Arts & Entertainment

The woman who brought the Dodgers to LA celebrates the World Series

Roz Wyman (left) attends the premiere of the film
Roz Wyman (left) attends the premiere of the film "The Kid & I" with director and CEO of the American Film Institute Jean Picker Firstenberg (center) and director/producer Penelope Spheeris (right) on November 12, 2005 in Hollywood, California.
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for AFI

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Perhaps you've heard something about a local sports team winning a big game.

In case you've been living in a secret tunnel under UCLA, the Los Angeles Dodgers have made it to the World Series — for the first time in 29 years. 

Fans can tell you that the Boys in Blue have won five World Series titles since moving here in 1957. But many don't know that without the tireless effort and chutzpah of one woman, the Dodgers would never have ended up in Los Angeles.

In 1953, Rosalind "Roz" Wiener Wyman was fresh from USC when she became the youngest person — and only the second woman — ever elected to the L.A. City Council. She was only 23 years old when she began representing the 5th district, which then covered Westwood and West L.A.

Wyman told KPCC Morning Edition host Alex Cohen that her campaign platform included a promise to bring a major sports team to the city:

"I felt that being an elected public official, you're not a major league city if you don't have major league sports, major league arts. I found out that companies here in L.A. were looking for people to come to work here, and one of the questions that often came up was, 'What kind of sports do you have?'"

Her push came as several East Coast teams began migrating south and west. The Boston Braves moved to Milwaukee in 1953. The St. Louis Browns became the Baltimore Orioles in 1954. The Philadelphia Athletics left for Kansas City in 1955 (before they eventually decamped for Oakland).

Wyman saw an opportunity to lure the Brooklyn Dodgers to the West Coast.

Team owner Walter O'Malley, stymied by attempts to build a better stadium for the franchise in New York City, was looking for opportunities to move elsewhere. It took many pitches to convince him that L.A. was his best bet.

Wyman first wrote to O'Malley in 1955, although he was skeptical about moving the team to California. She kept at it for nearly two years, all while making the case before her City Council colleagues 

It eventually paid off.

In September of 1957, right before the City Council was set to vote on a deal with the team's owners, mayor Norris Poulson called O'Malley to ask whether the deal was firm. Paulson shoved the phone into Wyman's hands.

She remembers winging it to make one last pitch:

"I had all these great arguments, when I was on the floor of the council. We wouldn't be little league and it would be good for business, etcetera. The only thing I came up with [when I first spoke to him] was, 'Mr. O'Malley, you won't have rain-outs.'"

She was right. The Dodgers came to Los Angeles in 1958. Since playing their first game in Dodger Stadium in 1962, the team has been rained out just 17 times at the venue.

Wyman considers herself a die-hard fan and watched Game One of this World Series from her field-level seat at Dodger Stadium:

"When I look at that stadium and it's full, I really, really must say there's a great deal of pride within me. The fans love this team, and it brought something that we never had in Los Angeles before. I'm very excited to see a World Series again, and I think our fans deserve it."