One of the country music legends, an actor who was in over ninety movies and television shows, Gene Autry; Autry also was the first owner of the California Angels and the former Vice President of the American League.
Autry”The Singing Cowboy” was born September 29th, 1907 in the town of Tioga, Texas. That little Texas town is the birthplace to one of the most influential men in America during the twentieth century. Autry holds claim to some of the most iconic songs of the early twentieth century including “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”, “Back In The Saddle Again”(which can be heard on the Angels 2002 World Series DVD), and “You Are My Sunshine”.
Autry also was the star of his own television show, “The Gene Autry Show” which ran from 1950-1956. “The Gene Autry Show” was about “America’s Favorite Cowboy” fighting against criminals and people who were up to no good. The Singing Cowboy was the idol of young kids all across this great nation. Autry is a member of the legendary Country Music Hall of Fame as well as the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Autry also served in World War II after enlisting the United States Army in 1942. Gene Autry made his way up to being the rank of Tech Sergeant. Autry also had a passion and love for flying and this translated into the war where he often flew over the Himalayas and Asia.
He also was an avid participant of the rodeo. He ran a couple huge rodeo companies which earned him a spot in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame(that’s a mouthful!).
The baseball career of Gene Autry began when he was awarded ownership of the Los Angeles franchise in the American League. The Angels were born. When the Angels debuted in 1961, they were the “Los Angeles Angels” but once they moved to Anaheim they were renamed the “California Angels“.
Autry was named the vice president of the American League in 1983 a he held that position until his death in 1998. Autry was beloved by his players constantly talking and helping them with problems. He developed incredibly close relationships.
Many players have said in interviews how he was constantly giving players cowboy boots or comforting them in their office during long stretches of struggling. The Cowboy was beloved by all of his players. Gene’s wife, Jackie Autry remained involved in Major League Baseball long after Gene’s death were she served as the honorary president of the American League from 2000-present day.
The Autrys ended up selling the Angels to the Walt Disney Corporation after Gene’s death in 1998. Gene Autry will never be forgotten in Angels lore. He passed away in 1998 from Lymphoma. After Autry’s death, the Angels retired the number 26 in honor of Gene Autry. 26 is relevant because there are twenty-five players on a major league roster and Gene was always around and there for his players so he was coined the twenty-sixth man.
Rest in Peace to The Singing Cowboy