Sunday, 10 August 2008

Tuesday, June 29, 1954

                W  L  Pct GB
Vancouver .... 38 20 .655 —
Yakima ....... 36 28 .563 5
Edmonton ..... 27 26 .509 8½
Lewiston ..... 30 31 .492 9½
Tri-City ..... 31 33 .484 10
Victoria ..... 27 33 .450 12
Wenatchee .... 29 36 .446 12½
Salem ........ 29 37 .439 13

VANCOUVER [Clancy Loranger, June 30]—There’s a tradition in the major leagues that the teams in first pace on July 4 are supposed to win the pennants. In the Western International League, it’s more than a tradition—it’s a fact, for the league schedule of course is divided into two halves.
Vancouver Capilanos, in case you hadn’t heard, are favored to be the recipients when they hand out the first half crown next week. They could be kings before then, depending on the manner in which they handle their lone rivals for the title, Yakima Bears, in an all-important five-game series starting here Thursday.
There are two games on the holiday, 2:30 and 8:15, with George Nicholas and Pete Hernandez chosen to get the Caps off on the right foot. There’s another doubleheader Friday, at 7 p.m., and a single game Saturday, by which time the locals could have the championship all neatly tied up.
Vancouver finishes its first half schedule with two doubleheaders in Salem July 4 and 5. And there’s still a matter of the third game in the current series with Hugh Luby’s Senators, which winds up tonight, with Bob Roberts pitching for the Caps.
This three-game set is all square, Bill Brenner evening it up last night with another of his fine pitching performances. Bill allowed just eight hits, all singles, and didn’t walk a man as he became the second 10-hgame winner on the staff. Nicholas is the other.
The Caps won it with a four-run uprising in the fifth on three hits and three walks, two of them intentional.
PROVINCE STARS—Arnie Hallgren, back in action again, with a double that bounced off the left field wall … Bill Brenner, who actually didn’t have his best stuff operating ... and Salem’s Ernie Domenichelli, who allowed just seven hits.
Salem ........... 000 100 000—1 8 1
Vancouver ..... 100 040 00x—5 7 2
Domenichelli and Luby; Brenner and Pesut.

VICTORIA [Jim Tang, Colonist, June 30]—Neither club even had a mathematical chance for first-half honors in the WIL, but Lewiston Broncs, played as if they were in the seventh game of the World Series at Royal Athletic Park last night.
What came out wasn’t too much in the way of baseball but it took three hours and 34 minutes before the Tyees conceded defeat in the 10th inning, 18-14, in a wild and woolly affair in which the Tyees forced a 10th inning by scoring six runs in the ninth after the second out had been made.
Victoria-manager Don Pries, a hard loser, tried everything to win this one. He used six pitchers as pitchers and a seventh as a pinch-hitter while tossing 16 men into the affray. But he came out on the bottom as he could find nobody on the mound staff who could stop the Broncs.
The six Victoria pitchers gave up a combined total of 15 bases on balls, 16 singles, two home runs, a triples and a double, yet the Tyees lost it by the margin of about two feet in the wild ninth.
Victoria grabbed a 4-1 lead off veteran Guy Fletcher in the early innings but Bill Prior, who pitched two fine innings, couldn’t get past the fifth when the Broncs scored four times to take a 6-4.
Mike Kanshin gave it a whirl until the Victoria eighth and by that time, the Lewistons had a 9-5 margin.
Then the fun started, just in time to save what had been a drab sort of affair. Eddie Lake walked and Don Lundberg hit one out of the park to make it 9-7. Mel Stein doubled, went to third as Pries came though with a pinch single for the second night in a row, and scored on an error.
John Tierney, however, couldn’t get untracked in the ninth as he went in to keep the Tyees close. Before Bob Drilling got the last man out, the Broncs had five more runs an apparently safe 14-8 lead.
But southpaw Jack Martin, who relieved Fletcher in the eighth, ran into some tough luck in the Victoria ninth. He got Tom Perez and Stein out around walks to Lake and Lundberg. Then Bill Bottler came up to hit for Drilling. He couldn’t do a thing with Martin but he picked the right time to swing at a third strike. The ball got away from catcher Clint Cameron, who made a bad toss to first base.
That loaded the bags. Jackson tripled to score three; Elmer Clow, who replaced Steve Mesner at third base, singled to score Jackson and Dain Clay picked on a 3-1 pitch for Victoria’s third home run and it was all tied up at 14-14.
Neil Sheridan hit one which appeared on its way out of the park. But it hit about two feet from the top of the fence and he died on second base with a double and the Broncs got another chance.
Joe Nicholas became the fifth Victoria pitcher in the 10th. He promptly walked Martin and Nick Cannuli sacrificed. Al Heist was given an intentional base on balls and southpaw Joe [sic] Page was brought in to pitch to the lefthanded-hitting Bob Williams.
Page couldn’t find the strike zone. He walked Williams, then Eddie Bockman, to force in the go-ahead run. Don Hunter followed with the only hit of the inning for the second run and Russ Rosburg and Cameron were walked to force in two more before Page ended with a flourish by striking out Mel Wasley and Martin.
That was enough for the Tyees, who went down in order in their half.
The two clubs complete their series tonight. Al Yaylian looms as the probable Lewiston choice. Pries will have to pick from one of the six who worked last night or use Berlyn Hodges, Bottler or Hal Flinn.
Lewiston ...... 001 141 115 4—18 20 3
Victoria ........ 121 010 036 0—14 16 0
Fletcher, Martin (8) and Cameron; Prior, Kanshin (5), Tierney (8), Drilling (9), Nicholas (10), Page (10) and Lundberg.

EDMONTON [Tri-City Herald, June 30]—Playing manager Edo Vanni, with his team riding high on a six-game winning streak, will probably start Dale Bloom against the Edmonton Eskimoes [sic] tonight in the second game of the series there.
The Braves won the opener 9-1 with Don Robertson on the mound. The Lewiston Broncs also won Tuesday night to retain a narrow half-game lead over Tri-City for fourth-place in the League standings.
Thursday Tri-City and Edmonton will play a split doubleheader and Friday they will play a single game. Then Tri-City will return home for the two twin-bills Sunday and Monday.
Robertson, righthander who can give up hits by the bushel and few runs, won his ninth against three losses in the Edmonton opener.
Robertson gave up 11 base blows, four of them doubles, but Edmonton could get but one lone run in the 4th inning. Aiding in the cut-down run production was Robertson’s stinginess with bases on balls. He walked but two. Also helping was Tri-City’s errorless defensive play plus three double plays.
The lone Edmonton run tied the game at that point. Tri-City had scored once in the top of the fourth on three hits.
Things then sailed smoothly for both teams until Tri-City caved the roof in the top of the seventh. When it was over, the Braves batted through the order and halfway down again. Terry Carroll, the leadoff man, picked up two singles and three runs-batted-in.
Altogether, Tri-City got six singles and three walks. Edmonton starter John Conant was driven from the mound and reliefer Charlie LeBrun suffered a similar fate. Jack Widner came in and finally put down the uprising.
Tri-City got a game total of 12 base hits and there wasn’t an extra-base one in the lot.
Tri-City ........ 000 100 800—9 12 0
Edmonton ..... 000 100 000—1 11 2
Robertson and Warren; Conant, LeBrun (7), Widner (7) and Prentice.

EPHRATA, Wash., June 29 — Yakima kept even with Vancouver in its dying battle for a share in first-half Western International League honors with a 7-3 win over Wenatchee
in a baseball game played here Tuesday evening.
Yakima ............ 000 221 101—7 15 0
Wenatchee ...... 001 011 000—3 15 0
Young, Schaening (6) and Summers; Oubre and Helmuth.

Club Not Broke But Needs Fans
[Tri City Herald, June 30, 1954]
A group of Tri-City Athletic Association stockholders meeting at the Desert Inn in Richland Tuesday night heard the ball club isn’t broke yet. Tri-City Braves are pretty certain to finish the season, but attendance will have to hold up or increase to avoid red ink before the year is out.
Reporting on the situation was Harold Matheson, president of the association.
Matheson gave a financial run down on “accounts receivable” and money owned and Tri-City has something under $1,000 in the till. However, this can not be construed as profit for the first half since the cost of operating the club, running to some $130,000 a year, goes on and on.
The group of stockholders, after question-and-answer sessions, took two actions designed to increase attendance at Sanders Field:
1. Voted that all children under 12 accompanied by an adult will be admitted free.
2. Appointed a committee headed by Ray Mussleman and W.R. Willits to promote the team among those Tri-Citians who have not been turning out to games.
In less official action, Braves booster tickets were taken by many stockholders to sell in the Tri-Cities and those present were asked to urge neighbors, acquaintances and friends to turn out to the games.
Mussleman’s appointment to the committee came after he stated bluntly, “We have to sell baseball to the area.”
He proposed that an introductory letter be sent out to Tri-Citians selected at random. The letter would contain two tickets, which along with one dollar, would admit two adults.
The letter idea met with a warm reception from the board and the plan will be followed through.
In somewhat of a surprise move, general manager Eddie Taylor offered to cut himself from the payroll if the stockholders felt it would save the club money. However, the offer was quickly rejected by both the board and the stockholders present and after the meeting both Taylor and the board were given a vote of confidence.
In the informal session, several topics ranging from the sale of Des Charouhas to the future of the league were discussed.
Matheson said he was as much responsible for Charouhas’ sale as anyone. “We had five outfielders,” he said, “and I told Taylor and playing manager Edo Vanni to cut one.”
He pointed out Charouhas had a fair-sized salary and “We were able to get some money by selling him. We did net know at the time how popular he was.”
Matheson said a Tri-City Herald quote that Charouhas would he released had he not been sold was in error. The quote came from Taylor.
Matheson told of getting several chances to sign players now with other teams in the league. In almost all of the cases, the salaries and bonuses demanded were higher than the limit set by the association before the season started.
Matheson predicted that two of the present clubs would have trouble finishing the season and it was his personal opinion that the WIL would soon be down to a six-team league.
He said he and Hugh Luby, Salem general manager, and Bob Brown, former league president, are on a league committee which is “studying the cost of operation of a Class A league.”
Matheson said no recommendations are officially set but it looks as if the committee will ask a veteran limit and a reduction in the number of teams with its subsequent cut in travel costs.


[[Vancouver News-Herald, June 30, 1954]
Brenner Picks Up the Challenge
The time was 1952, and the place was Lewiston, The fellow wearing the grumpy face was “Sweet Willy-am” Brenner, manager of the local WIL team.
And Brenner had excellent cause for wishing he was back home in Clarkston, Washington. It was the night before his club’s season opener, and Bill, catcher-manager for the Broncs, was fresh out of pitchers.
“Why not go in there yourself,” piped outfielder Charlie Mead, at the same time failing to hide a wry grin. “Sure, Bill, we’ll give you lots of support,” bravely added first baseman Butch Moran.
The rest of the story you’ll find in the WIL record books.
Disdainfully casting aside his mask and pads, Bill went out and knuckleballed Tri-City into a 4-2 defeat. Before the season finished, Bill’s knuckle—they call it a googly ball in cricket—won 21 games, tops in the league.
The next season, Bill ran up 22 victories and is safely on the way to winning another 20 for the Caps this year.
It’s Winds That Does It, He Says
Actually, Brenner entered pro ranks as a pitcher after graduating from Olympic high school in 1939. He was signed by Hollywood of the Coast League, and the Stars shipped him to Bellingham of the WIL, where Ken Penner converted him into a catcher.
“I used to have my knuckler event then,” claims Bill,”but my best pitch was a fast ball, honest.”
Asked to elaborate on his knuckler, Bill advised that wind is the key factor. “When the ball leaves my hand, it’s on its own. The wind currents make it jump. If the wind is behind me, I haven’t got a thing. Bt if it’s against me, I’m fine,” he explained.

Sports Notes

[Tri-City Herald, June 30, 1954]
What big strapping bruiser is the “iron man” of the Western International League?
Oddly, my nomination will be Vic Buccola, a guy who is.built on such slim lines that his teammates frequently rib him about walking around on “birdlegs.”
So far this season, Vic has played every inning of every game. That, coupled with his last season when he played every inning of every game runs the known total to 200 even. Actually, the figure is higher than that since there was another string of consecutive games back in 1952.
He missed seven that year, the last one coming in late August.
Vic was the only Tri-City player to play every inning of every game last year. Terry Carrol had a hand in every came but some of them were in pinchhitting or pinchrunning roles.
And this season Vic Is the only Tri-City player who stands a chance of playing in every game. All the others have missed one for one reason or another.
Each time Vic plays in another game, he sets a league record. Counting the opener at Edmonton, Vic’s total Western International League games played now is 1,155.
There is no indication it will end soon. First of all, what manager would bench a guy even for one game when he is hitting .350 and is the best defensive first-baseman in the league? And Vic will play the game but he isn’t going to throw his 155 pounds around and get hurt if he can avoid it.
Vic knows that an injured player doesn’t do him or his team any good and personally dislikes exhibition games because of the possibility he or another good player on the team might be injured.
* * *
He Has Average Of .294

The one thing that will end Vic’s playing career, maybe is a steady-paying job in something else.
“I’d quit baseball tomorrow if I could make as much at something else,” Vic said awhile back.
Vic’s WIL playing career started back in 1941 when he played 23 games at Spokane. He was in the Pacific Coast league through part of 1946, 1947 and 1948 plus a few weeks at Atlanta in the Southern Association in 1947.
The rest of the time since then he has been in the Willy league. He came to Tri-City from Victoria in 1950 and has been here ever since.
During all those years, Vic has compiled an over-all WIL batting average of .294. He has led the league defensively in 1948, 1949, 1951 and 1953. This year he is threatening to have his best season at the plate in all the years he has played professional baseball. Right now he is hitting over .300 and if the average keeps up there, it will surpass his previous high of .320 hit in 1949 at Victoria.
Every once in a while, there is talk of special nights for various players. Here, if anyone, is the guy among the Braves who probably deserves a special night, not just because he is playing good this season, but because of his long service in the league.
* * *
Beanie’s Average Falls

For the first time since joining the Braves, Jack Warren’s batting average fell below the .300 mark last week. The league batting champion had a .295 at one time.
Beanie, of course, is well aware his hitting percentage is way down, but takes the philosophical view, “That maybe I am slumpin’ off early and will come in strong toward the end.”
Warren also contends that the sacrifice fly rule hurls more than helps this year. “Used to be a man would go to the plate with a runner on third and go for a hit. Now you try to hit a fly ball to the outfield and score that runner without costing anything. So what happens? You get up there and bounce out.”
Wouldn’t it be easier to forget about trying to score that runner from third by means of a sacrifice and step up there like you intended to hit the ball?
“Yeah, if you can do it. But always you try for a fly ball for the outfield,” he replied as if the temptation were too strong.
Personal observation indicates there are other reasons why Jack is low in batting percentages compared with last season. First of all, pitchers know him and aren’t going to throw him anything good. The result is he has to go for more bad ones than he ordinarily would in order to hit at all.
* * *
Special Folding Section

So many minor league teams and leagues are folding nowadays that the Sporting News devotes a full page to them about every issue. Besides, the headline “Spokane, Calgary Quit; WI CUT to Eight Clubs,” there are “Tar Heel Loop Collapses When Shelby Club Folds,” and “Iola Taken over by League, St. Joseph Club Staggering.”
That Tar Heel Loop story is an interesting one.
“The Tar Heel league was formed in 1953 with ten teams,” the story said. "It was reorganized as a four-team circuit this spring.”
There is something about it that sounds familiar. So far the WIL isn’t down to four but there is a strong possibility it will be down to six before the second half begins. Oddly, two of the clubs that talked as if everything was smooth sailing at the Spokane meeting are the ones that are again having trouble.

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