The Bull Pen
[Oakland Tribune, Tuesday, June 30, 1953]
PORTLAND, June 30.—Mighty Oaks from little Acorns grow. So, being in the general neighborhood last week while the Oaks were playing Seattle, your correspondent made a flying visit to Wenatchee to take a peek at the growing process. The Wenatchee ball club has a working agreement with Oakland. Promising rookies are assigned there for seasoning, and it is, therefore, perfectly proper to refer to the Western International League entry as an Acorn farm, even though the principal crop of the region is apples.
But the Chiefs this year are also ripening a bumper crop of young ball players, the best in the W.I.L., according to Yankee scout Babe Herman and other qualified observers.
To give you an idea ol the youth of this team, Charley Oubre is the "old man" of the pitching staff. Charley was signed by the Oaks a year ago. He had served two years in the Army, and before that had played a few months in a Class D league in Louisiana. Stretching it a bit, you might say he's had three seasons of professional experience.
Two Oakland teen agers, Rickey Botelho (St. Elizabeth's) and Charley Bramon (McClymonds) graduated from high school in January. The other players, outside of Mgr. Mike McCormick and Lyle Palmer, the former Cal fly chaser, are in their very early twenties.
Hold Their Own in Loop
Yet these comparative babes in arms have just about held their own in a Class A league that includes many Coast and major league veterans. They'll be about midway between top and bottom in the standings when the first half of the season ends next Friday.
And everybody in Wenatchee is confident they will do better in the second half. Botelho and Beamon, two of the brightest pitching prospects in the league, are just beginning to find themselves.
McCormick, who played 11 years in the majors, is also very high on Jack Klein, a right hander from El Cerrito.
"These kids are terrific," Mike said, "and they're just beginning to get the confidence that comes with experience, Give them a couple of years and they ought to be winning for the Oaks in the Coast League."
Babe Fuhrman of Berkeley was coming out of a prolonged batting slump when we saw the team.
"He was hitting the ball pretty good," McCormick said, "but it was always right at somebody. It worried him and his fielding at third suffered. But the other day he won a ball game for us with a double, and he's bounced back."
Harry Bartolomei, the stocky little catcher who completed his Army service this spring, has shown great improvement since joining the Chiefs.
Batting in Cleanup Spot
"There's only one way for a youngster to improve himself," McCormick pointed out, "and that's to play every day. They were running the bases on Harry to start with, but no more. He throws
McCormick regards Bartolomei so highly as a hitter he has him batting in the cleanup position.
Pumpsie Green, a flashy fielding infielder from West Contra Costa Junior College, has been playing first base, but with the return of Tommy Munoz will probably alternate at short with Red Stanford. It will be a break for Munoz, who has been riding the Oakland bench for the last month, to get into action.
Tommy was recalled when Jim Marshall, who played at Wenatchee two years ago, injured his leg. Marshall, now 21, is generally regarded as the best first sacker in the Coast League. By next yeat, or the year after, Jim will outgrow the P.C.L. and go on to larger fields.
When that happens Munoz should be ready to step into his shoes in Emeryville. Frank Dasso, the old Coast League pitcher who is general manager of the Chiefs, rates the 18-year-old Tommy as a "future Babe Dahlgren."
"All he has to do is improve his hitting a little," Dasso said. "He's already a master with the glove."
Rickey Botelho is rated as the top left handed pitching prospect in the W.I.L. His earned run average is among the lowest in the league, and he has developed into a good hitter.
Club Put Back on Its Feet
Perhaps the most interesting story in Wenatchee was Dasso, who with the close support of the businessmen in the town and the surrounding growers has put the club back on its feet. Frank
set some sort of a record last season when he lost 26 games for the Chiefs although he had the lowest earned run average in the league.
"I guess people sympathized with me," Frank said. "At any rate, when they asked me if I would run the club I said I would see what I could do. We were about $20,000 in the hole. I talked to everybody in the area, but nothing happened. I was about ready to call it quits, and then all of a sudden the money started to roll in.
"People would stop me on the street to give me money. One day I collected $1500 walking to the bank. You can't say interest in baseball is dead when you get a response like that."
The Chiefs, like every other ball club in" the area, have been hard hit by the weather.
"But I think we'll just about break even if it warms up for the second half of the season," Dasso said. "We owe a lot to Brick Laws (Acorn president) for the players he has sent us. They're a nice bunch of kids, real gentlemen, and everybody in town is fond of them."