Monday, 1 September 2008

WIL Death Fallout

Dewey Wants PCL Berth For Our Leagueless Caps
(Sun Sports Editor)
[Vancouver Sun, Sept. 28, 1954]

NEW YORK—Dewey Soriano, vice president of Vancouver Capilano Baseball Club, expressed hope here Monday a Pacific Coast club will shift its franchise to the British Columbia city.
Soriano, general manager of Seattle Rainiers, parent organization of Caps, was shocked and disappointed when told the Western International League, of which Caps are a member, has decided to call it quits.
Soriano said “at present, I don’t know of any Coast League club which plans to shift a franchise. But with the situation clearing in Vancouver something may develop.
“A Coast League club in Vancouver would mean healthy, keen rivalry between Seattle and Vancouver and the fans would be given the type of baseball they so richly deserve.”
* * *
Soriano arrived here late Monday night from Cleveland where he had discussions with the management of the American League pennant winners.
He was general manager of the Caps in 1953.
“It seems inconceivable to me the WIL clubs didn’t find a way of meeting difficulties in order to continue a league which has meant so much to the Pacific Northwest,” he said.
“I am definitely of the opinion the suggestion to operate a Class C league wouldn’t be the answer, especially not in Vancouver.
“It would be tough to sell such a low brand of baseball to Vancouver where the fans have become used to watching a top-notch grade A calibre and deserve it.
“As soon as I get back from the World Series and have an opportunity to discuss the situation with Capilano president Tom English, we will find out what can be done to salvage top grade professional baseball for Vancouver.
“We all know 1954 was an unusual year. Every club on the coast from the Coast League to minor amateur baseball suffered from adverse weather,
“We have to keep in mind that Vancouver, over the last couple of years, as become a major athletic centre on the North American continent.
“We had the British Empire Games, we have major league football in the Lions, the grade of hockey is second only to the National league, baseball must keep up.

Keith Matthews

[Vancouver News-Herald, Sept. 28, 1954]
Another Way To Skin The Kitten
Robert Abel, a learned gentleman who leads the Western International baseball league as its president, who one had found political ambitions in the state of Washington. He knows, in other words, that in order to skin a cat, there is more than the one way to arrive at that end.
On the past weekend, Edmonton—the unwashed brother, the unwanted member of the family, so to speak—must have shocked the bejabbers out of WIL directors by threatening to sue if any attempt were made to eliminate the franchise from another season of operation.
That immediately threw the meeting into a state of confusion—a state without which no WIL gathering would feel homey.
We are not suggesting that Abel, or any other, had an ulterior motive in the final decision to dissolve. We are saying, however, that Edmonton’s wish to remain, more or less forced the league to get out from under—at least for the time being.
Now, there is nothing to prevent those within the league who wish to continue, to regroup their forces for 1955 and thereby arrive at the same solution which was originally intended—that of eliminating Edmonton.
What happens to Vancouver in the transition remains to be seen.
Bill’s Booster For Better Ball
The possibility of a Pacific Coast League franchise has been mentioned and there is more in this than just gossip.
It is a fact, for instance, that both Oakland and Sacramento, can be bought for not too rambunctious price. The problem here is how much does Vancouver want that type of baseball, and can we support it?
Against a venture into the Coast League which, of course, would necessitate greater overhead, is the profit and loss statement of past years’ operation in the Class A WIL.
We are told that Vancouver lost $53,000, give or take a dollar or twenty-five, in 1954. It will take an overtime shift or two to cap the bottles which will return the brewery the lost expense. Money, then, is the most powerful agitator against an operation which, from the start, would automatically increase the budget.
For such a move is the growth of Vancouver itself and the magnificent comparative record achieved by the B.C. Lions in the city’s first try at a major league sport.
Bill Brenner, being of sound mind and able body, he sez, believes the time has indeed arrived when Vancouver must think in terms of Coast League baseball. For this reason, Bill is not even remotely interested in a return to the WIL, even if it adopts a new face.
Maybe Price of Beer Will Go Up
Now that we are on the Brenner subject, let the records show that he was a greatly disillusioned young man at the conclusion of this season.
Bill brought a championship to Vancouver in the year ’54. It was his second but unlike 1947 when a fledgling manager named Brenner excited an entire city with his victory, nobody cared about this one.
It has been said before the reason simply must be that our town has outgrown the Wenatchees and the Lewistons and the Yakimas.
Let them, if they will reorganize and play in their cracker-box ball parks.
Let the Capilanos, meanwhile, move into a more fitting habitation, at the risk of seeing the price of the beloved beer raised if it is still the only answer.

Sports Notes
[Tri-City Herald, Sept. 28, 1954]
Now that the Western International league has gone through with the expected dissolution and plans have been made by the five U. S. teams, to form a new loop, it is time to talk of who shall head this geographically tighter organization.
Already, some candidates have been mentioned: Babe Hollingberry of Yakima, Arthur Pohlman of Wenatchee, Bob Brown of Vancouver, and Bob Abel of Tacoma. Presumably, Abel’s job with the former Western International league ends with the dissolution of the league.
This is not a “kick him out” move on my part since there is no real objection here to Abel as a personality and administrator, but because of other circumstances, the league should consider a change in leadership.
Abel is presently handicapped in the operation of the league by several things. Under the old set-up, since Tacoma did not have a team in the league, he may have lost some contact with the organization. This itself is not too serious and there is a strong possibility Tacoma will have a team in the new organization.
Most important is, if the league is going to have adequate rules and safeguards and have them enforced, it will call for the services of a full-time man, a man familiar with all aspects of the league, one who is not afraid to crack down on violators, and one who can get around to the various cities entered and do a little tub-thumping.
* * *
A Plug For Luby

Which brings us up to the point of the issue. Personally, I am beating the drums for Hugh Luby, Salem manager last year.
Presumably, if one proposes a candidate, he should have some reason for doing so. Okay, here are some reasons. First off, Hugh has been running the league most of the time anyway. Secondly, He knows all the ins and outs of the league. Third, he is well familiar with all aspects of baseball. Fourth, he has had front office experience in conducting the job of running the Salem front office. Fifth he is the kind of character liked by all those who know him.
* * *
He Would Take It

The question is would he take the job if it were offered. This business of plugging Hugh for league president isn’t any thing new with me so when Salem played its final series of the season here I backed him off in the corner and asked him.
“Sure, I would take it,” Luby said, “if they organize the league so there is some sense to it. And the setup would have to be such that a guy could operate. You couldn’t run things with your hands tied.”
But Hugh also made it clear he wouldn’t operate out of the generosity of his heart or just because he loves the dear old game of baseball and the WIL.
“How much moola,” he said, with a twinkle in his eye.
I told him he could rassle with the league brass on that issue but at least it’s another point in his favor. A guy on a salary is going to do something to earn it.
I’ll let the case rest.
* * *
Prairie Loop Plan Laid

The move to eliminate Edmonton long has been based on the idea that the Canadian prairie city would be better off in a league of its own made up with towns and team coming from the areas where natural rivalry has been built up through football and hockey.
The idea is not one of the American faction’s. Canadian sportwriters have long been calling for such a league. Recently, the strong prairie semi-pro league made up of five towns in Canada asked five other towns to send entries to a winter meeting.
Included on the invited list were Edmonton and Calgary and it is possible a move may be made to form a professional baseball league from there.

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