IT BEATS ME
By Jim Tang
[Victoria Colonist, Dec. 12, 1954]
You’ve watched professional baseball here since it came back eight years ago. If you were a manager and could pick anyone from the eight Victoria teams, who would you like to start next season with?
That one came in the other day from a baseball fan who wishes to remain anonymous and it prompted some interesting research of memory and the record books—interestingly enough, I hope, to pass on.
Going back over eight years turned out to be quite a chore but what came out turned out to be quite a team, and perhaps surprisingly, there wasn’t too much trouble at arriving at decisions although one or two positions may cause arguments.
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Starting with the infield, one has to concede that Gil McDougald is unchallenged at second base and that shortstop belongs to Jim Clark. Victoria has never had anything really outstanding at third base although Gino Marionetti hit .305 in 1946 and was fairly good defensively. However, the vote here goes to Babe Jensen, not much of a fielder but a long-ball clutch hitter who always manager to drive in more runs than he let in.
There may be some argument over first base with Jack Harshman well remembered for his home-run (30) clouting in 1947 but not too many will disagree with the choice of smooth-fielding Vic Buccola, a better team player who hit .310 in 1948 and .320 in 1949. And for utility player, there could be none other than hustling Don Pries.
The outfield practically picks itself. You have to start with Archie Wilson, who batted .369 for the 1948 Athletics, drove in 132 runs, and set what is still the league record of 408 total bases. For centre-field it could be no one else but Eddie Murphy, the speedball who has been regarded the best defensive outfielder in the WIL since it was reorganized. And to round out a fly-shagging trio, I’ll take Granny Gladstone.
That leaves off Pete Hughes, as good a left-handed hitter as there has been in this calibre of baseball; speedy John Hooper, who hit .348 for the 1947 club, Len Noren, K. Chorlton and Bill White, to say nothing of Gene Thompson, Charlie Balassi and Bob Moniz, but few would prefer any of these to the three named above.
Selecting two catchers was a little more difficult for we have had better catching than most fans realize. But, despite his well-known defensive deficiencies, I had to go along with Vic Mastro, the best righthanded hitter I have seen in the WIL, who hit .377 in 1947. As for a second maskman, big Sal Recca, a dangerous long-ball hitter, good thrower and fine receiver.
But take a look at others who rated consideration for this spot—Al Ronning, under-rated Milt Martin, Bob Stumpf, Ron Bottler, Art Thrasher, Lilio Marcucci, Bill Anske, Bob Paulson and Dick Morgan.
That leaves eight positions open for pitchers. For lefthanders, I’ll take Cal McIrvin, Jehosie Heard, Jim Propst and Bill Woop. And for righthanders, Bob Jensen, Joe Blankenship, Len Kasparovitch and Frank Logue.
The manager? It would be between Ted Norbert, most popular with all the fans; personable Bb Sturgeon, who managed a bad ball club part of one season, and Cec Garriott, who won the only championship in 1952 but left nothing to be desired this past season. My vote, perhaps because of the purely personal reason that he was the best of the lot from a writer’s viewpoint, goes to Sturgeon.
As you can see, we have had some pretty good players here in the eight seasons. But we have also had some that didn’t do too well and in the course of research, I couldn’t help but pick the club least likely to succeed. How would you like to face the season with Chuck Suytar at first base, Al Smith at second, Joe Kronberg at third, Mike Dalton at shortstop, an outfield composed of Joe Morjoseph, John Vick and Roy Gilmore and Bob Koraleski at utilityman? Particularly if Rocco Cardinale was your catcher and you have to name your starting pitchers from Bill Carr, Joe Rajeski, Steve Brkich, Andy Adams, Jim Gibson, Rudy Biala, Frank Bruno, Dick Walkinshaw, Tony Chapetta or Al Raimondi? The manager? Who else.