Walter Francis O'Malley (1903-1979) circa 1940-1950

Walter Francis O'Malley (1903-1979) circa 1905

Walter Francis O'Malley (1903-1979) and Therese O'Malley (1933- ) circa 1935

Walter Francis O'Malley (1903-1979) Owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1950 to 1979 (b. October 9, 1903, Bronx, New York City, New York, USA - d. August 9, 1979, Methodist Hospital, Mayo Clinic, 200 First Street Southwest, Rochester, Olmsted County, Minnesota, USA) Social Security Number 090249001.

Early years[edit | edit source]

Walter O'Malley was the only child of Edwin Joseph O'Malley (1881-1953), 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 Jamaica High School in Queens and then the Culver Academy in Indiana. He then attended the University of Pennsylvania and 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 at Fordham Law, and then worked as an assistant engineer for the New York Subway. He then worked for Thomas F. Riley who owned the Riley 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 the New York City 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 Hanson (1907-1979), whom he had dated since high school, at Saint Malachy's Roman Catholic Church in Manhattan. They had two children, Therese O'Malley Seidler (1933- ) and Peter O'Malley (1937- ). Kay had been diagnosed with laryngeal cancer in 1927 before the engagement and had to have her larynx removed. She was unable to speak above a whisper the rest of her life.

Dodgers[edit | edit source]

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.

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.

The Dodgers won the National League pennants in 1952, 1953, 1955, and 1956. In 1955, they won the World Series for the first time in their history. Stadium attendance was declining, from a peak of 1.7 million in 1946 and 1947 to just over one-million per year in by 1954. O'Malley tried to build a new ballpark in Brooklyn, but when that was blocked, he looked out of state.

Following the 1957 season, he moved the Dodgers to Los Angeles. The move angered New York. O'Malley was acquired a property in Chavez Ravine from the Los Angeles city government and built the 56,000 capacity Dodger Stadium for $23 million.

Brent Shyer writes:

The City of Los Angeles agreed to a contract with the Dodgers which required O'Malley and the Dodgers to design, build, privately-finance and maintain a 50,000-seat stadium; develop a youth recreation center on the land at $500,000 initially plus annual payments of $60,000 for 20 years; and pay $345,000 in property taxes originally in 1962, putting the land on the tax rolls for the first time in years. Also, the Dodgers would transfer team-owned Wrigley Field, then appraised at $2.2 million, to the city. The city exchanged "300 acres, more or less, in the Chavez Ravine area", while L.A. County Supervisors unanimously agreed to provide $2.74 million for access roads. In addition, the Dodgers also had to pay $450,000 for territorial rights to the Pacific Coast League, whose L.A. Angels and Hollywood Stars suspended play. When he made the decision to relocate in October 1957 to Los Angeles, O'Malley did not have an established location for where the Dodgers would play in 1958.

The Dodgers began to attract two-million fans a year. They 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 1998 when the team was sold to Rupert Murdoch.

Death[edit | edit source]

Walter O'Malley was diagnosed with cancer, and sought treatment at the Mayo Clinic, then his wife Kay died. He died of congestive heart failure on August 9, 1979 and was buried at Holy Cross Cemetery, Culver City, California.

Research[edit | edit source]

  • Karen O'Malley Almeida wrote on February 2, 2010: "Walter's father was Edwin, his grandfather was Thomas, His great grandfather was John. Listed on the 1850 census. Bridget is the mother and Michael is the brother. Michael is my 3x great grandfather. Patrick O'Malley 2x great grandfather. NY death certificate # 1982, born July 1, 1851. Died 29 November 1920. Father Michael O'Malley mother Mary Smith. Patrick's son was James Patrick O'Malley NY dc # 141 B 6 June 1887 Died 16 Jan 1929. His son was my grandfather James Patrick O'Malley. He died in the 1970's. His son - My dad James Patrick O'Malley born in 1938 in NJ. My Aunt Betty once wrote me (She is in her 80's and this was the best of her memory) Tom O'Malley was Patrick's cousin. He married Georgina? and the had 13 children. ( I know the census lists 19 - 11 alive) I have a copy of the census record. They often visited Pat and Kate on SI. Their daugher Grace was maid of honor at the wedding of Dan and Mary in 1903. (Mary was my great grandfather's sister) Katherine O'Malley # 13 child lawyer at ITT. She helped start Casita Maria settlement at 110 St NYC.

Timeline[edit | edit source]

  • 1903 Birth in New York City on October 9
  • 1926 Graduation from the University of Pennsylvania
  • 1929 Stock Market Crash
  • 1930 Law degree from Fordham University
  • 1931 Marriage to Katherine Elizabeth Hanson, aka Kay Hanson on September 5
  • 1933 Birth of Therese O'Malley, his daughter, on May 16
  • 1937 Birth of Peter O'Malley, his son, on December 12
  • 1940 Death of Alma Feltner, his mother, on June 1
  • 1942 Appointed attorney for the Brooklyn Dodgers
  • 1950 President and chief stockholder of Dodgers on October 26
  • 1953 Death of Edwin Joseph O'Malley (1881-1953), his father, on April 10
  • 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 on March 17
  • 1974 Dodgers win National League Championship Series on Walter's 71st birthday
  • 1975 O'Malley owns 100% of Dodgers stock
  • 1977 Chest surgery in Los Angeles on June 9
  • 1979 Death of Kay, his wife, in Los Angeles on July 12
  • 1979 Treatment at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota
  • 1979 Death of Walter O'Malley at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota on August 9 [1]
  • 2007 Elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on December 3
  • 2008 Inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on July 27
  • 2009 Induction into the Irish American Baseball Hall of Fame in New York City on July 7

References[edit | edit source]

  1. ^ "Walter O'Malley, Owner of Dodgers, Dies at 75. Considered One of Baseball's Most Powerful Men, He Brought His Team to Los Angeles in 1958.". Los Angeles Times. August 9, 1979. "Walter Francis O'Malley, the man who brought the Dodgers to Los Angeles, died Thursday of congestive heart failure. He was 75." 

External links[edit | edit source]

Ancestors[edit | edit source]

Walter Francis O'Malley (1903-1979)'s ancestors in three generations
Walter Francis O'Malley (1903-1979) Father:
Edwin Joseph O'Malley (1881-1953)
Paternal Grandfather:
Thomas Francis O'Malley (1854-1918)
Paternal Great-grandfather:
John O'Malley (1825-?)
Paternal Great-grandmother:
Paternal Grandmother:
Georgiana Reynolds (1855-1941)
Paternal Great-grandfather:
Thomas Reynolds
Paternal Great-grandmother:
Alma Feltner (1882-1940)
Maternal Grandfather:
John George Feltner (1851-1940)
Maternal Great-grandfather:
Conrad Teifel
Maternal Great-grandmother:
Katherine Friedrich
Maternal Grandmother:
Dorothea Schmaus (1848-1936)
Maternal Great-grandfather:
Michael Schmaus
Maternal Great-grandmother:
Rosa Wolf

Source[edit | edit source]

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