Tuesday, 11 March 2008

WIL Expands to Alberta

Unanimous Approval Given For Alberta W.I.L. Clubs
[Victoria Colonist, Oct. 24, 1952]
Calgary and Edmonton will be part of a 10-team Western International Baseball League next year.
The expected announcement was made from Tacoma yesterday by league president Robert B. Abel, who stated that the election of the two Alberta cities was unanimous and that they had accepted league membership.
Tentative plans were laid at a league meeting in Seattle last week when league officials met with John Ducey and Sam Timmins, representing Edmonton and Calgary, respectively. Final arrangements were made at that time but only Vancouver, Yakima and Victoria delegates had the power to consent to the addition of Calgary and Edmonton. The other five clubs promised their definite answer before yesterday’s deadline. All voted yes.
Enlargement of the W.I.L. brings added schedule and travel problems and efforts are being made to draw up a schedule in time to present it to the annual league meeting, scheduled November 10 in Yakima.
Abel said yesterday that the schedule should start on or about Friday, April 24 and end on Labor Day with approximately 140 games for each club. If it can be done, a balanced schedule will be used. It is the plan to start the season in the southern half of the circuit—Lewiston, Spokane, Wenatchee, Yakima and Tri-City—and move after about 10 days when weather in the northern cities is a bit more stable. Calgary and Edmonton will likely play two weeks on the road, opening at home around May 10.
“I am also going to recommend that the league play a split season with the winners of the two halves meeting in a post-season series for the championship,” Abel stated. And it is altogether likely that this proposal will be accepted by the clubs, who are now said to be favoring some kind of a league play-off.
This will be the first appearance of Calgary and Edmonton clubs in class “A” baseball. However, both have been in class “B” and “C” leagues in previous years.

Bob Brown Wins Out

[Vancouver Province, Oct. 24, 1952]
When Edmonton and Calgary were accepted into the Western International League Thursday, it successfully climaxed a two-year personal crusade by Vancouver’s Bob Brown, who usually gets what he wants, eventually, in his own baseball orbit.
Brown’s plans to include the two prairie cities were received coldly in the spring of 1951, with no only league members but also Edmonton’s John Ducey vetoing the suggestion.
But a combination of circumstances this fall changed the picture, and Ruby Robert pressed his advantage,
Shaky franchises at Tri-City and Wenatchee left the league facing a six-team seup, an unwelcome prospect; a consideration drop in over-all attendance left the teams open to suggestions of new blood; and a clamor in the two Alberta cities by fans and the press for a better class of baseball clinched it.
• • •
Including of the two new clubs makes the Class A WIL the largest league in organized baseball, and Thursday brought a suggestion from President Robert Abel that isn’t new to baseball bur would be novel here.
He said that he will suggest at the Nov. 10 meeting in Yakima that the league play a split schedule, with the first half winners meeting the second half winners at the season’s end. Season would start April 24 and end Labor Day, he said.
This suggestion may end up as just that, though. Facing WIL directors now is a more difficult task: whipping up a schedule for four Canadian teams who don’t play Sunday and six U.S. teams who do, along with such other difficulties as how to get from Salem to Calgary inside 24 hours.
• • •
But these are just a few of the problems facing Sam Timmins and Co. at Calgary and Ducey and his Edmonton associates. They’ve also got to get a couple of ball clubs, and prairie fans aren’t likely to stand still for mediocre teams.
But Brown says Timmins and Ducey have already been in contact with eastern baseball interests.

By Jim Tang
[Victoria Colonist, Oct. 24, 1952]
Prairie cities are becoming increasingly important on the Coast sports scene. Saskatoon, Calgary and Edmonton may not exactly have “saved” the Pacific Coast Hockey League by becoming members of what is now more aptly known as the Western Hockey League, but there was no future in a five-team Coast league comprised of Victoria, Vancouver, New Westminster, Seattle and Tacoma. The addition of the three prairie centres may the W.H.L. what is recognized as pro hockey’s second league and made it possible not to worry about probably defection at Tacoma and, perhaps, Seattle.
Now, Edmonton and Calgary will try and do the same for the shaky Western International Baseball League and the chances are that the two Alberta cities will eventually make for a far more solid W.I.L.
The first season is hardly likely to be any rousing success. Baseball has proven time and again that 10 teams make for an unwieldy league and the W.I.L. is faced with grave transportation and schedule problems, not to say anything about graver financial situations in most of its eight holdover franchises, with particular emphasis on Tri-City and Wenatchee.
However, there was no other action that could be taken. It was only to be expected that Calgary and Edmonton would have to be given franchises. And when all other eight clubs stated they planned to play at least another season, it had to be 10 teams. The main item was to get the two Alberta cities into the league before they went elsewhere. Both are ripe for professional baseball and both are valuable baseball territories.
But it is not at all likely that the 10-team arrangement will last for more than one season. The situation in several of the smaller W.I.L. centres is not at all good and owners are only hanging on in the hope of something approaching a miracle. Wenatchee and Tri-City and, perhaps, Salem and Lewiston, are just not big enough to support Class “A” baseball and sooner or later two or three will have to recognize that inexorable fact. When that happens, the W.I.L. can become a truly international league with four Canadian and four American teams—but only because it accepted Calgary and Edmonton for next season. It won’t be much longer, probably by 1954, before it will again be an eight-team league. Two of the American teams will likely be Spokane and Yakima. Tacoma is a good bet to be back, perhaps even for the 1953 season. The other American club could be Lewiston or Salem—or Bremerton. Until it happens, the W.I.L. will never really be a sound league. As it is, spread over British Columbia, Alberta, Idaho, Washington and Oregon, it is obvious that changes won’t be long in coming.
Random Harvest
Wenatchee and Lewiston delegates came to the W.I.L. meeting last week with instructions to vote against inclusion of Calgary and Edmonton. They weren’t long in changing their minds. At the same time, Edmonton’s John Ducey had to be persuaded that it had to be a 10-team league, for one season at least...Look for a new manager for the Vancouver Capilanos for next season. It is almost certain that Edo Vanni, who proved no better than Bill Schuster, won’t be back. It’ll be a “name” or, perhaps, Don Osborn, who piloted Spokane Indians last year…Philadelphia Athletics have cut their farm system by four teams. Out is their working agreement with the Tri-City Braves…There is a good chance that the Tri-City franchise may wind up in Tacoma, little chance than it will be moved to Eugene, which could hardly hope to be more than a one-season proposition.

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