ANALYSIS OF THE ANGELS
One thing these Angels seem to have is power. Compact dimensions of Wrigley Field (about 340 feet down lines, 345 to left and right center) have caused Manager Bill Rigney to pack his lineup with long-fly-ball hitters. In Ted Kluszewski and Bob Cerv he has two of best. Both could reach Wrigley foul poles with thin end of bat. Eddie Yost, a late-blooming slugger, totaled 35 HRs in last two years. There is Steve Bilko, still a West Coast legend after consecutive Pacific Coast League years of 37, 55, 56 HRs and 124, 164, 140 BR Is. Infielder Ken Aspromonte (.290) also hits with some power.
Almost everything else is weak—especially first-line pitching, team speed, outfield defense. With visiting team batting first, Angels may never get crack at Wrigley fences. In spring training Rigney cast about, not for a starting rotation, but for a dependable starter. His four best prospects—Jerry Casale, Ted Bowsfield, Ned Garver and Eli Grba—won a grand total of 16 games last year, posted combined ERA of 4.64. This would seem to indicate that the Angels will need a muscular bullpen, but the relief pitching (Truman Clevenger 4.19 ERA, Tom Morgan 4.25) isn't impressive either. No matter who plays, Angels will have one of worst defensive outfields in majors. Cerv, deadly within 12-foot radius, will be in left. In center will be Ken Hunt, who hit well in training, or Gene Leek, if he doesn't win an infield spot. In right, little (5-foot 5-inch) Albie Pearson—a reasonably accomplished outfielder—will play only when Rigney relaxes big-bat policy. Loaded with 20-second-dash men. Angels may set record for fewest stolen bases, will have trouble scoring anybody on less than a double.
THE BIG IFS
On paper the pitching looks bad. The Angels are hoping that it will be up to at least an ordinary last-place-team level. It better be, or the American League experiment in Los Angeles will turn into a farce.
Best rookie is Infielder Fritz Brickell, obtained from Yankees this week. Ken McBride, from White Sox, and left-hander Ron Moeller, from Orioles, pitched well in exhibition games. Hottest youngster in camp, however, was an 18-year-old shortstop named Jim Fregosi; Angels have sent him to their triple-A farm club, Dallas, will try to develop him into club's first "find."
Angels will score runs and may get enough pitching to beat out Washington for ninth.
In baseball, as in life, there are differences among men. Some are short, some are fat, some play well, some play not so well. What matters is whether you're big league. And the Angels, for all their ineptitude, for all their aura of hand-me-down clothing, are big league.
If there was any question of this, it was settled when the Angels met Cleveland in the first exhibition game between the two this spring. A couple of Cleveland players spotted Eddie Yost, Bob Cerv and Rocky Bridges and drifted over to talk. In no time the scene around the batting cage resembled homecoming at a college fraternity.
Some players were "old bastards" and "big clowns"; others were Joe or Jim or simply "hey, man." Families were either in camp with the player or back home, but in either case they were fine. Rocky Bridges had smashed up his car over the winter, Valmy Thomas was still running the sporting goods store in the Virgin Islands, Eddie Yost was feeling pretty good in spite of his 34 years. Big Klu was looking as big as ever, especially across the middle.
Any opinion offered publicly on the Angels was sure to begin with "They're gonna surprise a lot of people." Well-wishers spoke the names of Kluszewski, Cerv and Bilko in tones of reverence.
An Angel official called Manager Bill Rigney over for a publicity shot for Bonanza Airlines. Did this mean the Angels would be flying Bonanza during the season? No, said Rigney, this was to promote his radio sports show. After all, he might have added, what is a manager without a sports show of some sort? When you're big league, you gotta be big league all the way.
In Los Angeles, despite their obvious shortcomings and the Dodgers' obvious strength, the Angels have gained. the edge in newspaper publicity and have got equal time from impromptu discussion groups.
The Dodgers, in Vero Beach, had fullfledged heroes, a campful of talented rookies and their share of spring victories. The Angels had trouble beating anyone's first team. But news from Vero Beach often seemed to have a negative cast—O'Malley feuding with the Federal Aviation Agency, Koufax and Sherry being fined, Drysdale blowing up and being chewed out by Bavasi. News from the Angel camp was wholesome and happy. The players were hustling like mad, spirit was at a frenzied peak, the weather was delightful. It was one for all. all for one, and we're gonna win our share.
One paper ran a series of profiles on Angel coaches and players; another printed background material on American League stars who soon would be seen in Wrigley Field. Bilko's weight was good copy for a week. When that faded, there were always Yost's walks, Bridges' wisecracks and the prowess of San Diego's favorite son, Gene Leek.
Luck played a part, too. From a shiny Cadillac one morning stepped Dwight D. Eisenhower. He took his place discreetly in the stands, but was soon hauled out and into the dugout by Irv Kaze, the Angels' extremely capable publicity man. This was still being written about three days later. Then there was Casey Stengel, who left his Glendale bank to watch the new team and get his photograph in all the Los Angeles papers.
THE FRONT OFFICE
Baseball's newest team is led by a cowboy singer and the Rose Bowl's only 180-minute man. Originally a railroad telegrapher, Cowboy Star Gene Autry took Will Rogers' friendly advice, traded in his key for a guitar. Armed with a small fortune and a large appetite for baseball (he is a box holder at the Coliseum), Autry, 53, acquired the Angels last December. He serves as chairman of the board. Stanford remembers its handsome All-America Bob Reynolds as the only man to play every minute in three Rose Bowl games (1934, '35, '36). Reynolds is LA president, has been associated with Autry in radio for several years. Ex-Braves Manager Fred Haney is general manager, brings baseball experience to front office. Roland Hemond, former assistant farm director for Braves, will run farm system.
THE BALL PARK
As a minor leaguer in the Pacific Coast League in 1925, Paul Waner hit a home run on Opening Day at Wrigley Field (20,450 capacity). A lot more will be hit this year when the American League comes to this snug park, built 35 years ago by the Chicago Cubs as a junior-sized version of Chicago's Wrigley Field. It is four blocks south, nine blocks east and 70,000 seats less than neighboring Coliseum. Parking is minuscule (900 cars), particularly for car-conscious Southern California, but there is hope of a shuttle bus from Coliseum lot. Big league dimensions along foul lines and in dead center (340, 412, 339 feet), but power alleys in left center and right center are only 345. TV's Home Run Derby was held, for obvious reasons, in this city-owned park. Next season club expects to move into Chavez Ravine as paying guests of Dodgers.
1960 TEAM PERFORMANCE
1960 INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCES
RUNS BATTED IN