The Los Angeles Angels and the Rally Monkey became one in the same back in the early 2000s during their World Series championship run, but it is a cowboy hat that connects the Halos of then to the current club.
During their 2002 title run, longtime outfielder Tim Salmon carried with him a cowboy hat from the Angels’ late founder and owner Gene Autry as a memento to symbolize how much he meant to the franchise. After the final out in Game 7 of that series, Salmon raised it to the sky in honor of Autry.
This season, the Angels have brought out the cowboy hat for another tradition, the home run. The Angels are currently tied for second in MLB with 49 home runs, and each time they must don the cowboy hat that has tradition rooted in its meaning.
According to Steve Henson of the L.A. Times, it wasn’t a player who came up with the idea, but it was an Angels’ staff member who started the trend:
The current iteration of western headgear was the brainchild of Angels staff assistant Tim Buss, whom manager Joe Maddon affectionately refers to as the Vice President of Stuff.
“This is all Tim Buss,” Maddon said. “Bussy is our creative genius and he came up with it. . . I love it.”
The players have bought into the trend and whether or not they’re doing it for the symbolism, or because it is a unifying celebration, it doesn’t matter.
The cowboy hat is cool, and Angels manager Joe Maddon acknowledges many of his players have no idea of the hat’s connections to the franchise’s past and Autry.
“They are too young to remember any of that,” Maddon said. “But they are reminded nightly through our scoreboard montage.
“I’m a Mr. Autry fan. Mrs. [Jackie] Autry, I still stay in touch with her. She sends me a Christmas gift every year. Mr. Autry would come into the clubhouse with his cowboy hat and cane. It was special. But honestly, I don’t think this generation has any connection.”
Additionally, after each home run, the Angels add another sticker to the hat, so they seem likely to run out of space quickly.
However long this power surge from the Angels lasts, celebrating with a connection to club history is a blast from the past that needs to stay.
Trout passes Salmon as Angel Stadium Home Run Leader
There was no swimming upstream for the Angels on May 9 as they easily defeated the Tampa Bay Rays by a score of 11-3 in their series opener.
Although nearly everyone contributed, the game was taken over by Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani, as happens so often for the Angels.
In the sixth inning, Trout hit a two-run home run to put the Angels up 5-1 and made the game out of reach for the Rays. But perhaps more importantly, it also put Trout back at the top spot on another Angels’ record.
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