Beautiful stock certificate from the Salt Lake City Baseball Corporation
issued in 1958. This historic document has an
ornate border around it with a vignette of a building under construction. This item has the signatures of the Company’s President and Secretary.
The Hollywood Stars were a minor league baseball team that played in the Pacific Coast League during the early and mid 20th century. They were the arch-rivals of the other Los Angeles based PCL team, the Los Angeles Angels.
Hollywood Stars (1926-1935)
The first version of the Hollywood Stars began its existence in 1903 as the Sacramento Solons, a charter member of the PCL. The team moved to Tacoma in 1904, where it won the pennant as the Tacoma Tigers. During the 1905 season, the team returned to Sacramento to finish out the season, moved to Fresno in 1906 to finish last as the Fresno Raisin Eaters, then left the PCL altogether. The Sacramento Solons rejoined the PCL in 1909, then moved to San Francisco during the 1914 season, finishing out the season as the San Francisco Missions. The team was sold to Utah businessman Bill "Hardpan" Lane and moved to Salt Lake City for the 1915 season. They played as the Salt Lake Bees for the next eleven seasons until Lane moved the team to Los Angeles for the 1926 season. Originally they were known as the Hollywood Bees, but soon changed their name to the Hollywood Stars.
The original Stars, though supposedly representing Hollywood, actually played their home games as tenants of the Los Angeles Angels at Wrigley Field in South Los Angeles. Though the Stars won pennants in 1929 and 1930, they never developed much of a fan base, playing their home games miles from the glamorous Hollywood district. They were merely a team to watch when the Angels were on the road. Attendance had been quite good (by standards of that era) during their inaugural year in 1926, but tapered off after that, exacerbated by the Great Depression.
When, after the 1935 season, the Angels doubled the Stars’ rent, Lane announced the Stars would move to San Diego for the 1936 season, to become the San Diego Padres. Los Angeles became a one-team city once more for the 1936 and 1937 seasons.
Hollywood Stars (1938-1957)
The second version of the Hollywood Stars joined the PCL in 1909 as the Vernon Tigers. As the Tigers, the team won two PCL pennants (and finished first in another only to lose the postseason series) before moving to San Francisco for the 1926 season. The transplanted Tigers, now known as the Mission Reds or usually just "the Missions," foundered in San Francisco, failing to establish a rivalry with the existing San Francisco Seals.
In 1938 Missions' owner Herbert Fleishaker moved his team back to Los Angeles, and took the name of the departed Stars. After but one season, the team was sold to new owners, among them Robert H. “Bob” Cobb, one of the owners of the Brown Derby restaurant and for whom the Cobb salad is named. The new ownership realized the team needed to represent Hollywood in order to succeed. They sold stock in the team to movie stars, movie moguls, and Hollywood civic leaders ("the Hollywood Stars owned by the Hollywood stars"). (One of these, Gene Autry, subsequently became owner of his own major league franchise, now the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.) Another major investor was William Frawley from TV's I Love Lucy. Moreover, the team actually played in the Hollywood area, beginning in 1939 when 13,000-seat Gilmore Field was opened in the Fairfax District adjacent to Hollywood. (The club played part of the 1939 season in nearby Gilmore Stadium, after having played at Wrigley Field during 1938.)
The new Stars (or “Twinks”) caught on and became a very popular team, winning three pennants before 1958. They had successful affiliations with the Brooklyn Dodgers and Pittsburgh Pirates of Major League Baseball. In 1955, actress Jayne Mansfield was named Miss Hollywood Star. The Stars became genuine rivals of the Angels, and it was not uncommon for fights between the teams to break out during Angels-Stars games. In fact, on August 2, 1953, a brawl between the two teams lasted 30 minutes, broken up only when 50 riot police were sent to Gilmore Field by Chief of Police William Parker, who was at home watching the game on television when the fight started.
The Twinks were innovators. They began the custom of dragging the infield during the fifth inning, creating an artificial break in the action hoping fans would run to the concessions stands. The team began televising home games in 1939, and in later years televised every home game.
The Stars also had the dubious distinction of being the first team to replace the traditional bloused baseball trousers and stirrup socks with shorts and long socks in 1950. The theory was that players could run faster in this gear than in the baggy wool or cotton flannel uniforms of the day. The new uniforms resembling those worn by female softball players were "too Hollywood" even for Hollywood, as well as being very tough on the legs when sliding. They were soon replaced.
The Stars were immortalized on the 1957 jazz album Double Play! by Andre Previn and Russ Freeman. The baseball-themed album, with song titles like "Called On Account Of Rain," "Batter Up" and "In The Cellar Blues" features a model on the cover wearing a Stars cap, in a rather suggestive pose by 1950s standards.
The Beginning of the End
The Columbia Broadcasting System, owner of Gilmore Field, announced plans to raze the facility to build a new headquarters - CBS Television City, as it became known - in 1952. Before Stars' owners could make contingency plans, however, the "other shoe dropped." In October 1957, the Brooklyn Dodgers confirmed their long-rumored move to Los Angeles for the 1958 season, which forced the Stars and the Angels to relocate. The Angels, who had been purchased by Dodgers owner Walter O'Malley prior to the 1957 season, became the Spokane Indians in 1958.
Having no interest in operating the Twinks anywhere but in Los Angeles, the ownership group led by Frank J. Kanne, Jr. was compelled to sell the team, which it did, to a group based in Salt Lake City. The Stars, in a sense, "returned" to Salt Lake City (whence the original Stars had moved in 1926) in 1958, becoming the Salt Lake Bees once more.
After the Brooklyn Dodgers moved to Los Angeles in 1957, the LA-based Hollywood Stars, facing a rapidly declining fan base, elected to move back to Salt Lake City as the Salt Lake City. The company sold shares to raise funds. The Bees continued until finally folded in 1965.
Though the original Bees never won a PCL pennant, the team drew attendees well, especially considering the small market size. Other team owners, though, resented the cost of travel to Salt Lake City. When the Vernon Tigers abandoned Los Angeles after the 1925 season, it was suggested to Lane that he would do well to transfer his team to southern California. So after eleven seasons, the Bees moved to Los Angeles for the 1926 season. At first known as the Hollywood Bees, the team soon became known as the Hollywood Stars. After ten seasons in Hollywood, the team transferred again, to San Diego, where it played as the San Diego Padres from 1936 to 1968. Salt Lake City was without a baseball team until 1946 when it received a franchise in the Pioneer League.
When the Brooklyn Dodgers moved to Los Angeles in 1958, the second version of the Hollywood Stars was forced to relocate and, in an ironic twist, were sold and moved "back" to Salt Lake City, becoming the Salt Lake City Bees. In 1959, the Bees won their first-ever PCL pennant, edging the Vancouver Mounties by 1½ games. In 1963, the team began its first season ever as a farm team, becoming a full affiliate of the Chicago Cubs. This second version of the Bees played in the PCL from 1958 to 1965 before moving to Tacoma. As before, the void created by the loss of the PCL was filled by the Pioneer League from 1967 to 1969.
In 1970, the Pacific Coast League returned to Salt Lake City for the third time in the form of the new Salt Lake City Bees, the Triple-A farm team for the San Diego Padres. The affiliation only lasted one season, and in 1971, the Padres and California Angels swapped their Triple-A affiliates in Salt Lake City and Hawaii (where they had a short, but historic run of PCL dominance). Rather than continue as the Bees, the team took their parent's name of Angels and won the PCL title in 1971. After four seasons as the Angels, the team was renamed the Salt Lake City Gulls in 1975. The Gulls became the Triple-A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners in 1982. Though the team never achieved a first-place finish, it won PCL pennants in 1971 and 1979, winning the playoffs both years.
Following the 1984 season, the team was sold and moved to Calgary, Alberta, and became the Calgary Cannons in 1985. The Cannons played 18 seasons in Calgary, then moved to Albuquerque in 2003 and became the Isotopes.
Out of the PCL after 1984, Salt Lake City again fielded a team in the rookie-level Pioneer League, the Salt Lake City Trappers, from 1985 to 1992. In 1987, the Trappers won 29 consecutive games to establish an all-time pro baseball record. Following a near decade-long absence, the PCL returned to Salt Lake City for a fourth time in 1994.
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