It was 60 years ago when a young left-hander named Bo Belinsky took baseball and Los Angeles by storm.
Belinsky, who grew up as a street-smart pool hustler in New Jersey, helped put the Angels on the map in their second year of existence that season, as the 25-year-old rookie was a huge star on and off the field. He was 3-0 with a 2.21 ERA through his first three career outings before it peaked on May 5, 1962. The lefty made history that day against the Orioles, becoming the first player to throw a no-hitter on the West Coast and the first to throw one for the Halos. It was also the first at Dodger Stadium, as the Angels were still playing there under the banner of Chavez Ravine Stadium.
It burst Belinsky into even greater stardom, as the Angels gifted him $2,500 and a cherry red Cadillac after the no-hitter. With his movie-star good looks and endless charisma, he became famous and was a fixture in Hollywood, dating starlets such as Ann-Margret, Tina Louise, Juliet Prowse and Connie Stevens. He even had a highly publicized engagement to Mamie Van Doren.
Belinsky was on top of the world — until he wasn’t, however. His son, Don Carroll, who was born out of wedlock in 1963, spoke to MLB.com and said he didn’t know his father until he was already in his 20s. Belinsky’s love for the night life came back to haunt him, as he never developed into the pitching ace many thought he could be, finishing his career in 1970 with a 28-51 record and a 4.10 ERA. He also saw his marriages to Playboy model Jo Collins and paper heiress Janie Weyerhaeuser end in divorce. He suffered from alcoholism during his playing days and after his career until getting sober in 1976. By the time Carroll got to know his father, he was working for a car dealership in Las Vegas. Belinsky became a born-again Christian later in life before passing away in 2001 at 64 years old.
“I didn’t get to really know him until I was about 25 and I told him I didn’t want anything from him, but it was really cool,” Carroll said. “We had a really nice relationship until he passed. I really didn’t know much about him, because I didn’t know him growing up. But we were in the baseball community because my aunt had married Pete Richert, who had pitched for the Dodgers. So I had played and been around baseball my whole life without knowing much about him.”
Carroll said he began to learn more about his father later in life and ended up naming his son, Beau, in honor of Belinsky. And, of course, Carroll and his son are both lefties just like Belinsky.
“He got to tell me all his stories and his philosophy on life with the live fast, die young and all that,” Carroll said. “One of the best stories was that I heard how nobody could beat him at pool, and I had been playing pool my whole life. And when I met him in Vegas, my girlfriend at the time took a picture of us from behind and we walked the same way. It was a trip. He was cool and we stayed in touch up until he passed.”