ALL STAR GAMES: 1967, 1989, 2010 WORLD SERIES: 2002
After spending four years as tenants of the Dodgers, and one year after changing their geographical affiliation from "Los Angeles" to "California," in 1966 the expansion Angels franchise loaded up their trucks and moved to beautiful downtown Anaheim, 25 miles away to the southeast. Their new home, Anaheim Stadium, was conveniently situated near a passenger train station and the Santa Ana River, about two miles east south east of Disneyland. It was a rather ordinary three-deck stadium with a symmetrical layout and dimensions almost identical to their prior (leased) home. In fact, it was basically a slimmed-down carbon copy of Dodger Stadium, where they had played from 1962 to 1965 (though they called it "Chavez Ravine"), complete with short outfield fences between the bullpens and the foul poles. There were no bleachers in the outfield, however, just a big parking lot with a huge halo-tipped "A"-shaped structure upon which the scoreboard was mounted. There was no fourth deck, either, and foul territory here was much smaller than at Dodger Stadium.
To accommodate the Los Angeles Rams, who decided to move out of ancient Memorial Coliseum, Anaheim Stadium underwent a massive expansion in 1979-1980. As a result, the seating capacity for baseball games rose by nearly 22,000, as the playing field became completely enclosed. (Seldom were the stadium seats ever filled for baseball games, however.) With the additional seats installed for football games in front of the forward-extended "second deck" in right field, the total capacity was 69,000.
Just as the stadium expansion began, the Angels started winning big for the first time. They were divisional champions in 1979, 1982, and 1986 but never made it to the World Series -- until 2002! Several top-caliber players wore Angels uniforms at one time or another, most notably Nolan Ryan, who led the American League in strikeouts seven times during the 1970s. Reggie Jackson, Rod Carew, Frank Robinson, Don Baylor, and Hoyt Wilhelm also played for the Angels.
Anaheim Stadium was never a satisfactory place to play football, and the Rams left Anaheim and moved to St. Louis in 1995. As with Shea Stadium, Busch Stadium II, and other dual-use "hybrid" structures, the very reason for the awkward accommodation to the erstwhile football partners suddenly vanished, leaving the Angels in the lurch. As the former Expos knew, and as the Marlins know, playing in front of all those empty seats game after game can be depressing.
Soon after the Walt Disney corporate behemoth bought the Angels in 1996, the team began identifying itself as the "Anaheim" Angels, and work began on demolishing most of the seating sections that had been added in 1980. Things were quite a mess during the 1997 playing season, as the seating sections close to the outfield had to be closed for safety reasons. By spring 1998, the reborn "Edison International Field" was ready for action. A major feature of the renovated stadium is the "Outfield Extravaganza" area in left center field; like Coors Field in Denver, it features big (fake) boulders and fountains, supposedly representing the California coast, with frequent fireworks displays. There is also a picnic area in back of it. (If you ask me, it would help immeasurably if they removed the olive green tarp that covers the slope on either side of the "Extravaganza" and planted real grass out there.) In aesthetic terms, the renovation had quite pleasing results overall, with considerable asymmetry in the outfield dimensions. The bullpens were moved to in front of the left field bleachers, stacked in "terrace" fashion. In right field, the high 18-foot wall in front of the right field bleachers (a left-over artifact of the "hybrid" era) was brought into play, a big challenge for left-hand sluggers. In back of the right field stands a huge new scoreboard / video screen was added.
CINEMA: There were several aerial shots of Anaheim Stadium in the movie Angels in the Outfield (1994), starring Danny Glover, Tony Danza, and Christopher Lloyd. The Angels' home games supposedly being played there were actually filmed in Oakland Coliseum, a very bad match.
As a result of the reconfiguration, the distances to center field and left-center field increased to 408 and 387 feet, respectively, and the number of home runs hit in Anaheim fell from 210 in 1997 to only 141 in 1998, the lowest in the American League. Heavy-set slugger Mo Vaughn apparently complained about this before he signed with the Angels in 1999, and to make him happy, the fence from center field to left center was brought in by about eight feet. As a result, the number of home runs that year rose to 179. Big Mo left Anaheim after two years, just as the Angels went to the World Series for the first time ever -- and actually won!!! It was a fairy tale ending that brought tears of joy to the widow of the team's original owner, cowboy movie star Gene Autry. Happy trails...
There is some uncertainty over the distances to the foul poles, which were originally 333 feet from home. After the 1998 renovations, they were marked "330." (Lowry's Green Cathedrals states that those markers reverted to "333" in 2003; in any case they now say "330.") I had thought that perhaps the diamond was moved slightly in 1998, but apparently not.
On the very same day that this page was first posted (September 26, 2002), the Walt Disney Company announced that the Angels franchise and the "Mighty Ducks" hockey team were up for sale, but any prospective new owner had to promise to keep the teams in Anaheim. In May 2003 MLB owners approved the sale of the Angels to Arturo Moreno, the first Latino owner of an American-based professional sports team. He paid $183.5 million. Under his leadership, the Angels acquired Vladimir Guerrero and other top stars, helping to win the AL Western Division several times.
After the 2003 season, the Edison International Corporation backed out of the naming rights deal with the Angels, and the stadium was renamed "Angel Stadium of Anaheim." Why it didn't simply revert to the previous long-standing name of "Anaheim Stadium" is a mystery. Then in 2005 the team changed its geographical affiliation and started calling itself the "Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim." It all adds up to a team with serious identity issues.
SOURCES: Lowry (2006), Pastier (2007), USA Today / Fodor's (1996)