Thursday, 31 July 2008

Edmonton 1954 Preview

Edmonton Appears Formidable Again for WIL Baseball Year
(Editor’s Note: This is one in a series on the prospects of the Western International Baseball League, written for The Associated Press by sports writers who follow the teams throughout the season).
The Edmonton Journal
EDMONTON, Alta., April 21 — Edmonton’s Eskimos, resurrected to campaign in the Western International League after a baseball holiday of more than 30 years, stir in 1953 when created quite a stir when they were contenders all the way.
When the New York Yankees chipped in to help John Ducey, Esks general manager, with the organization of the club they warned him not to expect too much of a team starting from scratch. Bobby Sturgeon, former National League shortstop with the Cubs and Braves, was hired as playing manager. No two members of the team he assembled for the spring practice had ever played together.
Beaten in Close Race
Yet they were beaten out by Salem in a photo-finish in the first half of the season and finished right on the pace in the second half running second to Salem for the entire season.
As for Edmonton fans, they took the Esks to their hearts and led the league in attendance in spite of bad weather and an August plague of mosquitos.
Club officials look for an even better showing at the gate this year. One big reason will be the completion of a new covered grandstand to replace one razed by fire four years ago. Renfrew Park, home of the Eskimos, now will seat more than 6.500, with space left for bleachers if needed.
With respect to manpower, the team appears more formidable than it was in 1953.
Dick Morgan, a .300 hitter whose s brother to Yankee pitcher Tom Morgan, is back for another year as catcher, with holdover Red Prentice and Yankee farmhand Tommy Self as understudy.
24-Game Winner
John Conant—a 24-game winner—Jack Widner, Larry Manier and Ray McNulty have been retained from last year's mound staff, although McNulty was a holdout of this writing.
Additions in the pitching department are Dale Kittle. Frank Cirimeli and Chuck Le Brun, obtained through the Yanks, and Southpaws Art Worth and Pete Boisvert. The former was purchased from Spokane and the latter recruited at Trail, B C.
Whitey Thomson, a brilliant glove man. is guarding the short patch again and Sturgeon will be available for utility service there if he's beaten out at second. The Yanks have sent in Dwayne Kling to scrap for the third base job with holdover Sammy Kanelos.
The club still is hunting a replacement for Clint Weaver at first after his sale to St Paul. Fleet veteran Andy Skurski and Vern Campbell are returnees in the outfield. Bob Brown, with Phoenix last year, is a Canadian-born addition to the garden crew.

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