So the expansion Los Angeles Angels, like most expansion clubs were not expected to do too well in their first season, what having a bunch of cast-offs on the roster. Add to that a lengthened 162 game season and the chances of a decent record were even farther out of reach. But the Angels and Bill Rigney proved their critics wrong. They finished eighth, ahead of Washington and Kansas City, going 70-91, a record for an expansion franchise in its inaugural season.
They would play their only season at L.A.'s Wrigley Field going 46-36 at home, and setting an attendance mark of 603,510. The small dimensions of the ballpark would allow them 5 players hitting 20 or more homers: Lean Wagner with 28, Ken Hunt 25, Lee Thomas 24, Earl Averill 21 and Steve Bilko 20. The team home run total of 189 ranked them second in the league. Ken McBride would win 12 and lose 15, with 180 strikeouts, Eli Grba went 11-13 and Ted Bowsfield 11-8. Art Fowler and Tom Morgan closed out games saving 11 and 10 respectively. As a team they led the American League in strikeouts, and ranked second in saves.
Ryne Duren and Ken McBride were selected to the All-Star team and Lee Thomas was selected as a Topps Rookie All-Star.
1961 Transactions (from retrosheet.org). Extensive reading, but I like this kind of stuff.
Dick Simpson signed as an amateur free agent.
Dick Wantz signed as an amateur free agent.
January 4, 1961 Purchased Leo Burke from Washington Senators.
January 10, 1961 Rocky Bridges signed as a free agent.
January 31, 1961 Purchased Tom Morgan from Minnesota Twins.
February 1, 1961 Received Ted Bowsfield from Cleveland Indians as a replacement expansion draft pick. Returned Red Wilson to Cleveland Indians.
March 7, 1961 Jack Hiatt signed as an amateur free agent.
April 1, 1961 Mike White signed as a free agent.
Traded Jim McAnany to Chicago Cubs in exchange for Lou Johnson.
April 4, 1961 Traded Duke Maas to New York Yankees in exchange for Fritz Brickell.
April 7, 1961 Purchased Ray Semproch from Washington Senators.
April 10, 1961 Purchased Ron Kline from St. Louis Cardinals.
April 13, 1961 Traded Lou Johnson to Toronto (International) in exchange for Leon Wagner.
May 8, 1961 Traded Tex Clevenger and Bob Cerv to New York Yankees in exchange for Lee Thomas, Ryne Duren and Johnny James.
May 10, 1961 Sold Julio Becquer to Philadelphia Phillies.
May 26, 1961 Purchased Art Fowler from Los Angeles Dodgers.
June 5, 1961 Purchased Russ Heman from Cleveland Indians.
June 7, 1961 Traded Jerry Casale to Detroit Tigers in exchange for Jim Donohue.
June 10, 1961 Ned Garver released.
June 19, 1961 Purchased Joe Koppe from St. Louis Cardinals for $1000.
June 22, 1961 Traded Ken Hamlin and Russ Heman to Toronto (International) in exchange for Billy Moran.
June 26, 1961 Purchased George Thomas from Detroit Tigers.
July 3, 1961 Lost Ken Aspromonte to Cleveland Indians on waivers.
July 15, 1961 Dan Ardell signed as an amateur free agent.
July 22, 1961Tom Satriano signed as an amateur free agent.
August 10, 1961 Lost Ron Kline to Detroit Tigers on waivers.
September 8, 1961 Purchased Chuck Tanner from Cleveland Indians.
October 10, 1961 Purchased Red Witt from Pittsburgh Pirates.
October 19, 1961 Rocky Bridges released. Ted Kluszewski released. Del Rice released.
November 27, 1961 Major League Draft
Selected Bo Belinsky from Baltimore Orioles.
Selected Marlan Coughtry from Boston Red Sox.
Lost Aubrey Gatewood to New York Mets.
Selected Felix Torres from Philadelphia Phillies.
Minor League Draft
Lost Mike White to Houston Colt .45s.
December 4, 1961 Purchased Ramon Hernandez from Pittsburgh Pirates.
And so goes 1961. On to 1962!