Thursday, 13 March 2008

Season is Here!

WIL to Open Play Tonight
By the Associated Press [April 23, 1953].
The Class A Western International League, organized baseball's largest circuit, opens its gates tonight.
The sprawling league, which operates in Washington, Idaho, Oregon and two Canadian provinces was expanded to 10 teams this year. Victoria, defending champion, will meet Spokane, 1952 runnerup at Victoria, and Vancouver's Capilanos will host Lewiston in the two openers tonight. Calgary and Edmonton, both in Canada, are the league's newest members.
Five teams have new managers. Edo Vanni, who replaced Billy Schuster as Vancouver manager in midseason last year, is pilot at Tri-City. Harvey Storey, ex-Pacific Coast Leaguer, succeeds Vanni at Vancouver; former major leaguer Bob Sturgeon will manage Edmonton; Gene Lillard is head man at Calgary and Mike McCormack is field boss at Wenatchee.
Holdover managers are Hugh Luby at Salem, Don Osborn at Spokane, Cecil Garriott at Victoria, Bill Brenner at Lewiston and Dario Lodigiani at Yakima.

Capilanos Tee off Tonight
[Vancouver Province, April 23, 1953]
With the co-operation of the weatherman, organized baseball’s largest league, the 10-team Western International, gets away on two fronts tonight.
Locally, sunshine and a west wind this morning went to work on the field at Cap Stadium, where a heavy downpour cancelled Wednesday night’s preview. The league’s other opener is set for Victoria, where it never rains.
General Manager Dewey Soriano said the afernoon forecast was “clear” and said a little cold weather wouldn’t hurt tonight’s opener against Lewiston Broncs.
He has optimistically scheduled opening ceremonies—throwing out the first ball by Mayor Fred Hume, a few words by club executives, and introduction of the players—for 8 p.m. The game will be broadcast over CKMO at 8:10 p.m.
• • •
Soriano was buoyed up by a couple of good pieces of news. He’s just learned that B.C. Electric had agreed to supply buses alongside the stadium for homeward fans. And baseball wise, just acquired catcher Jim Leavitt told him that he also played outfield, a position that’s currently somewhat loosely filled on the Cap roster.
League president Bob Brown will be at Victoria tonight for the league’s other getaway game, with the defending champion Tyees playing host to Spokane Indians.
The circuit’s six other teams see their first action Friday. The two new Canadian entries, who don’t open at home until May 11, will tour the circuit until the weather warms up at home.
Calgary Stampeders make their debut at Salem Friday, and Edmonton Eskimos are at Tri-City in the other inaugural.
Each club in the unwieldy setup plays 146 games this season, which also sees a novel innovation, the split schedule. First half ends July 2, then the teams start fresh again with the last half winding up Sept. 8. Winner of the first half opposes the second half champ in a post-season playoff for the pennant—unless, of course, one team takes both halves.
The league schedule makers had to resort to a “neighbourly” policy, which pits each team against its nearest geographical rival more often than against the other clubs. For instance, the Caps play Victoria 27 times, but meet Edmonton just 14 times.
• • •
League president Brown, the first full-time prexy of the Class A League, has taken steps to alleviate the umpire problem which has plagued the circuit for years. Two of the most notable additions to the 11-man staff are Amby Moran, back after four years, and Emmett Ashford, the only Negro arbiter in organized baseball.

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