Anaheim Angels: A Complete History

Ross Newhan, Author Hyperion Books $14.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-7868-8450-6
In 1960, popular entertainer and successful businessman Gene Autry (aka the Singing Cowboy) purchased an American League franchise to play baseball in rapidly growing Los Angeles. Though Autry's team, the Anaheim Angels, has enjoyed occasional successes--among them, three American League West division titles--this book by veteran sportswriter Newhan focuses on the team's inability to make it to the World Series. Newhan recounts each frustrating season in enough detail to remind even the most diligent fans of players and stats they have forgotten. While the author treads lightly on the team he has covered since its inception, he doesn't shy away from bringing to light the wrong turns and haphazard moves the Angels have made. He also devotes a good deal of space to the colorful characters who have played for the team--such as Bo Belinsky, a talented but dissolute pitcher who was suspended in the 1960s for punching a reporter. In describing the number of freak accidents and unfortunate deaths that have plagued the Angels, Newhan makes a compelling case that the team suffers from a Californian version of the Boston Red Sox curse, which has allegedly prevented the Bosox from winning a World Series since 1918. None of these cases is more poignant than that of pitcher Donnie Moore, who committed suicide three years after giving up the home run that prevented the Angels from reaching the 1986 World Series. Despite Newhan's somewhat perfunctory writing style, West Coast fans who want to get an early-season dose of baseball will find this book a welcome diversion. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/03/2000
Release date: 04/01/2000
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