Second Surprise as Delegates End Sessions
WIL Clubs Retail Own Gate Receipts
BY JIM TANG
[Victoria Colonist, Nov 11, 1953]
Delegates from the nine clubs represented at the annual Western International Baseball League meetings hurried through some of their remaining unfinished business Tuesday moaning and left what they didn’t get at for their next meeting in Lewiston in January.
But even in winding up their meeting, held at the Empress Hotel, they managed to come up with a second surprise, following hard on the heels of the return of Bob Abel as league president on Monday.
With the Edmonton and Calgary clubs lending their full support, Spokane-owner Roy Hotchkiss got a majority for his motion that all clubs retain their home gate receipts in 1954. The vote, is it understood, was close with lengthy discussions and stern opposition presented before the motion was passed.
The move was unexpected although Hotchkiss had pressed for it for several years and indicated Monday he would bring it up again. It had no been thought that he had enough support. Previously, visiting clubs received 40 per cent with a minimum guarantee of $200 for each scheduled game whether played or not. The guarantee was raised to $250 fro 1954 at an earlier meeting.
John Ducey, general manager of the Edmonton Eskimos, was jubilant over the passing of the motion which, incidentally, was passed with the proviso that the matter could be brought up again at the January meeting.
“Now,” Ducey said, “there is some initiative for clubs to go out and provide a better show and better baseball for their fans. We now get the full benefit of every effort we make to improve our business of selling baseball to the public. It should make a bit hit with fans who will know that the money they spend to watch their club play will stay in their city.”
Delegates in favor of the move indicated they felt that some clubs had been backward in promotion and felt that retention of their own gate receipts and the knowledge they would get nothing on the road would spur them to greater efforts. It was also pointed out that the rather still guarantee for $250 might well be a greater grain on the budget of the smaller clubs than the keep-all plan adopted.
Reg Patterson, business manager of the Victoria club, had no comment to make on the change, but he did point out that visiting clubs had taken approximately $35,000 more out of the city than Victoria had received from road games in the past eight years. On the other hand, Victoria was given the right to retain its gate receipts in the 1952 season and actually lost out on the agreement.
One important item is the fact that under the new arrangement clubs will be able to set their own admission prices and it is almost certain that this will mean a reduction in Victoria. This, of course, will be decided by the 1954 directors when they are elected but there is every indication that prices here will be slashed.
No decision was made on the type of playoff for the 1954 season but the fact that this was among the business carried over for the Lewiston meeting was taken as an indication that proponents of the Shaughnessy playoff were gaining ground. Ducey stated that his club would continue to press for the system and it appeared several clubs were wavering. Victoria and Calgary will join the Edmonton club on this question.
The player limit was cut from 18 to 16 but it is doubtful if this is actually legal and it will have to be a gentlemen’s agreement among clubs. The player limit for Class “A” is 18, set by the national association, and it is believed it cannot be changed officially by the individual leagues.
Bruce Williams, president of the Salem club, was elected first vice-president and Jim McMonigle, president of the Lewiston club, is the second-vice president. G.F. Abel, brother of the league president, was appointed Secretary.
About the only other decision made Tuesday was to permit Edmonton and Calgary to play Sunday baseball if desired and attendance was good enough to justify the move. No admission can be charged for Sunday baseball in Alberta and receipts will depend on the number and generosity of the fans.
IT BEATS ME
By Jim Tang
[Victoria Colonist, Nov. 11, 1953]
Probably the toughest decision yet made by the Western International Baseball League officials was the one which saw Bob Brown replaced as league president after a one-year term. The Vancouver veteran had made baseball his life and to make him inactive after 53 years in the game pulled at everyone’s heart-strings.
There had been indications that there was some opposition to Broan but it had been thought it was not serious enough, even in the face of the need for cutting expenses, to cause the ouster and the move came as a surprise to most.
The biggest surprise of all was in the strength of the opposition, some of it from unexpected quarters. The matter was discussed at great length but reports have it that the final vote was 7-2 for a change.
There is no doubt that economy played a large part in the decision. The WIL stands to “save” as much as $3,500 by returning to a part-time president and while club officials, obviously sorry they felt the move necessary, would make no comment, it appeared that those opposed to Brown felt that the 1953 results did not justify the retention of a full-time president.
Whether or not Brown didn’t do the job expected in his one-year term will ever remain a matter of opinion but casual observers are likely to be considerably puzzled by WIL reasoning. A year ago, feeling that Bob Abel could not do the required job on a part-time basis, they decided to have a full-time president. Brown got the job and when it was decided a change was needed, they went back to the arrangement deemed a failure only a year before. It may be typical but it’s confusing, too.
And it’s not entirely correct to state that the change-back will save the league money. True, there won’t be as large an expenditure for the league office but it’s doubtful if anyone on a part-time basis can do the job the league needs. For what it needs worse than anything else is a firm hand in the presidential chair—365 days a year. If that were to cost $5,000 more than the present arrangement, it would be money well spent. It amounts to only $500 a club, about 12 extra admissions a game would pay for it and most of it could be saved by making unnecessary just of the league meetings now being held at the rate of about four a year.
In this opinion, the WIL made a wise move in allowing clubs to keep their own gate receipts. This will be a boon to those who work at selling the game and it won’t actually make much difference in other ways. That $250 a game guarantee for each scheduled game, whether played or not, was a stiff one … questioning brought no response but the feeling here is that the Victoria club was one of the two who supported Brown. I couldn’t attempt a guess at the other … the home-gate motion passed by a 5-4 margin, with Spokane, Calgary and Edmonton definitely in favor and the though that Lewiston and Salem were the other supporters … there is talk that a new ball park will be built in Calgary within a year or two. Meantime, the home-run paradise which passed for a park this past season will have to do … the Spokane “situation” is apparently no more. Owner Roy Hotchkiss, doubtless pleased at his 1953 pennant and definitely happy over the success of his fight for the retention of home gates, will carry on unless he gets a solid offer for his franchise … The Tyees, and one or two other clubs, may do their training at home next spring. At least, they may have to as it is necessary to put training expenses … Jack Corbett, who was at the meetings trying to interest the WIL in Worth baseball, was one of the plaintiffs to the suits against organized baseball and, apparently, lost out when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that baseball is a sport and not subject to anti-trust laws … Eddie Taylor, former coach of the Seattle Rainiers who was recently signed by Tri-City Braves as general manager, left the impression that he will be an asset to his club—and the WIL as well … and Tom Tabor, rotund business manager of the Lewiston club, left the impression that he is a hard-working idea man who will boost attendance in the Idaho city … decision of Yakima to remain in the league seems to end any hopes the Tyees had of getting several Yakima-owned players, notably Len Noren, who was a centre-fielder for the Athletics here in 1949.