Friday, July 20, 2007

Fire in Spokane

Western Int League Field to Be Rebuilt
By Bob Johnson.
Spokane, Wash.

Ferris Field, home of the Spokane Indians of the Western International League was destroyed by fire the night of October 29 with damage estimated at approximately $100,000.
It was the second time in three years that tragedy had struck at Spokane, holder of the Class B attendance record of 287,185 in 1947. In June, 1946, the Spokane team was virtually wiped out in a bus crash in the Cascade Mountains. Enroute to Bremerton, Wash., the bus carrying 15 players crashed through a guard railing and plunged 350 feet, taking nine players to their deaths and seriously injuring the others.
J. Lamar Butler, part owner of the Indians, said in a telephone interview from Los Angeles immediately after the fire that the Spokane park would be rebuilt of concrete and steel “so that another such fire will be impossible.”
Firemen were unable to determine the cause of the blaze. The entire wooden structure took fire with such rapidity that it was impossible to save more than a small section of the right and left field bleachers.
The park had seating accommodations for 7,223. Earlier this year, Butler had said he planned to increase the seating capacity to 11,000 but a shortage of construction materials prevented the project.
The entire structure was covered by insurance, Butler said.
The park was built in 1934 at the cost of $40,000, but had underground several major improvements in the past 24 years. It was named after George Ferris, city corporation counsel, who was a member of the Spokane Indians in the old Northwest League at the turn of the century.
Butler and Co-Owner Buddy Ryan of Sacramento purchased the club from Sam Collins at the end of the 1947 season. This year, working independently, the Indians captured the league crown, coming from nine games off the pace during the last month of the season to edge out Bremerton in the final week of the season with 102 wins and 64 defeats. There were no playoffs in the league.
- TSN, Nov. 10, 1948

Monday, July 16, 2007

Post-Season Stuff

Dolph Camilli has decided against purchasing the Spokane club, but said that he was going to the minors’ convention in December “and see what I can find.” The former major league first baseman, who finished the season as Spokane manager and led the club to the Western International League pennant, also denied rumors that he might pilot Sacramention of the Coast league next year. Dolph revealed that his Mendociono (Calif.) ranch is up for sale and that he hopes to buy a ranch in the vicinity of Santa Rosa.
- TSN, Oct. 20, 1948

Replacing Jack Wilson, who has entered private business, Bill Beard, reserve catcher of the Salem Western International League Senators. He was with Salem in 1947. Beard had a trial with Washington in the spring of 1938 after leaving the University of Willamette, and played with numerous minor league clubs, except for three years in the service.
-TSN, Nov. 24, 1948

San Francisco of the Pacific Coast League purchased controlling interest in the Yakima Western International League club, November 18. Dave [sic] Soriano, one of the Seals' pitchers is slated to become president and general manager.
- TSN, Nov. 24, 1948

Joe Orengo, released as manager of the Sacramento (Pacific Coast) Solons on September 27, has been offered a position with the San Francisco Seals as director of their farm system. Joe recently entered a candy manufacturing business in partnership with his brother in San Francisco and the berth with the Seals would not interfere. The San Francisco club is building up a farm system. Yakima in the Western International was purchased recently, working agreements with Salt Lake City in the Pioneer and Clovis in the West Texas-New Mexico League are in effect and another affiliate is to be added. Orengo would have a year-round job, handling player personel for the farms and serving as general trouble shooter.
- TSN, Dec. 1, 1948
[“May” turned out to be correct. Orengo spent 1949 managing Yakima.]

Ownership troubles of the Spokane (Western International) club officially ended with the completion of the deal whereby Roy Hotchkiss, Spokane sportsman, purchased the interests of John (Buddy) Ryan and became co-owner with J. Lamar Butler of Los Angeles. Pending, however, is a settlement of a $252,000 insurance claim for destruction of the park last October. The extent of reconstruction depends on the amount received.
- TSN, Mar. 9, 1949

John (Buddy) Ryan, who recently sold his part interest in the Spokane (Western International) club, was fined $500 and player Eugene Petralli made a free agent by President George M. Trautman of the National Association in a contract irregularity, called to his attention by the youngster’s mother. It was charged and admitted by Ryan that the player was given $1,500 for signing on April 1 of last year and was to be paid 50 per cent of his sale price, none of which considerations appears on the filed contract. Ryan was made ineligible to return to Organized Ball until the $500 fine is paid and the Spokane club and any with which Ryan may be connected were forbidden to contract Petralli for three years. Pending expiration of a 30-day appeal period, other clubs are also forbidden to negotiate for the player’s services.
-TSN, March 23, 1949

Edo Vanni

Vanni Returns To 'His' Club
SEATTLE, Sept. 22—Edo Vanni, fleet-footed outfielder who scampered to a new stolen base record in the Western International league this season, once more is wearing the
uniform of the Seattle Rainiers—"his club"—for six years.
Wednesday night at San Francisco, Vanni's single figured in a three-run seventh inning Rainier rally that tied the score in the second game of the final series with the Seals. An earlier double had gone to waste.
The nimble flychaser was signed as a free agent by Seattle last Sunday to help plug a gap left by the Boston Red Sox's immediate recall of Neill Sheridan.
Cut loose by Seattle early in 1947, Vanni played in the south that year and then joined the Spokane Indians of the W.I.L. circuit at the start of the '48 campaign. His base running and always dangerous bat were a major factor in the Tribe's stretch drive to a pennant.
Last week Vanni asked and got his release from Spokane. He suited up with the Rainiers the same day he signed here and saw action in the second game of a Sunday twin bill with Los Angeles. He went hitless in three trips.
Then he rode the bench until being named to Wednesday night's starting lineup.
Vanni has made no secret of the fact he feels this is his chance to "show his stuff" and again become a regular with the Rainiers.
Because he was added to the Seattle roster after the August 1 deadline, Vanni will not be eligible to compete in the PCL Governor's cup playoffs.
His six seasons with the Rainiers began in 1939 and were interrupted during the war years. He was Seattle's leading hitter in 1940 and 1946.

Mysterious Death

OK, this has only a tenuous link with the Western International League; Spencer Harris left Yakima to manage in the Far West League toward the end of this season. But this tale is an interesting one, so I include it on this blog.
Just one note — some of the wire stories make it out that Wera managed Oroville that year, others say he was the business manager. The Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball lists someone else as field manager.

Sleeping Pills Fatal To Ex-Major Leaguer
Oroville, Calif., Sept. 13 — (AP) — Julian Wera, 38-year-old baseball club manager and former big leaguer, took an overdose of sleeping pills early today, wrote farewell notes to his estranged wife, then slumped dead over his telephone as he started to make a call, Sheriff Herb Forward said.
The sheriff said the notes indicated Wera was despondent over his separation from his wife, Ruth, and their daughter, Jerry.
Wera, a former New York Yankee in the American Baseball league and a San Francisco Pacific Coast league player, was a Boston Redsox scout and a business manager of the Oroville club in the Far West baseball league. He played briefly for the Yankees in 1927. In his first major league game at the age of 16, he clouted Walter Johnson for a home run.

Julian Wera Confused at Report of Own Suicide
ROCHESTER, Minn., Sept. 14—(AP)—The man known here as Julian V. Wera, 45, former big league baseball player, was mystified Tuesday over the similar identity given a man whom police said committed suicide in Oroville, Calif.
The Rochester man said someone might have assumed his name "in order to gain my reputation as a ball player."
West coast officials of the Boston Red Sox said the dead man had been with the Boston Red Sox farm organization since the war.
Police Chief A.F. Kessler of Oroville, said Monday night a man who had given the name of Julian Wera, 39, business manager of the Sox' farm organization there, committed suicide by taking an overdose of sleeping tablets.
The Oroville man had given the press to understand he had played with the New York Yankees in 1927, that he had been with the Three Eye league and the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast league.
The man in Rochester told how he had played with the Yankees in 1927, had played with the Seals from 1931-35 and in the Three Eye league with Peoria, Ill., in about 1920, He said he had three brothers in Winona.
The Red Sox farm director, George Toporcer, said that "apparently we were misled."
Toporcer said the identity of the dead man in Oroville hasn't been positively established, "but friends of his in California telephoned me that he was William Wera, a cousin of Julian."
A year ago Toporcer said, he sent a manager to the Oroville team "on the assumption that he was Julian Wera of the Yankees.
All arrangements were carried on by a west coast representative of the Sox and Toporcer didn't see the candidate.
"I knew Julian. We played together with Syracuse. But when I said I didn't recognize the picture it was explained to me that Wera had a terrific war record and his face was all cracked up in the war," Toporcer explained.

This Is Wera, Wera Peculiar, But He Was Good Man
Oroville, Calif., Sept. 15.—(AP)—Some angles in the death of a minor league baseball manager continued to mystify officials today, but a couple of items were clear:
1. He was posed as Julian Wera, representing himself as a former New York Yankee and third baseman for the San. Francisco Seals. But the real Julian Wera is in Rochester, Minn., operating a food store.
2. Whatever the man's name really was, he did a good job managing the Oroville club in the Far West league, a farm of the Boston Red Sox. Oroville won the pennant this year.
Sheriff-Coroner W. H. Forward said the Oroville manger took an overdose of sleeping pills Monday after writing farewell notes to his estranged wife.
Posing as Wera, he was hired as Oroville's manager a year ago. Jerry
Donovan, president of the Far West League, explained the circumstances:
"I played outfield when Julian Wera played third base with the Seals in 1931. This fellow came out here and said a mine had blown up in his face during the war and he had a lot of plastic surgery done on it.
"I wouldn't have recognized him, but he stood up and said 'Hello.' His face sure looked different, but he talked as if he were the real Julian Wera. It's hard to believe."
In Boston, the Red Sox farm director, George Toporcer, said "apparently
we were misled."

Suicide Reveals Cousin Posing as Former Yankee
Oroville, Cal., Sept. 15—(U.P.)—Mrs. Ruth Wera, whose husband committed suicide after posing as a former New York baseball star for several years, admitted Wednesday that he had been secretive about details of his past life.
But she said she was confident that her late husband actually was a cousin of the famed Yankee infielder, Julian Wera.
Mrs. Wera said she thought her husband's true name was William J. Wera.
Her husband was business manager of the Oroville Red Sox. The hoax was revealed Monday after the baseball executive died of a lethal dote of sleeping tablets.
Officials of the Far West league also admitted they were taken in by "Wera." Jerry Donovan, president of the league, said many baseball
men who knew the real Wera during his playing days — including himself — had been fooled by the impostor for more than a year.
Meanwhile, the "real" Julian Wera, in Rochester, Minn., insisted he is "very much alive." He is now 45 years old and manager of a meat market
Mrs. Wera explained that she married the impostor, believing him to be the former major leaguer. She had no doubt of his identity until the genuine Wera revealed he was alive, she said.
The impostor claimed he had been wounded in Italy during the war, and said plastic surgery changed his features beyond recognition.
However, Sheriff-Coroner W. H. Forward said Wera's claims of a brilliant war record proved to be a fabrication by a check with military records.
Donovan revealed that "some doubt" as to whether the Oroville manager was the Yankees' Wera was raised several months ago by old friends.
"We decided to let it go," he said, "because he was doing a good job and that's all that really mattered."
But this suicide changed things embarrassingly, he added.
Records of the Oroville team,owned by the Boston Red Sox were found to be clear, with all funds accounted for. A suicide note hinted at domestic troubles.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Wednesday, September 15, 1948

               W  L  Pct.  GB
Spokane .... 102  64 .614  —
Bremerton ... 95  62 .605  2½
Victoria .... 93  68 .578  6½
Tacoma ...... 84  73 .535  13½
Vancouver ... 67  80 .456  25½
Salem ....... 73  88 .453  26½
Wenatchee ... 69  91 .431  30
Yakima ...... 52 109 .323  47½

SPOKANE, Sept. 15—The Spokane Indians won the Western International League championship tonigth by shutting out the Tacoma Tigers, 4-0, in the first game of a doiuble-header.
The championship climaxes an amazing late season driv ethat netted the Indians 45 victories in 56 games. It is the first time the league pennant has rested in Spokane Park since 1941.
Pitcher Frank Nelson earned his 24th victory of the season in administering the whitewashing. More than 9,000 fans roared in unison as second baseman George Valine gatherd in a pop fly for the final out that meant the league crown.
The sparking stretch drive for the championship has been largely engineered by manager Dolph Camilli who took over the club August 3 with the team in fourth place. Camilli replaced Buddy Ryan who was ordered away for a rest by his doctor.
Tacoma won the second half of the double-header, 10-9, in a wild affair that saw pitchers playing in most of the positions in the field.
Shortstop Leo Thomas was named “most valuable player” in a poll among fans during the last week. Thomas was transferred from third base to short in mid-season and turned in a high grade job in the field and at the plate.
First game
Tacoma ....... 000 000 0—0 3 2
Spokane ...... 010 003 x—4 5 0
Martineau and Kuper; Nelson and Sheely.
Second game
Tacoma ...... 002 350 0—10 12 4
Spokane ..... 001 401 2—9 13 4
Hargadon and Kuper, DeVito (3); Rossi, Hedington (4), Valine (6) and Descalso.

BREMERTON, Sept. 15—Bremerton Bluejackets divided a pair of 1-0 shutouts with Wenatchee Chiefs to finish two and a half games behind the Indians.
John Conant pitched his eighth shutout for the Jackets to set a league record. The previous mark of seven was made by Hub Kittle last year. The win was Conant's 23rd of the season.
Chiefs note — Glen Lierman won his first game since being called up to Sacramento tonight, 2-1 over Hollywood.
First game
Wenatchee ....... 000 000 0—0 2 1
Bremerton ......... 000 100 x—1 4 2
McCollum and Gardner; Conant and Ronning.
Second game
Wenatchee ....... 000 000 010—1 5 0
Bremerton ......... 000 000 000—0 3 0
Stevens and Dalrymple; Marshall, Hittle (9) and Volpi.

SALEM, Sept. 15—Victoria Athletics dropped a 5-4 decision to the Salem Senators tongiht in a farcical ending to tehir season. The result gave the Solons their ninth win in 23 clashes with the A's this season.
Salem used seven pitchers—the bulk of them infielders—in the finale. The oddly-assorted hurling battalion combined to hold the A's to nine blows while the Solons blasted Lou Kubiak—an outfielder—for 16 hits.
Salem sewed up the game with a four.hit burst in the ninth that produced two runs.
Bill Harmsen, playing in the outfield, banged in three runs for the A's with a triple in the fourth.
Victoria ........ 000 310 000—4 9 0
Salem .......... 001 010 102—5 16 0
Kubiak and Morgan, Balassi (6), McNulty, Samhammer (3), Nunes (4), Barr (6), Sinovic (7), Wert (8), Spaeter (9) and Brown.

YAKIMA, Sept. 15—Rookie Vern Kindsfather pitched five-hit ball, and rapped out a single, a double and a triple, as the Vancouver Capilanos encased the Yakima Packers, 16-4, in the Western International League season closer.
Vancouver ..... 213 410 320—16 19 0
Yakima .......... 100 010 020—4 5 6
Kindsfather and Choukalas; Freeman, Drilling (3) and Peterson.

Tuesday, September 14, 1948

               W  L  Pct. GB
Spokane .... 101  63 .616 —
Bremerton ... 94  61 .606 2½
Victoria .... 93  67 .581 6
Tacoma ...... 83  72 .535 16½
Vancouver ... 66  80 .452 26
Salem ....... 72  88 .450 27
Wenatchee ... 68  90 .430 30
Yakima ...... 52 108 .325 47

SPOKANE, Sept. 14—Spokane's amazing Indians are virtually in.
The Spokes measured their flagpole for the Western International League pennant tonight by sweeping a doubleheader from Tacoma on the strength of John Cordell's iron-man act.
The rubber-armed hurler set the Tigers down with six hits in each game as the Indians seized 6-3 and 15-1 victories. The wins opened Spokane's margin over rain idle Bremerton to two and a half games.
First game
Tacoma ....... 101 000 1—3 6 0
Spokane ...... 030 030 x—6 8 1
Clary and Hargadon; Cordell and Sheely.
Second game
Tacoma ....... 000 001 000—1 6 0
Spokane ...... 301 062 03x—15 16 2
Lazor, Clary (5), Lewis (6) and Kuper; Cordell and Sheely.

SALEM, Sept. 14—Joe Blankenship cracked the all-time Western International League win record tonight in a 12-inning, 4-3 victory obver the Salem Senators.
It was his 25th triumph of the season against ten losses, breaking the mark of 24 set by Oscar "Red" Miller of Yakima in 1937.
Lou Kubiak and Del Owens singled in the 12th and Kubiak dashed home from third after a foul-out to first sacker Jim Wert. Wert fell down and was unable to throw out the runner.
Blankenship would have won the game in regulation time except for an error by Russ Walseth with two out in the ninth. That filled the bases and Wert followed with a two-run single to tie the score.
Victoria ...... 000 110 010 001—4 11 2
Salem ........ 000 010 002 000—3 7 3
Blankenship and Recca; Olson and Samhammer.

YAKIMA, Sept. 14—Charlie Peterson played an inning at each position for the Packers—the only highlight for Yakima fans tonight as their Western International League club was thumped 13-2 by the Vancouver Capilanos.
Peterson wound up his trip around the field in the ninth inning on the mound, where he gave up no runs.
Vancouver mashed Max Strait and replacement Dick Drilling for ten runs in second and third inning.
Charlie Mead, Orrin Snyder and Joe Kaney had three hits apiece, while Len Tran batted in three runs and Buddy Hjelmaa, two.
Vancouver ..... 046 001 200—13 17 2
Yakima .......... 010 000 010—2 10 4
Snyder and Choukoulas; Strait, D. Drilling (3), Peterson (9) and Constantino, Peterson (8) and Orteig (9).

Wenatchee and Bremerton, halted by rain after an inning.

Monday, September 13, 1948

               W  L  Pct. GB
Spokane ..... 99  63 .611 —
Bremerton ... 94  61 .606 1½
Victoria .... 92  67 .579 5½
Tacoma ...... 83  70 .542 11½
Salem ....... 72  87 .453 25½
Vancouver ... 65  80 .448 25½
Wenatchee ... 68  90 .420 29½
Yakima ...... 52 107 .327 45½

SALEM, Sept. 13—Victoria Athletics got only four hits tonight but took advantage of six Salem errors to defeat the Senators, 6-3, in the opening game of their final Western International League series here. The victory was the fifth straight for the A's.
Al Goot started on the mound for the Athletics and spotted the Solons a three-run lead. He took control after the third and went the route for the first time to notch his third triumph against as many defeats.
The A's knotted the count with a three-run rally on a like number of Salem miscues in the fourth and wound up the scoring in the sixth on singles by Sal Recca, Babe Jensen and a Solon error.
The Norbertmen were the victims of a triple killing by the Senators in the eighth—the first in Salem history.
Victoria ..... 000 303 000—6 4 0
Salem ....... 102 000 000—3 6 6
Goot and Morgan; Foster and Samhammer.

BREMERTON, Sept. 13—The Wenatchee Chiefs edged the Bremerton Bluejackets, 4-3. Two Bremerton errors and a pair of walks gave Wenatchee four runs—all the Chiefs needed—in the fourth inning as the Tars dropped a game and a half and five percentage points behind the Indians.
Wenatchee ........ 000 400 000—4 6 2
Bremerton .......... 030 000 000—3 9 3
McCollum and Dalrymple; Hittle, Conant (9) and Volpi.

Vancouver ..... 500 002 100—8 10 3
Yakima .......... 024 102 00x—9 10 3
Manier, Costello (4) and Choukalas; Ford, B. Drilling (9) and Constantino, Peterson ( ).

First game
Tacoma ......... 000 100 0—1 3 1
Spokane ........ 102 000 x—3 5 0
Fortier and Hargadon; Orphal and Rossi.
Second game
Tacoma ........ 104 030 O12—11 17 5
Spokane ....... 103 500 001—10 11 2
Fortier, Clary (4), Tran (5) and Kuper; Teagan, Babbitt (3), Orphal (9), Werbowski (9) and Rossi.