Monday, 1 September 2008

Northwest League Formed From WIL

New 'Northwest' Baseball Loop Formed
Directors Set Rules At Yakima

[Tri-City Herald, Sunday, Oct. 24, 1954]
Directors of baseball teams formerly in the defunct Western International league met in Yakima Saturday and rapidly formed a new league to be known as the Northwest league.
The complete formation of the league merely awaits the return of incorporation papers which are expected to be back when the directors meet again in two weeks.
At that meeting, it will be determined whether the league will consist of six or eight teams and officers will be elected.
The present five teams are Tri-City, Salem, Wenatchee, Yakima and Lewiston. Harold Matheson, president of the Tri-City Athletic association, and Howard Best, treasurer, attended Saturday's meeting.
Matheson outlined the league rules Saturday night after the groups broke up about 8 o'clock.
He said it was decided the new Northwest loop would:
1. Have a 16-player limit including the playing manager.
2. Cut the number of veteran ballplayers (those with more than three years experience) to five.
3. Forbid the paying of bonuses.
4. Put gate receipts on a home-and-home basis as was done last season.
5. Drop the league transportation pool.
6. Put a maximum limit of 11 days on spring training.
7. Forbid proxy voting at league meetings.
The decision on the size of the league basically boils down to which teams the other five want to accept. Representatives from Spokane, Tacoma, Coos Bay, Eugene, and Pendleton attended the meeting as well as Bob Fitsch, who represented the office of commissioner George Trautman, and Dewey Soriano, representing Vancouver.
Matheson said after league plans were outlined, and each of the interested groups spoke. Vancouver and Pendleton dropped out.
“Eugene is ready to go,” Matheson said, “and Tacoma and Coos Bay are ready to go. Spokane must get more information. As I understand it, they would have to play
games in the colusium there and they have to check and see if it is feasible.”

Western Cities Form New League
YAKIMA, Wash., Oct. 24 (UP) — United States teams of the now defunct Western International Baseball League met here and organized a new eight-team loop.
Owners of the Yakima, Wenatchee and Tri-City, Wash., Salem, Ore., and Lewiston, Idaho, teams all were members of the Class A WIL. They were joined by representatives from Spokane, and Tacoma, Wash, both of which were former WIL members, and Eugene and Coos Bay, Ore.
Babe Hollingberry, acting as chairman of the session, said another meeting will be held here Nov. 6 for formal formation of the now Class B league, to be known as the Northwest League.
Salaries will be held to a $4,600 limit, no bonuses, Hollingberry said. Each team will be allowed no more than five veterans, compared with eight or nine in the WIL this year.
Vancouver, B. C., a former WIL member, refused to enter the new league.

Class B Loop Formed In Northwest Pacific
YAKIMA, Wash., Nov. 8—(AP)—Six former members of the old class A Western International Baseball league signed articles Saturday to form the class B Northwest league with three other teams bidding for the two vacancies remaining.
Teams signing the articles of incorporation were Wenatchee, Saem, Yakima, Lewiston, Tri-City and Spokane. The six teams were member of the now defunct WIL this year but Spokane dropped out in mid-season because of financial difficulties
Two other teams will be selected from applications by Missoula, Mont., Eugene and Tacoma. Because of distance, Missoula is the likely loser.

New Northwest Loop Okayed
HOUSTON, Tex., Dec. 1 — (AP) —The Class B Northwest League, replacing the Class A Western International, has the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues and will start operating Jan. 10, President Arthur Pohlman said Wednesday.
President George M. Trautman of the minor leagues, in convention here, put his O. K. on the new circuit and said it could start as a six-club league and add two members later if it desired.
Pohlman said Eugene and Salem, Oregon; Lewiston, Idaho, and Yakima, Kennewick-Pasco-Richland and Spokane, Wash., made up the league and Tacoma and Wenatchee, Wash., had applied for membership.

Top WIL Pitcher Called Up to PCL

Seattle Signs Brenner As Pitcher and Coach
Ex-Cap Manager’s Knuckle Ball Figured To Win in Coast Loop

[Vancouver Province, Oct. 23, 1954]
CLARKSTON, Wash.—Can Bill Brenner win as a pitcher in the Coast League?
Baseball people have been saying for three seasons that he can, and Dewey Soriano thinks he should get a chance to prove it.
The Seattle general manager will announce this weekend that he has signed Brenner, his Vancouver Capilanos counterpart last summer, to pitch for the Rainiers in 1955. Brenner will also likely double as a coach, but Soriano says he’s leaving that up to Freddie Huthcinson, his field manager.
Brenner, now 34, has had offers before to try out his tantalizing knuckle ball in Coast League company, but as a general manager in the Western International League, he couldn’t afford to accept the offers.
But with the Vancouver WIL entry folded up and the city’s Coast League prospects just that, Brenner was temporarily “at liberty.” So when Soriano made him an attractive offer, he grabbed it. Brenner, who managed Vancouver to a pennant in the season just passed, will continue to handle the Caps’ affairs until the end of the year.
Soriano is convinced the big righthander, whose brilliant and tricky knuckleball made him one of the WIL’s top pitchers for three years, can win in the Coast League—and as a starting pitcher, too.
“I’ve watched Bill for three years,” Soriano told The Province recently,” and I’m sure he can do better than some of the pitchers currently in the Coast League.”
Brenner, who turned to pitching seriously at Lewiston in 1952 after a dozen years as a catcher, won 64 games in his thee years on the mound, he had 21 and 22 wins for Lewiston, and won 21 for the Caps this summer.
Four of the players Brenner bossed to the ’54 WIL pennant will probably get a chance to join him on the 1955 Rainiers. Look for Marv Williams, the league’s top hitter, shortstop Jimmy Clark, outfielder K Chorlton and pitcher Pete Hernandez to be at the Rainiers’ training camp next spring.

Vancouver Looks Ahead to PCL

Oakland’s Brick Laws Is the ‘Mr. X’ Who Might Bring Coast League Baseball Here
[Vancouver Province, Oct. 12, 1954]
The mysterious Pacific Coast League baseball franchise holder who’s coming to town this week to discuss a possible move to Vancouver was identified today.
Emil Sick, Seattle Rainier owner, said Brick Laws, president of the Oakland Acorns, would accompany him to Vancouver for Thursday’s meeting with Mayor Fred Hume and other civil leaders.
A story in the Seattle P.I. today quoted Sick as saying “Laws and I represent the league in investigating Vancouver a a possible Coast League city.”
But, the story said, “the strongest indications are that Laws himself is interested in moving the Oaks to Vancouver.”
There’s another current league franchise holder who may be interested in Vancouver’s Coast League possibilities, too. An Associated Pres report out of Sacramento said that Eddie Mulligan, president of the Solons, would accompany Sick to Vancouver. Mulligan, however, denied it.
Laws has long been recognized as a top baseball executive. He gambled $40,000 to hire Chuck Dressen as his manager for the past season. Dressen led his club from seventh place in 1953 to third, and the Oaks won the Governor’s Cup in the playoffs.

Coast Ball In Vancouver? We’ll Have To Battle For It
Coast League Not Wooing Us, Say Emil Sick, Laws


[Vancouver Province, Oct. 15, 1954]
Brick Laws threw Vancouver the ball on the Pacific Coast League baseball question Thursday, and Mayor Fred Hume caught it and ran. He didn’t run very far and some of the grandstand quarterbacks thought he ran too cautiously.
But His Worship, although not committing himself or the city fathers to anything, did accept the suggestion of Laws, president of the Oakland team, to this extent: he said, privately, after Thursday’s luncheon in Hotel Vancouver, that he would think about the whole question seriously and organize a committee next week.
The mayor should have quite a dossier of suggested names for the committee next week. He left the meeting with the drums beating loudly for such local sportsmen as Coley Hall and, of course, Bob Brown, both at yesterday’s meeting; Jack Diamond; George Norgan, who’s selling out his Portland Coast League interests; Chuck Charles; and Stan Smith, if he’s recovered from his B.C. Empire Games chairmanship duties.
There were suggestions, too, something like San Francisco’s [word unreadable] “little corporation” might be formed. There, $60,000 worth of stock was sold to the “little people,” who then went out and supported the ball team because they had a financial interest in it.
Civic Enterprise
And, of course, B.C. Lions’ setup was discussed. Their pre-season ticket sale gave them as assured attendance of some 9000 people per game, and also helped create a civic spirit that wouldn’t let rain, hail or the Lions’ record keep them away.
As Bob Brown said, “The day of the one-man operation in baseball is over. A baseball team, in so many places, has now become a civic enterprise.”
Purpose of the committee, as Laws had pointed out earlier Thursday, would be to provide concrete evidence to the Coast League directors that Vancouver is anxious to keep them company.
Laws, who emphasized he was not necessarily prepared to move his own franchise here, reiterated in the meeting what he had earlier told The Province: if Vancouver can sit down with coast directors and show them we have an adequate ball park and parking facilities, can offer a reasonable rental deal, and can guarantee that the club would do $300,000 worth of business for two years, they’d have to give us serious consideration.
Sunday Baseball!
An adequate ball park would have to seat from 10,000 to 12,000 (the capacity now, 6500), would require a roof over the grandstand at least, and the parking lot would have to be blacktopped. Estimated cost? Emil Sick, president of the Seattle Rainiers, who brought Laws up here, said “the whole thing wouldn’t cost more than $200,000.”
Sunday baseball was discussed, too. Mr. Sick said it would be “a big help” for us to have it, but when Coley Hall said he didn’t think it was necessary, no one argued with him too strenuously. Feeling seems to be that the Sunday ball angle is incidental.
Laws, a medium-sized sandy haired man who looks like a younger version of Brown (he’s 52), and who talks like he’d be right at home in the locker room, also repeated what he’d said earlier: that he was very impressed with our city and our people. “This is easily a Coast League town,” he said.
A Quick Return
Both he and sick stressed that we’d “have to battle to get a franchise”—that the Coast League wasn’t after us.
Mayor Hume, showing some fancy footwork, thanks Sick for his help in bringing Laws up here and in organizing Thursday’s meeting and added that “it seems to me, with [a few words unreadable] support—this thing is possible.”
Sick, equally adept at broken field running, replied that he’s certainly help all that he could, but “of course one organization can’t own two franchises in the same league.” His brewery, of course, backed the Seattle Rainiers and the defunct Vancouver Capilanos for some time.
Besides Laws and Sick, visiting basemen men included Torchy Torrance, vice president of the Seattle club; Freddy Hutchinson, currently an unemployed baseball manager, and Dewey Soriano, general manager at Seattle.
City Hall was represented beside Mayor Hume by aldermen Cornett, Orr and Cunningham.

Vancouver Eyes Solons
SACRAMENTO, Calif., Nov. 11— Eddie Mulligan, president of the Sacramento Solons, said Thursday night he had received an enticing offer to move the Pacific Coast League club to Vancouver, B.C. and that he would put the proposition before Solon stockholders next week.
Mulligan said he had met in Vancouver businessman and sports enthusiast. Hall has been seeking a baseball team for the Canadian city which lost its Western International League team when the loop went out of business this fall
The Solon president said he told Hall “our first loyalty is to Sacramento” but “I was but one of a group of stockholders and could not speak for the entire Solon family.”

WIL Death Fallout

Dewey Wants PCL Berth For Our Leagueless Caps
(Sun Sports Editor)
[Vancouver Sun, Sept. 28, 1954]

NEW YORK—Dewey Soriano, vice president of Vancouver Capilano Baseball Club, expressed hope here Monday a Pacific Coast club will shift its franchise to the British Columbia city.
Soriano, general manager of Seattle Rainiers, parent organization of Caps, was shocked and disappointed when told the Western International League, of which Caps are a member, has decided to call it quits.
Soriano said “at present, I don’t know of any Coast League club which plans to shift a franchise. But with the situation clearing in Vancouver something may develop.
“A Coast League club in Vancouver would mean healthy, keen rivalry between Seattle and Vancouver and the fans would be given the type of baseball they so richly deserve.”
* * *
Soriano arrived here late Monday night from Cleveland where he had discussions with the management of the American League pennant winners.
He was general manager of the Caps in 1953.
“It seems inconceivable to me the WIL clubs didn’t find a way of meeting difficulties in order to continue a league which has meant so much to the Pacific Northwest,” he said.
“I am definitely of the opinion the suggestion to operate a Class C league wouldn’t be the answer, especially not in Vancouver.
“It would be tough to sell such a low brand of baseball to Vancouver where the fans have become used to watching a top-notch grade A calibre and deserve it.
“As soon as I get back from the World Series and have an opportunity to discuss the situation with Capilano president Tom English, we will find out what can be done to salvage top grade professional baseball for Vancouver.
“We all know 1954 was an unusual year. Every club on the coast from the Coast League to minor amateur baseball suffered from adverse weather,
“We have to keep in mind that Vancouver, over the last couple of years, as become a major athletic centre on the North American continent.
“We had the British Empire Games, we have major league football in the Lions, the grade of hockey is second only to the National league, baseball must keep up.

Keith Matthews

[Vancouver News-Herald, Sept. 28, 1954]
Another Way To Skin The Kitten
Robert Abel, a learned gentleman who leads the Western International baseball league as its president, who one had found political ambitions in the state of Washington. He knows, in other words, that in order to skin a cat, there is more than the one way to arrive at that end.
On the past weekend, Edmonton—the unwashed brother, the unwanted member of the family, so to speak—must have shocked the bejabbers out of WIL directors by threatening to sue if any attempt were made to eliminate the franchise from another season of operation.
That immediately threw the meeting into a state of confusion—a state without which no WIL gathering would feel homey.
We are not suggesting that Abel, or any other, had an ulterior motive in the final decision to dissolve. We are saying, however, that Edmonton’s wish to remain, more or less forced the league to get out from under—at least for the time being.
Now, there is nothing to prevent those within the league who wish to continue, to regroup their forces for 1955 and thereby arrive at the same solution which was originally intended—that of eliminating Edmonton.
What happens to Vancouver in the transition remains to be seen.
Bill’s Booster For Better Ball
The possibility of a Pacific Coast League franchise has been mentioned and there is more in this than just gossip.
It is a fact, for instance, that both Oakland and Sacramento, can be bought for not too rambunctious price. The problem here is how much does Vancouver want that type of baseball, and can we support it?
Against a venture into the Coast League which, of course, would necessitate greater overhead, is the profit and loss statement of past years’ operation in the Class A WIL.
We are told that Vancouver lost $53,000, give or take a dollar or twenty-five, in 1954. It will take an overtime shift or two to cap the bottles which will return the brewery the lost expense. Money, then, is the most powerful agitator against an operation which, from the start, would automatically increase the budget.
For such a move is the growth of Vancouver itself and the magnificent comparative record achieved by the B.C. Lions in the city’s first try at a major league sport.
Bill Brenner, being of sound mind and able body, he sez, believes the time has indeed arrived when Vancouver must think in terms of Coast League baseball. For this reason, Bill is not even remotely interested in a return to the WIL, even if it adopts a new face.
Maybe Price of Beer Will Go Up
Now that we are on the Brenner subject, let the records show that he was a greatly disillusioned young man at the conclusion of this season.
Bill brought a championship to Vancouver in the year ’54. It was his second but unlike 1947 when a fledgling manager named Brenner excited an entire city with his victory, nobody cared about this one.
It has been said before the reason simply must be that our town has outgrown the Wenatchees and the Lewistons and the Yakimas.
Let them, if they will reorganize and play in their cracker-box ball parks.
Let the Capilanos, meanwhile, move into a more fitting habitation, at the risk of seeing the price of the beloved beer raised if it is still the only answer.

Sports Notes
[Tri-City Herald, Sept. 28, 1954]
Now that the Western International league has gone through with the expected dissolution and plans have been made by the five U. S. teams, to form a new loop, it is time to talk of who shall head this geographically tighter organization.
Already, some candidates have been mentioned: Babe Hollingberry of Yakima, Arthur Pohlman of Wenatchee, Bob Brown of Vancouver, and Bob Abel of Tacoma. Presumably, Abel’s job with the former Western International league ends with the dissolution of the league.
This is not a “kick him out” move on my part since there is no real objection here to Abel as a personality and administrator, but because of other circumstances, the league should consider a change in leadership.
Abel is presently handicapped in the operation of the league by several things. Under the old set-up, since Tacoma did not have a team in the league, he may have lost some contact with the organization. This itself is not too serious and there is a strong possibility Tacoma will have a team in the new organization.
Most important is, if the league is going to have adequate rules and safeguards and have them enforced, it will call for the services of a full-time man, a man familiar with all aspects of the league, one who is not afraid to crack down on violators, and one who can get around to the various cities entered and do a little tub-thumping.
* * *
A Plug For Luby

Which brings us up to the point of the issue. Personally, I am beating the drums for Hugh Luby, Salem manager last year.
Presumably, if one proposes a candidate, he should have some reason for doing so. Okay, here are some reasons. First off, Hugh has been running the league most of the time anyway. Secondly, He knows all the ins and outs of the league. Third, he is well familiar with all aspects of baseball. Fourth, he has had front office experience in conducting the job of running the Salem front office. Fifth he is the kind of character liked by all those who know him.
* * *
He Would Take It

The question is would he take the job if it were offered. This business of plugging Hugh for league president isn’t any thing new with me so when Salem played its final series of the season here I backed him off in the corner and asked him.
“Sure, I would take it,” Luby said, “if they organize the league so there is some sense to it. And the setup would have to be such that a guy could operate. You couldn’t run things with your hands tied.”
But Hugh also made it clear he wouldn’t operate out of the generosity of his heart or just because he loves the dear old game of baseball and the WIL.
“How much moola,” he said, with a twinkle in his eye.
I told him he could rassle with the league brass on that issue but at least it’s another point in his favor. A guy on a salary is going to do something to earn it.
I’ll let the case rest.
* * *
Prairie Loop Plan Laid

The move to eliminate Edmonton long has been based on the idea that the Canadian prairie city would be better off in a league of its own made up with towns and team coming from the areas where natural rivalry has been built up through football and hockey.
The idea is not one of the American faction’s. Canadian sportwriters have long been calling for such a league. Recently, the strong prairie semi-pro league made up of five towns in Canada asked five other towns to send entries to a winter meeting.
Included on the invited list were Edmonton and Calgary and it is possible a move may be made to form a professional baseball league from there.

WIL is Finished

Western International May Operate With U.S. Clubs
SEATTLE, Sept. 27—(UP)—The Western International Baseball League was formally dissolved yesterday, in what seemed an inevitable end after a season of chronic financial crisis.
However, moments after the meeting ended, owners of the Wenatchee, Yakima and Tri-Cities clubs in Washington, and the Salem, Ore., and Lewiston, Ida., teams, met in informal session, intent on the idea of forming a professional baseball league to operate in 1955, founded on those five teams.
Bob Abel, president of the Class A loop, said formal dissolution was decided upon because, specifically, "of the absolute refusal of the teams in the states to play in the league with Edmonton, the sole franchise holder in Alberta, Canada. “It was just impractical, for the American teams to make the long journey to Edmonton.”
Calgary, Alta., was a former member of the WIL, but dropped out, as did Victoria, B.C., and Spokane, because of financial inability to operate. Vancouver, B. C. was the only other Canadian team still in the league at the end of the past season.
Babe Hollingbery, Yakima, was designated as temporary chairman of the informal group of five teams. They will meet again Oct. 23 in Yakima.
The league board of directors and franchise holders set Dec. 15, 1954 as the formal dissolution date “to protect the present franchise owners on all their player contracts,” Abel said.

Caps Minus A League, As W.I. Loop Bows Out
Move Surprises Local Club; Financial Hurdles Too High

[Vancouver Province, Sept. 27, 1954]
Vancouver’s position in professional baseball is uncertain today. The Western International League voted to put itself out of business Sunday by folding the league.
Though no one cares to admit it, the action was the result of two things—though those two things could be summed up in one word: Money.
This last season has not been a particularly happy one for the WIL. The setup started out with 10 teams, ended up with seven—and none of these seven made anyone millionaires. Spokane, Calgary and Victoria all chucked it in before the season was over.
But probably the direct reason the league directors decided to write “the end” to the Class “A” WIL was of the long travelling distances to Edmonton. Salem, for instance, had to travel 800 miles to get to the Alberta city. The thing that hurt the most, though, was Edmonton was probably the biggest drawing club in the circuit.
Travel Tough
The obvious step, it would seem was to boot Edmonton out of the league.
“Try it,” general manager John Ducey had warned earlier during the season, “and we’ll sue.” Under the WIL constitution, Ducey could sue the WIL if they gave Edmonton the heave-ho—so they disbanded the league, effective Dec, 15 instead.
Apparently four clubs (two of them were Lewiston and Tri-City) made no secret they wanted Edmonton out. After a seven-hour meeting, the vote was 5-0 to terminate the WIL. Vancouver and Edmonton—who had refused a request to withdraw—abstained.
President Bob Abel of Tacoma then issued the statement: “The WIL formally resolved to dissolve the corporate organization as of Dec. 15, 1954.” And then the wheels started turning.
Babe Nominated
There was an immediate move to start another loop in the U.S. Pacific Northwest. The move was led by Salem, Wenatchee, Yakima, Lewiston and Tri-City. A temporary committee under chairman Babe Hollingbery, president of the Yakima Bears, was set up to dig into the possibility of a new eight-team league.
One report said “the committee will contact interests in cities reported interested in gaining a franchise. Cities named were Tacoma, Spokane, Eugene, Coos Bay and VANCOUVER.”
Reason for keeping the league officially in operation until Dec. 15 is to protect the interest of the club owners. If the league were officially closed now the players would become free agents and could accept positions where they liked, a major item when the draft system starts in not too many years.
Won Three Flags
Tommy English, president of the Capilanos, told The Province from Seattle:
“Obviously, it’s too early to make any plans yet. We don’t know just where we stand. We didn’t expect this when we came to Seattle.”
The WIL came into existence in1937, with Vancouver a charter member. The club was known as the Maple Leafs then and played in what is now Callister Park, but was then Con Jones. In 1939, Bob Brown took over and the Capilanos moved into Athletic Park. The league folded from 1943 to 1945 because of the war.
In the middle of the 1951 season the Caps moved into their new home at Capilano Stadium. Three times, in 1942 under Don Osborn, and 1947 and again this last season, under Bill Brenner, the local team ahs won the WIL championship.

City May Lose Pro Baseball
WIL Disbands In December
Travel Difficulties Given As Reason For Dissolution

[Vancouver News-Herald, September 27, 1954]
Vancouver may be without professional baseball next summer for the first time since 1946. Directors of the Class A Western International League Sunday voted to dissolve the organization, effective December 15, 1954.
The meeting in Seattle was attended by representatives of each of the seven clubs, along with president Robert Abel.
Five of the delegates voted in favour of dissolution with Vancouver and Edmonton declining to cast a ballot.
Tom English, president of the Vancouver Capilanos Baseball club, attended the meeting and told The News-Herald he was still hopeful of operating next season.
Said English, “There is still a possibility that there will be professional baseball here next summer. I can’t say at this time what class it will be, but I do know it won’t be any lower than Class A.”
At the same time, English clarified Bill Brenner’s position with the club. Brenner will remain on the payroll indefinitely as general manager.
The News-Herald learned that if there is no professional baseball here next year, Brenner has an excellent chance of becoming manager of the Seattle Rainiers of the Coast League. Jerry Priddy, who handled the club this year, was released recently.
What would happen to Capilano Stadium should there be no baseball is still a deep mystery. The stadium was build three years ago at a cost of half a million dollars and baseball was counted upon to bear the brunt of the cost.
Although the 1954 Vancouver Capilanos went to considerable expense to build a championship team, it attracted only 55,000 fans, an all-time low. Capilanos won the first half schedule and then beat out Lewiston Broncs in straight games to capture the Western International League pennant.
Following the dissolution of the league, Salem, Wenatchee, Tri-City, Yakima and Lewiston directors gathered and designated Babe Hollingbery of Yakima as temporary chairman of a committee to form a new professional baseball loop in the U.S. northwest.
Should the circuit become a reality, it would be of lower calibre since any Class A League must boast a total population of a minimum of one million people.
However, several directors are still hopeful of reviving the WIL, thus the season [sic] for the late date of the dissolution.
The league directors issued the following statement through president Abel:
“The WIL formally resolved to dissolve the corporation organization as of Dec. 1, 1954.”
The resolution, Abel said, was the outgrowth of a discussion centering around the impracticality of travel between the U.S. entries and Edmonton.
The trip to Edmonton represented a 550-mile jaunt for the closest team, Lewiston, alone. For the other five members the mileage was even more, with Salem required to make an 800-mile trip to play at Edmonton.
Under the disbanding date on Dec. 15, the owners of the clubs in the WIL would be protected on their player contracts under rules of the National Association of Minor Leagues.
Although Abel denied the financials situation of the teams in the WIL was the reason for the dissolution it was generally believed that red ink was a dominating factor.

Sea of Red Ink Drowns WIL Ball
Caps’ Future Very Cloudy As Loop Folds

Special to The Vancouver Sun
[Monday September 27, 1954]
SEATTLE—After two years of floundering helplessly in a sea of red ink, the Western International Baseball League has decided to abandon ship.
In a Seattle meeting over the week end WIL directors voted to disband December 15, 1954.
Meeting was attended by one member from each of the seven clubs and league president Bob Abel. Five delegates voted for dissolution. Vancouver and Edmonton did not cast ballots.
Resolution was an outgrowth of a discussion concerning the impracticality of travel between the U.S. entries and Edmonton.
The closest U.S. team, Lewiston, had to travel 550 miles in their Edmonton trips. Rest of the teams travelled further, with Salem having the longest trip, 800 miles.
There was an immediate move by five of the teams, Salem, Wenatchee, Yakima, Lewiston and Tri-City, to start another league in the Pacific Northwest. Brand of ball will be lower than Class “A”.
Babe Hollingbery, president of the Yakima Bears, who was named chairman of a committee to dig into the possibility of getting eight teams together.
Hollingbery said directors of the five teams involved have scheduled a meeting for next month and will make concrete plans to the proposal seems advisable.
Plans are sketchy at this point, although it was determined that any league formed should have eight teams.
Vancouver Caps, 1954 champions of the WIL, have been mentioned as one of the teams which would be included in the tentative league.
What will happen to Cap Stadium if there is no pro baseball next year is still unknown. The three-year-old, half-million dollar ball park was built with the idea of having the ball team pay for it.
Caps had an excellent class “A” ball club this year but not even their great work on the diamond could stop the fans from staying away. An all-time low of 55,000 fans clicked stadium turnstiles this year.
Disbanding of the league has been expected for some while, led by the bankruptcy of three clubs. The WIL started in the spring as a 10-team league. It ended the season with seven teams. Spokane, Calgary and Victoria bowed out because of financial embarrassment.
Both Hollingbery and Abel denied financial condition of teams was the reason for the dissolution. But it is generally believed red ink was the dominant factor.
League nearly collapsed early in the season when most clubs—Vancouver excluded—had trouble paying their way.
It was reported later in the second half of the season that more U.S. clubs were on the verge of dropping out of the league. One club was said to have relief pitchers taking tickets at the game to save cost of extra help.
“The WIL feels it was handicapped by the weather and adverse publicity it got from the teams not finishing the season,” Hollingbery said.
If Vancouver refuses to join the proposed Pacific Northwest league and if they do not get a chance at Pacific Coast league ball, it will be the first season since 1946 Vancouver has not been represented.
Fate of Vancouver’s popular manager Bill Brenner is undecided but he still is the choice of Cap brass as general manager. If Vancouver doesn’t have professional baseball, big Bill may get a chance at the held of parent Seattle Rainiers.

Elimate WIL from Vancouver


[Vancouver Sun, Sept. 25, 1954]
It’s Vancouver’s tragedy that this city of ours, possessor of one of the finest minor league baseball plants in North America, should be condemned to membership in the Western International League—without fear of challenge the leading bush league in George Trautman’s vast domain of minor leagues.
This revolting and for Vancouver humiliating situation has never been more evident than today on the eve of the annual WIL meeting in Seattle today.
Just what could come from this meeting is wide open to speculation.
It could be that the confab will mark the last rites for the WIL as we have known it for a number of years.
It could be that some of the little towns with the little men who head clubs will form a new league and play among themselves in Class C competition.
The club owners will cry about the adverse weather which cut their crowds and made them lose money.
They’ll Blame Abel, Too
Some will accuse others of spending to much money on players which as a result produced great pots of red ink.
Others again will blame president Robert Abel, the Tacoma law purveyor.
But one thing is sure not a single club official will look into the hotel mirror and say: “You’re to blame.”
Even if the WIL is a bush league the owners didn’t have to behave like bush leaguers.
The yapping emenating from various WIL centres since the season closed is absolutely disgraceful.
Club officials didn’t even have the common sense of keeping their grievances—if they are such—to themselves and air them in the comparative privacy of Sunday’s conference room.
Lewiston directors popped off and demanded Edmonton and Vancouver be kicked out of the league.
Tri-City followed suit.
Now Wenatchee comes along and wants Abel fired.
Not only do the Chiefs want Abel fired but they have the man to succeed him.
You guessed it—a Wenatchee man.
As I say it’s difficult to predict what will happen on Sunday.
But somehow one comes to the reluctant conclusion that, perhaps, Vancouver would do better off to get out and let the little towns with the little men play a little baseball among themselves.
It has been our contention for several years that Vancouver fans would prefer to watch local semi-pros in action than the hired men from such hamlets as Lewiston, Yakima, Wenatchee, and Tri-City, etc.
A Baseball Tragedy
Of course, it’s ridiculous that we should not be in the Pacific Coast League.
Obviously that will never come about until we can enjoy Sunday baseball.
Therein lies the tale of our baseball tragedy.

WIL Brass In Seattle; Meet May Wax Hot
SEATTLE, Sept. 26—The Western International Baseball League will meet today in Seattle to discuss plans for 1955 and at least two member teams will file for the divorce of Edmonton.
Arguing that the long haul to the Alberta oil capital is too expensive Lewiston and Tri-City said they would seek a more compact loop. Tri-City also wants Vancouver, B.C. included out.
The league has lost three cities— Spokane Calgary and Victoria— this year will be seeking some plan to bolster the remaining teams few of which did more than break even in 1954.
Several sports writers around the league have urged the loop to drop from Class A to a lower classification in order to obtain younger players and lower more easily-met payrolls.
Club officials in most cases have said they would insist upon retaining the A classification.
But there will be a strong move to place a limit on the number of veterans permitted each team and to lop off bonus payments to [unreadable] old players.
The loss of three teams left the WIL seven-club circuit. Those in the States have become community projects funded by public subscriptions. Most of these appear anxious to continue the league even if it means a slight annual loss.
There were indications Friday night that the Sunday meeting may not be one of smiling faces. It shaped up in advance as anything but a harmonious get together.
Red Burnett, secretary of the Wenatchee Chiefs issued this implied warning.
Actions taken on league policies at the Sunday meeting will determine whether Wenatchee will operate in the WIL in 1955.
Burnett’s words apparenty were an offshoot of an announced Wenatchee decision to seek the removal of Bob Abel of Tacoma as president.
The Chiefs directors planning then stand at the meeting here heatedly denied they had mentioned the name of Arthur Pohlman, former president of the Wenatchee club as a possible successor to Abel.
The Chiefs said they had suggested in letters to all members of the loop that the present officials be replaced and that they had a man in mind for the job.
But they said they had not mentioned Pohlman.

Eliminate Vancouver (and Edmonton) From WIL

Lewiston Asks Removal of Caps, Esks From WIL
LEWISTON, Sept. 17—Directors of the Lewiston Broncs of the Western International League Thursday passed a resolution aimed at cutting Vancouver and Edmonton from the league circuit next season.
They gave no reasons for the proposal, heard as business manager Tom Tabor handed in his resignation and President James B. McMonigle indicated he would quit office as son as matters were cleared up for the season.
At the lengthy meeting, the directors drew up a program of changes which they feel must be made if the financially-sick WIL is to survive. (The league is scheduled to meet in Seattle Sept. 26).
The changes included:
1. Retention of Class A baseball in the league.
2. Limit on player experience with restrictions on the number of “old timers” and return to younger players.
3. Working agreements between Pacific Coast League teams and the WIL.
4. Elimination of “bonus” payments to veterans of PCL and other “old timers.”
5. Return to the 60-40 split of gate receipts between host and visiting clubs, respectively.
6. Operation of the league without Edmonton and possibly Vancouver next season.
During the discussion on club finances, which appeared gloomy for the second-half champions, McMonigle said he thought each of the surviving WIL clubs would lose at least $20,000 for the 1954 season.
In addition, the directors passed a motion opposing play with Edmonton in 1955,
During the discussion on club finances, which appeared gloomy for the second-half champions, McMonigle said he thought each of the surviving WIL clubs would lose at least $20,000 for the 1954 season.
J. Harry Hughes, one of the Lewiston directors, said he feels Edmonton is just too far from other League teams.
“The people up there are wonderful and we love to play there, but there is a big physical and financial strain involved in the long trip,” he said.
“And then there’s no Sunday baseball in Canadian cities and it makes it very difficult to draw up a balanced schedule.
Hughes said “the same thing applies to a lesser degree” in Vancouver.
“Our position there is contingent on just how those folks feel about it,” he said. “I heard they may have their sights set a little higher perhaps with a few to some future changes in the Coast League.”
- - -
EDMONTON, Sept. 17—The resolution passed by Lewiston Broncs aimed at excluding Edmonton and Vancouver from the Western International Baseball League is “thinking of the Lewiston baseball club only,” Edmonton manager John Ducey said Friday.
The resolution “will have no bearing on the future of the WIL, which will be decided at a meeting of the directors in Seattle Sept. 26,” Mr. Ducey said.

Tri-City Not For Caps
KENNEWICK, Sept. 20—The owners of the Tri-City Braves of the Western International League decided Monday night to push at a league meeting in Seattle Sunday for dropping Vancouver and Edmonton from the league next year.
Harold Matheson, president of the board of the Tri-City Athletic Club, owners of the Braves, said the distance factor was the primary consideration in the Braves’ decision to ask for the elimination of the Eskimos.
In Vancouver’s case, he said it was his feeling that the Capilanos would drop out of their own volition. He gave no reasons but there have been indications the Braves feel Vancouver wants to be a member of the Pacific Coast League or nothing.
Matheson also said he will plug for the following things at the Seattle meeting:
Continuance of the WIL as a Class A loop.
A 60-40 gate receipt split instead of the present method whereby the home team takes all.
A 16-player limit for each team with no more than eight veterans to a squad.
Matheson said the association decided to field a team if at all possible next year, depending on action taken by the league.
The Braves, Matheson said, were near the financial break-even point as of Sept. 15.

From Our Tower

[Vancouver Sun, Sept. 22, 1954]
LEWISTON BRONCS and Tri-City Braves favour booting Vancouver Caps out of the ailing Western International Baseball League. They completely disregard history which records Vancouver as a charter member of the WIL and the league’s strongest centre in years of crisis. The WIL disregarding the Caps in these troubling times is like cutting out your heart because you have ulcers.