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L. A. Wrigley Field

 

Wrigley Field was a ballpark in Los Angeles which served host to minor league baseball teams in the region for over 30 years, and was the home park for the Los Angeles Angels in their expansion season of 1961. This stadium should not be confused with Chicago's Wrigley Field.

 

The park was built in South Los Angeles in 1925 and was named after William Wrigley, the chewing gum magnate who owned the first tenants, the original Los Angeles Angels minor league team. Wrigley also owned the Chicago Cubs, who play in a more famous park named after him. The Los Angeles Wrigley Field was built to resemble a Spanish-architecture and somewhat scaled-down version of the Chicago ballpark, known at the time as Cubs Park. It was also the first to bear Wrigley's name, as the Chicago park was named for Wrigley several months after the L.A. park's opening. At the time, he owned Santa Catalina Island and the Cubs were doing their spring training in that island's city of Avalon.

 

Coincidentally or not, one of Wrigley Field's boundary streets was Avalon Boulevard (east, behind right field and a small parking lot). The other boundaries of the block were 41st Street (north, behind left field), 42nd Place (south, behind first base), and San Pedro Street (west, behind third base and a larger parking lot). Not only did L.A. Wrigley get its name first, it had more on-site parking than the Chicago version did (or does now).

 

For 33 seasons, 1925 to 1957, the park was home to the Angels, and for 11 more seasons, 1926 through 1935 and 1938, it had a second home team in the rival Hollywood Stars. The Stars then moved to their own new ballpark, Gilmore Field, just west of the Pan Pacific Auditorium.

 

With its location near Hollywood, Wrigley Field was a popular place to film baseball movies. Among the most well known movies filmed there were The Pride of the Yankees and a movie version of Damn Yankees. It later found its way into television, serving as the backdrop for the Home Run Derby series in 1959, a popular show which featured one-on-one contests between baseball's top home run hitters, which had a brief revival in 1989 when it aired on ESPN. Episodes of shows as diverse as The Twilight Zone and The Munsters were also filmed here.

 

L.A. Wrigley's minor league baseball days ended when the Brooklyn Dodgers of the National League transferred to Los Angeles in 1958. The use of Wrigley was studied by the Dodgers, but they opted for seating capacity over suitability as a baseball field, and instead set up shop in the Los Angeles Coliseum while awaiting construction of Dodger Stadium.

 

In 1961, the L.A. Angels joined the American League as an expansion team and took residence at Wrigley. The team set a still-standing first-year expansion team record with 71 wins, and the park set another record by yielding 248 home runs, a record that stood until the Juiced Era. After the 1961 season, the team moved to Dodger Stadium, or Chavez Ravine as it was known for Angels games.

 

The park was used for soccer and perhaps a few other events before being torn down in 1969. The site is now occupied by the recreation facility called Gilbert Lindsay Park.

 

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Tagged:
Ball Parks of Yesterday, Baseball History, Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers, Wrigley Field (Los Angeles)

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