Baseball Heads in City Monday To Set New Year’s WIL Plans
BY JIM TANG
[Victoria Colonist, Friday, Nov. 6, 1953]
Club and league officials will start arriving in Victoria Sunday morning for the annual meeting of the Western International Baseball League, which opens Monday at the Empress Hotel and which should conclude some time Tuesday.
This one, almost everybody concerned agrees, is probably the most important meeting in the post-war history of the league. Two clubs have already announced they have given up, the situation at Spokane is still uncertain, and many of the remaining clubs might not be able to stand another season of financial reverses. About the only thing that seems reasonably certain at the moment is that the WIL will operate in 1954—and with eight teams, regardless of possible applications from other cities.
All 10 clubs which made up the league last season are expected to be represented at the meeting, but there is practically no chance that either Wenatchee or Yakima will be back next year.
Wenatchee, debt-ridden and with interest at a new low, has what is described as an impossible situation. There was a report a few weeks ago that a citizens’ group would try to keep pro baseball alive in the apple city, but nothing further has been reported.
In Yakima, owner Fred Mercy has definitely decided to give up his interest in baseball and will dispose of his players. He is said to have offered the franchise free to anyone who would like to promote professional baseball in Yakima, but there has been no report of anyone showing any interest in the offer. Besides, there is a strong feeling among the remaining member clubs that a 10-team league is too unwieldy and it is almost certain that the WIL will return to an eight-team setup with Victoria, Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton as Canadian entries and Spokane, Lewiston, Tri-City and Salem from the United States.
That would rule out any chance that Tacoma and Eugene, or both, would be granted franchises. It is though, however, that both cities will have representation at the meeting.
A later start, a shorter schedule, a reduced player limit, the appointment of a league publicity director, and the election of officers are among the major decisions to be made at the meeting.
Faced with dwindling attendance and soaring costs, the WIL has, apparently, at long last yielded to continues suggestions that a later opening date would help do away with the loss of patronage caused by the defection of frozen, early-season fans and that a shorter schedule would result in better baseball. It is almost certain that play will open next year during the first week in May and end on Labor Day.
There is also a chance that the league will finally give in and accept a Shaughnessy playoff among the first four teams. U.S. teams have led the fight against this type of a post-season playdown, but last season’s compromise of a split season was a failure and the four Canadian clubs, at least Calgary, Edmonton and Victoria, are in favor of the Shaughnessy system.
SALARY LIMIT STAYS
No change can be made in the monthly salary limit of $6,300, which is set by the National Association, but the mooted cut in the player limit to 16 would give clubs a chance to stay under the limit. Under consideration also is a suggestion to limit clubs to three players who have reasonably extensive service in leagues of a higher classification.
League officials are in the main agreed that the league has suffered from the lack of publicity about other clubs and an effort will be made to appoint a publicity man to disseminate information on players and statistics to every club.
There has been nothing definite about any change in the league presidency. Bob Brown, former Vancouver general manager, served his first season as president this year with former president Bob Abel on the payroll as legal adviser.
THREE CHANGES SEEN
And while no managerial appointments are usually made at league meetings, there could be some action in this regard. Only four of the eight clubs expected to make up the 1954 WIL have signed their managers and three changes can be expected.
Bob Sturgeon will be back at Edmonton; Bill Brenner has moved to Vancouver in the triple capacity of general and field manager and player; Hugh Luby again will be general and field manager at Salem; Edo Vanni has been re-hired to manage the Tri-City Braves, and it is reported that Gene Lillard will be back at Calgary. That leaves Spokane, Lewiston and Victoria.
Don Osborn has resigned at Spokane and Brenner moved to Vancouver from Lewiston, leaving these clubs in the market for a manager. Cec Garriott has not been re-hired by the Tyees and it would not be at all surprising if there is a third change there.
ANNUAL MEETING MONDAY
Shrinkage Forecast In WIL
By CLANCY LORANGER
[Vancouver Province, Nov. 7, 1953]
Baseball’s only 10-team league, the Western International, may lose that distinction Monday, when the Class A league holds its annual fall meeting in Victoria.
In appears that Yakima, which has been one of the loop’s better franchises, will fold up in ’54. Wenatchee, too, is in the doubtful class, although a citizens’ committee there has been trying to keep baseball alive.
If Yakima folds but Wenatchee hangs on, another entry will, of course, be needed to keep things balanced off. In that case, President Bob Brown says Tacoma would be welcomed, but he’s cool to a suggestion that Eugene, Ore., might join the loop.
Delegates are expected to cut the schedule, possibly by a week at each end, and the 1953 innovation, the split schedule, has its opponents.
These do not include President Brown, who says the split schedule not only helped enliven the race last summer, but also provided the biggest money-making post-season playoff in league history when Salem and Spokane met for the league title.
He pooh-poohed a Victoria report that said, “the split schedule must be considered a failure, and the four Canadians clubs are reportedly in favor of a Shaughnessy playoff.”
DIAMOND DUST – Monday’s meeting, at the Empress Hotel, will also decide on Bob Brown’s future as league president. He was in on a one-year basis …New face at the meeting will be that of Eddie Taylor, long-time Seattle coach, who has replaced Len Monheimer as Tri-City general manager … Some clubs want to bring in more kids, others would drop the rookie stipulation entirely … Seattle’s Dewey Soriano will be present as Capilano vice-president … Dewey, incidentally, has picked up a gutty pitcher, Ted Edmunds, from Yakima … And Bob Snyder has told friends he’s going to retire, although he might be persuaded to return to Vancouver.
W. I. L. Meeting May Drop Out Two Ball Clubs
Canadian - American Balance Seen As 4-4
VICTORIA, B.C., Nov. 7 (U.P.) — Western International League baseball officials meet here Monday in an annual meeting to tangle with such varied problems as cuts, climate, clubs, customers and cold cash.
On the agenda for discussion are:
1. Whether to replace Wenatchee and Yakima, both of whom evidently will drop out of the ten-team loop this year, or go with four Canadian and four American teams. Tacoma and Eugene, Ore., reportedly will have representatives at the meeting to put in a bid for franchises.
2. What to do about a shorter schedule to entice fans who stayed away in large numbers during the frigid weather near the tail-end of last year’s schedule.
3. Ways and means of luring more fans through the turnstiles.
4. How to cope with rising costs.
5. A discussion of Shaughnessy playoffs for the league which would see the top team at the end of the schedule meet the third team and the second team meet the fourth team with the winners playing off for the title.