Friday, March 17, 2006

Walter Francis O'Malley (1903-1979) biography

Walter Francis O'Malley (October 9, 1903 - August 9, 1979) was an American sports executive who owned the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers team in Major League Baseball from 1950 to 1979.

Walter O'Malley was the only child of Edwin Joseph O'Malley (1883-1955), who was working as a cotton goods salesman in the Bronx in 1903, but would later become the Commissioner of Public Markets for New York City. Walter's mother was Alma Feltner (1882-1940).

O'Malley attended the Culver Academy in Indiana, and then the University of Pennsylvania where he graduated in 1926. He then attended Columbia University in New York City, but after his family lost their money in the Wall Street Crash of 1929, he switched to attending night classes at Fordham University. He completed his law degree in 1930, and then worked as an assistant engineer for the New York Subway. He then worked for Thomas F. Riley who owned a drilling company and they formed the partnership of Riley and O'Malley. With the help of Walter's father's political connections, the company received contracts from the New York Telephone Company and Board of Education to perform geological surveys. Walter then started the Walter F. O'Malley Engineering Company, and published the Subcontractors Register with his uncle Joseph O'Malley (1893-1985).

On September 5, 1931, he married Katherine Elizabeth "Kay" Hanson (1907-1979), whom he had dated since high school, at Saint Malachy's Roman Catholic Church in Manhattan. They had two children, Theresa O'Malley (1933- ) and Peter O'Malley (1937- ). Kay had been diagnosed with laryngeal cancer before the engagement and had to have her larynx removed. She was unable to speak the rest of her life.

George McLaughlin:
In 1933 Walter met George V. McLaughlin who was president of the Brooklyn Trust Company. It was through George that Walter was brought into the financial arrangements for Ebbets Field in 1940.

Brooklyn Dodgers:
In 1942 he was appointed the attorney for the Brooklyn Dodgers, and he became the president and chief stockholder on October 26, 1950, taking over for Branch Rickey, who was a trailblazer in baseball by instituting the farm system and breaking the racial barrier with Jackie Robinson. In 1955, the team overcame decades of frustration by winning the World Series for the first time in franchise history. Following the 1957 season, he moved the Dodgers to Los Angeles. He was given a property in Chavez Ravine by the Los Angeles city government and built the 56,000 capacity Dodger Stadium for $12 million. His Los Angeles Dodgers won the World Series in 1959, 1963, and 1965. The Los Angeles Angels also played in Dodger Stadium for their first 4 years. On March 17, 1970, Walter turned over the presidency of the team to his son Peter. Peter O'Malley held the position until 1997 when the team was sold to Rupert Murdoch.

Walter O'Malley was diagnosed with cancer, and sought treatment at the Mayo Clinic on July 12, 1979. He died of congestive heart failure on August 9, 1979 and was buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California. Less than a month before his own death, his wife Kay had died.

* 1903 Birth in New York City
* 1910 US Census
* 1920 US Census
* 1926 Graduation from University of Pennsylvania
* 1929 Stock Market Crash
* 1930 Law degree from Fordham University
* 1930 US Census
* 1931 Marriage to Katherine Elizabeth Hanson, aka Kay Hanson
* 1933 Birth of Theresa O'Malley, his daughter
* 1937 Birth of Peter O'Malley, his son
* 1940 Death of Alma Feltner, his mother
* 1942 Appointed attorney for the Brooklyn Dodgers
* 1950 Presidnet and chief stockholder on October 26th
* 1955 Death of Edwin Joseph O'Malley, his father
* 1955 Dodgers win World Series
* 1957 Team moved to Los Angeles, California
* 1959 Dodgers win World Series
* 1963 Dodgers win World Series
* 1965 Dodgers win World Series
* 1970 Peter O'Malley, his son, becomes President of Dodgers
* 1979 Death of Kay, his wife
* 1979 Treatment at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota on July 12th
* 1979 Death of Walter O'Malley at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota on August 9th

* New York Times, August 10, 1979; Obituary
* Burton Alan Boxerman; Ebbets to Veeck to Busch: Eight Owners Who Shaped Baseball ISBN 0786415622