Cleanup Hitter Is Big Need Of Tri-City’s WIL Squad
(Editor’s Note: This is one in a series on the prospects of the Western International League, written for The Associated Press by the sportswriters who follow the teams throughout the season).
By GIL GILMORE
Sports Editor, Tri-City Herald [April 25, 1953]
KENNEWICK, Wash. — The Tri-City Braves’ chances of winding up in the first division of the Western International Baseball League his season depend primarily upon jetting someone who can get more than one base per hit. And often.
The community-owned club, operating without higher classification tie-ups again this year, holds he contract of the man it believes can do the job. But so far the player has been extremely stubborn about signing.
He is Dick Greco, formerly of Tacoma but now of Vancouver. He is a long ball hitter and just what the Braves need for a clean-up man.
But Greco and Tri-City's new general manager Eddie Taylor, are miles apart on salary and the situation is further complicated by Greco's personal desire to play somewhere else—preferably Vancouver.
Greco alternately has offered to buy his own contract, withdrawn the offer, only to make it again. The last time around, Taylor took urn up on it but then named a price Greco feels is too high.
A sale often has been talked but Taylor turns the offer down. He is willing to trade providing the Braves can get someone who can hit that long ball.
But at this date, Tri-City fans are wondering if their, club is going to have a cleanup man. Last season the Braves tied for top spot in batting, were second in total hits, but were at the bottom of the league in homers, triples and doubles. This added up to leading the league in the left-on-base column and eighth-place in both halves of the season.
Elsewhere around the field, the club appears in fair shape and far better off than it was at this time last year. In the catching spot will be Jack Warren, who led the league in hitting last year.
Probably second-stringing him will be Rube Johnson, a burly young catcher who hit 14 homers for Magic Valley in the Pioneer League last year.
Missing is Nick Pesut who was traded to Vancouver. Pesut’s departure leaves first baseman Vic Buccola as the only player left on the club of the group that came here from Wenatchee in 1951. Buccola hit .308 last year but lacks the power he had in former years. Defensively he led the league last season.
The two Trans, Len and Ray, will probably provide the second base - shortstop combination although Ray, the older of the two, may play fewer games.
Terry Carroll is one prospect for third base but it is possible that Tom Marier, a 1952 regular who missed last season because of an injured back, may yet sign his contract. He wants more money.
Des Charouhas, Yakima football coach Bob McGuire, Ernie Hockaday and playing manager Edo Vanni are all holdover outfielders but Bob Moniz, who was purchased from Portland recently, probably will hold one spot. Vanni isn't expected to play much and Hockaday may be converted to an infielder.
Lots of Pitchers
Whatever the pitching staff lacks in power is made up in numbers. Earlier this year, Tri-City had 14 hurlers under contract. Holdovers who probably will win regular assignments are Don Robertson (14-9), Dale Bloom (7-11), and reliefer Jess Dobernic (13-7).
Added to this trio are John (Bud) Guldborg, 5-6 with Vancouver last year; Dale Thomason, 5-7 with Vancouver last season; Larry Richardson, on option from the Chicago Cubs chain, and Earl Lemieux, a left-handed rookie.
There is a possibility Bob Snyder (15-19) will return to the Braves. Seattle rookie Chris Mezich also will try for a pitching spot.