Spokane Signs New Talent to Carry Hopes
(This is one in a series on the prospects of teams in the Western International League)
By BOB JOHNSON
Spokane Chronicle Sports Writer
SPOKANE, Wash., April 19 — New, young and different!
That, in a nutshell, sizes up the Spokane Indians for 1953 as they prepare for the Western International League season.
This year the Indians begin what Spokane officials hope will be a long and happy association with the Philadelphia Phillies. It will be the Phils who will supply much of the talent the Indians hope to put on the field.
To make room for the National League club's optionees Spokane did considerable roster cleaning during the winter leaving only five holdovers from last year's club that battled in second place during most of the season.
Returning from a mound staff that was rated with the best in the loop in 1952 are rookie lefthander Jack Spring and Gordy Palm. In Spring the Indians hope they have Spokane's next major leaguer.
The Phils have already shipped some mound talent but more is expected if and when the need arises. George New, who won 12 and lost 16 for Tri-City last season, is on hand.
Another WI Leaguer of earlier vintage, lefty John Cordell, who “iron-manned” the Indians to a pennant in 1948, is giving pro ball another try and will probably see a lot of relief action.
Other promising moundsmen include Clyde DeWitt and Dick Descalso, Phil farm hands just out of military service; Bill Franks, former Pioneer leaguer; Carroll Yerkes, Nick Buonato, Art Worth and Mike Shade.
Spokane's infield will be three-quarters new with only shortstop Wilbur Johnson returning. The Tribe has received first sacker Carl Bush and third baseman Jim Command from the Phils. Replacing handy Jim Brown at second will be Andy Anderson of Silverdale, Wash., who saw action with the St. Louis Browns in 1948 and 1949.
Other infield candidates include Dave Hammermeister, a former Gonzaga University third sacker; shortstop Ed Coleman, formerly of Washington State, and Ray Coley from the Phils. He's a third sacker.
Things look particularly bright in the outfield where Eddie Murphy returns to patrol centerfield.
The fleet-footed flychaser, who set a new league stolen base record in 1951 with 90 thefts, will be flanked by Will Hafey and either Bob Byrne or Bill Holland.
Hafey, the league's home run king with Wenatchee in 1951, is expected to provide the much needed long ball punch in the Indian outfield. Byrne, a Montana State University star, played briefly with Spokane last year before being optioned out for further seasoning.
Holland, who hits a long ball, has never played professional baseball before and didn't see any action during his school days. Osbom regards him as a definite prospect although he may not be able to crack A class ball this year.
Catching is one of Spokane’s strongest departments with Bill Sheets back for regular duty. Sheets caught in 150 of Spokane's 154 games last year, a league record.
George Triandos, up from the Salt Lake City Bees, Bill Weatherwax, just returned from service, and Dan Linton, on option from the Phils, are the catching reserves.
The over-all picture finds the Indians stronger in the hitting department, slightly improved in the outfield and likely to be considerably improved in pitching. The major worry seems to be in bow the infield defense will stack up.