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MLB Alternate Universe: What If O'Malley Was Never Born? (1958-1979 so far)


Silent Wind of Doom

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Walter O’Malley is one of the most divisive historical figures in baseball history. Now, given all the steroids controversy of the last few decades, the Black Sox, and Ty Cobb, that may sound like an insane statement, but it’s true, and it’s something I forgot until a few years ago.

A few years ago, O’Malley was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. My adopted grandfather, who’d lived in the Bronx for decades before moving here, was sitting next to me when I heard it on TV, and more angrily than I’d ever seen him before yell “It should be the hall of shame!” In California, he is praised for bringing the major leagues to the West Coast, and giving the citizens of Los Angeles one of their sports scene’s crown jewels, while in New York he is seen as the odious man who swooped in and scuttled their beloved bums away, ripping away National League baseball in the country’s biggest city and leaving them with nothing but their rival Yankees to root for.

Inspired by the recent thread postulating what would happen if the Colts hadn’t been stolen from the citizens of Baltimore, I decided to have my own fun postulation. What would have happened if Walter O’Malley hadn’t been born? If he hadn't been there to take controlling interest in the team, fail to see his hopes of new digs within the borough of churches realized, and move the team cross-country?

That’s what I’m talking a look at. How would things change through the history of the game to today? Now, of course, different locations and markets affect how things work greatly, but attempting to put all the variables of where players would sign and stuff would be so complicated that my head would spin, so I’m mostly keeping a team’s history intact. For expansion franchises, I’m going to be keeping the history of the franchise that was expanded that year. What does that mean, well as we go along you’re going to see how that comes into play.

But, right now, let’s start things up!

The year is 1958…

The New York Giants, unhappy with the rotting Polo Grounds and being courted by California, have been looking to relocate. However, they are told by the powers that be that having one team on the West Coast puts too much of a travel strain on teams and they will have to find another team to join them or it’s no deal. Knowing that the Dodgers are also starting to get rather cramped in Ebbets Field, majority owner Horace Stoneham suggests that the Dodgers join them.
But the Brooklyn owners, in a charge led by Branch Rickey, are unready to abandon their home and fans. Unable to convince any of the other owners, the Giants settle for their Plan B, moving into Metropolitan Stadium, which had just been built for their AA affiliate, the Minneapolis Millers. Seeing the same issues sports teams had had in the past there that our universe’s Senators saw, they decide to appeal to both Minneapolis and St. Paul. Thus the Minnesota Giants are born.

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The Giants repeat their last few third-place efforts, but they are much beloved by the people of Minnesota. Being one of the game’s legendary franchises, even in this early era, they retain much of their identity, safe for their cap logo. As expected, an M replaces the interlocking NY.

Meanwhile, in Brooklyn, the Dodgers remain. They take a sharp dip in the standings, but this would last long.

The year is 1959…

Brooklyn is back on top! While it is a little less delicious as it was over the White Sox and not those damn Yankees, Brooklyn once again is able to celebrate a World Championship. The team sees a ticker-tape parade as generations of fans who have seen their team earn the nickname “bums” win once again. It wasn't just a fluke.
Meanwhile, they begin to use this as leverage. After the City of New York saw a team bearing their name walk away, and how the people responded, a similar threat from the Dodgers holds a lot more weight. With the World’s Fair coming in a few years, the city promises the Dodgers a beautiful new modern ballpark with a huge increase in seating and parking right in the middle of the celebration. While the owners do not feel easy leaving the borough of Brooklyn behind, the idea of becoming the toast of the town in New York appeals to them, and a deal is struck.

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But let us finally look beyond the Big Apple. Over in Missouri, Charlie O. Finley has taken ownership of the Kansas City Athletics, and his first move is to look for a way out. He wants to move and begins shopping. And he’s not alone. Calvin Griffith in Washington is also looking to move westward. They would finally get their wish, and their movements would coincide with action by their parent league. Let us fast-forward to the sport’s first expansion.

The year is 1961…

The American League has made the decision to expand two brand new teams, but first there’s some old business to tend to. The charter member Washington Senators are leaving their home and moving out. In our universe, they moved to Minnesota, but that’s the home of the Giants in this universe, so instead they move to another region that’s been courting teams: the Dallas-Ft. Worth Metroplex. They temporarily move into Burnett Field, home of the AAA Dallas-Ft. Worth Rangers. They also take on the Rangers moniker. Taking a note from the Minnesota Giants’ playbook, being the first team to exist in the state, and unable to resist the double meaning of the name, the Senators become the Texas Rangers.

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Charlie O. was faced with the same issues that the Giants were. However, the American League is able to do what the National League couldn’t: make it to California. The AL agrees to award an expansion franchise to join the Athletics. Finley moves the team to the very city that had been courting the Giants, and thus they become the San Francisco Athletics. They move into Seals Stadium while the city begins construction on a new stadium at Candlestick Point.

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The Athletics, who were wearing black and red the year before in Kansas City, took on the colors of the city: black and gold. The team did not wait things out in Kansas City long enough for Finley to change them to the more vibrant green and gold. The white elephant makes his return as the primary logo.

With a vacuum in the Capital, the American League’s first expansion franchise is moving into Washington D.C. to become the new Washington Senators. It is a new age of baseball in Washington, with a new stadium being built right outside of town for the Senators and the Redskins to share.

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The other expansion franchise is the franchise that will join the Athletics in California: the Los Angeles Angels. The city of L.A. is excited to have major league baseball played within their borders, opening up the Los Angeles Coliseum up to them as a temporary home while they build a new stadium at Chavez Ravine.
The American League had seen its first expansion, but the National League would not be outdone, and would expand themselves the next year.

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The year is 1962…

The Rangers get a brand new neighbor, as the National League expands into Houston. The new Houston Colt .45s move into Colt Stadium temporarily while the Astrodome is being built nearby, the future home of the Colts and the Oilers.

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With the Dodgers still making their home in New York, there is no need for a new franchise in the City. William A. Shea never threatens to form a new league, and the new stadium being built in Flushing will bear the name “Flushing Municipal Stadium”.

Instead, the National League gives another forsaken city a new team. Scorned by Charlie O. and the Athletics, a new franchise is expanded in Kansas City. Taking their name from the famed American Royal livestock show, the new team is christened the Kansas City Royals. While the city is happy to see professional baseball return, they had no clue that they were staring down the barrel of a decent stretch of futility, starting with a historically disastrous first season. They would see some magic soon enough, though.

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Here's the teams of Major League Baseball as they exist in this universe in 1962:

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More to come as we journey through the alternate universe's history to today.

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You should rename this series to "What if Robert Moses was never born." O'Malley wanted to stay in Brooklyn more than anything, in fact the stadium site he wanted is now the Barclays Center for the same reasons he wanted it. Moses loved the car and hated mass transit, so he wanted them at the Shea site. O'Malley didn't want to leave.

Also, the Giants may have stayed as well - Moses was the one who put up the Projects that started to keep people from going to Giants games at the Polo Grounds.

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When I saw the name SFGiants, I figured that I'd had some kind of glaring inaccuracy. Glad to see you enjoyed it, and by your signature it seems you usually enjoy my work. ;D

Through everything I've read, O'Malley wasn't willing to relocate to another part of the city, and was the spearhead of moving instead. He wanted his giant dome in Brooklyn, and nothing else was a possibility within the five boroughs for him.

Oh, and by the way, I updated the images in the thread (I was in a bit of a hurry last week), and the next decade or so should be up Thursday.

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This is pretty interesting. I like it, and it's pretty plausible if O'Malley was never born, or if William Shea was the lawyer who would have been sent to the Dodgers at one time instead of O'Malley (I think that's how the story went, anyway).

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I kind of wish you would've started this earlier, by having the St. Louis Browns move to Milwaukee according to Bill Veeck's original plan. THEN where do the Braves go... Minnesota? Baltimore? San Francisco? Dallas-Ft.Worth? Kansas City?

Still, as someone who's played "What IF?" with MLB relocation a number of times, I'm thoroughly enjoying this! :)

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You should also do an NFL one with this scenario:

1. No USFL.

2. NFL announces 1986 expansion in the Spring of 1984.

3. One of the teams is the Phoenix Firebirds. That was an actual group that wanted a team. They were going to have Bart Starr as coach, and they bought land on the Gila Indian Reservation for a new stadium.

As for their logo and colors, I have no idea.

4. The Maryland politicians stop the Colts from moving to Indy by Eminent Domain, so there is no Mayflower episode. As a result, Pete Rozelle, the cities of Indy and Baltimore, and the Irsays reach an agreement. The Irsays get an expansion team in Indianapolis, and the NFL and the City of Baltimore runs the Colts until they find a suitable owner that will build a new stadium.

Some name ideas for the new Indy team are Circle Stars (Indianapolis is the Circle City), Mohicans (an Indian tribe that was in that state), and two more obvious ones, the Racers and 500's.

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Any idea when we'll see the rest of this? My question has less to do with harassing you to continue, and more to do with bumping this back to the first page because I think this project is all kinds of awesome sauce! :D

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And I’m back. I’m all right with editing large images, but not with creating them from scratch, so when it came to that, things started going slower. So, without further ado, let us continue as time marches on…

The year is 1964...

After a much relished World Series win over the aging and ailing Yankees topped off a perfect final season for Ebbets Field, the Dodgers are prepared to move into their brand new digs, a modern multipurpose stadium a stone’s throw from Small World.

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Along with the new digs, the Bums do drop the “Brooklyn” moniker to instead go by the name “New York Dodgers”. Purists already detest the name change, so the Dodgers try not to emulate the hated Giants’ old insignia, stretching the NY out and adding their own serifs from their B. They drop to the middle of the pack this year, but banners will fly over Flushing Municipal Stadium soon enough.

The year is 1965...

The Astrodome is complete, and so the Colt .45s move into the 8th Wonder of the World. The team has been having difficulties with the name, and thus decide to change their name to the Houston Astros, tying into their new home and Houston’s reputation for shooting for the stars. Unfortunately, they would remain in the second division this year.

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On the winning side, the Dodgers bounce back quickly, and they prepare to face a new foe. Playoff baseball comes to the Metroplex as the Texas Rangers, in their first year in the newly built Arlington Stadium, win the American League pennant.

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It is a hot, sweltering night in Arlington when Sandy Koufax shuts the Rangers down in game 7 to win the Dodgers’ fourth championship.

The year is 1966...

The Milwaukee Braves’ owner, William Bartholomay, has been shopping the team since he bought them, hoping to land in a bigger television market. He finally hit the jackpot with Atlanta, Georgia, one of the failed suitors for Charlie O. After all arrangements are made, this year is the team’s first as the Atlanta Braves, residing in the brand new Atlanta Stadium with the Falcons as their roommates.

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In the series, the Baltimore Orioles take on the New York Dodgers, and win their first championship in a sweep.

The year is 1969...

The National League is finally making its way to the place our universe saw them ten years ago: California. Two expansion franchises are awarded in the Golden State, but they’ll be sharing markets.

In the City of Angels, the Los Angeles Padres join the Angels in their home in Chavez Ravine, but there are plans for a new venue in Anaheim to be built for them.

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The other expansion team resides right across the bay from the Athletics. The Oakland Oaks take their name from the city’s old Pacific Coast League team, and they take their colors from the city’s flag: Gold and Green. The Oaks move into Oakland Coliseum, current home of the Raiders.

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With this expansion, a restructuring of the league takes place. Each league splits into two divisions: East and West.

The American League East consists of the Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Indians, New York Yankees, and Washington Senators.

The American League West consists of the Chicago White Sox, Detroit Tigers, Los Angeles Angels, San Francisco Athletics, and Texas Rangers

The National League East consists of the Atlanta Braves, Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, New York Dodgers, Philadelphia Phillies, and Pittsburgh Pirates

The National League West consists of the Houston Astros, Kansas City Royals, Minnesota Giants, Los Angeles Padres, Oakland Oaks, and St. Louis Cardinals

In the new NL West, a change is happening. The Royals have thus far set records for futility. However, this year they have come out of the gate hot. The Kings of KC are dubbed the Remarkable Royals as they make a run for the ages and beat the Baltimore Orioles in the 1969 Series, giving Kansas City its first championship.

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The year is 1971...

In our universe, an American League expansion was planned for 1971, but Missouri senator Stuart Symington fought tooth and nail to have a new franchise come to Kansas City as soon as possible to fill the void left by the Athletics. With the Royals already in place in this universe, the expansion takes place as originally planned.

Kansas City wasn’t the only abandoned market. With the Braves leaving for Atlanta, Milwaukee is a city without a team. Rather than letting Milwaukee County Stadium lay fallow, local businessman Bud Selig has been having the White Sox come in to play occasional games the last few years, and the American League has rewarded him for his success in showing Milwaukee as a viable market. A new team is enfranchised: the Milwaukee Brewers.

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The name’s origin is easy to guess. The team has decided to fully embrace the city’s brewing culture, using a swinging beer barrel man as their logo.

The other new American League franchise is the Seattle Pilots. Taking the home of the PCL’s Raniers, the Pilots move into Sick’s Stadium, a park that is in a woeful state, but the city is in the process of building a new domed city downtown. The team goes the full nine yards with their nautical theme, including two “scrambled eggs” leaves on the brim of the cap.

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At this point, we already see a number of changes shaping the universe, but even greater changes will come in the future. For the moment, here’s where the universe stands as it is now:

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Ah... I was hoping the Brooklyn Dome would've been a reality in this universe!

But if the Brewers and the Pilots aren't the same team in this universe, the Brewers' colors would probably be navy and red. Bud Selig wanted to essentially re-create the minor league team he grew up following, and only ended up with royal and gold as the team's colors because he didn't have time to get new uniforms before the 1970 season. Stuff like this occasionally still pops up on eBay.

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Ah... I was hoping the Brooklyn Dome would've been a reality in this universe!

But if the Brewers and the Pilots aren't the same team in this universe, the Brewers' colors would probably be navy and red. Bud Selig wanted to essentially re-create the minor league team he grew up following, and only ended up with royal and gold as the team's colors because he didn't have time to get new uniforms before the 1970 season.

Remember, the plan was to eventually expand Shea to be a perfect circle with a dome on top, but they later found it wasn't structurally sound.

Well, you are right about the Brewers. I've changed them accordingly. Gold and blue are colors representing the city and are featured on their flag, though, so don't be surprised to see them change later.

I've made a few changed to the second post. It's going to take me a little time to get the Grizzlies ready, but I'll hopefully get the next leg of the journey done soon.

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This is an awesome series, keep up the good work (especially like the Brewers update from blue and gold to navy and red). One minor nitpick: even in an alternate universe, I couldn't see the expansion Los Angeles team taking what is essentially San Diego's nickname and colors. Since you've already used the Los Angeles Angels and Oakland Oaks as nicknames, why not appropriate the historic nickname of LA's other PCL team? Calling them the Los Angeles Stars or Hollywood Stars would probably be more relevant than calling them the Los Angeles Padres.

Notwithstanding, I can't wait to see what the 70's, 80's and 90's bring...

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Yeah. Crap. You're right. I did screw that up. I just figured that the Padres' Mission imagery still worked with Los Angeles, and that without taking on an already established franchise, they might turn to that as an identity. I didn't realize the name came from a PCL team. My bad.

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This series is good. What about putting a MLB team in Indianapolis. BUT REMEMBER: Indianapolis has a minor league team,so the Minor League Indianapolis Indians will go to another city ( example, Springfield, IL.) and the MLB Indianapolis team will move into Bush Stadium. Thank you,but I am giving you a good request. Happy New Year!

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