Arts & Entertainment

If you love Dodger baseball in LA, you have this woman to thank

Former City Councilwoman Roz Wyman and former Dodgers owner Peter O'Malley at Dodger Stadium on May 2, 2012.
Former City Councilwoman Roz Wyman and former Dodgers owner Peter O'Malley at Dodger Stadium on May 2, 2012.
Gary Leonard/LAPL

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This Thursday is opening day for the Dodgers. While the city roots for them to make it to the World Series again, many don't know that without the tireless effort and chutzpah of one woman, that wouldn't be possible — because 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 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," Wyman said. "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, despite his skepticism 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 1957, right before the City Council was set to vote on a deal with the team's owners, then-Mayor Norris Poulson called O'Malley to ask whether the deal was firm. Poulson shoved the phone into Wyman's hands.

She said she remembers winging it to make one last pitch.

"I had all these great arguments, when I was on the floor of the Council," Wyman said. "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 last year's 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," Wyman said. " The fans love this team, and it brought something that we never had in Los Angeles before."

This story has been updated.