The Bilko Athletic Club

The Story of the 1956 Los Angeles Angels

By (author) Gaylon H. White

Hardback - £36.00

Publication date:

06 March 2014

Length of book:

326 pages


Rowman & Littlefield Publishers

ISBN-13: 9780810892897

During the 1956 baseball season in the city of Los Angeles, Mickey Mantle’s pursuit of Babe Ruth’s single-season home run record was matched only by the day-to-day drama of Steve Bilko’s exploits in the Pacific Coast League. While Mantle was winning the Triple Crown in the American League, Bilko was doing the same in the highest of all the minor leagues with the Los Angeles Angels. He led the league hitters in eight categories, and the Angels romped to the pennant. Bilko hit one mighty home run after another to earn Minor League Player of the Year honors and inspire the team’s nickname, “The Bilko Athletic Club.”

The Bilko Athletic Club tells the story of the 1956 Los Angeles Angels, a team of castoffs and kids built around Steve Bilko, a bulky, beer-loving basher of home runs. Author Gaylon H. White provides an intimate portrait of life in minor league baseball in the 1950s and gives readers a glimpse inside the heads and hearts of the players as they experience the same doubts and frustrations many face in the pursuit of a dream. The Angels’ unforgettable season unfolds through stories told by the players themselves, as they racked up runs and rolled to a 107-61 won-loss record, finishing sixteen games ahead of their closest competitor.

Featuring in-depth interviews with Steve Bilko and twenty-five of his ’56 Angels teammates, The Bilko Athletic Club also includes several photos and is highlighted by never-before-told anecdotes. A fascinating account of a season to remember, The Bilko Athletic Club will take fans and historians of the national pastime back to the golden era of baseball.
Before Walter O’Malley brought the Dodgers to Southern California in 1958, Los Angeles belonged to the Angels. A part of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League (PCL), it was a minor league affiliate of the Chicago Cubs and was as loved in its time as Brooklyn loved its bums. The 1956 PCL championship Angels team was led by the slugging Steve Bilko, a minor league superhero who somehow never made a mark in the big leagues. His memory is given a much-deserved revival in this book. While Bilko is the main focus, chapters are also given over to the voices of other 1956 Angels, with surviving former players such as Gale 'Windy' Wade and Jim Fanning speaking of where their careers in baseball went after their time with the team. These reminiscences are enjoyable on their own. . . . VERDICT Undoubtedly, both old-time and younger baseball fans will relish the stories here. This volume will fit in nicely in any public or sports-focused library, especially in the Southwest.