Southern California
Cricket Association

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History

Cricket in Southern California 1888-2014

Los Angeles (1888) Santa Monica (1893) and Riverside (1902) were the first towns to field cricket teams in Southern California. Cricket started first at the polo fields in Santa Monica in 1893. By 1902, Riverside and Oceanside fielded sides. In Riverside, cricket meetings were held at the Mission Inn and games were played in the local agricultural park. Wealth generated by cultivating oranges helped spark Southern California’s urban movement. Riverside orange-growers, financed by British capital, exported Queen Victoria and Arlington Heights brands of oranges to England. In these pre-air conditioning days, wealthy orange-growing families spent their summertime cooling off in hotels such as Arlington or in small cabins on Santa Monica beach. The social activities in Santa Monica included tennis at the Casino Club, cricket and ball-room dancing.  Arizona teams, comprised of mining engineers and miners from the copper mines of Bisbee and Clifton, played for the Dudley Cup in 1909. The British born Mayor Dudley of Santa Monica presented the cup.  The Los Angeles and San Diego Cricket (1908) teams joined in the Dudley Cup knock-out competition, which Santa Monica won.

The Pacific Electric Railroad, funded by Henry Huntington, provided a cheap transport for local cricket teams. The San Francisco earthquake of 1906 encouraged many San Francisco cricketers to settle in Southern California where most of them joined the Santa Monica Cricket Club. Until the outbreak of the First World War, tournaments rather than league cricket was the norm. War severely impacted the growth of the game and two grounds were lost to development. King Gillette, the inventor of the safety razor, bought the polo grounds in Santa Monica and Los Angeles CC lost its ground at the Vineyard after a fire burned down the pavilion in 1913. The Vineyard was located on Pico and Victoria near downtown Los Angeles.

After the war the Overseas CC (1919) played Santa Monica CC until 1930. Other post-teams were Montecito CC (1921) and Pasadena CC. Overseas CC attracted actors such as Boris Karloff who later joined the Hollywood CC (1932) which was founded by ex-England captain, Aubrey Smith. As Hollywood movies became popular around the world, British film stars swelled the cricketing ranks. Hollywood CC first games were played on the UCLA campus where Aubrey Smith and Boris Karloff coached cricket in exchange for ground use. 1932 was an auspicious year for Los Angeles with the Tenth Olympiad and the founding of the Screen Actors Guild. Many SAG members also played cricket for the Hollywood CC. The Australians led by Victor Richardson and with Donald Bradman on side, played Hollywood CC at UCLA in 1932, highlighting the need for a permanent cricket ground.

Donald Williamson, of the Parks and Recreation, allocated several acres for four cricket pitches in Griffith Park in 1933. The pitches were opened on May 23rd and cricket was played at the Burbank Ground until 1986 when Sepulveda basin was designated for cricket. The Southern California Cricket Association inherited cricket administrative responsibilities from the Griffith Park Cricket Association in the late 1950’s. It was incorporated as a non-profit organization in 1966 when Hollywood, Los Angeles, Orange County, Westwood, Cal Tech, UCLA, Pasadena, Harlequins, Britamer, Corinthians and Santa Barbara were the league teams. League cricket has now proliferated to fifty teams.

Southern California Cricket has several unique qualities. A tight media link to Hollywood since founding days of the league when the Oscars and Hollywood CC Christmas parties were held in the same Roosevelt Hotel. In New York, the Metropolitan League founded in 1876 is the granddaddy of all cricket leagues in the United States but it did not experience the world-wide recognition that Hollywood star power brought to the game. With the advent of satellite TV in 1975, cricket has grown exponentially    from its storied roots and transformed itself into a highly charged viewing experience. Woodley’s turf wickets have seen many competitive games and give Los Angeles a unique diverse cultural platform found nowhere else in the city. We proudly welcome you to our cricket home where respect and tolerance are achieved match by match out in the middle. Come share the crack of the leather ball off a willow bat-the sound that raises the pulse of every cricketing audience- since cricket was first domesticated and organized on the chalk Downs of Sussex and Hampshire over three centuries ago.  

C David Sentance

 

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