Big league baseball

In The Dreyfuss Affair: A Love Story, novelist Peter Lefcourt gives the Valley a major league baseball team and a stadium in the Sepulveda Basin. It’s pure farce. But long before the Dodgets came to L.A., the big leagues came to Burbank for a few weeks each spring.

The St. Louis Browns, the worst team in the American League, came for spring training at Burbank’s Olive Stadium beginning in 1948. They became an attraction in a Valley devoid of much entertainment. Seats in the outfield bleachers cost kids nine cents each, in the grandstand 90 cents. For that you could see legends like Rogers Hornsby, the Brown’s manager, and pitcher Satchel Paige.

Stars such as Marilyn Monroe (see below) and Ronald Reagan came to the park, and the team itself included future actor Johnny Beradino. The Browns would play a short schedule of games in Burbank before heading east by train to start the season. In 1953 the team was sold and became the Baltimore Orioles, ending the Valley’s flirtation with the major leagues.