Rebuilding Job Faced Victoria At Start of 1953 W.I.L. Season
(This is one in a series on the prospects of teams in the Western International Baseball League)
By JIM TANG
Victoria Colonist Sports Editor
VICTORIA, April 28—The Victoria Tyees, who breezed to their first Western International Baseball
League pennant last season after being picked to finish, among the also-rans mainly on the strength of unusual pitching and the driving leadership of manager Cec Garriott, faced quite a rebuilding job this season.
And unless they are able to plug gaping holes in their pitching staff, repeating is not at all likely.
Gone from the club which took the lead early last season and won by nine games are most of its outstanding stars, including two-thirds of the league's outfield and all but two lesser members of 1952's fine pitching staff. The current outfield looks as if it will do, but the mound problem is causing officials some sleepless nights.
Top Hurlers Gone
Gone from last season's staff are: Cal McIrvin (13-4); Jehosie Heard (20-12); Ben Lorino (24-7); Carl Gunnarson (9-3), and Leroy Han, a young righthander who won four and lost one and was being counted on as a big winner this season.
That quintet is going to take a lot of replacing. They won 61 of the 94 games won by the Tyees and only lost 27 and turned in a combined total of 69 complete games.
Starting the season, the Tyees have only righthanders Bill Prior, Bill Bottler and Bill Wisneski as holdover pitchers. Prior, a Victoria semi-pro veteran, pitched home games and wound up with a 6-7 record. He received a trial with Portland this spring and is expected to be with the club on a full-time basis.
Bottler joined the team fresh from college last season and broke even at 6-6, while Wisneski, a rookie last year, wound up at 5-6. Behind this trio, the Tyees have only unproven rookie talent at the moment but hope to make deals for two or three pitchers.
There is also a chance that Lorino, with Sacramento on a 30-day look, may return.
Look Strong Elsewhere
But. except for pitching, the Tyees look strong. Bob Moniz, a .330 hitter, and Granny Gladstone, who led the league in runs batted in, are playing regularly at Portland but the Tyees have come up with some good replacements.
Garriott will be back in center field with Nap Gully, hard-hitting colored gardener in right field and Gale Taylor in left. Gully hit .333 at Visalia in the class "C" California State League last season and led the league in doubles. Taylor, purchased from Las Vegas, batted .311 with power in the class "C" Southwest International.
Victoria's infield has holdover Don Pries at third base and Lu Branhamn, colored speedster, back at second. Joe Ciardy, a .346 clouter at Las Vegas last season, appears to have beaten holdover Chuck Abernathy out for the first-base job.
Ron Odekirk, a promising 19-year-old sought by several major-league teams, will likely, start at shortstop. All-star shortstop Jim Clark joined the club just before it ended spring training and appears to have recovered from a hand injury suffered during the winter.
Holdover Gets Aid
Clark will likely reclaim his old job, with Odekirk perhaps moving to second base.
Behind the plate, the Tyees have lost Ron Bottler, promising college youngster, to the Army but have come up with Sam Brusa, an experienced receiver with Macon in the class "A" Sally League to help out holdover Milt Martin.
Summing up, the Tyees are adequate behind the plate, have a fine infield and a promising outfield, good speed and defense, fair punch and excellent leadership. They'll rate if they can solve their pitching problems—but it will take three good pitchers to do it.