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Goodbye to a Mousy Image

As much as the World Series victory is about sports, it's also about being more than Disneyland's home, say fans.

October 30, 2002|Evan Halper | Times Staff Writer

For a while there it looked as if Los Angeles was going to steal the thunder on this one too.

Giants fans chanted "beat L.A.," and the television cameras continued to zoom in on John Travolta and other Hollywood celebs. But as the series wore on, even outsiders began to get it.

This wasn't about L.A.

So Tuesday, as thousands of fans converged on Anaheim to celebrate the Angels' World Series championship, the party was as much about long-overdue civic recognition as a miracle baseball season.

The world, it seems, has finally realized that the champion Angels represent a thriving, multicultural metropolis and not just an offshoot of the big city to the north.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday October 31, 2002 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 13 inches; 494 words Type of Material: Correction
UC Irvine -- A graphic accompanying a story about the significance of the Anaheim Angels' World Series victory that appeared in some editions of Wednesday's California section incorrectly reported that UC Irvine opened in 1970. The campus opened in 1965.

"We've been L.A.'s little brother," said one celebrant at Edison Field, 40-year-old Dave Marriott of Westminster. "Nobody knows where Orange County is. Now they will."

Marriott hopes the Angels' win will finally get Orange County out of Los Angeles' shadow.

"When you go out of state and people ask you where you're from, when you say 'Orange County,' people just look at you and say 'Where's that? Is that where Disneyland is? Is that in L.A.?' " he said.

In the minds of some fans, the victory also helps lift the inferiority complex some have about their more glamorous neighbor on the other side of the "Orange Curtain" that divides Los Angeles and Orange County.

"This will help show that we're a different breed than L.A.," said Jim Bonsteel, 50, of Anaheim. "L.A. has always had the better ball team, the money, everything. All we were known for is Disneyland. But we're not just Disneyland -- we're Anaheim, and this is where the Angels play. It makes you proud to be a citizen of Anaheim."

Some in the outside world refuse to face how Orange County has changed since its days as a conservative bedroom community distinguished by a few nice beach towns.

That the mighty Yankees were downed by a team from a young city that sprouted from the California sprawl may be especially hard for New Yorkers to accept.

"It's one thing to lose to a team from Hollywood," said Robert Lang, a demographer who has tracked the dynamic growth of "edge cities" like Anaheim. "It's completely something else for the Yankees to get bumped off by a team known for Disneyland. New Yorkers can't cope with that.

"Anaheim alone is now bigger than Pittsburgh," Lang added. "No one would make fun of Pittsburgh this way. On any scale, Anaheim is a big place. But because it is a new place, it is not taken as seriously as traditional cities. That is a mistake."

Orange County's two largest cities -- Santa Ana and Anaheim--are each rapidly approaching the population of Miami. There is nearly as much office space around John Wayne Airport as there is in downtown Dallas or Atlanta, and it has become a national economic hotbed.

An influx of immigrants from Asia and Latin America has made the county one of the most diverse places in America. That is not what postwar planners envisioned for Orange County. It was supposed to be a quiet suburb full of meticulously planned subdivisions -- a refuge from the urban life of Los Angeles. Yet, with nearly 3 million residents and growing, Orange County looks more and more like its rival to the north.

"Orange County is being redefined the way the San Fernando Valley and other older suburbs are," said Rick Cole, a former director of the California Local Government Commission who is now the city manager of Azusa.

"The perception of Orange County as a suburb of Los Angeles is wildly and hopelessly out of date," he said.

"The Angels victory gives the world a chance to reassess the county and see for themselves that it is an example of a post suburban reality that is diverse, and changing and complex."

The fans who came out to the parade Tuesday couldn't agree more. Diana Cook, 51, of Anaheim wore a homemade shirt that had "ANAHEIM Angels" painted on it. Emphasis on Anaheim.

"Respect," she said. "That's what this is all about. Respect. It put Orange County on the map. We all deserve this."



Milestones in Orange County history

1894 Charles Chapman begins growing Valencia oranges in Fullerton.

1904 Pacific Electric Railway Red Cars reach Newport Beach and link Orange County with Los Angeles.

1917 The largest bean field in the world -- 17,000 acres -- is cultivated on Irvine Ranch.

1920 Walter Knott begins farming boysenberries in Buena park.

1955 Disneyland opens.

1958 Surfing is revolutionized in Dana Point when Hobie Alter begins mass producing foam surfboards.

1963 Time magazine cover features architect William Pereira and his master plan for Irvine.

1965 University of California at Irvine opens.

1967 South Coast Plaza -- for a time the nation's largest shopping mall -- opens in Costa Mesa; Fashion Island opens in Newport Beach.

1986 Orange County Performing Arts Center opens.

1990 More than 400,000 gallons of Alaskan crude spilled off Huntington Beach, one of state's most disastrous spills.

1994 Orange County government has financial crisis, the largest municipal bankruptcy in United States history.

1995 State's first toll road opens in Orange County.

2002 Angels win World Series.


Times staff writers Mike Anton and Janet Wilson contributed to this report.

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