PHILADELPHIA Penn graduate and longtime supporter of Penn baseball Walter O’Malley, C’26, was elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Monday by the Veterans Committee. He is the first graduate from Penn to receive such an honor.
O’Malley was elected along with four other men -- former Major League Commissioner Bowie Kuhn, former Pittsburgh Pirates owner Barney Dreyfuss, and World Series champion managers Billy Southworth and Dick Williams.
O’Malley owned the Dodgers franchise from 1944 until his death in 1979. During his tenure as owner, the Dodgers won four World Series titles (1955, 1959, 1963, 1965). In addition to the four titles, O’Malley-owned teams won nine other National League pennants under his command.
In 1946, it was O’Malley who was instrumental in the integration of baseball, signing Jackie Robinson to a professional contract. After one season in the minor leagues, Robinson was promoted to the majors in 1947, becoming the first African-American to play in the Major Leagues in the 20th century.
Following the 1957 season, O’Malley moved the Dodgers to Los Angeles. This relocation is credited with starting baseball’s “California Gold Rush,” as other teams such as the Giants and Athletics also moved to the West Coast.
“Mr. O’Malley was a visionary by opening the gates to the West Coast. He linked the entire country to the game of baseball,” Dodgers Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda said at the press conference announcing O’Malley’s induction.
At Penn, O’Malley was highly involved in campus life. He was elected class president both his junior and senior years. He served on the council of athletics, overseeing the operations of the baseball program. He also served as president of the Theta Delta Chi fraternity and was a member of the Scabbard and Blade Honorary Military fraternity. He graduated from Penn in 1926 as the outstanding overall student, receiving the Spoon Award while serving as class salutatorian at graduation.
Penn became a family tradition for the O’Malleys. Walter served on the Board of Trustees at Penn from 1966 until his death in 1979. His son Peter graduated from Wharton in 1960. Walter’s grandson, Kevin, is also a graduate of Penn, receiving degrees from the College in 1997 and from the Wharton Graduate School in 2004. Kevin was also a letterwinner on the 1996 baseball team. To this day, the O’Malley family continues its support of Penn, participating in fundraising efforts for the new baseball stadium and other University endeavors.
For more information on the life of Walter O’Malley, please visit www.walteromalley.com. For more information on his election into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, please click here.