Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim were formed in 1961 and have been based at Anaheim in California since 1966. They are members of the Western Division of Major League Baseball’s American League. Their nicknames are The Angels and The Halos.

History

History of the name

When the club was first formed it was based in Los Angeles, and so was given the name the Los Angeles Angels. Just before their move to Anaheim in 1965 the team became the California Angels to highlight their position as the only Californian club in the American League.

In 1997 the Disney company took over the team and they became the Anaheim Angels. They did not become the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim until 2005 when the new owner, Arte Moreno, decided that he wanted to re-establish a link with Los Angeles and its extensive media market.

Origins

People had been trying to bring an American League team to California since the 1940s. However, it was not until after the National League took the Brooklyn Dodgers (who later became the Los Angeles Dodgers) to L.A. that the American League followed suit, and in 1961 the Los Angeles Angels were formed.

The Angels swing into the Sixties

In their first year of play the Angels finished with a record of 70-91 and a .435 winning percentage, which to this day remains the highest winning percentage for a first-year Major League team. The team finished nine games ahead of both the Kansas City Athletics and the Texas Rangers.

This opening season was played at Wrigley Field in the southern part of Los Angeles, which was home to the Home Run Derby television series. The following season the Los Angeles Angels moved to Dodger Stadium, and it seemed to benefit their game. They remained a serious contender for the American League pennant throughout most of the series, but they eventually finished in third place, 10 games behind the New York Yankees.

The Angels say goodbye to Los Angeles

During 1964, there were worries that the Angels would never be able to gain a big fan-base when they were sharing their stadium with the Los Angeles Dodgers. In their fourth year of playing, they still only managed to draw crowds that were, at best, half of those that went to watch the Dodgers play.

Owner Gene Autry initially wanted to move the Angels to Long Beach, but the city wanted the team to be renamed the Long Beach Angels, and Autry would not agree to this. Instead, he decided to relocate to Anaheim in Orange County and work began on the Anaheim Stadium, which would soon develop the nickname ‘The Big A’. The team ownership announced that the Angels would adopt the name of the California Angels from September 1965 onwards. In 1966 the Angels officially made Anaheim their new base.

The Angels were now one of three Major League teams in California, but were still the only American League team. In their first year at Anaheim crowds reached over 1.4 million, compared with their final year at Chavez Ravine where they drew only 566,727 spectators.

In 1967 the Angels joined Chicago, Detroit, Minnesota and Boston to fight it out for the American League pennant. The pennant was eventually won by Boston for the first time in over 20 years. In 1970 the California Angels finished third in the Western Division.

The Subdued Seventies

Although the team did not enjoy any major success throughout the 1970s, they did get to watch the infamous Nolan Ryan playing for the Angels. He tossed four no-hitters and set his 383-strikeout mark in 1973, which is still a record in the Major League. Ryan had previously played for the New York Mets, helping them to their 1969 World Series win.

By the end of the decade the Angels’ hopes were improving, and in 1979 they won their first AL West Division Championship under manager Jim Fregosi. Hitter Don Baylor became the first Angel to ever win the American League Most Valuable Player award.

The Awesome Eighties

As the team said goodbye to the previous decade, they also said goodbye to the old version of ‘The Big A’ when the stadium seating increased to nearly 65,000 to accommodate the Los Angeles Rams American Football team. Despite the problems with this new set-up, the Angels almost reached the World Series in the 1982 postseason.

Ex-Yankee Reggie Jackson joined the Angels in 1982 and was part of the driving force of the team. The Angels raced to their second AL West Division Championship, but then lost three of their five games in the ALCS (American League Championship Series).

Once more the team were close to reaching the World Series during the 1986 postseason, but again they failed to deliver. New additions to the team included pitcher Chuck Finley and American League Rookie of the Year runner-up, Wally Joyner.

The Halos were Champions of the AL West yet again and were at one point leading in the ALCS by 3 games to 1. However, their game fell apart against the Boston Red Sox and they ended up losing 7-6. The Red Sox later went on to lose all seven games of the World Series against the New York Mets.

Shadow again fell on the team when fans turned on Donnie Moore, who had given Dave Henderson of the Red Sox’ his home run. Moore had battled depression before, and he gave himself even more of a hard time than the fans did. Three years later he committed suicide.

The downward spiral

Although Gene Autry was still the majority owner, he had been suffering from severe bad health, and as a result had been less involved in the team than before. Instead, the Disney company, who owned a part share, were taking more of an interest in the team. This confusion at the very top of the food chain did not help the standard of baseball, and the Angels played below .500 for most of the 1990s.

In 1993 the Halos moved to a new training camp in Tempe, Arizona. It was hoped that this would help to improve the team’s play, but the 1993 and 1994 seasons proved to be the complete opposite of these expectations and a baseball player strike at the end of 1994 caused further problems.

Things got even worse in 1995 when the team suffered their worst collapse in the history of the franchise. 11 games into the season, the Angels were in first place in the AL West Division, but by the end they were tied for first place with the Seattle Mariners. In the one-game playoff the Halos then slumped to a 9-1 defeat, breaking the hearts of thousands of fans.

The curse of the Angels

The club’s failure to ever win a pennant, along with the upsets of 1982, 1986 and 1995 and the untimely deaths of Donnie Moore and Lyman Bostock, led many to believe that the Angels had been cursed.

Play continued to go downhill, and they did not have any major success for the whole of the 1990s. Some believed that the team’s failings were due to ‘The Big A’ being built upon an ancient Native American burial ground.

However, when at the end of 1995 the Los Angeles Rams finally left for pastures new in St. Louis there were rumours that the Angels were to do the same.

Disney and the Angels

The Angels were taken over by Disney in 1996, although Autry remained the chairman of the club until his death. Bill Stoneman was hired as general manager in 1999, and he was the one to eventually lead the Halos to their first World Series Championship.

Anaheim was not only home to the Angels, but also to the Disneyland theme park. Disney wanted to put Anaheim on a par with Orlando in Florida, and so in 1996 it was decided that the Angels should change their name again, this time to the Anaheim Angels.

1997 finally saw major renovations being completed on the Anaheim Stadium, and the facility was downsized. The Angels retained the rights to name the stadium, and it was immediately named the Edison International Field of Anaheim, although it was more commonly known as ‘Edison Field’ or ‘The Big Ed’.

Along with stadium changes, there were also changes to the kit. The ‘ANGELS’ on the front of the jersey was replaced by a special Disney-designed logo with a large ‘A’. However, the logo and uniforms were ridiculed by Angels fans and the fans of other teams alike.

New millennium, new results

2002 turned out to be the Angels’ year, with pundits predicting them to come in third place in their four-team division. That season the Halos went on to beat the New York Yankees and the Minnesota Twins to win the American League pennant for the first time.

This led them to the 2002 World Series, during which the Angels came face to face with the San Francisco Giants in what is still the highest-scoring World Series of all time.

The Giants won the first game 4-3, but the Angels fought back in the next two games to win them 11-10 and 10-4 respectively. The Giants took back the lead with the next two games, winning them 4-3 and 16-4. Game 6 was won from behind by the Angels with a score of 6-5, and they claimed victory in the final game with a score of 4-1. The Halos had finally won their first World Series title.

Another change of hands

The Angels changed hands again in 2003 when Disney sold the club to Angels Baseball L.P., becoming the first American sports team to have a Hispanic owner. That same year the Edison International Field of Anaheim became the Angel Stadium of Anaheim, often known simply as the ‘Angel Stadium’ or by the old nickname ‘The Big A’.

In 2004 the Angels acquired some fantastic players including free-agent Vladimir Guerrero, who would go on to be named the American League Most Valuable Player when he took them to their fourth AL West championship.

On January 3rd 2005 the club was renamed yet again, becoming the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The change of name was initially highly controversial to both the Anaheim and Los Angeles city leaders. However, following a short trial which ended in February 2006 it was decided that the name could remain.

Recent years

2005 was another profitable year for the Halos as they went to the American Championship Series, beating the New York Yankees on the way. In the end, they lost to eventual winners the Chicago White Sox in 5 games. In 2006 the team finished second in the AL West Division, failing to make it through to the post-season for the first time since 2003.

2007 was a more successful year for the Angels, as they won 50 games whilst still maintaining their lead in the AL West Division. On September 23rd the Halos won their sixth AL West Division Championship by beating the Seattle Mariners.

For information on their current situation, go to the official Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim website

Great Players

Troy Glaus: Glaus represented the Anaheim Angels from his debut in 1998 until 2004, and is currently with the St. Louis Cardinals. In his first season with the Angels he became the all time home-run leader for third baseman in a single season in the team’s history with 47.

Vladimir Guerrero: Guerrero has been with the Angels since 2004 and is still there today. In his first season with the Halos, Guerrero hit six home runs in the last six games of the season, earning himself the nickname ‘Super Vlad’.

Wally Joyner: Joyner played for the Angels from his debut in 1986 to 1991 when he left for the Kansas City Royals, returning again in 2001. He was fan-voted into the All-Star game in 1986.

John Lackey: Lackey has played for the Angels since 2002 and was a major part of their World Series win. He represented the club in the All-Star game of 2007.

Nolan Ryan: Ryan played for the then California Angels from 1972 to 1979, and played more games for them than for any other team.

Honours

  • World Series – 2002
  • American League Pennant – 2002
  • West Division Titles – 1979, 1982, 1986, 2004, 2005, 2007
  • Wild Card Berths – 2002

2008 Projected Line-Up

  • CF: Torii Hunter
  • SS: Erick Aybar
  • 1B: Casey Kotchman
  • RF: Vladimir Guerrero
  • LF: Garrett Anderson
  • C: Mike Napoli
  • 3B: Chone Figgins
  • 2B: Howie Kendrick
  • SP: Jon Garland
  • SP: Joe Saunders
  • SP: Jered Weaver
  • SP: Dustin Moseley
  • SP: Ervin Santana

Retired Numbers

  • 11 – Jim Fregosi
  • 26 – Gene Autry
  • 29 – Rod Carew
  • 30 – Nolan Ryan
  • 42 – Jackie Robinson
  • 50 – Jimmie Reese