From BR Bullpen


"While most historians trace the beginning of organized teams to the San Francisco Baseball Club - Red Rover contest on February 22, 1860 (with Sacramento Baseball Club versus the Union Club of the same city squaring off later in the day), the game can be traced back to 1852 when the California Alta noted a 'town ball' game played in San Francisco." - from the first of a set of articles titled Baseball in Early California

California is the birthplace of almost 2,000 major league ballplayers (through 2010). That is in spite of the fact that in the early days of baseball, ballplayers were almost all from the eastern part of the U.S.

Tom Oran, who played in the National Association, was the first player to come to the majors, if the NA is considered a major league. Andy Piercy was the first California-born player in the National League.

Major league ball came to California in 1958, when the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants moved to Los Angeles and San Francisco, respectively. The Dodgers brought a World Series championship to California the next year, in 1959. The first American League team in the state were the Los Angeles Angels, established by the expansion of 1961.

Don Drysdale became a popular hero in Los Angeles because, even though he had pitched for several years in Brooklyn before coming to Los Angeles, he was born in Van Nuys, CA, near L.A.

Baseball goes back much before 1958 in California, though. Minor league teams have played in San Francisco since 1887, and there used to be an active California Winter League, whose famous players included names such as Walter Johnson and Satchel Paige. It was integrated long before Major League Baseball was. The Pacific Coast League, based heavily in California, has been one of the top two or three minor leagues since the early 20th century. The California League is also entirely based in the state.

In terms of college ball, San Jose State University began fielding teams in 1890. Baseball is so well implanted that community colleges form their own league, the California Community College Athletic Association, which holds an annual championship.

Further Reading[edit]

  • Jean Hastings Ardell and Andy McCue, ed.: Endless Seasons: Baseball in Southern California, The National Pastime, SABR, Number 41, 2011.
  • Chris Epting: Baseball in Orange County, Images of America, Arcadia Publishing, Charleston, SC, 2012. ISBN 978-0-7385-9328-9
  • Kerry Yo Nakagawa: Japanese American Baseball in California: A History, The History Press, Charleston, SC, 2014. ISBN 978-1626195820