Thursday, 13 March 2008

Opening Night, Thursday, April 23, 1953

W L Pct. GB
Victoria .... 1 0 1.000 —
Lewiston .... 1 0 1.000 —
Calgary ..... 0 0 .500 ½
Yakima ...... 0 0 .500 ½
Wenatchee ... 0 0 .500 ½
Tri-City .... 0 0 .500 ½
Edmonton .... 0 0 .500 ½
Salem ....... 0 0 .500 ½
Vancouver ... 0 1 .000 1
Spokane ..... 0 1 .000 1

VANCOUVER [Clancy Loranger, Province, April 24]—Nervous as cats at a dog show, Vancouver Caps made their 1953 debut at Cap Stadium Thursday, and it was so inauspicious that the only nice thing we can think of is that they looked pretty in their new uniforms.
They were outhit, outpitched, outfielded, and outrageous.
Hero of the piece, as far as 3,208 cash customers were concerned, was outfielder Frank Mascaro, who prevented the locals from being victims of that most ignominious of all baseball setbacks, a no-hit, no-run game.
Veteran Manny Perez, an old pro from the Coast League whose best friends say he’s nudging 40, was the Lewiston pitcher who made the Vancouver hitters look like the Pocatello powderpuffs they walloped in California by some 20 runs.
Perez Had Evil Eye on Caps
The Caps got just seven balls out of the infield, and one of them was Mascaro’s single to right field with two out in the sixth inning. Before that, and after, Perez was tighter than the drum that serenaded the fans between innings. Manny’s only trouble was caused by wildness, as he walked seven.
While the Vancouver batters were keeping the Lewiston infielders warm, their pitching teammates were keeping loose ducking baseballs aimed their way. Bill Brenner’s veterans teed off for 14 hits off Pete Hernandez, Dale Thomason and Rod MacKay, with the last-named looking the best.
It was 4-0 by the fifth, when Hernandez left in favor of a pinch-hitter, and the Broncs fattened up on Thomason to double the score in the sixth.
Afield, the home towners booted five, with second-baseman Gordon Hernandez putting in the season’s first bid for goat-of-the-year honors with three miscues.
Opening ceremonies were short and to the point, with manager Harvey Storey winning the nod by introducing ageless Carl Gunnarson as a recruit from the Little League.
Brenner Due on Mound Tonight
General manager Dewey Soriano had no alibis for the sorry showing. “What can I say,” he offered, “except that there are 145 games to go?”
One of those 145 is billed for the stadium tonight, with old friend and ex-Cap manager Bill Brenner due to pitch for Lewiston. Van Fletcher will oppose him, and manager Harvey Storey says his boys will do better—or else.
PROVINCE STARS—Perez, of course, who could cut a hair with a curve ball, it’s so sharp; rookie Lewiston shortstop Nick Cannuli, who had three hits and made a couple of fine plays; for the sad Caps, Jim Wert, for some excellent work afield.
- - -
VANCOUVER [by KEITH MATTHEWS, News-Herald, April 24]—Never has the opening of a baseball season come to us so auspiciously. The Capilanos, resplendent in their “new look”, sounded a bleak “phhhht” Thursday to the 1953 season with their 8-0 loss to the Lewiston Broncs.
It was the first time in three years that the Caps had lost an inaugural, and let it be said that when the finally came up with an opening defeat, they made no bones about it.
Ere it had started, Bill Brenner, leader of the Broncos, complained that spring training had been cruel to his lads. “The weather was terrible. We’re in bad shape. It’ll take two weeks for us to start rolling.”
Some two hours and 40 minutes later, the Broncs had amassed their eight runs on 14 hits and a mid-season pitching performance by Manny Perez, a guy who has been around many, many summers. Manny allowed but one hit, was a little more generous with his walks, of which he gave up seven, but also whiffed the same number. He had control of the situation all the way through as the Caps, heralded as powerized and latent in the long ball, swing for little but exercise.
The defeat wasn’t too hard to take in itself. The way it came about is another thing.
Five errors made a sloppy show out of it. It was an error that made Lewiston’s run in the first inning possible when Gordie Hernandez booted a ground ball. It was an error that helped along a four-run third as the Lewistons strung together there base hits and the muff to break the ball game wide open.
As long as he was in there, Pete Hernandez didn’t look bad. Not good, as he was in 1950 with his 17 wins, but good enough to earn a longer stay. With the errors at his back, Pete’s departure was hurried when it became evident that the pinch-hitters would have to get in there and see what they could do with the Perez fellow.
Perez’ pitching was a revelation. His control was jumpy at times, yet the Caps only got two runners as far as third base, Nick Castas in the first and Gordie Hernandez in the sixth. Many showed off a curve ball which did things. It was his big pitch, and whereas he seemed to get into hot water with his fast ball, he always managed to get off the hook in the right spot.
Besides being of the most embarrassing openings of all time, the crowd was one of the smallest. The paid was 3208 and though most of them tried to “sweat” out some kind of a rally, a lot had given up by the seventh and headed for the warmth of their firesides.
Tonight, the clubs do it all over again, starting at 8:15, and the Caps will be facing another toughie. Bill Brenner is going to start this game himself for Lewiston and Bill, recall, won 21 last year. Against him will be Van Fletcher, the sinker-ball specialist who looked better in spring camp than any other pitcher. Only this ain’t Healdsburg.
- - -
VANCOUVER, B.C. - Vancouver Capilanos making five errors and limited to one hit by cagy Manny Perez, were swamped by the Lewiston Broncs Thursday night in a Western International League baseball contest played before 2,978 opening-night fans.
The Lewiston team got to three Vancouver hurlers for 14 hits, taking a run in the first, three in the third and winding up with four more in the sixth.
The only Cap to get a hit off Perez, who went the distance, was outfielder Frank Mascaro. He slapped a single to right field in the sixth with two out.
Perez struck out seven and walked seven. Only four of the Lewiston runs were earned. Nick Cannuli led the attack with three hits in six tries and Clint Cameron batted in three runs with a double with the bases loaded.
Mayor Fred Hume was supposed to toss the opening ball but he couldn't make the game because of previous commitments. The game started in cool but clear weather after short inaugural ceremonies.
The contest was the opener of a four-game series which will conclude with a double-header Saturday.
Lewiston ....... 103 004 000—6 14 1
Vancouver ..... 000 000 000—0 1 5
Perez and Cameron; P. Hernandez, Thomason (6), MacKay (6) and Lundberg.

VICTORIA [Jim Tang, Colonist, April. 24]—Victoria Tyees, backing the sturdy clutch pitching of sophomore righthander Bill Wisneski with errorless support and timely long-ball hitting, got off on the right foot last night in their defense of the Western International Baseball League championship.
Cheered on by an impressed crowd of about 3,500, the Tyees took an early lead, came back when it was threatened to give Wisneski a safer working margin, and wound up with an 8-4 triumph over Spokane Indians, 1952 runners-up, in the 1953 lid-lifter.
Wisneski, who completed only one game last season, matched his 1952 record only after a struggle. The Indians had runners on the bags in every inning and had the Victoria starter hanging on the ropes in mid-game, when they scored three times in the fifth, then loaded the bases with no one out in the sixth.
But they couldn’t get Wisneski out of there. Well handled by catcher Sam Brusa, Wisneski grittily pitched his way out of every jam but one to leave 11 Indians stranded. He did his best work in the sixth, when two singles and a hit batsman loaded the bags and sent Bill Prior once more to the bullpen. But the next two hitters popped up and Wisneski took the third himself on an easy grounder.
Wisneski walked seven and hit two and uncorked a wild pitch. But he took five on strikes, four times with runners on the sacks and twice to end an inning. Five of the seven hits he allowed came in the fifth and sixth innings, one came in the first and the last in the ninth.
Meanwhile, the Tyees, powered by an inside-the-park home run by manager Cec Garriott, an over-the-wall line drive by Nap Gully, and a bad-bounce triple by Don Pries, were exhibiting a pleasant trait which featured their play last season—that of scoring after two were out. No fewer than five of their runs scored with the Indians needing only one out to end the inning.
Up with two runners on in the first, Pries dropped a blooper in front of rightfielder Bob Byrne and it bounced away for three bases. Pries scored later on an error and the Tyees were in front to stay.
Garriott, given a life when Bryne dropped his foul fly after a long run, made it 5-2 in the second inning. After the Indians had come close in their three-run fifth, Gully homered behind a walk to Taylor and Wisneski doubled in Ron Odekirk, who had singled for his first hit in professional baseball.
Pries and Wisneski led the Tyees at the plate, each with two hits in four trips and the latter, who showed unexpected plate punch after a .120 season in 1952, was robbed of a third safety by a fine catch by second-baseman Al Sahlberg.
Veteran outfielder Will Hafey carried Spokane’s biggest bat, hitting a run-scoring double in the first and featuring the three-run fifth with a booming triple.
The same clubs go at it again tonight with Bill Bottler scheduled to pitch for the Tyees. Game time is again 7:30.
Spokane .......... 100 030 000—4 7 3
Victoria ........... 320 030 00x—8 7 0
New, Franks (5), Cordell (6) and Sheets; Wisneski and Brusa.

(only games played)

City Youth Best of Caps Pitchers
By KEITH MATTHEWS [Vancouver News-Herald, April 24, 1953]
Best of the opening night Capilanos pitchers as baseball celebrated its inaugural at Cap Stadium was Rod MacKay, the local boy who appears to be making good.
Rod pitched four scoreless innings and that was quite a feat for the Caps last night.
Bill Brenner called the shot on the game when Dewey Soriano introduced him in the pre-game ceremonies as “my old baseball partner.” “Dewey used to beat me at that handball all the time,” Bill said. “Now let’s see what we can do with a different game.”
John Marshall, the ex-Capilano and ex-everything else in the WIL, got the biggest “hello” from the crowd during the players’ introductions. It came, of course, in the form of a large-sized razzberry, John’s usual greeting in this town.
Umpire Francis Walsh, the plate-official, introduced something new in attire in this one. He appeared with pants of a lighter blue than his jacket, hardly the sort of thing which Bill Klem would authorize.
Brenner feels he needs pitching help and maybe a shortstop, though his Nick Cannuli might fool him on the latter hope yet … Nick showed a lot of range on the balls his handled last night.
Bill says he’ll get two or three of his desired pitchers from the St. Louis Browns when the team goes home … The Browns already sent Lewiston about four players … Baseball is red-hot in Lewiston, incidentally … Brenner expects an opening night crowd of 6000 next Tuesday.
Best crack of the night belongs to Harvey Storey, though he naturally came up with it before the game when the Caps had not yet put on their display of “button, button, who’s got the button”—Harv, in introducing Carl Gunnarson to the crowd, said “and up from the Little Leagues, Carl Gunnarson.”
The Capilanos got their first and only hit off Manny Perez in the sixth inning, a sinking line drive from Frank Mascaro’s bat into right field … Nick Castas was the best Capilano offensively with three walks … Jim Wert came up with the defensive gem, a diving grab of a blue dark grounder in the eighth off Larry Barton.
Best mental boot of the night was charged to Don Lundberg. He picked up a sacrifice bunt from Mel Wasley in the third, elected to try from the man at third base and was about a half an hour too late.

Judging by First Game; Brown Could Be Right
[Victoria Colonist, April 24, 1953]
WIL president Bob Brown, over for the pennant-raising ceremony, reiterated before the game that the league would have better umpiring this season. Judging from the first game, he could be right. . . . Handling the game last night were Emmett Ashford, professional baseball’s first colored umpire, and Gerald Van Keuren. . . . As could be expected, there was some disagreement over Van Keuren’s ball-and-strike calls but both umpires impressed with their hustle and decision. . . . Ashford caught the fancy of the fans with his positive calls and actions on the bases and will undoubtedly become a crowd favorite wherever he goes . . . the chunky umpire gave up 15 years seniority in the U.S. postal service to make umpiring his career and he’s well on his way in his third season. He was in the Southwest International League in 1951 and the Arizona-Texas League last year. His home is Los Angeles . . . Van Keuren is a real veteran, starting in pro baseball in 1943 and working every season except for two in the service. He has called them in the Piedmont, Sally, Western and Southern Association . . . Only 35, the Elgin, Ill. Resident was badly hurt in an auto accident while umpiring in the Southern Association in 1951 and was told he would never walk again. He moved around pretty good last night . . . Micky Hanick, who partnered Joe Iacovetti last season, has reportedly given up umpiring.
Brown, who was the catcher in the official opening battery, didn’t look his 80-odd years as he warmed up with Ald. Brent Murdock for the toss which Finance Minister Einar Gunderson grounded into the outfield . . . Rookie shortstop Ron Odekirk got through his first game in fine style, handling four chances and sending a sharp single just inside the third-base line in the fifth . . . Nap Gully, a crowd favorite from the time he was introduced, put himself in solid with the fans with his smashing home run and appears well set to take over from Granny Gladstone in the affection of Victoria followers . . .
Wisneski had only three hits all last season and came close to matching that in his first game last night . . . Veteran southpaw John Cordell appears as if he will be a big help to the Indians. The Tyees didn’t come close to getting a hit off him in three innings . . . Sam Brusa didn’t look good at the plate but he indicated he would do behind it with a flawless job of receiving. He isn’t afraid to throw the ball around either and kept base-runners glued . . . Groundskeeper Slim Hunt put on a show of his own in the fifth inning as he tried to rake the infield with his brand-new mechanical gadget. Biggest cheer of the ngith came when the pennant was raised to the musical background provided by the smart Eagles Drum and Bugle Corps . . . With five lefthanded hitters in their starting line-up the Indians may find trouble with southpaws . . . Don Hopp will pitch for the Tyees Saturday afternoon and Berlyn Hodges, young Victoria rookie southpaw, will try it Saturday night.

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