Thursday, 13 March 2008

Spring Training, Saturday, April 4, 1953

Tyees Still Winless, Bow to Capilanos, 9-0
[Victoria Colonist, Sunday, April 5, 1953]
Victoria Tyees are still without victory after four pre-season games. The defending WIL champions dropped their fourth at their Sonoma training camp last night when Vancouver Capilanos handed them a 9-0 blanking.
On Friday, Salem Senators made it three losses in a row as they edged out a 5-4 triumph after three extra innings. Previous setbacks came at the hands of the Seattle Rainiers and San Francisco Lucky Lagers, a strong semi-pro outfit.
Manager Cec Garriott didn’t get much hitting held from his make-shift line-up last night. Van Fletcher, holdover righthander, started for the Caps and went seven innings in fine style. The Tyees picked up six hits—by Sam Brusa, Joe Ciardy, Lu Branham, Ron Odekirk, Gale Taylor and Ross Washington—but couldn’t bunch them for any runs.
Meanwhile, Vancouver took advantage of the wildness of Zeb Walker, rookie colored southpaw, to score four runs in the second inning. Walker, however, looked good in the other four innings he pitched. Don Hopp finished up.
Ben Lorino and Bill Wisneski, the latter getting the loss, shared pitching duties Friday night. Ciardy paced the Victoria attack with a triple and a double while Garriott, who is confining his play to pinch-hitting, sent the game into extra innings which a pinch ninth-inning single.
The Tyees meet the powerful Moffatt Mantecas this afternoon in their fifth game.
There has been no further player news but developments are expected within the next few days. There is an excellent chance that Ben Lorino, 24-game winner last season, who was turned down by the Portland Beavers after a spring-training chance, will go to another Coast League club. Both San Francisco Seals and Sacramento Solons are interested and the highest bidder, if any, will take the big southpaw. It is possible that the Seals will send Ray McNulty, righthander with Salem last season, to the Tyees on option as part of a deal for Lorino.
Word is expected momentarily from Portland that the Beavers are dispatching pitching help. Expected are righthanders Frank Chase, Dick Waibel and Bill Bottler.

By Jim Tang

[Victoria Colonist, April 5, 1953]
As defending champions, Victoria Tyees will start the 1953 Western International Baseball League season as one of the favorite, if not the team to beat. Does the club rate that and how do the Tyees as now constituted compare with the outfit which surprised in 1952?
Make no mistake, the Tyees do face a rebuilding job. They won last season because they had the league’s best pitching, the league’s best outfield and, in Jimmy Clark, a shorstop who made the infield adequate with his brilliant play. A frightening amount of that is missing.
Gone from the pitching staff are Cal McIrvin, who sparked the club with 13 wins in 17 decisions during its mid-summer drive; Jehosie Heard, who had tough luck in compiling a 20-12 record; Carl Gunnarson, who won 10 and lost four with the Tyees and was invaluable in relief, and Leroy Han, rookie righthander who won four out of five decisions and was being counted on for big things this season. And if Ben Lorino is sold, another 24 victories will have to be made up by someone else.
In the outfield, only manager Cec Garriott, a year older at an age when an extra 365 days can made quite a differences, is left. Gone are .330-hitting Bob Moniz and runs-batted-in leader Granny Gladstone. This pair, in addition to excellent defensive baseball, stole 44 bases and batted in 208 runs. They will take a lot of replacing.
And, last but not least, Clark, who almost lost of a couple of fingers in an off-season accident, is among the missing, for the time being at least and, perhaps, for the season.
It Looked Worse a Year Ago
That looks like a gloomy picture but it’s not so dark if one backtracks a year and jhas a look at what the Tyees had then. When the club opened trailing at Salinas on March 21, 1952, only three of the 15 players on hand remained for the full season—Garriott, righthander Bill Wisneski and southpaw Ben Lorino. The others—and how many of them do you remember? were: Jim Propst, Harvey Allen, Joe Yanchuck, Bob Domergue, Don Troy, Maison Bryant, Rufus Johnson, Cliff Prelow, Walt Townes, John Healey, Ignacio Villareul and John Valerie.
Four days later, Lu Branham, George Randolph and Bill Barron joined the camp. Only Branham was to stick around. By April 1, the Tyees had Don Pries, Milt Martin, Gladstone, Dick Bartle, Bob Moniz, Ernie Sites and George Dargel and the knowledge that Portland Beavers were sending Jehosie Heard. A few days later, they traded Jim Hedgecock to Vancouver for Chuck Abernathy to fill their void at first base.
When the team opened the season after an unimpressive series of exhibition games, the batting order was: Branham, Moniz, Garriott, Pries, Abernathy, Gladstone, John Treece, Martin and Lorino. And while that was the line-up which with the later inclusion of Clark at shortstop, was to play out the season, it didn’t look like a pennant winner.
Who was to know, for instance, that Moniz, who flunked a previous trial in the WIL, was to become such a valuable addition? Or that Gladstone, who had a bad season in 1951, would be such a star? Or that Lorino, sold by the Philadelphia Phils from a class “D” team for $100, would win 24? And the report on Heard when it was announced that the little colored southpaw was being sent to the Tyees said: “Nothing is known about this latest addition except that his name is Heard.”
Winners Are Built Slowly
But even that wasn’t enough. McIrvin came along early in May, Funnarson in mid-season. Bill Prior pitched in with six big victories, Portland sent along Han; Ron Bottler, who had the first-string catching job at the end of the season; Bill Bottler, who added another six wins, and outfielder Duane Helbig.
It all goes to show that you never start with a pennant winner, in the minor league. One is assembled gradually and the Tyees are much better off today than they weee at the corresponding period a year ago. For one thing, they start with a proven manager and have Garriott, Pries, Abernathy, Branham, Lorino, Prior, Wisneski and Martin back from last season’s club. They have in Ron Odekirk a rookie who looked better than any
newcomer they had from last season’s club. And the best of their newcomers—catcher Sam Brusa, rookie receiver Manny Tornay, first baseman Joe Ciardy, and outfielders Gail Taylor, Herman Charles, Nap Gulley and Walt Tyler, are immeasurably more promisijng than the crop a year ago. Victoria may not repeat its pennant triumph but certainly there is no cause for alarm. Portland’s help is still to come and most of it will be pitching, which is what is needed most.

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