This Day in Baseball History: February 22nd, 2005

The Rally Monkey has lost its power in recent years, but I still love it.

On February 22, 2005:

Tom Umberg proposes the “Truth in Sports Advertising Act” in order to stop the Anaheim Angels from changing their name to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

In 1961, the Los Angeles Angels was an expansion team owned by Gene Autry, and they played their first season in Wrigley Field (yes, the one in Chicago. Are you serious? No, there’s another one, or at least, there was another one). For the next four years, they shared Dodger Stadium with the Dodgers, but in 1965, Autry worked out a deal with the suburb of Anaheim to move the team. Anaheim Stadium was built, and the team changed its name to the California Angels.

In 1966, the Disney Corporation bought part of the Angels and changed the name to the Anaheim Angels. When Autry died in 1999, Disney bought the rest of the team, but they would only hold onto it for four more seasons. In 2003, Disney sold the team to Arturo Moreno, a billboard magnate (billboards? really?).

That’s when everything really changed. Moreno slowly began taking Anaheim out of the Angels’ moniker. T-shirts, merchandise, and signs no longer had “Anaheim” on them. On January 3, 2005, Moreno declared the team was changing its name to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and from the past two years, it seemed as though the Anaheim at the end would be gone within a few years. Tom Umberg, a California legislator, took exception to this change.

He created the Truth in Sports Advertising Act. If you want to look at the actual bill, click here. Umberg’s bill proposed that any team not playing a majority of its games in the home city dictated by the team’s name had to dissemenate fliers and other media to tell fans the team does not actually play there. In regard to the Angels who technically still had “Anaheim” as part of the name, Umberg charged that they still fit because the team’s jerseys, symbols, and logos all advertised Los Angeles. “Anaheim” was nowhere to be seen.

Making the transition to Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim more difficult was the divide between those from Anaheim and those from Los Angeles. A cultural divide existed, but Moreno either didn’t know or didn’t care. Initially, there was a significant outcry, but it died down around the time the Angels were sued.

In City of Anaheim v. Angels Baseball, the mayor of Anaheim sued the team for a breach of contract. The Truth in Sports Advertising Act was killed in the state senate after the house had passed it, and therefore, the team was safe from it. The mayor, however, believed the team had breached its lease by changing the team name. In the end, the case was decided in favor of the team, but that was not the end of things. An appeal was filed, but after it came out as a split verdict, the city decided to drop the appeal, effectively ending the campaign.

Overall, who cares? Los Angeles doesn’t own the team. Anaheim doesn’t own the team. We all know this is the Rally Monkey’s team.

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