Angels farm and scouting director Roland Hemond watches the 1961 Statesville Owls practice just before Opening Day. Photo courtesy Statesville Record & Landmark.
As previously mentioned, I received in the mail last week a scrap book kept in 1961 by Jerry Fox, an outfielder for the Statesville Owls. Statesville was the Angels’ Class D affiliate in the Western Carolina League, one of only two minor league teams the Angels had their first year.
Roland Hemond, now an executive with the Arizona Diamondbacks, was hired in January 1961 as the Angels’ first farm and scouting director. He had three months to put together both a minor league system and a scouting department.
The Angels wound up in Statesville, North Carolina. The ballpark, Senior High Stadium (it was located at the high school), was primitive by today’s standards. The infield was all dirt, and the stands were built of wood.
I’ve located many of the surviving 1961 Owls, and have leads on a couple more.
Anyway, I’m going to digitize as much as I can of Jerry’s scrap book, and will try to put the best stuff online for you to read.
Click Here to read an April 21 article in the Statesville Record & Landmark about Roland’s visit to Statesville just before the season began. The photo at the top of this column is taken from the article.
To reassemble the article, I scanned its pieces from the scrap book, brought them into Photoshop, then converted them to an Acrobat .PDF file. Seems to have worked out well enough.
You’ll need the free Acrobat Reader to look at these .PDF files. You probably have it installed on your computer already, but if you don’t Click Here to download Acrobat Reader for free.
The next article I’m going to reassemble is about a major brawl that occurred late in the season during a doubleheader against rival Lexington.
The Orem Owlz, the Angels’ affiliate today in the Rookie-A Pioneer League, unofficially “adopted” the Statesville Owls as their ancestor. They sell Statesville Owls merchandise in the stadium gift shop and online at www.oremowlz.com.
It occurred to me that yet another aspect both teams share is that both their managers were also Angels scouts.
Most of you know that Orem manager Tom Kotchman scouts in Florida when not managing during the summer. The Statesville newspaper articles not that Owls manager George Wilson, a local recommended by owner Fleete McCurdy, was also paid by the Angels to scout the league. At season’s end, the Angels signed about six players out of the league, although none of them made it to the majors. (Ed Thomas made it to Triple-A.)
More to come. Enjoy.