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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Selig: "Territorial Rights Are Always Sacred"

Bud Selig claims that, so far as the A's possibly moving to San Jose is concerned, "Territorial rights are always sacred", meaning the A's are going to be stuck in Oakland for the forseeable future. Of course, he might consider asking the Angels about that. From Ross Newhan's The Anaheim Angels: A Complete History:
On October 26, 1960, at a New York meeting, the [American] league voted ... to expand to 10 teams in 1961, creating franchises in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.

Hank Greenberg, a Hall of Fame hitter who was a part owner of the Chicago White Sox, was asked by the league to take over the Los Angeles club, and Greenberg indicated he hoped to form a syndicate that would include San Diego banker C. Arnholt Smith, ex-major leaguer Ralph Kiner and the flamboyant Bill Veeck, then a Greenberg partner in the White Sox.

[Gene] Autry, at the time having lost the Dodgers to KFI, was more interested in acquiring a client than a franchise. He wanted to retain KMPC's reputation as Southern California's sports station, and he knew it would be difficult if both the Dodgers and the new American League team were on other channels. Autry quickly made arrangements to meet with Greenberg and Veeck on one of their trips to Los Angeles, and they agreed to have KMPC boadcast the games if their deal with the league went through.

It did not. The obstacle was [Walter] O'Malley, who argued that existing rules did not permit the American League to move into his territory, and he was supported by then Commissioner Ford Frick. The problem seemed to be one of personality and money. Greenberg and Veeck were not interested in meeting O'Malley's demand for $450,000 in indemnificatoin, and O'Malley, not anxious to share his chunk of the Gold Coast with anyone, was particularly not anxious to do it with a magnetic showman such as Veeck.

Amid a threat of war between the two leagues, the American League met in New York again on November 17 and ... [agreed] on a course of action for amending the expansion rules O'Malley had cited and accepted Greenberg's withdrawal from the Los Angeles picture.

A group led by Gene Autry eventually passed muster with the National League and got the Angels franchise. So the history of "sacred" territorial rights shows they're not all that, and the Angels are a perfect example.

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