The former Pacific Coast Los Angeles Angels merged into MLB in 1961 but the franchise holds the distinction of being the first Los Angeles sports team in history having been established in 1892. In the ’61 merger with MLB, team owner Gene Autry (America’s Cowboy) decided to use the former PCL name Angels as the team’s moniker. It would take 18 seasons before the Angels would taste any kind of hardware. After posting an 88-74 record, the Angels (Managed by Jim Fregosi) met the Baltimore Orioles in the ALCS and lost the best of 5 series three games to 1.
In 1982, Reggie Jackson joined the Angles who were now managed by Gene Mauch. That team would post a 93-69 record then faced the Milwaukee Brewers in the ALCS. After winning the first two games, the Angels promptly dropped the next three games to lose the best of 5-series. That format was changed two seasons later to a 7-game series.
The 1986 squad, which featured Wally Joyner who replaced Rod Carew, also featured Bob Boone, Doug DeCinces, Reggie Jackson and Brian Downing. This squad would post a 92-70 record and faced the Boston Red Sox in the ALCS. It seemed the Angels were poised to take the next step and finally make the World Series. Up three games to one, Angel’s reliever Donnie Moore came in to close game 5 but gave up a home run to Dave Henderson that gave the Red Sox a 6-5 advantage and win. The Angels would never recover as the Red Sox took both games 6 & 7 to win the AL Pennant. Moore, who gave up the winning pitch to the Sox, would commit suicide three years later stating that he never got over that giving up that hit. It would be a 16-year drought that the team would suffer before making it back to the playoffs.
Through the 90’s, the team continued to struggle and in 1992, a team bus with 12 members crashed on the Jersey Turnpike. Manager Buck Rodgers would spend the next two months in the hospital recovering. Then in 1995, the Angels found themselves in first place in the American League West and up by 11 games by August. By season’s end, the Angels were in a dead heat tie with the Seattle Mariners who surged to finish strong. In a one-game playoff, team manager Lou Piniella sent out SP Randy Johnson. Johnson had a terrific day beating the Angels 9-1 to clinch the AL West title.
The NFL LA Rams moved out of Southern California and to St. Louis due to the deteriorating of the stadium. By 1996, the Disney Company took control of the Angels franchise with Tony Tavares as Team President and Gene Autry as Chairman. By 1997, the franchise and the city agreed to renovate and downsize Anaheim Stadium to a baseball only field. Naming rights went to Edison International and the field was renamed the Edison International Field of Anaheim.
By 2002, the Angels had posted a 99-63 record and faced the New York Yankees in the ALDS beating them three games to one. In the ALCS, the Angels met the Minnesota Twins and eliminated them in five games to face the San Francisco Giants who were the National Leagues Wild Card team. The 2002 World Series would go all 7 games but in the end, it was the Angels who were crowned World Series Champions for the first time in ever. In 2005, Disney Corp. sold the team to Arturo Moreno who made history as the first Hispanic to own a major sports franchise in the United States. The following season, Edison’s run as naming sponsor came to an end and the stadium was renamed Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Two years later, the franchise renamed the team to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. That same season, the Angels would again win the AL West title but could not get past. The same would go for the 2007, 2008 and 2009 seasons.
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