Roz Wyman is still the Dodgers’ No. 1 fan – Press Enterprise

Roz Wyman is still the Dodgers’ No. 1 fan – Press Enterprise

If this were a normal World Series – like anything in 2020 is normal, right? – Roz Wyman would be at Dodger Stadium for Tuesday night’s Game 6 in her field level seat, on the third base side of home plate and adjacent to where the umpires enter the field.

It is not in The Ravine, of course. The Dodgers have made Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, their second home during this neutral-site postseason, and that is where they will attempt to win the World Series and end 32 years of waiting.

But here’s one indication that Roz Wyman is the Dodgers’ No. 1 fan: She turned 90 earlier this month, she’s still a dynamo – active in Democratic Party politics and a member of four different nonprofit boards – and yet she still tried to figure out a way to get to Texas for Games 6 and (if necessary) 7.

Here’s the other indication: If not for her, they probably would never have become the Los Angeles Dodgers.

She was a 22-year-old candidate for the Los Angeles City Council in 1952, a recent graduate of USC going by her maiden name of Rosalind Wiener, and one of the planks of her campaign platform was bringing major league baseball to Los Angeles.

“At that point I didn’t have a shot in hell, to tell you the truth, to win,” she recalled in a phone conversation Monday. “Mine was a handmade campaign.”

You use what you’ve got. She purchased small cards in bulk, 50,000 of them for $35. And she had access to small bars of soap, since her parents had a drug store. Those became her campaign handouts, the soap packaged with the little cards, and among the ambitions printed on those cards was: “Bring major league baseball to Los Angeles.”

“And when I got into City Hall (after being elected), then I decided I ought to really see about that,” she said. “My mother was a huge baseball fan, of the Cubs. She was born in Chicago, her two brothers played ball, and she always said I was born during the World Series.

“The Braves had moved (from Boston to Milwaukee in 1953, only to relocate again to Atlanta in 1966), and I thought, well, teams were moving, maybe we’ve got a shot. So the sportswriters and I got together and they said, you know, if you want to make this campaign or try, we’ll support you.”

Through 1952, major league baseball was a tightly controlled and geographically compact sport. There were 16 teams and five two-team cities: New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston and St. Louis, the western-most outpost.

Los Angeles could have had the St. Louis Browns, who were a distant No. 2 to the Cardinals in their city, as early as 1942. The owner of the Browns, Donald Barnes, had made the necessary arrangements to move to L.A., and the American League owners were set to vote on the matter at the winter meetings in Chicago on Dec. 8, 1941, with a press conference in L.A. scheduled that afternoon.

The day before, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and the United States entered World War II. There was no move.

But the Braves’ shift started the toppling of the dominoes. The Browns became the Baltimore Orioles in 1954. The A’s moved from Philadelphia to Kansas City in 1955, en route to Oakland in ’68. And while it seemed impossible that the Brooklyn Dodgers would be in play, Walter O’Malley was adamant that he needed a replacement for Ebbets Field but could not get approval from New York public works czar Robert Moses for what he considered a suitable site in Brooklyn.

“Everybody said there’s no way the Dodgers are going to leave Brooklyn,” Wyman said. “They were considered the best sports team in America – all sports, any kind of sports – and I knew that made it more difficult. But … I’d become pretty well versed in it and so I decided, what do I have to lose? I might as well try.”

Wyman wrote O’Malley a letter in 1955 requesting a meeting and received a terse response saying that the team was preparing for the World Series and he wouldn’t have time to meet.

“But I decided for some reason to keep watching the Dodgers,” she said. “At this point, I’m not sure why I considered it, but I just thought, ‘He’s getting blocked time and time again. Maybe there’s an outside shot. Even the sportswriters said, ‘Roz, try to find another team. The Brooklyn Dodgers are not gonna leave Brooklyn. But I don’t know why. I just kept at it.”

The more O’Malley encountered roadblocks in New York, the more he warmed to L.A. The kicker might have been a helicopter ride with county supervisor Kenneth Hahn, who was working in tandem with Wyman. Hahn showed O’Malley the 300-acre Chavez Ravine site. Once owned by mostly Mexican-American families, the city acquired the land through the National Housing Act and had originally approved it for public housing in 1950 before powerful forces in the L.A. business community got a change in mayors and got the project killed.

Residents received eviction notices, but some members of that community remained on that land up to the time they were removed in May, 1959, after the California Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit by ballpark opponents. According to “Stealing Home,” Eric Nusbaum’s book earlier this year about the process by which that land was cleared, most of the organized opposition to the ballpark had little to do with the families still living on the property.

O’Malley, of course, was not aware of those political machinations. He saw possibility.

“After the flight was over, Kenny called me and said, ‘Roz, you might have a shot at this,’” she said. “He was interested. And that’s how it started, basically.”

Long story short, the Dodgers moved west in 1958, accompanied by the Giants’ move from New York to San Francisco. (Wyman said she had contacted plugged-in friends in San Francisco to suggest they pursue that team, which otherwise would have been headed for Minneapolis. Giants fans, now you know who to thank.)