Originally known as the Los Angeles Angels, the ball club first took the field in 1961. Five years later, they were renamed the California Angels. While that wouldn't be the last time that they would alter their moniker, the Angels have always been able to count on their fans to support them. Since moving to then-Anaheim Stadium (now known as Angel Stadium of Anaheim), the organization routinely draws fans in the millions to prove that no matter the name, folks in California are wild for baseball. While the '60s were a bit light on things to celebrate, that would all change in 1972 with the arrival of Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan.
Dubbed "The Ryan Express," the fiery hurler began punching his ticket to Cooperstown the moment he donned an Angels uniform. In 1973, he became the first right-handed pitcher in Angels history to throw a no-hitter, and when he duplicated the feat months later, became the fifth pitcher in Major League history to throw two in one year. By the time he left the organization in 1979, Ryan had thrown two more no-nos and had also broken Sandy Koufax's record for most strikeouts in a single season.
Ryan's last year with the franchise also ended with the team's first division title, a feat they would match in 1982 and '86. However, it wasn't until 2002 that the Halos would lay claim to their first world championship. Spurred on by All-Star play from third baseman Troy Glaus and closer Troy Percival, the team would also take inspiration from their unofficial mascot, the Rally Monkey. During tense situations, the capuchin monkey would appear on the scoreboard to make the crowd go bananas. It was the start of something special for the franchise, as the Angels captured the American League West crown four more times that decade.
While California has had other professional baseball teams, it's hard not to look at the Angels as anything other than heaven-sent. Tourists descend on Anaheim to see Disneyland's attractions, but baseball diehards flock to Angel Stadium. "The Big A," a skyscraping structure at the front of the stadium, greets fans upon arrival to let them know they're at the home of the Angels. When the team wins, the tower lights up like the Bat-Signal to alert all of Anaheim that their boys of summer have done it again. Win or lose, watching the Halos play is much, much more than just "A" day at the ballpark.