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Angels Announce They Will Be Hosts of 1989 All-Star Game

November 12, 1987|MIKE PENNER | Times Staff Writer

You don't cut the ribbon at the new library when the mayor is on vacation, and you don't plan to stick Paul Newman's hand in cement while he's on location in Tunisia, which is why the Angels waited until Wednesday to announce they would be the hosts of the 1989 All-Star Game.

They knew they were getting the game last spring, but they were waiting for Commissioner Peter Ueberroth to give the official word. Ueberroth, an Orange County resident, wanted to make the announcement himself, so the Angels delayed the news conference until the end of the World Series.

A tentative date of Oct. 27 was set for the news conference. Then it was postponed. Sorry, Ueberroth said, he couldn't make it.

So the announcement was rescheduled for Nov. 11, Veterans Day. And the commissioner said that was good. He would just swing on by on his way to Hawaii, shake hands with Angel owner Gene Autry and pose for pictures.

Well, Nov. 11 came. The Angels held their news conference.

Ueberroth wasn't there . . . and neither was Autry.

Saying he was detained in New York on business, Ueberroth was a no-show and had to send his regards via videocassette. Meanwhile, Autry and his wife, Jackie, were at home, both stricken with the flu.

So the media types who gathered in the Golden West Room at Anaheim Stadium were handed a typewritten statement from Autry ("We're delighted to host this major event") and treated to a five-minute video of Ueberroth and American League President Bobby Brown talking into a camera from New York.

"I'm with you in spirit," Ueberroth said. "I'd like to announce that the California Angels and the city of Anaheim have been selected to be the site of the 60th All-Star Game. The date will be Tuesday, July 11, 1989, and there will be 60 to 70 million people watching on TV.

"This is really our premier event, and it's a great event for Orange County. It (1989) is their centennial year, and as a resident, this gives me an excuse to go back home."

In lieu of Ueberroth and the Autrys, the biggest celebrity on the dais was Johnny Grant, the "honorary mayor of Hollywood," the man who decides who gets stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Grant was appointed by Autry to be coordinator for the All-Star Game and says he is planning to schedule a week's worth of All-Star-related activities.

"We're going to produce a series of events, beginning with the Fourth of July and continuing through the 11th," Grant said.

"The All-Star Game used to be just one day," he added. "Then, with the (All-Star) home run contest, it became two days, and last year, Oakland turned it into an All-Star weekend. Well, we're going to make it a week. We're going to involve all 26 cities in Orange County."

The events, Grant said, will tie in with Orange County's centennial celebration and will include a parade, a celebrity baseball game and a fireworks show.

This will be the second All-Star Game held at Anaheim Stadium. Anaheim also was the site of the 1967 game, which was the longest All-Star Game ever played. The National League won that game in 15 innings, 2-1.

"We're glad to get it back," said Tom Seeberg, Angel vice president in charge of public relations. "To get this game in 1989, we started our appeal in 1983. A lot of cities bid for it, but I think the commissioner weighs all the contributing factors. The centennial tie-in really helped us."

The Angels' ongoing dispute with the city of Anaheim over parking-lot rights had been a potential snag. It is believed that the commissioner delayed the official christening of the 1989 All-Star Game because of concern that the Angels would lose their lawsuit and the All-Star Game would have had to be held amid the construction of executive offices in the Anaheim Stadium parking lot.

The case has yet to be decided in court, but apparently Ueberroth was persuaded that the problem could be averted, at least until after July 1989.

"The case is going to the judge later this month, but whichever way he rules, there will probably be an appeal," Seeberg said. "(The dispute) will probably still be going on by then. Either way, there shouldn't be any construction going on at that time."

At least, that's the way the Angels are looking at it. The club is hoping for better timing in 1989 than it got with Wednesday's announcement.

"It's too bad the commissioner couldn't be here," Seeberg said. "It was a good day, a slow news day. We thought about waiting until the commissioner could make it, but we didn't want to postpone it again."

So a whirring VCR pinch-hit for Ueberroth. It's the next best thing to being there.

Angel Notes

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