Mystics Predict the 'Big One' Will Destroy California; Dodger Recalls Negro Leagues, March 12, 1969
L.A. is doomed! ... Again!
"I was one of the lucky ones. I was born at the right time," Gilliam told The Times' John Wiebusch.
By 1969 a coach with the Dodgers after a long and versatile career, Gilliam told about his early days in the Negro League. He started playing at 15 and was 21 when the Dodgers signed him.
"I think of the old days often, " he said. "I think of the games we played at Bugle Field in Baltimore and how rough it was then. I think of the guys who made it--the Roy Campanellas, the Monte Irvins, the Larry Dobys, the Willie Mayes... the Junior Gilliams.
"Then I think of Josh Gibson and the others. And Satchel Paige and the barnstorming days and the guys who played for the New York Black Yankees and the Washington Homestead Grays."
Gilliam said if a scout tried to sign Gibson in 1969, "they would have a blank spot on the contract and say, 'Fill the amount in.' That's how good Josh Gibson was."
The Global League was supposed to be just that, with teams in the Caribbean, Japan, Mexico and the United States. A.B. (Happy) Chandler, a former baseball commissioner, had signed on for the same title with the new league.
Ross Newman's short story in The Times had a lot of detail on Fregosi, who said he turned down $500,000 over four years. "The cash was there, there never was a doubt in my mind about that," Fregosi said. "I can assure you that it is very difficult turning down security for life."
Fregosi was the Angels' first big attraction, their all-star shortstop and future manager. Newhan reported on March 2 that Fregosi had agreed to a new deal for "a small cut" from the previous year's salary of $65,000--at that time the highest-paid Angel ever.
He said he considered the Global League offer for two weeks but the Angels "have treated me well in every respect."