If you think baseball in Orange County began with the arrival of the California Angels in 1966, this book will be a revelation. Huntington Beach author and newspaper columnist Chris Epting traces the game’s O.C. roots back to the late 19th century, finding a rich history of semiprofessional teams, marquee games and big-name stars in the pre-Gene Autry days.
All-time pitching great Walter Johnson grew up and learned to play baseball in Olinda, a small town later incorporated in the city of Brea, where he played for Fullerton Union High School; he once struck out 27 in one memorable game with Santa Ana High. Johnson also played here professionally against none other than Babe Ruth.
Baseball great Joe DiMaggio played at La Palma Field when he was in the army, the same venue where Connie Mack and the (then) Philadelphia Athletics came for their spring training in the early 1940s.
As expected in a book published by Arcadia, the popular history is lavishly illustrated with old photographs, including the one on the cover showing the Anaheim Oil Wells baseball team, one of the many oil company squads that played cutthroat competitive league ball in O.C. during the oil boom in the early 20th century. The Anaheim boys look poor, tough and supremely American.
‘Baseball in Orange County’
By Chris Epting
Arcadia Publishing, 2012, $21.99
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