A key figure for the Anaheim Angels as they play in their first World Series game in their history is their former owner Jackie Autry. The widow of cowboy movie star and singer Gene Autry was put in charge of the Angels´ business affairs in the early 1990s when the team was losing money and too many games. She declared that the way to build a winner was through developing players in the farm system, not through acquiring high-priced free agents.
Now it´s a young, homegrown Angels team that is meeting the San Francisco Giants for baseball´s championship. Friends say the team´s success this year has helped ease Jackie Autry´s lingering pain from her husband´s death in 1998 when the team was sold to the Walt Disney Company.
Prior to their marriage in 1981 Jackie Autry was a Palm Springs banker who handled business affairs for the cowboy star who founded the Angel franchise in 1961. Mrs. Autry has often been given center stage by the team during its playoff run. She presented the American League championship trophy to the current Angels last weekend. She says that during the frenzied excitement about the team she feels the spirit of her late husband nearby. Jackie Autry says: “I know he´s watching all this from somewhere.”