Thursday, 24 July 2008

Column - State of the WIL, State of Denial

It Beats Me
By Jim Tang

[Victoria Colonist, Thursday, Oct. 15, 1953]
It would be interesting indeed to listen to what is said at the Western International Baseball League meetings at any time but that last one, held at Yakima last month, must have been a dilly. At any rate, John Ducey, general manager of the Edmonton club, arrived home breathing fire at irresponsible reporting which had the WIL on the verge of bankruptcy with its future in doubt.
“Rumormongering” by press and radio outlets was the sole reason, apparently, for the widespread belief that the WIL was insecure and “would-be alarmists” was the tag attached to sportswriters and radio announcers who had repeated those “rumors.”
Ducey, ruefully amusing, can hardly be blamed for his outburst. He is in his first year in the WIL and was only taken in by the front of optimism which is ever a feature at WIL meetings, even the emergency ones. He was only repeating which he had been told when he charged that newspaper and radio sensationalism and nothing else caused reports of financial instability throughout the WIL.
And here is one of the big reasons the WIL IS having trouble. Club officials refuse to take a realistic view of the situation and are always hoping, like the big loser in a poker game, that the next hand will recoup their losses. And while denying to themselves the true state of affairs they invariably single out the people who have helped them the most to fault for what they claim is not there.
So let’s look at the record:
In Spokane, one time the best franchise in the WIL, owner Roy Hotchkiss made no bones about the financial plight of the club and had to appeal to fans for added support. When the appeal failed, he announced he was going to sell his players and the park.
In Yakima, Fred Mercy, Jr., reportedly a wealthy man, made no secret of his plans to give it up at the end of the season. He apparently has.
In Wenatchee, the mayor threatened to padlock the park unless the rent was paid, the Chiefs owe several thousand dollars in taxes and are selling their equipment in order to pay off some of their debts.
In Salem, a drive was necessary early in the season to keep the Senators going.
The Sporting News reported Calgary lost $72,000 in its first season—and the park in Cow Town is not at all suitable.
In Vancouver, the Capilanos played to less people than ever before.
In Victoria, despite a reported investment of $20,000 by a fan, club officials made a last-stand appeal for enough attendance to meet the last payroll.
And so newspapermen reported the league was sick. That’s rumormongering.

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