"We have been fortunate, obviously so," O'Malley said. "We hoped we knew what fans wanted in a stadium. Good parking. We could still have done more there. Reasonable prices. We held the line, not increasing prices at all for 18 seasons. Last year because of the free agency potential and this endless inflation, our top seat went from $3.50 to $4.50. We try to keep within the image of baseball as a daily event, so a fellow can afford to bring his wife or kids or grandparents. Our demographic image is the best in sport. I see them coming in with canes, walking sticks and wheelchairs, and I see the middle generation, and I see the kids. Everybody's getting a reasonably priced evening's entertainment. The kids mean that we're building future fans.
"We've stayed in contention. That's all anyone can do. Injuries. We had a lot of injuries in 1975. Suppose the Reds lost Bench and Morgan? We stay in contention, and we're the only team that ever did—or ever will—fly the World Series flag on the Atlantic and the Pacific coasts."
He looks very much as he did 20 years ago. Round face, round spectacles. Dark hair. The same incredible alternation in expression between patriarch and trial lawyer.
"If they had built you a ball park in Brooklyn, would you have stayed?"
"I've got to correct you there. You're falling into the same trap the others have. A boy from Froebel Academy should know better than that." The cigar waves. O'Malley shakes his head.
"I never asked them to build me a new park in Brooklyn. I said we would build it on taxable land with our own money. We had a site at Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues where the subways intersected. There's no place back there big enough for many parking lots, so my thought was that you'd dock your car in any subway station and come to the ball park for 15�.
"Now there was a thing in New York. Bobby Wagner was the mayor. A nice man, not very strong. I knew his father, the Senator. Robert Moses was the real power in New York.
"We had a site, and a sports authority was set up to condemn the land we needed, but Moses blocked us. He had a site of his own bounded on one side by water, on another by a cemetery, on a third by a slum and on the fourth by a parkway, which meant that everyone going to our games was going to have to pay out to the toll booths on the parkway that Moses had built. I couldn't see us drawing many people from the water or the cemetery. We had to come out here. We had ambitious plans for Brooklyn. We were toying with a domed stadium. We were looking ahead to pay television and hoping to get some financing that way, but they wouldn't give us the land we needed to do it.
"The writers have been snowed under by a theory that this L.A. thing was a big giveaway. This park was built for about $20 million, and it didn't cost the taxpayers a dime. If you want to consider the difference between private enterprise and socialism, look at our park here and the one the city of San Francisco built. Public monies were wasted out there in the cold and wind of Candlestick Point.
"We pay the County of Los Angeles more than a million dollars in real-estate taxes. They write we've got the oil and mineral rights to our land, and that's so much bunk, too. If someone struck oil back of second base, the oil would belong to the City of Los Angeles."