Mark Scott was the most powerful man in my life when I was a child. I would listen to him every night on radio, calling the play by play of all of the Hollywood Stars Baseball Team games from Gilmore Field, which was next door to Farmers Market on 3rd and Fairfax.
Perhaps his greatest call was the triple play started by center fielder Bobby Del Greco.
Because Mark Scott said, “Be a good sport” every night, I thought it was important.
You can still catch his voice on ESPN Classic, as the announcer on Home Run Derby.
Like the rivalry between UCLA and USC, this was a war between the Pacific Coast League Hollywood Stars against their hated cross-town rivals, the Los Angeles Angels, who played at Wrigley Field in South Los Angeles.
When they played against each other, the crowd at Gilmore Field would reach overflow conditions. They would cordon off the outfield with a rope, and put the extra couple of thousand fans on the grass. When the ball bounced into the outfield crowd, the Umps would call it a ground rule double.
Many times the 10,000-person crowd at Gilmore Field would be at a higher attendance than their major league parent, the Pittsburgh Pirates.
This was at the same time that Perry Mason’s clients were always set free, Lucille Ball was still married to Desi, and Jack Benny was asked to make an “appointment” with the Beverly Hills Police Department before reporting his stolen car. It was also a time when my father, Herb Kholos, said while driving down wilshire blvd, "No one honks their horn in Los Angeles."
Sometimes things would get extra crowded when the Art Deco Pan Pacific Auditorium, next to Farmers Market, would be host to the “New Car Show.”
We would stop and get a bite at either Cantor’s Deli on Fairfax, or my parents would swing by at Bob’s Donuts for quick cup of coffee in Farmers Market.
It killed my childhood heart when they announced the Dodgers were moving to Los Angeles. My Hollywood Stars would be no more, I was told. It was like telling me that Santa Claus was gang raped. It was as hard for me, as I’m sure it must have been for kid’s who lived in Brooklyn.
Dale Long, Lee Walls, Bill Mazeroski, R.C. Stevens, were my hero’s, and I could watch them close-up. Dale Long later broke Lou Gehrig’s record of consecutive game home runs for the Pirates. Bill Mazeroski hit the miracle home run in the 7th game of the World Series to beat the Yankees, after his stint with the Stars. Who could forget Carlos Bernier? No one who ever watched him play. He style of play made Maury Wills look like he was running in slow motion.
Every play Bernier made was like the last play of his life. He was so high-spirited, that when he was called out sliding into second base, I believe against the Angels, he slapped the Umpire in the face. This led to a rather long suspension. He held every minor league base stealing record and was a joy to watch.
The Stars made the Cooperstown Baseball Hall of Fame by wearing short pants for part of the season. The problem was sliding into second base. Their knees would get all banged up. Also, during that macho era, they were teased a lot by other teams. The short pants were dropped after a couple of years.
Sometimes, between innings, I would look over right field and watch the movie playing at the drive-in.
My parents told me there were many movie and television stars attending the games. They would point out headliners like Jack Benny, and others I have forgotten. CBS moved their studio to that location and when the Stars left town, forever, they built a sound studio where Gilmore Field lay. I still consider it sacred ground.
Broadcaster Steve Bailey called the road games from a Hollywood studio, by reading the “ticker” and filling in with the sound effects of a crowd yelling and cheering. Between pitches the sound would be turned down, and then raised up when there was some action. I think that Bailey and Mark Scott would ad lib the balls and strikes. My boyhood friends and I were not fooled however. We talked about how we could hear the same crowd regardless of where the road game was played. But, we didn’t care.
Minor league Baseball was played, during that era, with a major league heart. No one was just hanging around until picked up by one of the big league teams.
Steve Bilko was the home run hitting champion of the PCL for the Los Angeles Angels. The Angels were the farm team for the Chicago Cubs. Bilko was asked to sign a major league contract by the Cubs. He refused. He said something to the effect of…. I like it here; I don’t want to move to Chicago.
I wanted to be a baseball play-by-play announcer. I called the SMCC baseball games live on KCRW before it was a professional station. I even dropped out of Santa Monica City College to land a great job at KMPC Radio, and was on my way. But, then I was drafted and sent to Vietnam with the 4th Infantry Division near the Cambodian border. My life changed completely after that.
Director Oliver Stone, only got it part right. I lost my innocence when the Dodgers moved to town(without a drinking fountain), and I would never see a Hollywood Stars baseball game again.
Remember to tell your children, …”Be a goooood sport.”
Thanks for reading,