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Gino Cimoli, Dodgers’ first hitter on the West Coast, dies at 81

February 13, 2011 |  6:26 pm

Cimoli Gino Cimoli, a former Dodger outfielder who was the first major league hitter on the West Coast when the Dodgers and Giants moved to California in 1958, has died. He was 81.

Cimoli died Saturday at Sutter Roseville Medical Center in Roseville, Calif., of kidney and heart complications, said his longtime companion, Lorraine Vigli.

The Dodgers opened their first season in California on April 15, 1958, against the Giants at Seals Stadium in San Francisco. Cimoli, who was born in San Francisco, struck out against the Giants' Ruben Gomez. The Giants won the first game, 8-0.

"Gino was a part of history not just as a member of both the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers, but throughout the game of baseball because of his role in the first-ever big league game on the West Coast," the Dodgers said in a statement. "The rivalry between the Dodgers and Giants picked up where it left off in New York and Gino was the fortunate one to lead off that afternoon in his hometown."

Cimoli played 10 seasons in the major leagues. He started with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1956 and was an All-Star in 1957. He was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals after the 1958 season.

Cimoli also played for the Pittsburgh Pirates on their 1960 World Series championship team, the Milwaukee Braves, Kansas City Athletics and Baltimore Orioles before finishing his career with the Angels in 1965.

He was born Dec. 18, 1929, in San Francisco. In addition to Vigli, his survivors include two daughters, three grandchildren and a great-granddaughter.

--Keith Thursby