The Angels recently celebrated the 60th anniversary of their inception, as the club officially joined the American League as the Los Angeles Angels in 1960. Here’s a look at why the club is called the Angels:
ANAHEIM -- Considering that "the Angels" is a direct translation of Los Angeles from Spanish to English, it’s easy to see why the club is named the Angels. But the history goes deeper than that, as there was a previous club named the Los Angeles Angels that played from 1903-57 in the Pacific Coast League.
That club’s name was the inspiration for the Angels of MLB, who had their debut season in the Majors in 1961 but didn’t have an owner or a team name heading into the 1960 Winter Meetings in St. Louis. Former movie actor, cowboy and singer Gene Autry owned KMPC Radio and KTLA television and went to the Winter Meetings looking to win the club's broadcasting rights, only to eventually make a bid himself and become the first owner of the franchise.
Dodgers owner Walter O'Malley was involved because he had the exclusive right to operate a club in Southern California. And he also owned the rights to the Angels name, even after he moved the PCL Angels team to Spokane in 1957 to make way for the Dodgers' inaugural season in Los Angeles in 1958. O’Malley, though, signed off on Autry as the new owner after he made sure a group involving Bill Veeck wouldn’t buy the team, and he agreed to let Autry name his club the Angels.
The Los Angeles Angels name had deep roots in Los Angeles, as the first club with that moniker was created in 1892. The Los Angeles Angels were also an incredibly popular and successful club in the PCL, winning the pennant 12 times. They played home games at Chutes Park from 1903-1910, Washington Park from 1911-1925 and Wrigley Field from 1925-1957. All three ballparks have been demolished but were near downtown Los Angeles.
Because of the popularity of the Angels in the PCL, Autry wanted to continue that name in the Major Leagues. He bought the franchise name for $350,000, and thus the Angels as we know them were created.
Of course, the Angels were located in Los Angeles at the time and played their debut season at Los Angeles' Wrigley Field in 1961 before playing at Dodger Stadium from 1962-65, calling the ballpark Chavez Ravine for home games. The club made the move to Angel Stadium in 1966 and has been in Anaheim ever since.
The full name of the club changed from the Los Angeles Angels to the California Angels in 1965 before becoming the Anaheim Angels in 1997. Owner Arte Moreno changed the name to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in 2005, and the club dropped the of Anaheim moniker prior to the 2016 season. So they are now simply the Los Angeles Angels, just as they were at their inception.