Walter O’Malley Dodgers correspondence inspires

O'MalleyYou are not alone.

Baseball by the letters matters to everyone, not just fans and collectors.

Check out the official website of Walter O’Malley, the former Dodgers owner.

It’s great to see peeks at real correspondence, not just scribbled signatures.

Collect those letters. Save them. Read between the lines. You might find a special bit of baseball history tucked away, just for you.

When Norm Sherry Topped Warren Spahn

Debuted at age 27

Although Norm Sherry owns just 18 career home runs, he nicked a future Hall of Famer for two of the dingers.

“Hitting homers off [Warren] Spahn was something for ME. [His upper-case emphasis!] The first one came late into a game at home in L.A. and tied the game up. We went on and played 11 innings before we won. Second came in New York as a Met. Both came off fastballs over the middle of the plate.”

Sherry’s comeback as a major leaguer came in 1976, when he became manager of the California Angels. Although his stint as skipper didn’t last two years, he found a lengthy assignment as a San Francisco Giants coach. His assessment of three big league bosses intrigued me.

“Gene Autry was a real baseball fan and was ever present. Always in the clubhouse before the game and after. A real super man.

The owners that I played for? Walter O’Malley was a very nice man. They just didn’t pay well in those days.

At S.F., Bob Lurie was the best. Very serious.”

Tomorrow: a letter from the heart and soul of the 1960s California Angels, Jim Fregosi

Walter O’Malley Answered Autograph Requests

When I found http://www.walteromalley.com/, I hoped the Dodger Hall of Famer’s legacy with collectors wasn’t too good to be true.

I asked Brent Shyer, Vice President of Special Projects for O’Malley Seidler Partners.

“Walter required that any letter received was answered promptly,” he said. “They were a friendly organization.”

Brent has seen the team president’s archives. The thin carbon copies of EVERY letter. O’Malley responded to regular autograph requests. He’d tackle fan feedback, too.

“I saw someone wrote to complain about an unruly fan in Ebbets Field,” Brent said. “Walter responded with a letter and two tickets to a future game.”

The website offers other gems of O’Malley fan interaction. Once, a boy wanted the Dodgers boss to know what happened in the parking lot after the game. The site offers O’Malley’s surprising reply to the young fan.

The perfect book showing the little-known side of O’Malley is Forever Blue: The True Story of Walter O’Malley, Baseball’s Most Controversial Owner,and the Dodgers of Brooklyn and Los Angeles

From Brooklyn to Los Angeles, this is a well-researched look at the O’Malley-led team. For the whole story of the Dodgers, this is the book!
 
Meanwhile, write to your favorite team owner. Who knows? Your letter might be in a book someday!

Dodgers President Walter O’Malley, HOF Pen Pal

Class of 2008
(courtesy, BBHOF)

Walter O’Malley is a mysterious Hall of Famer. Some fans have reviled him for moving the team from Brooklyn. Others assume that he was just a shrewd businessman who stayed in the game for the money.

Take a look at http://www.walteromalley.com/ for another side of the baseball executive.

I found the collection of personal correspondence fascinating. O’Malley seemed giddy that his transplanted team was attracting fans from the world of entertainment. Here is a collection of their letters to the Dodgers owner, along with his replies.

Look close at the 1957 offerings. A boy named Jimmy Hahn sent O’Malley a drawing. The future Hall of Famer took time to thank a fan in writing. He promised the boy one of the first “new” LA caps in his size.

O’Malley died in 1979. There’s a lesson in his correspondence, though. There’s still time to reach the unreachable in baseball. Don’t assume that someone won’t respond, just because they’re running a team. Chances are, they might be as big a fan as you!

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