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1914 Boston Braves

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  • California Angels

    1965-2014

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    The California Angels manage to gear up to challenge the league's best every so often. Historically, they only get as far as the League Championship Series, then tend to spend several years at the bottom of the league retooling. They have had spectacular, deep pitching rotations, and a few mighty offenses, but the two have rarely coincided.After Cowboy Gene Autry's film career stalled in the mid-fifties, he founded the Los Angeles Angels in December of 1960. The original Angels were a jumble of sluggers. Led by outfielders Leon Wagner (.280, 28 homers, 79 RBIs) and Ken Hunt (.255, 25, 84), catcher Earl Averill (.266, 21, 59), and first baseman Steve Bilko (.279, 20, 59) their 189 home runs ranked second only to the mighty Yankees (240) in the American League.The Angels finished eighth in their debut season of 1961 (spent in Wrigley Field, an old Pacific Coast League stadium) but jumped to third in 1962, their first season in Chavez Ravine -- otherwise known to resentful Dodger fans as Dodger Stadium. New first baseman Lee Thomas (.290, 26, 104) added punch to a revamped lineup, while the pitching staff was led by rookie pitcher Dean Chance (14-10, 2.96), who sported a twisting wind-up, a hard fastball, and a disquieting tendency not to look at home plate once he received the catcher's sign.But the Angels stopped hitting in 1963 and would not start again for some time. Chance won the Cy Young in 1964, (20-9, 1.65, with eleven shutouts), and rookie pitcher Bob Lee (6-5, 1.61 with 19 saves) was sensational in relief, but their best hitter was shortstop Jim Fregosi (.277, 18, 72). The Angels renamed themselves the California Angels and moved to Anaheim in 1965, where they sunk to the bottom of the league for the remainder of the decade. Chance won 15 games in 1965 and another 12 in 1966 but complained about a lack of support, and was summarily dealt to Minnesota; he was replaced by a gaggle of weary veteran pitchers who gave it whatever they had left and retired.In 1970, pitcher Clyde Wright, who had been unsuccessfully waived after a 1-8 record the year before, developed a screwball and won twenty-two games. The rest of the pitching staff lurched into action, surly outfielder Alex Johnson led the league with a .329 batting average, original Angel and popular shortstop Fregosi (.278, 22, 82) enjoyed his best year, and the Angels won 86 games. Wright won 16 and 18 games in the next two years, but the hitting fell off again, and the Angels tumbled back into the second division where they would stay for most of the decade. In 1972, Fregosi was traded to the New York Mets for four players. Among the four was a young, wild fireballer with a disciplined work ethic named <link id="">
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