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MR. O'MALLEY'S TROUBLES
Mr. Walter O'Malley (him and his big fat cigar, as they say in Brooklyn) thought on the evening of last September 24 that his troubles were over. His Dodgers had just played their final ball game in Ebbets Field (where they had earned a tidy profit for five years straight) and now nothing seemed to stand in the way of a wonderful new life in Los Angeles. Mr. O'Malley had found a magnificent 300-acre site in the heart of downtown L.A. that was known as Chavez Ravine and on it he proposed to build the baseball park of his dreams, a 50,000-seat stadium that would eventually bring in all the loose baseball money that was not being poured into pay television sets broadcasting the Dodger games.
Puffing away on his cigar, O'Malley explained to his press conference the details of his grand plan for California and Mr. O'Malley. He would trade the city of Los Angeles the ball park known as Wrigley Field for 260 acres of the ravine. He would pay, moreover, $1,200,000 at the rate of $60,000 a year for the remaining acres on which he proposed to build recreational facilities for young people. The 50,000-seat stadium would be placed on the 260-acre tract in the center of parking facilities that Mr. O'Malley promised would be the finest anywhere.
Even so, it wasn't long before a petition was making the rounds. Sponsors of the paper bluntly charged that Mr. O'Malley was giving himself too good a deal. Whereas, they said, he promised to build himself a 50,000-seat stadium, he did not say when. As a matter of fact, they went on, there was nothing to prevent him from building apartment houses, drilling oil wells or opening up a shopping center. O'Malley supporters were aghast at these insinuations. They retorted that no man in his right mind, let alone Mr. O'Malley, would so brazenly attempt to humbug the nation's third-largest city.
The petition was signed by 80,000 persons. Enough of the signatures stood up under the city clerk's scrutiny to force a referendum on Mr. O'Malley's Chavez Ravine proposals. Since a special election would be too costly, the referendum will become part of the regularly scheduled election in June.
This means that Mr. O'Malley's dream of completing his stadium for the 1959 season is out. So what does he do now? In the face of a tremendous advance ticket sale, Wrigley Field is already inadequate. The Los Angeles Coliseum is a possibility, although not ideal for baseball. Worse than that (in Mr. O'Malley's view), the Coliseum commission would want 10% of the gross and all revenue from concessions and parking. No wonder that, following the major-minor league meetings at Colorado Springs, Mr. O'Malley hurried to California to inspect the Rose Bowl at Pasadena as a possible temporary home for the exiles from Brooklyn.
Sophisticated Los Angeles citizens are not alarmed by Mr. O'Malley's troubles. The petition? Nothing to it, they say: in California a certain number of people could be found to sign a petition to outlaw orange juice. The Dodgers will play in Los Angeles, say the knowing ones, if they have to play in a tent on the side of Mount Wilson.
To The lethal obstacle course called the U.S.A. which ducks must run in order to get from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, a new obstacle has been added: a portable plastic lake for attracting ducks. It was invented by Harold Hahn, a photographer and veteran hunter of Kansas City, and it consists of several 6-foot-wide strips of blue polyethylene film covered over with a layer of transparent plastic.
The hunter chooses a site near a wheat or corn field, rolls his plastic strips out like welcome mats, and pegs them down side by side until he has covered some 2,000 square feet. Then he walks out upon the "water" and arranges his decoys, and conceals himself to wait. Seen from the air, the plastic glitters like water and appears to reflect the sky. If the wind ripples it, so much the better. The illusion lasts until ducks are well within range.