Sunday, March 23, 2014


Ben Sakoguchi is highly cognizant that there has been a great deal of pain in Orange County.

And that is not just because it is the most populous county in California that has voted Republican in every Presidential election since 1940. (That's eighteen consecutive elections...)

It's also because the Angels moved to Orange County in 1965, and while they did manage to win a World Series in 2002 (while a Republican was in the White House, as you might expect...), they have mostly been a franchise fraught with more than a passing sense of dread.

Fallen Angels Brand, the sixteenth of fifty-four paintings selected by the Baseball Reliquary from Ben's Unauthorized History of Baseball series (more than 200 paintings in all), is a dark glimpse into the events that have haunted the Angels franchise. They have had more than their share of tragedy. (The most recent: the tragic death of Nick Adenhart, the promising young righthander who was killed in a car accident in 2009.)

Donnie Moore and Leon (Daddy Wags) Wagner are two of the most jaw-clenching tragedies in Angels history. Moore became increasingly despondent when his career took a turn to the south after a highly visible failure on the mound, one that cost the Angels a berth in the 1986 series. Wagner just slowly saw his life spiral out of control; the tragedy was that there was no one around to help him in his hour of greatest need.

All baseball franchises have such moments in their past, but the Angels have lapped the field. It was one reason why we used to refer to their home park as "Halo Hell." Those smoky purple plumes that Ben suspends in the air around Donnie and Daddy Wags represent the lingering, foggy curse that seems to keep the Angels forever earthbound.