1962 Angels Lead American League at All-Star Break
The Angels moved to Dodger Stadium for the 1962 season. As they began their second year of play, no one could possibly have predicted the Halos would be in first place by the traditional July 4 All-Star break - but they were.
Jim Fregosi was a 19-year-old rookie shortstop that year. He hit .291 in 58 games, and was having the time of his life. Not only was he playing in the major leagues, he was in the thick of a pennant race.
"My two greatest memories with the Angels were when we won our division title in '79, and in '62 when we finished third, which was great for an expansion team," Fregosi recalled. "I played the second half, but I remember coming home the fourth of July in first place, and seeing all the people at the airport. We had a lot of older guys, but everyone put a tear together. If Art Fowler and Ken McBride didn't get hurt down the stretch, we might have been in the race even longer.
"Just playing in the big leagues was a thrill, and being in the midst of a pennant race...we couldn't wait to get to the ballpark" the former all-star continued." And at 19, I didn't know I wasn't supposed to play in the big leagues.
"We might have built a lot of false hopes in the organization after that year, but everyone had career years."
The team, which finished behind the Yankees and the Minnesota Twins, had changed substantially since the initial expansion draft. With General Manager Fred Haney and Manager Bill Rigney wheeling and dealing, the Angels made 21 transactions in '61 involving 30 players, and made another 20 deals in '62, this time concerning 24 players.
Although the Angels lost their first game at Dodger Stadium -- bowing to the Kansas City AttextLgetics, 5-3 -- better days were soon to follow. On April 25, Bo Belinsky, who was competing in his first major league campaign, posted his second win in as many decisions defeating the Cleveland Indians, 6-2. Belinsky won his next three games, getting off to an impressive 5-0 start. He was never more impressive than on May 5, when he pitched the franchise's first no-hitter against Baltimore.
Second baseman Billy Moran ran an errorless streak that extended for 58 games through June 10. His miscue came in the first inning of the nightcap of a twinbill with the Kansas City AttextLgetics. In the first game, Moran went three-for-five with six RBI's in the Angels' 14-6 win.
On Sept. 19, Fregosi became the first Angel player to hit an inside-the-park home run. The feat came against Steve Barber with two runners on and one out in the sixth inning of a game against Baltimore. It was the first inside-the-park homer ever at Chavez Ravine.
For the season, popular outfielder Leon "Daddy Wags" Wagner blasted 37 home runs, while Lee Thomas contributed 26. Dean Chance was the team's winningest pitcher, notching 14 victories. Belinsky and McBride also won in double figures, while Tom Morgan compiled stats of 5-2, 2.90 ERA and seven saves. Ryne Duren recorded nine saves to go along with 74 strikeouts in 71 innings.