coming season.  The Dodgers moved to KFI.

Autry, of course, would get another baseball team for his station in 1961 when he became owner of the Los Angeles Angels.

Autry's letter to O'Malley closed with this line: "I am still a Dodger fan!'

Los Angeles history -- Nuestro Pueblo


An oil derrick in the street near the Beverly Center? Who knew?
Oil was 80 cents a barrel or $11.66 USD 2007.

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Movie star hits USC football player over car crash, September 21, 1938

Nazis poised to take Sudetenland

Britain and France warn Czechoslovakia she must surrender or fight alone. Germans set tomorrow as war deadline.


John Barrymore in "Hold That Coed." Bonus: Learn to dance the Limpy Dimp.


Train crash kills 11

Bill "Bojangles" Robinson is arrested after assaulting a USC football player over a traffic accident. Police say Robinson got into an argument with USC's Paul Moffat, who struck Robinson's chaffeur-driven limousine at Jefferson Boulevard and Orchard Street during a traffic jam.

Robinson drew a gun but instead of firing, hit Moffat on the head with it. Robinson was released on his own recognizance and Moffat was taken to Georgia Street Receiving Hospital, where he received five stitches to close the gash in his head.  The matter went to the grand jury, which refused to indict Robinson.

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At left, the neighborhood where Robinson lived in 1938, 1194 W. 36th Place, via Google maps' street view.

Brakeman blamed for wreck


UCLA prepares for Iowa

Yankee Stadium opens, April 19, 1923


By Keith Thursby
Times Staff Writer

The New York Yankees play their final regular-season game at Yankee Stadium today. Here's a look at how The Times covered the first game in the House That Ruth Built, a victory over the Boston Red Sox.

New York will finish the regular season at Boston. Seems ridiculous that the schedule could not have been worked out so the Yankees and Red Sox could close the season and the ballpark in style by playing in New York.


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