Wednesday, 12 March 2008

WIL January Meeting

WIL Officials Draft New ‘Veteran’ Rule
B.C. Clubs Veto First Draft of ’53 Sked
[Vancouver Province, Jan. 20, 1953]
The league schedule—which nobody, first time around, has been able to agree upon for years—was the contentious issue when Western International League delegates went into their second day at Hotel Vancouver today.
New Vancouver general manager, Dewey Soriano, and his Victoria counterpart, Reg Patterson, were classed as “holdouts” on the schedule situation after opening-day talks Monday.
Their beef, on the schedule put together by Salem g.m. Hugh Luby (with the assistance of Salem sport writer and ex-player Al Lightner), was this: The Two Canadian clubs had 25 home games in May—generally a bad month, crowd-wise—and only nine games in June,
Schedule and transportation difficulties—new problems raised by the entry of the prairie teams, Edmonton and Calgary—are expected to be ironed out today.
Problems settled by league delegates Monday:
1. The veteran rule, a bugbear last season, was overcome when the league raised the limit of veterans each club can carry from nine to 12.
2. The player limit was raised to 18—usual for Class A clubs—and that figure includes a playing manager.
3. The league salary limit was raised to $6300, a boost of some $1100.
Other business Monday saw Bob Brown, former Caps’ general manager, elevated to president of the WIL, replacing Bob Abel, who takes over as league secretary and legal counsel.
The first full-dress league meeting in Vancouver saw a full turnout of league officials and press and radio men from around the circuit.
On hand, besides Brown, Abel and Soriano, Tommy English and N.C.K. (Chuck) Wills of Vancouver, were:
Lewiston—General manager and field manager Bill Brenner, president Jim McMonigle.
Salem—General Manager and field manager Hugh Luby; club official Ben Pade, sports writer Al Lightner.
Tri-City—President Harold Matheson, vice-president Steve Johnson, radio man Jerry Calcut.
Spokane—President Roy Hotchkiss.
Wenatchee—General manager Frank Dasso, manager Mike McCormick.
Yakima—President Fred Mercy, Jr., general manager Bob Osland, radio man Leroy Desilet.
Victoria—President Arthur Cox, general manager Reg Patterson; sports writers Bill Walker and Jimmy Tang.
Edmonton—General manager John Ducey.
Calgary—President Bus Lacey, general manager Walter Brock, manager Gene Lillard.

New Player, Salary Limits Approved by WIL Directors
[Victoria Colonist, Jan. 20, 1953]
VANCOUVER—Optimistic as ever, Western International Baseball League official opened a two-day meeting here Monday as they cleared the decks for what they full expect to be one of the most successful seasons in history.
Main reasons for the optimism were the addition of Calgary and Edmonton and the appointment of Bob Brown as the league’s first full-time president. Brown took over officially as head at this morning’s meeting and officials immediately wet to work in an all-out effort to straighten out several knotty problems.
Among the day’s most important decisions, one appears to assure fans of an improved class of baseball this season. Faced with the inroads of the service draft in the United States which is creating a definite scarcity of players, the league decided to ease restrictions on veterans. Under the new regulations each club will be allowed 12 veterans. The remaining six can be limited service players (two or less seasons of professional baseball experience) or rookies.
Last season clubs were restricted to nine veterans and had to have a minimum of two rookies in their maximum compliment of 17 players. The increasing of the player limit to 18 is also calculated to improve the calibre of baseball.
The salary limit was set at $6,300 monthly for clubs with no optioned player. The limit is reduced by $100 for each optioned player until it reaches $5,700. Last season’s salary limit was $5,200 monthly.
It was also decided that Victoria and Vancouver would open the season at home on Thursday, April 23. The opposing clubs have yet to be named. Victoria will play a four-game stand and then make its first road trip, returning for its second home stand in early May.
However, the inclusion of the two Alberta cities gave the league a knotty scheduling problem. Most of the day was spent in arguing about and discussing the schedule. Salem manager, Hugh Luby, who is drawing up the schedule, ran into trouble with the Vancouver and Victoria clubs with the schedule he submitted. It was revised to placate the two Canadian coast teams but at least six other clubs didn’t find the changes suitable. Most of tomorrow with be spent in schedule revision.
It was also decided to end the first half of the split season on July 2 and to end the season on Labor Day. The winners of the two halves will then meet in a best-of-seven series for the league championship.
Alberta [sic] and Edmonton were also providing a transportation problem and the league has set up a transportation pool to help take care of increased travelling costs. Each club will contribute one cent on each admission to the pool, which will be divided at the end of the season on a percentage basis with the club spending the most on transportation getting the largest share.
Although three managers—Salem’s Luby, Gene Lillard of Calgary and Mike McCormick of Wenatchee—were on hand, there was no immediate player news. Reg Patterson, business manager of the Victoria club, stated that Don Pries, hustling utility player of last season’s champions, will get a trial with the San Francisco Seals in spring training and will be sold to the Coast League is he can convince manager Tommy Heath that he can be of use.
Five other Tyees, pitchers Ben Lorino and Bill Prior, shortstop Jim Clark, outfielder Bob Moniz and Herman Charles, young colored outfielder-first baseman signed several months ago, will receive training camp trials with the Portland Beavers at Glendale.
There was no further news regarding a possible deal between the Tyees and Edmonton although it is expected that something will materialize sometime tomorrow. It is believed that the Alberta club is interested in purchasing first baseman Chuck Abernathy and Clark.
The league also awarded the Tri-City franchise to the Tri-City Athletic Association, a fan group formed to keep baseball in the Pasco-Kennewick-Richland area.
Harold Matheson, Tri-City, and Frank Dasso, new general manager at Wenatchee, were elected as league directors. Other directors are: Arthur Cox, Victoria; Dewey Soriano, Vancouver; Fred Mercy, Jr., Yakima; Roy Hotchkiss, Spokane; Bus Lacey, Calgary; John Ducey, Edmonton; Bruce Williams, Salem, and Jim McMonigle, Lewiston.
Brown was also given the post of league treasurer as well as president, former president Bob Abel was confirmed as league secretary, and Mercy and Williams as first and second vice-president, respectively.
Monday’s activity would up with a dinner at the Hotel Vancouver at which the Vancouver Capilano Baseball Club hosted the league officials and a large delegation of newspaper and radio men.
N.C.K. Wills, president of the Vancouver club, presided at the dinner and introduced, among others, Tom English, who is to succeed him as club head, and Dewey Soriano, who succeeded Brown as Vancouver’s general manager.
Speakers included Stan Smith, chairman of the British Empire Games committee, Fred “Cyclone” Taylor, Soriano, Abel and Brown. Mayor Fred Hume was unable to attend at the last minute but made a brief appearance at rejoined the gathering later in the evening.
In addition to the schedule, umpires, transportation and admission prices will be discussed at tomorrow’s final session.

Today’s fanfare
Some Comedy Relief By Yakima’s Mr. Mercy
By Eric Whitehead
[Vancouver Province, Jan. 20, 1953]
Unable to obtain tickets to “Tobacco Road,” a group of itinerant citizens adjourned Monday night to Salon A of the Hotel Vancouver to witness “The WIL Follies of 1953,” co-starring Ruby Robert Brown and a sensational new comedian named Junior Mercy.
In a glittering performance during which sex never once raised its ugly head, the Brown-Mercy combination was unanimously tagged by attendant critics as the poor man’s Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.
Bob Brown, as befits a gentleman of 52 years baseball experience, played it straight and dignified. Mercy had the folks yelling for the same.
The show, as capably reviewed by our distinguished drama critic Clancy Loranger, was a dignified piece based on the pending lives and times of the Western International League. Highlight of the plot was a speech by brand new league president Bob Brown.
“Gentlemen,” said Mr. Brown, among other things of equally serious import, “we are selling baseball, not show business. I do not believe in over-promotion. True, Bill Veeck introduced a lot of interesting innovations in baseball. He did very well in Cleveland. He does all right in St. Louis.”
Enter Junior Mercy
“But,” continued the venerable dean of Little Mountain, “you will have noticed that several other major league clubs did all right too. And you will also notice that Mr. Veeck never stays long in the same place.”
About three lengths west along the g.m. head table, between Capilano president Chuck Wills and Dewey Soriano, Junior was deftly adding the lighter touch.
A shoo-in for television, Junior is an amiable, middle-aged gent sporting a sparsely-foliaged pate, a brilliant floral tie, a non-stop sense of humor, and a paralysing repeater-style laugh pitched in the Key of G above high C.
As vice-president of the WIL, and sole owner of the Yakima ball club, Junior has every right to take a nice, sedate outlook on life. But not so he.
This Way to the Exit
With Ruby Robert as an unwitting but pleasantly tolerant straight man, Junior proceeded to wow the audience with a side-man show co-featuring his educated laugh and a combination alarm clock wrist-watch that he dutifully set off at hilarious ten-second intervals.
Came a point in the general hilarity when President Brown, sensing the talent at his elbow, suggested:
“. . . and now, Junior, have you a word to say?”
Whereupon Junior, who had already said several words upon several spontaneous occasions, rose to his feet, grinned, and said:
“. . . that sort of reminds me of a story. . .”
At this point, quick as a proverbial flash, up pops Bill Brenner from the audience and heads for the exits, followed by Clancy Loranger. At this writer’s table, Salem field boss Hugh Luby leans across and says “Hey, let’s get outa here,” and we also troop swiftly to the exit, followed by Salem scribe Al Lighner, Capilano exec Tommy English—and approximately 90 percent of the assemblage.
It’s Okay With Ducey
Junior, alarm-clock ringing like mad, never did get to finish his few words.
It was undoubtedly the fastest breakup in the history of WIL annual meetings. And Junior was still guffawing when the guests, laughing fit to bust, trooped back in to tender their official good night.
If the Yakima boss can maintain that light touch throughout the coming WIL season, we’ll really have some fun.
Edmonton’s John Ducey and Calgary’s Bus Lacey, two new WIL citizens getting their first official peek at a WIL Annual Meeting, seemed to thoroughly enjoy their baptism in the baseball entertainment business.
President Bob Brown, a purist, will deplore that “entertainment” tag, but what with his earnest deployment of the legit, cross with Junior Mercy’s alarm clock and guffaw tactics, the 1953 WIL season will probably strike a fascinating happy medium.

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