Los Angeles Angels: Albie Pearson

Angels Moment No. 1: Opening Day, 1961

April, 7, 2011
Opening Day 50 years ago was more about curiosity than excitement.

Nobody really expected the expansion Angels to do much in 1961, considering they were assembled with a “bunch of castoffs and guys who’d never made it,” according to one of those players.

Center fielder Albie Pearson wasn’t so much a castoff as a latch-on. It wasn’t an accident that he ended up wearing a Los Angeles Angels uniform.

Most of those original Angels were plucked from other teams’ rosters either unwittingly or unwillingly, but Pearson had made it his aim to come home.

He grew up in El Monte, about 15 miles east of the Angels’ first ballpark, Wrigley Field. He used to show up there as a kid to watch the Hollywood Stars or the Angels of the Pacific Coast League.

After spending part of the 1960 season with the Baltimore Orioles’ Triple-A team in Miami, he wrote a letter imploring Angels general manager Fred Haney to pick him in the expansion draft. Pearson had ruptured a disc in his back the previous season. For some odd reason, few teams were interested in a 5-foot-5, 129-pound outfielder with dubious health.

“Dear Mr. Haney,” Pearson recalls writing, “My back is well and I’m ready to play. I think I can really help your ballclub and I’d like you to give me a shot. I want to go home and play in my hometown.”

Haney obliged and selected Pearson with the Angels’ 28th, and final, pick. For the rest of his career, which stretched nine seasons, Pearson wore No. 28 in honor of that moment. Not only did Pearson make the team, but on Opening Day, he was in the lineup and batting third in front of slugger Ted Kluszewski.

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Howie Kendrick
.293 7 75 85
HRM. Trout 36
RBIM. Trout 111
RM. Trout 115
OPSM. Trout .939
WJ. Weaver 18
ERAG. Richards 2.61
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