Editor's note: Baseball in Southern California
This article was published in the 2011 The National Pastime.
The title on the cover of this journal sums it up: Endless Seasons. With the sun shining 70 percent of the winter months, and annual rainfall of a mere 8 to 16 inches, usually from December through February, Southern California is as close to baseball Camelot as you are likely to get; the Mediterranean climate permits baseball to be played and enjoyed twelve months a year.
The weather has led to 220-game seasons in the Pacific Coast League and winter leagues that gave early twentieth century players a chance to pick up extra money playing ball rather than selling suits or singing on the vaudeville stage.
One result is that half again as many major league players have been born in California (1,977) than in any other state through the 2010 season. And that number doesn’t include the numerous players born elsewhere but tutored in the sandlots, high schools, and colleges of Southern California after their parents moved them here. That’s a substantial group, featuring Hall of Famers such as Jackie Robinson, Bert Blyleven, and George Brett.
Even more substantial is the way baseball permeates Southern California sports history, and we’ve tried to bring you just a sampling in this volume. There’s organized baseball, from high schools and colleges up through the professional ranks. There’s barely organized baseball, such as the California Winter League or the quirky Baseball Reliquary. There’s baseball’s impact on various ethnic groups — such as Latinos in East Los Angeles and Japanese Americans in an internment camp — and their impact on baseball.
There’s Hollywood in these pages, and wooden ballparks, and pioneering women. It’s another endless season of baseball writing to enjoy.
Working with the authors of the stories you are about to read was an abiding pleasure for the editors. SABR’s Nick Frankovich, Cecilia Tan, and the staff were unfailingly helpful through all aspects of the editorial and production process, as was graphic designer Lisa Hochstein. The editors are grateful for the support of the men and women of SABR, particularly the Allan Roth Chapter, which is headed by our president Stephen Roney. We’d also like to thank Tim Mead and the media department of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim; Josh Rawitch, Mark Langill, and the Los Angeles Dodgers media staff; the staff of the University of Southern California Athletic Department; Christina Rice and David Davis of the Los Angeles Public Library; Wayne Wilson and the staff at the LA84 Library; and Pat Kelly at the National Baseball Hall of Fame. SABR member David Eskenazi graciously provided a number of the photographs. Finally we deeply appreciate the generosity of Ben Sakoguchi for the use of his art on the cover.
JEAN HASTINGS ARDELL lives in Corona Del Mar, California, where she works as a writer, editor, and teacher, with baseball a continuing subject of interest. She is author of "Breaking into Baseball: Women and the National Pastime" (Southern Illinois University Press, 2005), and received the Baseball Weekly/SABR award in 1999.
ANDY McCUE has been a SABR member since 1982, winning the Bob Davids Award in 2007. He served on SABR’s board for nine years, finishing with a term as president in 2009–11. He won the SABR-Macmillan Award for "Baseball by the Books: A History and Bibliography of Baseball Fiction" and the Doug Pappas Award for a presentation on Dodgers ownership. His biography of Walter O’Malley, "Mover and Shaker," was published by the University of Nebraska Press in 2014 and won SABR's Seymour Medal.