Sixty years ago, Roz Wyman became the youngest person and only the second woman to be elected to the Los Angeles City Council.
One of her first moves in office was to promote a handful of amateur baseball games to be played at the L.A. Coliseum — she wanted to prove that the stadium was fit for a major league team. Five years later the Dodgers played their first game in LA, and it couldn't have been done without her.
Off-Ramp's Jerry Gorin asked Wyman why she felt so strongly about bringing baseball west, and how hard it was to pluck the Dodgers from Brooklyn.
JG: You were pro-active in courting a baseball team to LA from the moment you were elected to city council. Why did LA need a baseball team?
Wyman: "I thought it was important for Los Angeles to have major league sports. I looked at New York with the Yankees and Giants, and I thought, 'How could we be major league in a city like LA if we don't have major league baseball?'
"Now to tell you the truth, I didn't know any of the baseball rules at that point. I didn't know about minor league territory, who owned it, and how you got it-- I just thought you wrote a letter to somebody and asked them to come to Los Angeles."
JG: So how did you go from being totally in over your head to championing the Dodgers' move?
Wyman: "I wrote a letter to Walter O'Malley, it's a famous letter nowadays, and we'd heard he wanted to move from Ebbetts Field. The Dodgers were considered one of the best franchises of any sports in America at the time, and I thought 'What the heck? I'm not sure I could get the Dodgers, but let's so interest in getting a team.'
"We really went at it all together, all the sports people in LA. So I wrote that letter to Walter, and he thought I was just a politician using him. He wrote me back that he was too busy, but I continued to look around to see who else might be available. And almost to the day that we voted, I really never thought that we would get the Dodgers."
JG: At the time you were the youngest person ever elected to city council, and only the second woman to that point to have been on the council. Why do you think people listened to you?
Wyman: "Well I could prove it was good investment for the city. We were a growing city, and if you were going to grow, sports were huge. And I had such support with the sportswriters, and the chambers of commerces, and the downtown business people. Everybody participated! And when the Dodgers came, it was the first time that everybody in L.A. pulled together. They saw the battle to get them, they saw what was involved in it, they saw the vote."
"It was an interesting thing, the day we voted, that day the mayor came running to me asking 'Are you sure they're coming?' And I said, 'Well we've negotiated, his people have been here.' I was very pregnant, by the way, and the mayor asked me if I'd talked to Mr. O'Malley, and I hadn't. I'd only talked to his people. So the mayor told me to come down to his office, he said, 'We have to call him! We have to call him.'
"He was very nervous, Norrie Paulson, great guy. So I finally went to his office and we finally got on the phone with Mr. O'Malley, and he thanked me and the mayor, and he said the contract was fair. But he also said he wasn't sure, because baseball was never big in L.A. So I started thinking of all the good arguments that we had — it was important for the community, for business, for recruiting-— and yet the only thing I said to him was, 'Mr. O'Malley, there'll be very few rain outs. Because double-headers cost you money. That was the actual thing that I sid! And what do you know, and we've only had 16 since they've been here!"