January 2, 1912 – Brooklyn owner Charles Ebbets announces the purchase of 4.5 acres of land in the pigtown section of Brooklyn to build an 18,000-seat concrete and steel stadium. “Ebbets Field” opens in April 1913 and remains the home of the Brooklyn franchise until the Dodgers moved to the West Coast after the 1957 season.
December 21, 1982 – Steve Garvey leaves the Dodgers, signing a five-year contract with the San Diego Padres. Garvey made his MLB debut with Los Angeles in September 1969 and went from a scatter-armed third baseman to an All-Star at first base after switching positions in June 1973. In his first full season in 1974, Garvey won N.L. MVP honors in helping the Dodgers win their first pennant since 1966.
December 20, 2001 – The Dodgers signed free agent pitcher Hideo Nomo to a two-year contract. It was the second L.A. tenure for Nomo, who made history in 1995 as the first player from a Japanese professional league in 30 years to appear in the Major Leagues. As the 1995 N.L. Rookie of the Year, Nomo’s success would pave the way for other Japanese stars to play in the United States. In 191 lifetime games with the Dodgers, Nomo went 81-66 with a 3.74 ERA. He also is one of five players in MLB history to pitch a no-hitter in each league, joining Cy Young, Jim Bunning, Nolan Ryan and Randy Johnson.
December 19, 1945 – Future Dodger pitcher Geoff Zahn is born in Baltimore. Zahn made his debut with the Dodgers in 1973, but couldn’t crack a starting rotation that included Andy Messersmith, Don Sutton, Tommy John and Al Downing. He was traded to the Chicago Cubs in May 1975 along with pitcher Eddie Solomon in exchange for pitcher Burt Hooton. The trade was a steal for the Dodgers as Hooton went 18-7 with L.A. in 1975 and became a mainstay in the rotation. Zahn struggled during his brief Cubs tenure, but eventually found success in the American League with the Minnesota Twins and California Angels. He compiled a lifetime 111-109 record and 3.74 ERA.
December 18, 1929 – Future Dodger outfielder Gino Cimoli was born in San Francisco. Cimoli, a National League All-Star in 1957, was the first batter at San Francisco’s Seals Stadium against Giants starter Ruben Gomez on Opening Day 1958 when the Dodgers and Giants moved to the West Coast. The Dodgers traded Cimoli after the 1958 season to the Cardinals in a deal for outfielder Wally Moon. After his retirement from baseball, Cimoli worked at UPS as a delivery driver for 21 years and was honored by the company for never being involved in an accident. He passed away at age 81 in 2011.
December 17, 1957 – The Pasadena City Board meets with the Dodgers about the possible use of the Rose Bowl as a temporary home after leaving Brooklyn. The Dodgers first approached the Los Angeles Coliseum about playing in the football and track stadium, but couldn’t make a deal. When the Dodgers broached the idea of Pasadena, N.L. President Warren Giles tells the Dodgers they moved to the Los Angeles territory, not Pasadena. Eventually, the Dodgers reach an agreement with the Coliseum Commission and play there from 1958-61 during the construction of Dodger Stadium.
On this day in 1949, Bill Buckner was born in Vallejo, CA. Buckner made his MLB debut at age 19 and he played for Los Angeles from 1969-76. The Dodgers thought Buckner was going to be the first baseman of the future after the retirement of Wes Parker after the 1972 season. With Steve Garvey sitting on the bench as a pinch-hitter, the Dodgers switched Garvey from third base to first base in June 1973 after Buckner agreed to move to left field. The Dodgers traded Buckner to Chicago in a deal for outfielder Rick Monday. Buckner compiled a lifetime .289 batting average with 2,715 hits.
December 13, 1956 – The Dodgers trade Jackie Robinson to the New York Giants in exchange for pitcher Dick Littlefield and $30,000. The deal falls through when Robinson decides to retire and accept an executive position with the Chock full o’ Nuts company. Robinson couldn’t announce his plans at the time of the proposed trade because Look Magazine had the exclusive story and wouldn’t be published for two more weeks. In a letter to Giants owner Horace Stoneham dated January 14, 1957, Robinson explains his decision:
Dear Mr. Stoneham:
After due consideration I have decided to request to be placed on the voluntary retired list as I am going to devote my full time to the business opportunities that have been presented. My sincere thanks to you and Mr. Feeney for your wonderful cooperation and understanding in this matter. I assure you that my retirement has nothing to do with my trade to your organization. From all I have heard from people who have worked with you it would have been a pleasure to have been in your organization. Again my thanks and continued success for you and the New York Giants.
On this date 75 years ago, Peter O’Malley was born in Brooklyn, NY. The only son of Walter and Kay O’Malley, Peter served as Dodger team president from 1970-98. In 2003, he unveiled a website honoring his father’s career in baseball – walteromalley.com. His sister, Terry O’Malley Seidler, threw out the ceremonial first pitch at Dodger Stadium on Opening Day 2012, on the 50th anniversary of her mother throwing out the first pitch in stadium history on 4-10-62.
December 10, 1988 – After winning the Cy Young Award and MVPs of the NLCS and World Series, pitcher Orel Hershiser and the Dodgers discuss the outline of a multi-year contract. Eligible for salary arbitation and one year from free agency, Hershiser went 23-8 during the 1988 regular season and ended with a MLB record 59 consecutive scoreless innings. The two sides eventually settle in March 1989 on a three-year, $7.9 million contract, which is the largest three-year deal in history.