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Hollywood Stars Baseball Team

        ** Click Here To View Photos **

In November 1937, Herbert Fleishaker moved his Mission Reds baseball team from San Francisco to Los Angeles and took the name 'Hollywood Stars Baseball Team”.   After the 1938 season, the Stars' management dissolved. Fleishhacker was unable to complete arrangements for construction of a baseball park. Then his brewery failed and he went into bankruptcy. The club was for sale.

The men who purchased the Stars from Fleishhacker's estate retained control for the next 19 years - until the arrival of major league baseball in Los Angeles forced the club to disband. They made the Stars the civic venture and outstanding team that is remembered today.  The leaders of the new ownership group were Victor Ford Collins, who was Fleishhacker's attorney, and Robert H. Cobb, owner of the Brown Derby restaurants. This was the dream of a lifetime for Bob Cobb.

In order to raise funds, the two men formed the Hollywood Baseball Association and sold small amounts of stock to numerous Hollywood civic leaders and movie stars. The movie personalities included Cecil B. DeMille (first chairman of the board of directors), William Frawley, Robert Taylor, Barbara Stanwyck, Gail Patrick (Mrs. Cobb), Harry Warner, Bing Crosby, Gary Cooper, George Burns and Grace Allen, and Gene Autry. By selling stock to the movie stars, Collins and Cobb gained not only capital, but also the opportunity to promote their club as “the Hollywood Stars baseball team, owned by the Hollywood stars.

The events of the opening week of 1939 and opening day of Gilmore Field, built by Earl Gilmore, typified the Stars' organization for its first ten years under Collins and Cobb; everyone was amateurishly enthusiastic and wanted dearly to put on a good show, but the team was poor and struggled for several years.

The fans remained loyal, however. Attendance increased dramatically toward the end of World War II. During the post-war boom, the Stars reached the 500,000 mark in attendance three times in four years. So many people were crowding the ballpark that in 1947, when Jimmy Dykes was the manager, the Stars tried to expand the capacity of Gilmore Field from 12,500 to 18,000 by adding right-field bleachers. (They were prevented from doing so by the great scarcity of construction materials.) Finally in 1949 the Stars rewarded those fans with their first pennant since 1930.

In 1949 Fred Haney became the team's manager and the Golden Age of the Hollywood Stars, which lasted until the club disbanded in 1957, began. The Haney years were marked not only by excellent play, but also by creative management. The best-remembered innovation was one of apparel: T-shirts and shorts as a uniform, beginning in 1950. The 'shorties' weighed only a third as much as regulation uniforms and retained perspiration much less. Haney announced, 'We think these suits will give us more speed. They will also permit much greater freedom of motion in fielding and throwing. If the trial proves satisfactory, we'll wear them whenever the weather permits.' The Stars wore their new uniforms throughout 1950, but only sparingly thereafter; they abandoned them after the 1953 season. The players liked them, but the public never really did.

The Stars pioneered in broadcasting games on television – they had televised one game in 1939 as part of an experiment conducted by a local channel - and they became the first club to televise home games in the late 1940s.  In 1951, Earl Gilmore, the owner of the Gilmore Field, The Home of the Stars, clashed with club management on the usefulness of television. Being unalterably opposed to TV, he threatened to cut the power lines connecting radio and TV broadcasting facilities in the park. The two sides eventually reached a compromise very favorable to Mr. Gilmore: he received 30% of the club's television revenues.

Jayne Mansfield was 'Miss Hollywood Stars' of 1955. When she jogged (or should we say jiggled) out of the dugout, the male fans all howled and moaned as she stood at home plate.

In December of 1956, the Brooklyn Dodgers announced that they would move to Los Angeles after the 1957 season. Almost at once the Hollywood Stars were dead. They played one more season to a reasonably successful third-place finish.  At their final home game, Jayne Mansfield returned and presented Bob Cobb with a new car, then they watched hurler Hugh Pepper pitch no-hit ball against the pennant-winning San Francisco Seals until a fly ball blooped in front of centerfielder Carlos in the ninth inning.

Visit hollywoodphotographs.com to see photos of the Gilmore Field and the Hollywood Stars Baseball Team.  All photographs are available for purchase.

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