ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- For all the millions he made in the movies and as a businessman, Gene Autry never saw his baseball team win a title.
The Angels came tantalizingly close in 1982 and '86, each time getting within a victory of reaching the World Series -- only to lose.
Autry owned the Angels for more than three decades, and their lack of a pennant was a major disappointment to the man who was first and foremost a fan.
"Believe me, I rode many a chase scene during my career in films, but none compared to what I have encountered in baseball," Autry wrote in his 1978 autobiography "Back in the Saddle."
"In the movies I never lost a fight. In baseball I have hardly ever won one."
The Angels finally changed that this season, four years to the month Autry died at 91.
"Here was a guy who had the money and ability to buy any player he wanted, and yet he was never able to win that big one," said singer Tony Orlando, who knew Autry. "I guarantee you not only is he back in the saddle, but he's sitting tall."
Four years after Autry's death, people still speak reverently about the nation's original singing cowboy, who always fought fair and loved his horse, Champion.
"I'm not saying he was a saint by any means, but he was like a good neighbor, someone that's always there," said country singer Roy Clark, who knew Autry for 40 years.
Bench coach Joe Maddon, a 27-year employee, said Autry was a benevolent owner.
"He would come in here, not brandishing his cane, but would come in here and encourage us, telling us everything was going to be all right," Maddon said.
"We all felt like we belonged here, that we were going to be taken care of, and we knew that this guy truly had our best interests at heart."
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