Palm Springs Has a New Hall of Famer
The late Gene Autry, original owner of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, was inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame during a ceremony before Tuesday night’s game. His widow, Jackie, participated in the ceremony in his honor, while four other members of the Angels Hall of Fame—Rod Carew, Brian Downing, Chuck Finley, and Bobby Grich—also assisted in the induction.
Gene Autry was a fantastically popular entertainer in the 1930’s and 40’s, most notably as a singing cowboy in movies, television, and on the radio. He was a Coachella Valley resident, and unexpectedly gained ownership of the baseball team after a visit to St. Louis in 1960. There, Major League Baseball held their winter meetings, and Autry wanted the rights to broadcast the games over a radio station that he owned, KMPC 710AM. Ironically, 710AM is still the home of Angels broadcasting via ESPN although the call letters have changed.
Autry’s California Angels played their spring training games at Palm Springs Stadium from their first season in1961 until 1992. In 1996, Autry sold his interest in the team to The Walt Disney Co., and he died two years later at the age of 91. He was well-respected in Major League Baseball, and the number 26 was retired by the Angels in his honor. The chosen number represents Autry as the 26th man, one more than a baseball team’s roster of 25 indicating his unwavering support for his team.
Congratulations to Gene Autry for his induction into the Angels Hall of Fame and for his dedication to the City of Palm Springs. The next time you get “back in the saddle again” and are headed down Gene Autry Way, give a little tip of the hat to The Singing Cowboy to pay tribute.