Thursday, 13 March 2008

Pre-Season, Wednesday, April 22, 1953

Willy League Due To Start
By The Associated Press [April 22, 1953]
Umpires will call "play ball" Thursday in Victoria and Vancouver as the Western International baseball League begins its 1953 season with two games—weather permitting.
And with the annual call came a note of optimism on league attendance as Bob Brown, the new president of the ten-team circuit, which expanded to Calgary and Edmonton this year, estimated that paid admissions would exceed one million for the season.
Brown is slated to toss out the first ball at Victoria, where the defending champions will meet the Spokane Indians. The Vancouver fracas will pit the Capilanos against Lewiston's Broncs.
Other league openers are set for Friday night, when Yakima plays at Wenatchee, Calgary at Salem and Edmonton at Tri-City.
Wenatchee officials said they expect a record-breaking attendance Friday of 4,000 as all reserved seats have been sold out for a week. The present high attendance mark of 3,488 was set opening day of 1948.

today’s fanfare
Presenting in This Corner---Today’s Exclusive Storey!


[Vancouver Province, April 22, 1953]
(Ed. Note: With his palpitating public perched on the brink of a new baseball season, Eric Whitehead has turned today’s corner over to a very topical gent—the freshman manager of the Vancouver Capilanos).
It’s quite an experience for men to stand here in the wake of Bill Schuster and Edo Vanni as boss of your ball club. Particularly Bill Schuster,
I don’t know just what Bill—or Edo, for that matter—did wrong with last year’s club, but whatever it was, you can bet my next year’s contract I’m going to try hard to avoid it.
As to the run of the coming season—no promises or predictions. At least until we go once around the circuit. I understand Schuster picked his club to finish no better than third last year, but you fans figured it should wind up first, and when it finally did finish third, everybody was unhappy. Including Bill, who wasn’t here any more.
Me, I’m going to keep my big predictions shut right from the start. But I will say this: I think you’ll like your ball club. I think it’s a good one.
The Same Old Schuster!
If you maybe find me less “colorful” than my old friend Bill Schuster, it’s maybe because our temperaments differ a shade. In fact, I was shot in a couple of times in the Coast League to sub for Bill when the color started to run a little. We were both with Los Angeles then and we were going against San Francisco with Kewpie Barrett throwing ‘em.
I was on the bench and Bill was at bat and he got the count to three-and-two before Bill blew his top, got chased out of the game, and there I am in for Bill, looking at one of Kewpie’s big benders. It got by me. Another time, though, I again went in for Bill after he was chased with two strikes on the scoreboard, and got a double. Schuster claims a third interest in that hit.
Coley Nipped at the Wire
You can figure on a big try from me because this is Storey’s big chance. I’ve always wanted to manage a ball club, and when Dewey Soriano bought out my San Diego contract, I jumped a mile for joy. If San Diego owner Bill Starr had had his way, I’d be down playing third for Little Rock in the Southern Association. Believe me, this is better than Little Rock.
You can call this a kind of a homecoming. Seems like only yesterday when I was playing here with the old Arnold and Quigley club of the Senior League, alongside guys like Norm Trasolini and Hal Lee. That was 1936, and that was the year I beat out Coley Hall for the league batting title in the last couple of games of the season.
My theories about managing a ball club? Well, I don’t have any “get tough” policy with my ball player—until I really need it. I don’t think that consistently chewing a fellow’s ear with threats or otherwise helps anybody.
Little Start---Big Finish
My own experience in the Coast League taught me a policy of tolerance and wait-and-see, as long as the player is trying, that is.
I remember my best season with San Francisco, manager Lefty O’Doul hardly ever spoke to me all year. “Son,” he said, “if a ball player’s going good, let him be.” That was 1939, and I hit .351.
Me, I’m always a slow starter. Like one season at Portland when I was batting .239 on June 1, but I finished with .304 and led the league in RBIs right up to the last couple of weeks. So I don’t figure to jump on a player if he breaks slow, as long as I think he’s got it.
One thing I do think is a lot of nonsense is switching a lineup to counteract a left or righthand pitcher. If a guy can hit, he can hit a curve breaking from either side.
As to your ball club right now, I think we’ve got A-1 pitching, maybe the best in the league. When we get settled, I figure the rest of the club will be just as solid.
One thing sure: if the team looks half as good as that new ball park—we’ll be great. See you Thursday night.

By Sherm Mitchell, Jr.
Union-Bulletin Sports Editor [April 22, 1953]
The Western International Baseball League, which gets its 1953 campaign underway Thursday, will be one of the largest professional leagues in the country. With the addition of two more Canadian entries this year, Edmonton, and Alberta [sic], the Willy Loop now is a 10-team circuit.
The eight holdovers from 1952 are Spokane, Salem, Wenatchee, Yakima, Tri-Cities, Lewiston. Victoria and Vancouver. The Victoria Athletics are the defending champs, and Spokane was runner-up last year. Looking back, we recall that the A's and Indians made it a two-team race, finishing far ahead of the field. Victoria won 94 and dropped 55, while Spokane had a 91-64 mark.
Our neighboring Tri-City Braves finished in a virtual deadlock with the Lewiston Broncs for sixth place, winning 67 and losing 78 for a .462 mark, while Lewiston, playing a few more games, had a percentage of .464 on 71 wins and 82 setbacks.
Oddly enough, it's interesting to note that the league has grown rather than diminished in size when one recalls the original entries that have dropped out.
Lewiston was one of the charter members, then dropped out and later returned, apparently making a successful campaign last year. Bremerton and Tacoma both found their proximity to Seattle too much of a hazard at the gate, and pulled out. The fans were more interested in watching the Coast League variety than Willy action.

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