When the World Series moves to Dodger Stadium in Chavez Ravine, the name of former owner Walter F. O’Malley ’22 will be brought up in the conversation.
The Dodgers would not be in Los Angeles if not for O’Malley moving the team from Brooklyn to L.A. in 1957. For several years after, O’Malley was vilified in Brooklyn but hailed as a visionary by others. Many people also considered him to be the most influential owner in Major League Baseball during the expansion era.
While moving the Dodgers to L.A. is what O’Malley is remembered for, he was also involved with another major first in baseball. He was a part-owner and general counsel when club president Branch Rickey signed Jackie Robinson in 1947. How involved he was in the process is not certain, but it is reported that O’Malley assisted Rickey in his search for a suitable player to break the color barrier and in assessing the legal risks to the franchise.
O’Malley was appointed the Brooklyn Dodgers attorney in 1941. In 1944, he became a part-owner. In October 1950, he became president and chief stockholder of the ball club after buying out Rickey. He held that position for 20 years. His tenure included the 1953 “Boys of Summer”; hiring Walter Alston as manager in 1954; the controversial move from Brooklyn to L.A.; and naming Tommy Lasorda to replace Alston in 1977. Legendary broadcaster Vin Scully was also hired in 1950 and remained with the Dodgers through 2016.
On March 17, 1970, son Peter O’Malley became club president and Walter became chairman of the board, a position he held until his death in 1979. The O’Malley family were still the owners when the Dodgers won their last World Series in 1988. The family sold the team in 1998.
O’Malley attended Culver from 1920 to 1922, coming from Jamaica High School in Queens, N.Y. He managed the baseball and tennis teams, served on the Vedette staff, and was a member of the hospital visitation committee, the Bible discipline committee, the debate team, and the YMCA. His Culver baseball career ended when a ball hit him on the nose.
O’Malley was recognized by The Sporting News as Executive of the Year in 1955 and elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2008. He is also a member of the Culver Athletic Hall of Fame.