The Trolley Dodgers
In 1890, the Brooklyn Trolley Dodgers professionals’ baseball team joined the National League. Over the following years, the Dodgers would have considerable difficulty competing with the other baseball themes in the New York City area. Those teams, principal among them the New York Yankees, were much better financed and generally stocked with players of higher caliber. In 1958, after nearly seven decades of mostly frustration on and off the baseball field, the Dodgers shocked the sports world by moving to Los Angeles. Walter O’Malley, the flamboyant owner of the Dodgers, saw an opportunity to introduce professional baseball to the rapidly growing population of the West Coast. More important, O’Malley saw an opportunity to make his team more profitable. As an in document to the Dodgers, Los Angeles Country purchased a goat farm located in Chavez Ravine, an area two miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles, and gave the property to O’Malley for the site of his new baseball stadium.
Since moving to Los Angeles, the Dodgers have been the envy of the baseball world: “In everything from profit to stadium maintenance…the Dodgers are the prototype of how a franchise should be run.”¹ During the 1980s and 1990s, the Dodgers reigned as the most profitable franchise in baseball with a pretax profit margin approaching 25 percent in many years. In late 1997, Peter O’Malley, Walter O’Malley’s son and the Dodgers principal owner, sold the franchise for $350 million to media mogul Rupert Murdoch. A spokesman for Murdoch complimented the O’Malley family for the longstanding success of the Dodgers organization. “The O’Malley’s have set a gold standard for franchise ownership”.²
During an interview before he sold the Dodgers, was seemingly a perfect example of one of those experts he had retained in all functional areas: “I don’t have to be an expert on taxes, split-fingered fastballs, or labor relations with our ushers. That talent is available.”³
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