This day in Los Angeles Dodgers history saw the team part ways with Emmett Kelly, the famed clown who had been hired by owner Walter O’Malley in 1957 to work as their mascot. Kelly’s contract was not renewed as the Dodgers were on the verge of moving to Los Angeles.
Kelly originally created the Weary Willie character as a cartoon figure. He worked various jobs in the circus, most notably with Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey before being announced by the Dodgers on January 28, 1957.
Kelly additionally had appeared in television and film roles.
For the Dodgers, Kelly provided in-game entertainment during Spring Training and regular season games. Having created the “Weary Willie” character based on depression-era hobos, Kelly was credited for bringing smiles to fans’ faces at Vero Beach and Ebbets Field.
Kelly also would poke fun at umpires over disagreements with balls and strikes.
His arrival was partly due to dwindling attendance amid speculation the Dodgers were going to leave Brooklyn. Their move to Los Angeles wasn’t announced until October 8, 1957, during which Kelly’s sad-clown persona still remained part of the organization.
But that changed on March 18, 1958, as the Dodgers neared their first game in L.A. and didn’t renew Kelly’s contract. They began at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum before the first game was played at Dodger Stadium on April 10, 1962.
Dodgers mascots history
The Dodgers do not have a mascot and although what would appear to be one has been seen at Dodger Stadium for several years, the team views the dressed-up personnel as performance characters.
During the 2013 postseason, a Dodgers Rally Bear emerged in the stands but that was an unauthorized character not sanctioned by the team.
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