Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Tuesday, August 24, 1954

               W  L  Pct GB
Lewiston .... 33 22 .600 —
Salem ....... 28 19 .596 —
Yakima ...... 31 22 .585 1
Vancouver ... 26 19 .578 2
Edmonton .... 28 24 .520 4½
Tri-City .... 19 32 .373 12
Wenatchee ... 18 35 .340 14½

KENNEWICK [Tri-City Herald, August 24, 1954]—If the Tri-City Braves intend to do anything about Salem's late season drive toward second-half honors, It will have to come tonight in the doubleheader at Sanders Field.
The two teams square off in the first game beginning at 7 p.m. It will also be stockholder's night, with general manager Eddie Taylor requesting that all Tri-City Athletic Association stockholders attend and bring two or three "paying" guests.
The Association has 400 stockholders.
In the series opener with Salem G. M. Hugh Luby's "natural rival" Senators, the Braves rassled with them for 11 innings, three hours and 10 minutes Tuesday night before the roof caved in in the top of the final frame, and Tri-City lost, 9-4.
Up to that point it was a tense, exciting game with an above average share of weird incidents.
Topping the list of oddities was a Salem triple play that threw the game into extra innings.
Artie Wilson, Len Tran, and Vic Buccola were the goats, along with a couple or three Salem players who blundered into the triple killing.
With none away and but one run needed to win, Vic Buccola led off with his second hit of the night. Len Tran sacrificed and Buccola was safe at second on an error.
Artie Wilson, the next batter, made a couple attempts to bunt and failed. Then he lined a hot low fly ball to Bob Kellogg at third base.
All manner of strange things happened. Both Buccola and Tran thought the ball was trapped and were off and running. Kellogg pegged to second in an effort to trap Buccola off the bag but his throw was wild and went out into right field.
Mel Krause, the rightfielder, also thinking the ball was trapped, pegged into Catcher Dennis Luby in an effort to prevent Buccola from "scoring."
By this time Buccola was standing on third, Tran was on second and a good share of the Salem infield was standing on second base frantically calling for the ball.
Luby pegged it to second, Buccola was called out, and then the throw went to first where Tran was called out.
The ninth inning was not the only one where Tri-City missed a chance to score a winning run. In the eighth, Jack Warren led off with a double but got no further.
In the tenth, Bob Moniz led off with a single and was sacrificed to second. Warren was intentionally walked and Dick Watson struck out. Edo Vanni, playing manager, came on to bat for Jess Dobernic, and struck out. Ironically, it was but the fourth time Vanni has struck out in more than 250 times at bat this season.
Even in the bottom of the 11th, Tri-City had two runners in scoring position but couldn't bring them in.
Tom Herrara, Salem pitcher who went the distance, won his own game when he singled Luby home in the top of the 11th. Then followed an error, two singles and a triple by Harry Warner which iced the game.
All of the five runs came off Tri-City's Don Robertson, who replaced Dobernic. He was charged with the loss, his ninth against 16 wins.
The Salem victory enabled the Senators to gain a half-game on league-leading Lewiston. The Senators are now four percentage points out of first.
Games between Lewiston and Yakima and Edmonton and Vancouver were postponed because of rain. Those same teams play tonight, while cellar-dwelling Wenatchee is idle.
Salem ....... 200 000 200 05—9 15 1
Tri-City .... 000 300 100 00—4 10 4
Herrara and Luby; Hemphill, Dobernic (7), Robertson (11) and Johnson.

Yakima at Lewiston, postponed, rain.
Edmonton at Vancouver, postponed, wet grounds.

Sports Notes
[Tri-City Herald, August 25, 1954]
Recently, when Luke Easter, San Diego firstbaseman, belted one over the centerfield fence at Hollywood’s Gilmore (no relation) Field, it was pointed out that was the sixth home run knocked over the 400-foot barrier. Easter had hit one over once before so actually only five men have turned the trick.
This seems to be a surprising low production considering Tri-City’s centerfield fence is an equal distance away. Awhile back, Vic Buccola, Tri-City firstbaseman and the only player who has played in the park every year since it was built, myself and others figured at least a dozen have been hit over the centerfield wall at Sanders with five or six clearing the scoreboard.
However, there are differences. First off, the Hollywood park centerfield wall is 25 feet high while Sanders field wall is 12-14. (Later on I'll show it isn’t even that high.)
Then too, here in the Banana Belt, we have what Tri-City pitcher Don Robertson calls a “movement of air.”
Which brings us up to the point of this little discussion.
* * *
That Movement Of Air

Ordinarily, one would think a park with 340-foot right and left field walls and a 400-foot ccnterfield wall would be a fair pitcher’s park. But Robertson says not so, and cites two or three around the league which are much better designed for holding earned run averages down.
“In this park, a high fly ball blows out of here,” Don said. “They may look like they are hit hard but when I was playing outfield those homers just blooped over the fence about 10 or 15 feet on the other side.”
Well, what about the days when the wind isn't blowing and the flag in centerfield is hanging limp on the pole.
“There's still a movement of air,” Don said. “Tell you what to do. You go out to home plate and throw a ball as hard as you can toward centerfield. Then have some one mark the spot where it lands. Then go out to that spot and try to throw a ball back to home plate. You’ll be lucky if you get it back as far as the pitcher's mound!”
(Don’s giving me credit for a throwing arm I don'’t possess. I would have a rough time getting as far as the pitcher’s mound on the home plate-to-centerfield throw.)
* * *
She Slopes A Bit

Anyhow, Don is right but it isn't so much that movement of air as it is the sloping Sanders Field. It doesn't appear that way, but Hank Jepson, the former groundkeeper, put a surveying instrument on home plate last winter and took a look around.
He found that the bottom of the fences are some six feet below home plate. The infield also slopes off anywhere up to a foot to 18 inches.
This means the batter is standing on a low mound while the defensive team is on the lower side of a slope. It also means, in effect, the wall around Sanders Field is more like “six feet” high than 12-14 feet.
* * *
Looks Like A Mountain
This brings about some wierd and wonderful results, aside from the tendency of high fly balls to sail over the fence.
For example, some player from every visiting team here invariably points to the pitcher’s mound and cracks:
“Do you get a medal for climbing that mountain?”
But the mound is the standard 15 inches above home plate. It’s the surrounding infield that its low.
The only solution to the sloping field situation would be to fill ‘er up. But that would have the Matheson Sand and Gravel trucks going for three summers, and would either break association president Harold Matheson, or the association.
Anyhow, the field itself is still one of the best in the league — slope and all.

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