Sunday, August 24, 2014

Who Knew #4 Before the Los Angeles Dodgers the City of Vernon Tigers!

Who knew that before the Dodgers moved to LA we had the City of Vernon Tigers! 

Of course not a Major League Baseball team but a Pacific Coast League team. The Vernon Tigers were a Double A team meaning that some baseball players made a pit stop before being selected to play in the majors.

The Vernon Tigers franchise played from 1909 to 1925, the Tigers biggest rivals the Los Angeles Angels. (not to get confused with the current MLB team from Orange County, the LA Angels were the original team from 1890-1952, the now Angels took the name as a tribute to the old Los Angeles Angels)

I am assuming those still reading are questioning why did such a small city like Vernon have a professional baseball team, there are no libraries, parks, schools, or people but the reason is....... Money and Alcohol!!!

Vernon's single biggest attraction was that the sale of alcoholic beverages was legal within its city limits - as opposed to the bordering City of Los Angeles, which was dry! (The early stages of prohibition)

With the ability to serve liquor, the Vernon Tigers became a popular baseball team among LA natives.

The Stadium

The Vernon Tigers played in two different stadiums during their tenure in Vernon. In 1913 the team briefly moved to Venice in an effort to attract more fans, as the capacity for the first Vernon stadium was not very big. The Tigers played around the Los Angeles region for the next couple of years and were  considered the Vernon Tigers or Venice Tigers depending on their home stadium.

In 1915 the team was moved back full time to the City of Vernon and they brought the stadium from Venice with them too!

The team played in Maire Park (named after the Tigers owner) until the 1920 baseball season. After the 1920 season they would occasionally use it for practice games. The stadium was demolished in 1930.

I could not find any pictures of the actual stadium but the location of the stadium was in the intersection of Santa Fe Ave and 38th Street!

The Demise of the Vernon Tigers

In 1920, The Eighteenth Amendment had been ratified, criminalizing the production and sale of alcohol everywhere in the U.S., including Vernon. It took effect in 1920. The small population of Vernon became a liability, as fewer people  were willing to travel the distance to watch a game in a dry town.

The team was eventually sold and moved to San Francisco,  changing the name to the Mission Reds. The Mission Reds were moved back to Hollywood in 1938 up until the arrival of the first Major League Baseball team the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Famous Vernon Tigers

The Vernon Tigers were actually a pretty good baseball team from 1918-1921. They won the Pacific League Title in 1919 and1920.

Bob Meusel was probably Vernon's most famous player. Mesuel started his career with the Vernon Tigers, before having his contract purchased by the New York Yankees. Meusel was part of the legendary murders row Yankee team. According to this book that names the 50 greatest Yankee players, he is considered to be #30. He was not as popular back then because he played with legends like Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig

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