Tri-City Braves Hoping to Field Strong Entry in '53
(This is one in a series of the prospects of teams in the Western International Baseball League)
By GIL GILMORE
Tri-City Herald Sports Writer
KENNEWICK, Wash., April 19—The Tri-City Braves, under home-ownership and a new management, are being built mostly on hopes this year — hopes of catching up with the rest of the Western International League and hopes of landing two more pitchers and an equal number of hard-hitting outfielders.
As things stand now, they have but two pitchers qualified for starting roles. They are Jesse Dobernic, one-time White Sox and Cubs reliefer, who was purchased from Toronto, and Bob Snyder, 14 - 14 pitcher for Vancouver last season.
The rest of the pitching staff consists of limited service men and rookies. Top prospects are Dale Bloom, Dick Piedmonte, and Marian Hill, all hurlers from lower leagues with fair won-loss records.
The only holdovers are Bill Kostenbader (0-3) who played so little he is still classed as a rookie, and Ken Michelson, (3-7) reliefer who quit in mid-season. He has been re-instated. The new playing Manager, Edo Vanni, who was with Vancouver last season, is the only outfielder and the only .300 hitter on the roster at the present time. Des Charouhas, .305 hitter, has not reported and has indicated he intends to continue attending the University of Washington. Joe Scalise, who has asked for voluntary retirement, has been put up for sale along with Charouhas.
Negotiations to buy John Kovenz, .306 hitter last year, failed when Kovenz said he would not play for the Braves. He was offered for sale by Cleveland.
The best hope for a hitter is Jack Warren, former catcher for Seattle but who can fill an outfield spot. Warren hit .305 for Seattle in 1950 and then quit to play semi-pro ball when he did not get the pay he thought he was entitled to.
Defensively, the Braves will have a strong infield. Vic Buccola, veteran first baseman will hold down that sack. Vanni has a wide selection for the other three spots. Ray Tran will fill one—most likely shortstop.
Weak At The Plate
Ernie Sierra, a flashy infielder formerly with Pocatello, and Terry Carroll, WSC graduate formerly with Yuma, Ariz., will compete for' second. Tommy Marler, holdover from last year, will again be on third. But none of these players are expected to he strong at the plate. The catching spots are also well filled. Nick Pesut, last season's most popular Brave, will be No. 1
again and Rube Johnson, who was recently discharged from the Army will be No. 2.
Most of the Braves troubles can be traced back to the long negotiations for the sale of the club by Dick Richards, then-general manager, and other stockholders. The money-raising campaign and the dealing lasted into January and the Braves were unable to establish a working agreement with any major league or Coast League club.
Salaries A Problem
This means the club has had to buy all of its players outright. The club also faces the problem of staying under the salary limit when no higher classification club is paying part of the salaries.
Although some $33,000 was raised through the sale of stock, this money barely covered the cost of the club and franchise and various league fees. Money to buy players in recent weeks' has come from the sale of advertising signs and booster buttons.
However, the Tri-City Athletic Association board is by no means discouraged. It points out that very little of the operating income has been used for player-buying so the club is financially sound. It also expects the stock-sale response to carry over at the gate this season.