Thursday, 31 July 2008

Spring Training, Friday, April 16, 1954

Mesner Joins Tyees; Starts 21st Season
[Victoria Colonist, April 16, 1954]
Victoria Tyees stayed at Royal Athletic Park a long time yesterday as manager Don Pries put them through their second day of spring training, which included a lengthy hitting session.
Pries had 13 players out yesterday, Steve Mesner, veteran infielder, joining the 12 who showed up Wednesday. But Mesner’s appearance was a pleasing one. The veteran, who is starting his 21st season in organized ball at the age of 35, appeared to be in perfect condition. In fact, he remarked he wouldn’t mind if he put on a few pounds.
Mesner figures to be a key player in the Tyees’ bid for a second WIL pennant in three years. He is being counted on for regular service at third base and should have no trouble playing the full schedule. A good glove man who should give the Tyees the best hot-corner protection they have ever had, he also should add considerable punch to the club.
A stocky type at five feet eight inches and 180 pounds, he comes to the club with a reputation of always giving his best effort.
Mesner started his professional career in 1934 when he was but 15 years of age at Ponca City in the Western Association. His rise was fast. He went to the Coast League with Los Angeles in his second season and played for the Angels through 1937. Then, still in his teens, he started a six-year term in the major leagues with the Chicago Cubs in 1938.
He remained with the Cubs through the 1939 season, was with San Diego in 1940, and went back to the major leagues with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1941. He spent the 1942 season in Sacramento but, once again, it was back to the majors this next season. It was with Cincinnati this time and he stayed with the Reds for the next three seasons, through 1945. He made 137 hits in 150 games for a .254 average in his last big-league season.
Then it was back to the Coast League with Sacramento for 1946, 1947 and part of the 1948 season. He joined San Diego for the last part of 1948 and played with the Padres through 1949. It was Portland in 1950, Spokane in 1951, Ogden in the Pioneer League in 1952.
In his WIL season, Mesner played in 132 games for the Indians, making 156 hits and drawing 111 bases on balls while compiling a .317 average. The next season at Ogden he won the Pioneer League batting championship by getting 161 hits in 469 times at bat for a .343 average.
Mesner was playing coach at Beaumont in the Texas League last season, getting into 63 games and batting .273.
During his lengthy career, the veteran became one of the few players in organized baseball to make 3,000 hits and his Coast League record shows that he made 200 or more hits in seven out of the 10 seasons he played there.
Eddie Lake, who played with Mesner in Sacramento, is expected to join the Tyees for today’s workout, which starts at 10:30. Pitchers Hal Flinn and Ross McFarlane and infielder Merlyn Anthony are also expected in but the Tyees won’t have a full club until some time next week, when they get expected help from Portland and complete several deals now in the negotiation stage. The Beavers arrive home Monday and will send along several players, at least two of them needed players. Bill Prior will also join the club for the season on Monday.

By Jim Tang

[Victoria Colonist, April 16, 1954]
This is the right time of year for this sort of thing but it doesn’t seem at all foolhardy, even in the full knowledge of misplaced confidence in the past, to remark it appears as if the Victoria Tyees are going to make things interesting this season if they can solve what is still a pitching problem.
As matters stand at the moment, the infield may well be the best in the league, the catching is in the same category, and the outfield is promising with interesting possibilities. The club lacks lefthanded hitting but there is plenty of righthanded power, there is good speed, and you can bet there will be hustle. Optimistic? Well, let’s look at the record.
There can be nothing wrong with an infield which can be picked from such proven performers as Eddie Lake, Steve Mesner and manager Don Pries and such good-looking youngsters as Ron Jackson, Primo Santini and Pepper Wasley. Pries, who will be at his best position, first base, has hit .322, .307 and .322 in three WIL seasons and it would be no surprise if Lake and Mesner, a couple of power-hitting veterans, manage at least 50 home runs between them while boarding up the left side of the infield and helping any of the youngsters playing alongside. And there is versatility there, too, with Lake, Mesner and Pries able to handle any of the infield positions acceptably.
Behind the plate, there is Milt Martin. He hit .307 last season and was a good receiver as there was in the league. No worries here.
More help is expected but if the Tyees had to go with their present group of outfielders, they might come up with a more-than-adequate threesome. Veteran Dain Clay is expected to grab one spot and team with Mesner and Lake to give the Tyees real authority in their batting order. Big Art Seguso must be rated a good chance to stick off a record of long-ball hitting compiled in five previous seasons in organized baseball. Tom Keough compiled a fine college record, which merits a good look. Armando Sanchez has speed and hustle and he hit .350 against good pitching in winter play in the Mexican Coastal League this year. Rookie Jerry Kane has size and power and he also looks good enough behind the plate to rate serious consideration as an understudy for Martin.
Give that some pitching and the Tyees won’t be far off. Oops, that’s what I said at the start.
* * *
The Tyees didn’t lose money on player transactions last season, actually made $5,600 from the sale of players. The reason for the misleading figure at the annual meeting of the Victoria Baseball and Athletic Co. Ltd. was that club officials decided to knock off assets the sum of $6,000 listed as the value of such players as Gene Thompson, Jim Propst, Bill White, Bill Osborn and Hal Danielson, who have voluntarily retired. This was realistic as they could be justifiably listed in club assets but many believed the club had lost $1,300 on player transactions … Art Seguso won the mid-Atlantic League batting championship in his rookie pro season in 1948, hitting .357 and batting in 146 runs. He hit .305, batted in 144 runs and his 31 home runs in class “B” baseball in 1950 and was drafted by Mobile of the Brooklyn farm system. In five years in organized baseball, Seguso shows a .300 batting average and a .502 slugging average … British Empire Games officials are up in arms because Vancouver Capilanos will be home for a full week during the games. To this way of thinking, it will be the Caps who will be hurt by this arrangement. Certainly, they’re not going to take away any fans from the BEG events … The Tyees have definitely decided to give 7:30 baseball a try and it should prove popular with fans, who can be back home by 10 most nights … Shortstop Eddie Lake will probably see some service as a pitcher this season, particularly if the mound shortage isn’t alleviated in a hurry … Husky Jerry Kane has a great chance to make they club if he can prove he an hit with reasonable frequency and do a passable job behind the plate as well as in the outfield. Versatility is of real value on small minor league rosters … Vancouver, Edmonton, Tri-City, Victoria and, perhaps, Lewiston, look like the clubs with the best chance of succeeding at this writing with Vancouver the pre-season choice because it has pitching depth.


LEWISTON, Idaho, April 16—Tri-City evened a two-game exhibition baseball series with Lewiston Friday, downing the Broncs 7-5. Lewiston won 9-5 in the first game between the two Western International League clubs.
Vic Buccola doubled in the tying run in four-run seventh inning that put the Braves out in front.
Len Tran batted in the winning tally.
Tri-City .... 100 002 400—7 10 2
Lewiston .... 200 003 000—5 8 1
Robertson, Lemieux (6) and Warren; Tisnerat, Kime (7), Tench (7) and Cameron, Taylor (6).

YAKIMA, April 16 — First baseman Len Noren's sixth-inning double scored Mike Catron and broke open a tight exhibition baseball game here Friday between Yakima and Salem of the Western International League. Yakima added another run in the eighth to shut out the Senators, 2-0.

VISALIA, Tulare Co. [Fresno Bee, April 17, 1954] — The Visalia Cubs scored 10 runs in the sixth inning last [Friday] night in scoring a 10 to 2 win over the Calgary Stampeders in Cubs Park. It was an exhibition game between the Cubs of the California League and Calgary of the Western International League.
The Cubs got to Bill Blackburn for six runs and to Don Blair for four more in the big inning, which was featured by bases loaded triple by catcher Bob Aubert.
Aubert also had two singles for a perfect three for three night at the plate.
Al Preston, Bob Hughes and Dwayne Peters shared the pitching load for Visalia with Hughes getting credit for the win.
The Cubs play Edmonton of the Western International League tonight [Saturday] in the Visalia Park.
Calgary ....... 000 110 000—2 9 4
Visalia ...... 000 00(10) 00x—10 11 3
Kapp, Blackburn (6), Blair (6), Samms (7) and Bricker; Preston, Hughes (5), Peters (8) and Aubert, Kozub (8).

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