The Walt Disney Company effectively took control of the Angels in 1996, when it was able to gain enough support on the board to hire Tony Tavares as team president. Gene Autry, however, remained as chairman until his death in 1998. In 1999, Tavares hired Bill Stoneman as team general manager, under whose watch the Angels eventually won their first World Series Championship.
Although Disney did not technically acquire a controlling interest in the team until after Autry’s death, for all practical purposes it ran the team (the Autry loyalists on the board acted as “silent partners”) through its Anaheim Sports subsidiary, which also owned the NHL’s Mighty Ducks of Anaheim at the time.
Disney, of course, had been a catalyst for the development of and population growth in Orange County, having opened its Disneyland theme park in Anaheim in 1955. Autry had named Walt Disney himself to the Angels’ board in 1960; Mr. Disney served on the board until his death in 1966, and had been one of the proponents of the team’s move to Orange County in 1965 – 1966. Walt Disney Pictures also produced the 1994 movie Angels in the Outfield, which featured a fictionalized version of the team.