Results tagged ‘ Holtville ’

Paul Mosley’s Memories


Paul Mosley with the Double-A El Paso Sun Kings in 1965 or 1966. Note the El Paso cap had a halo atop the crown as did the Angels’ cap of that era.

 

Paul Mosley was a pitcher in the Angels’ minor leagues from 1961 through 1966. He played at nearly every level in the system, starting with Class D Statesville in the Angels’ inaugural 1961 season. He passed through Quad Cities, San Jose, Tri-City, and El Paso, as well as attending the minor league spring training camps.

When my wife and I drove cross-country last May to move from California to Florida, Paul and his wife Betty Jo were gracious enough to let us stay overnight at their home near Houston. Paul loaned me the scrapbook he kept during his career; it’s helped to unearth much of the buried early history of the Angels’ minor leagues.

In 1963, minor league baseball restructured its classifications. Class B, Class C and Class D disappeared. The Angels had affiliates that year in Tri-City (Kennewick, Pasco and Richland in Washington state), San Jose and Quad Cities (Davenport and Bettendorf, Iowa, and Moline and Rock Island, Illinois). All three were reclassified as Class A. Mosley’s career took him through Quad Cities in 1962, San Jose in 1963 and Tri-City in 1964, which tells us how the three were prioritized within the organization. Before 1963, Quad Cities was Class D, San Jose was Class C and Tri-City was Class B. So now it makes sense.


Paul Mosley (right) at San Jose in 1963. Manager Red Marion (center) took the Bees to the California League title in 1962, the first time any Angels team won a pennant.

 

Paul’s scrapbook also helped me figure out a lot about where minor league spring training was based. It’s commonly known that the parent club’s camp was in Palm Springs. That site, the former Palm Springs Polo Grounds, was too small to host 100+ minor leaguers, so the Angels had to find other sites for the future Angels.

It was still common in the early 1960s for Triple-A affiliates to hold their camps separate from their parent clubs. An affiliation was far looser than today’s meaning. Triple-A teams were free to sign, trade and release their own players. “Affiliation” simply meant they got some players from a major league operation, otherwise they were as independent as today’s indy leagues.

In 1961, the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate was the Dallas-Ft. Worth Rangers. I wrote in November 2008 about the Rangers’ camp in Riverside at Evans Park near what is today Riverside Community College. The Rangers had both Angels and Phillies players. In 1962, the Rangers held camp at Amerige Park in Fullerton. DFW had players from the Angels, Phillies, Twins and a few from other organizations.

The Angels expanded from two minor league teams in 1961 to five in 1962, so they needed more than Amerige Park. They established a second Triple-A affiliation with the Hawaii Islanders, who were in San Bernardino at Fiscalini Field. Everyone else went to La Palma Park in Anaheim. Click here to watch a video of the 1962 minor league camp at La Palma Park.

The Rangers dumped the Angels for the Twins in 1963, so they left California and held camp in Florida. The Islanders, now the only Angels’ Triple-A team, camped at Amerige for 1963 while again everyone else went to La Palma Park.

Mosley’s scrapbook picks up the story in 1964.

A poor condition pocket schedule for the 1964 Hawaii Islanders spring training schedule at South Jackson Park in Indio. The back shows games scheduled against the various Angels minor league squads as well as the parent club and local colleges.

 

The Islanders held their 1964 camp at South Jackson Park in Indio. The above pocket schedule was in Paul’s scrapbook. It was once glued to a page, but I found it torn and loose. The front shows where they played. The back shows a schedule that included the Angels’ other minor league affiliates, the parent club, and games against college teams from Cal Poly Pomona and USC.

I also found a photo of Paul in an Islanders uniform. He was posing with two others.

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Paul Mosley (left) with actor Henry Kulky and minor league infielder Charlie Strange.

 

In the above photo, Paul is on the left, and minor league infielder Charlie Strange is on the right. The man in the middle is actor Henry Kulky, perhaps best known for a role on Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. Kulky brought the oversized props; no idea where he got them. The photo shows you what the Islanders’ uniforms looked like.

Most fans recall the Angels had a presence in Holtville for many years. That began in 1966, but before the complex was complete they spent an interim spring in 1965 split between El Centro and Brawley.

The Angels bought the Triple-A Seattle Rainiers franchise in the Pacific Coast League and renamed it the Seattle Angels. (Hawaii switched their affiliation to the Washington Senators.) This photo from the El Centro newspaper shows the Seattle team at Stark Field in El Centro sometime around early March 1965:


The 1965 Seattle Angels at El Centro’s Stark Field.

 

An article in the El Centro paper noted that Seattle manager Bob Lemon arrived late in El Centro, “upon his return from a 14-game tour of Mexico with half of the split Angel squad.” Yikes! That would never happen today.

The scrapbook also had a copy of a 1965 Angels minor league spring training program, a rather unique item:


Click on the image to view an Adobe Acrobat version of the program. Acrobat Reader required.

 

One side of this folded program is still glued to the scrapbook, so I couldn’t remove it, but I scanned the rest and used Adobe PhotoShop to reassemble it into a digital document. Click on the above image to download the file. You need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the document.

Games and workouts were split between Stark Field in El Centro and Lions Field in Brawley. At the bottom of the program’s front page it states in small print, “Other clubs will have extensive workouts daily, and games before or after various instructional drills. Fans are welcome.” The schedule shows that the parent club came down from Palm Springs to play the Triple-A Seattle squad in two games at Brawley and two games at El Centro.

Mosley spent his last two seasons with the Double-A El Paso Sun Kings in the Double-A Texas League. Many of his contemporaries went on to the big leagues. One was Clyde Wright. I found a clipping he saved of a report in the El Paso paper about Wright’s first major league win:

 

Other names you might recognize include Tom Burgmeier, Jay Johnstone, Winston Llenas, Rudy May, Marty Pattin, and Jim Spencer. Another was John Olerud, the father of the future Toronto Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners first baseman by the same name.

I also found this clip reporting on a 1965 game between the Sun Kings and the Tulsa Oilers:

 

It appears that the 1965 El Paso caps had an “EP” on them, but when I look at the team photos for 1965 and 1966 it’s just an “E” as in the photo of Paul at the top of this column. It’s neat, though, to see the halo on the crown of the cap. I wish the Angels would bring that back, even if just for an alternate jersey.

The El Paso manager was Chuck Tanner, who later went on to fame as the manager of the world champion 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates. The Angels had some serious managing talent in the system. Triple-A manager Bob Lemon managed the New York Yankees to a World Series, and is now in the Hall of Fame. So is Joe Gordon, who was a minor league hitting instructor, manager and scout for the Angels in the 1960s.

Mosley was sold after the 1966 season to the Kansas City Athletics. He received this letter from the A’s assistant general manager:


Click on the image to view an Adober Acrobat version of the letter.

 

Paul told me that he decided to retire rather than move on to another organization.

In April 2007, a colleague of Paul’s found articles I’d written about the Statesville Owls and contacted me to let me know his buddy was one of the players. I recorded an interview with Paul; click here to listen to the interview. (Windows Media Player required.). He was the first Owls player I found. Since then, we’ve tracked down about ten more, and held a reunion last September. More reunions of the 1960s Angels minor leaguers are being planned.

Thanks to Paul, and his colleague, we found the first one. But he won’t be the last.

Coast to Coast: A Future Angel, Past and Present

Paul Mosley and Stephen Smith
Paul Mosley (left) signed with the Angels in 1961. He played six seasons in the Angels minor leagues.

 

I’ve been off-line blogwise for a couple days while travelling. We’re currently in Metairie, a New Orleans suburb.

We spent Sunday night at the home of Paul and Betty Jo Mosley. Paul signed with the Angels in 1961 out of William S. Hart High School in Saugus. Roland Hemond, who was the Angels’ farm and scouting director, signed him along with head scout Rosey Gilhousen.

Click Here to listen to an April 2007 interview with Paul. Windows Media Player required.

Mosley was assigned to the Statesville Owls in the Western Carolina League. He would go on to play at every level in the system — Triple-A Hawaii, Double-A El Paso, Advanced-A San Jose, Class-A Tri-Cities.

Paul and Betty Jo produced scrapbooks from his career. What a treasure trove! Once I get to Florida and the moving van arrives with my scanner, I’ll start digitizing these articles to post online.

The scrapbook solved one mystery. I’ve been identifying where the Angels held their minor league spring training camps in the early 1960s. If you’ve followed this blog, you know they were in Riverside in 1961. In 1962, the Triple-A team was at Amerige Park in Fullerton while everyone else was at La Palma Park in Anaheim. The Angels remained at La Palma through 1964.

The Angels began play in the legendary Holtville camp in 1966, where they remained through 1981. 1965, though, was a bit of a mystery. The 1965 Angels Media Guide said “El Centro” but didn’t say where.

Paul’s scrapbook had a minor league spring training schedule for 1965. It showed that they split time between two facilities, Stark Field in El Centro and Lions Field in Brawley. Exhibition games were played at both sites.

By coincidence, I got a phone call yesterday while on the road from Bob Andrews, the man who worked with Roland Hemond to bring the Angels to the Imperial Valley. He said that El Centro/Brawley was an interim solution until the Holtville site could be built.

Mystery solved.

Mr. Andrews also explained why the Angels left Holtville. The Angels didn’t pay one penny for Holtville construction or maintenance. It was all paid for by the locals. As the facility aged, it was beyond the ability of Holtville to pay for renovation. They asked the Angels to help, but they refused. Bob said it got pretty ugly towards the end. Someone made up T-shirts that read, “Angels go home!” Instead, they went to Casa Grande.

Inside the scrapbook were box scores from several of Paul’s games. I noted one in which he pitched against an Athletics team. Future manager Tony LaRussa led off and played second base. (It was an oh-fer night for LaRussa.) There was also a roster sheet for a 1966 game between the El Paso Sun Kings and the Albuquerque Dodgers. Clyde Wright was one of Paul’s teammates, as well as Jim Spencer, Jay Johnstone and Winston Llenas. Tom Sommers, who would go on to succeed Roland Hemond as the farm director, was an infielder. On the Albuquerque roster was future Dodgers outfielder Willie Crawford. Other future big leaguers I recognize were pitcher Mike Kekich, first baseman Tom Hutton, and outfielder Jim Fairey. Also on the roster was catcher Mike Stubbins, who would later manage in the Angels system.

Paul retired after the 1966 season. He was sold to the Kansas City Athletics. He showed me a letter he received in December 1966 welcoming him to the A’s organization. “You will be receiving your contract early in February and soon after that reporting instructions and the date which you are to arrive at our spring training headquarters in Waycross, Georgia.” It was signed by assistant general manager Eddie Robinson. Paul decided he’d had enough, and retired.

Back on the road in a couple hours. The target is Tallahassee, Florida in the Panhandle. We might see another baseball friend if the schedule permits. Tomorrow is the final leg of the journey, arriving in Cape Canaveral. As my wife pointed out, “We’re heading home.”

One nice serendipity of this trip is that we’ve visited my ancestral homelands. My father was born and raised in El Centro. My mother is from New Orleans. So we’ve passed through both towns. And then it’s on to my future, which is to write a book about the history of the future Angels, past and present.

Coast to Coast: Return to Holtville

We left Irvine this morning for the drive to Florida. We made it to the Imperial Valley at lunch time, then headed over to the Pioneers Park Museum in Imperial near Holtville.

After spending their early years scrambling for a proper minor league complex, the Angels moved into a four-field cloverleaf complex in Holtville. The Angels used it as a training facility for the major leaguers; when they reported to Palm Springs to play their exhibition games, the minor leaguers would move in. The Angels were in Holtville from 1966 through 1981, moving to Casa Grande, Arizona in 1982.

The goal of this visit was to see what they have in their archives and to establish a working relationship. We were given a tour of the museum by Ed Rodriguez, a lifelong Imperial Valley resident with his own amazing life story to tell.

Ed worked for Bob Andrews of Sam Andrews’ Sons, one of the major growers in the Valley. Bob was one of three brothers. He was a pitcher in the Milwaukee Braves’ system in the 1950s. When his father died, he returned to Imperial to take over the family business with his brothers.

Although I’ve yet to talk to Mr. Andrews, I suspect his Angels connection was Roland Hemond, who was their first farm and scouting director. Fred Haney, the Angels’ first general manager, brought Roland with him from the Milwaukee front office.

Ed told me that it was Mr. Andrews who influenced the Angels to come to Holtville. It didn’t cost the Angels a penny, according to Ed. Local farmers donated the land and built the facility, all to lure a major league baseball presence to their town.

Ed told me that he worked for Mr. Andrews’ farming business. He helped move turf from the local golf course to one of the four practice fields, which was used for games. The other three fields were grass grown from seed. Ed said the turf was planted about a week before the games began, so the players slipped a lot on the grass.

Some of you may be aware that the Angels recently signed veteran reliever Rudy Seanez as a free agent. Rudy, it turns out, is from El Centro and owns a local Cold Stone Creamery. The sports gallery in the museum has photos and clippings about Rudy.

I was looking, of course, for any memorabilia from that era. The sports gallery had a few items, including two photos I’ve never seen before of Nolan Ryan. They were photos staged on the Holtville field. I’m told that the former owner of the local paper donated his entire photo archive to the museum; it’s not catalogued, so I’ll have to come back sometime to dig through it on my own.

Lynn Housouer, the Director of Operations and Archivist, produced a box with programs from the local Carrot Carnival held in Holtville each February. (Holtville is the self-proclaimed “Carrot Capital of the World.”) We found several from the 1960s and 1970s that referred to the Angels. The 1967 issue in particular had a lengthy article and photos. Here’s an excerpt.

The “city boy” stood on the outskirts of Holtville looking at fields of cotton and alfalfa.

He wasn’t impressed, he admits today.

“My imagination just failed to draw pictures of four baseball diamonds, central tower, clubhouse, sprinkler system, batting cages, and all that would comprise, twleve months hence, the finest baseball camp I know,” said the city boy, Roland Hemond, this month.

Hemond is director of farm team training for the California Angels, and the man in that organization who has most to do with the training program of California Angels farm teams at the Holtville complex.

The complex was built in 1965-66 from those very cotton and alfalfa fields that left Hemond initially unimpressed.

But he wasn’t unimpressed long. The first season saw many promising young players develop, due to playing conditions, climate and the instructional program conducted at Holtville.

“I feel strongly that Seattle would not have started the season so well, nor continued its consistently good brand of ball and gone on to win the western division pennant, and finally emerge as champions of the Pacific Coast League had it not been for our Holtville training,” Hemond says.

The program also has a photo of the crowd at an Angels-Cubs exhibition game with an estimated attendance of 4,000. And there’s a photo of Gene Autry riding a horse in the 1966 Carrot Carnival parade.

There’s much more to the museum than just baseball. I learned a lot about the history of the Imperial Valley, a history that most of us raised in Southern California don’t know. It’s well worth your time if you’re down that way, and costs only $4.00 per person.

It was also a personal reminiscence for me. I was born in Brawley, raised my first year in El Centro, and then my family relocated to the Pomona Valley. I remember nothing of El Centro, of course, but my father was born here in 1933 and lived here until he graduated high school in 1951 and joined the Air Force.

Ed led us into a room where the museum displayed poster-size reprints from the yearbooks of local high schools, showing the graduating classes. I found the Central Union High School Class of 1951 and, sure enough, there was my father staring back at me.

I hope to return this winter to spend a week going through the newspaper and photo archives, to see what gems we can uncover.

Right now, we’re in the Francisco Grande Hotel & Golf Resort in Casa Grande, Arizona. When the Angels left Holtville, they came to this complex for the 1982-1984 seasons. Originally built by and for the San Francisco Giants, the Angels moved in when the Giants left for Scottsdale. The practice fields were literally just outside the hotel’s windows; looking out the balcony, I can see where the fields were. The observation tower is all that remains.

But that story is for tomorrow. And then a long drive to El Paso, Texas, another former Angels farm town.

Casa Grande

Francisco Grande Hotel
The Francisco Grande Hotel during its Giant years. (Original photo source Francisco Grande Hotel, as posted on the Phoenix Magazine web site.)

 

The two legendary minor league complexes in Angels history are Holtville and Mesa. The Angels were in Holtville from 1966 through 1981. They were in Mesa from 1985 through 2005.

Inbetween, there was Casa Grande.

The March 2009 issue of Phoenix Magazine tells you all you need to know, so no reason for me to regurgitate it here. It’s mostly about the Giants years, but it does briefly mention that the Angels camped there from 1982 through 1984.

The Angels’ major league camp was in Palm Springs where Gene Autry lived, but the park formerly known as the Polo Grounds had little room to handle so many players, major and minor. Palm Springs also had many temptations for young hormonally raging ballplayers. That was why they started a separate camp in Holtville in 1966; the major leaguers reported there in late February, then when they moved to Palm Springs in early March for exhibition games the minor leaguers would move in.

Just why they left Holtville, I’ve yet to discover, but I’ll be researching more in coming days. In any case, they moved on to Casa Grande, which was just as isolated as Holtville but had a hotel on the grounds called Francisco Grande.

Click Here to visit the hotel’s web site. There’s a nice 3½ minute video on the home page that reviews its history and shows how it looks today.

When we leave for Florida on Thursday, we’re going to stop in Holtville at lunch to tour the museum and determine what’s available in their archives. Then it’s on to Casa Grande, another 200 miles down the road on the I-8, to spend the night at the Francisco Grande hotel. I’ll try to shoot photos and/or video at both.

The Carrot Capital of the World

As mentioned earlier today, I’m starting to research the Angels’ history at Holtville in Imperial County, the self-proclaimed Carrot Capital of the World.

I made a couple phone calls this afternoon and found some promising leads.

The Pioneers Museum in Imperial has archives of the Holtville Tribune on microfilm. I also have the name and phone number for the paper’s owner back then; one source said he may still have original photos from the era.

I also spoke with Ed Rodriguez, who worked on building the complex. He said he was employed by a local farming business called Sam Andrews’ Sons. Bob Andrews, one of the sons, worked with the Angels to bring their operation to Holtville. The big leaguers would come to Holtville for two weeks, then go to Palm Springs, leaving the complex for the minor leaguers. This is a pattern that was repeated when the Angels moved to Mesa, Arizona in 1984.

Mr. Rodriguez said that Bob Andrews later bought a California League team, possibly the Salinas Packers, which was an Angels affiliate in the 1970s. He said he has a number for Mr. Andrews and I’ll track him down.

He also said that his son located an old 8mm film shot in the 1960s of Gene Autry acting as grand marshal of the Carrot Festival in Holtville. I’m asking for a copy that I can transfer to a video file and post online.

When we head out to Florida next week, I’m hoping to stop mid-day in Imperial and meet Mr. Rodriguez for a museum tour.

Coast to Coast

If you’ve been following this blog over the years, you know that my wife Carol and I have plans to move to Florida.

We’re down to the end days. The movers arrive on May 26, and we’re going to drive cross-country to Cape Canaveral starting on May 28.

Many friends and family have asked us to keep everyone apprised of events, so I thought this blog might be a good way to do it.

Along the way, I’ll shoot photos and maybe film a little video. The game plan is to average about 400 miles a day, which should put us in Cape Canaveral around June 3 or 4. The idea is to post the photos and video online each night in the motel, although I suspect we’ll tire out pretty fast after a few days on the road.

We’ll try to have some baseball serendipity along the way.

Those of you who know your Angels history will recall that they had a minor league complex in Holtville in the 1960s. Holtville, in the Imperial Valley, is the self-proclaimed Carrot Capital of the World. The Angels’ spring training facility in Palm Springs was too small to accommodate a growing organization. As I’ve previously written about, in 1961 the Angels’ Triple-A team was at Riverside, and in 1962-64 they had a minor league camp at La Palma Park in Anaheim. According to the Angels Media Guide, there was a camp in El Centro in 1965, then they moved into the Holtville complex in 1966.

The Holtville cloverleaf is long gone, replaced by a housing tract. I’ve made a couple calls to the local paper looking for who might have archives. I have one lead, which I hope to check out on our drive east.

So we’ll start out by passing through the Imperial Valley, ending up somewhere around Tucson by the end of Day 1.

The Interstate 10 goes all the way from Santa Monica to Florida, so we’ll pick up the I-10 in Tucson and head east. We’ll stop in El Paso, another longtime Angels minor league affiliate.

When we reach Houston, I hope to see Paul Mosley, an original Angels minor leaguer from 1961. Mosley grew up in the San Fernando Valley. He was signed in the spring of 1961 and sent to Statesville, North Carolina, where the Angels had a Class D team. Mosley went on to San Jose in 1962, along with Statesville teammates Jack Hiatt and Dick Simpson, both of whom went on to the majors.

Click Here to listen to an April 2007 interview with Paul. You need Windows Media Player to listen.

We’ll pass through New Orleans, my mother’s home town, then keep heading east until we arrive in the Space Coast.

We’ve rented a condo in Cape Canaveral on the ocean for a month or two until we buy a house. We’re dabbling with the possibility of buying a condo, but that will really compromise our lifestyle.

The next Shuttle launch STS-127 is scheduled for Saturday June 13 at 7:19 AM EDT. The condo is about ten miles down the coast line from the launch pad, but we have “connections” and might get closer. I’ll try to get video of the launch; what you see on TV doesn’t do a launch justice. You really need to see it in person.

The next few days are going to be very hectic, so online time will be minimal at best. I will try to update FutureAngels.com each morning before we hit the road again, but please be patient if updates are sporadic.

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