Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Yakima Packers 1948 Preview

Yakima Team New, Untried
YAKIMA, Wash., April 14—Unknown, untried— that's Yakima.
A flock of large young men with strong arms will take the field for the Yakima Packers Friday against Victoria in the opening game of the Western International League baseball season. All they have to do is give Yakima a first division club to back up the promise of the team's new owners to its faithful fans.
Three Californians are the Packers' new bosses. Dick Richards runs the front office, Vernon Johnson manages the team and Monte Pfyl still is in uniform as second sacker. Richards played pro ball on the East coast; Johnson southward for Oakland in the Coast League until a few seasons ago.
Pfyl is a Stanford graduate making his first fling at the money game and the club has tapped college talent for a couple more rookies: Larry Orteig— brother of San Francisco's Ray Orteig— left Washington State college to try out in organized ball. Bud Fortier, shortstop, is out of Oregon State. Catcher Frank Constantino, who broke in last year and will be the first string backstop, is a University of Washington graduate.
Agreement With Seals
Yakima has a working agreement with San Francisco and most of the players are Seal rookies. The weakness appears to be experience and pitching, but the Seals may bolster the latter department.
Johnson's club is two-deep in every fielding positiong. Diamond Cecil, a boy with a great glove hand, comes up from Salt Lake City as first string first baseman. Neil Bryant, a Yakima product who played with the House of David last year, will open at third. He's a power hitter and could be the club's prize find.
Seventeen-year-old Ken Jensen, named the standout player of the northwest regional junior legion tourney last season, is battling with Orteig for the call in right field.
Good on Bases
Another boy the management thinks is ticketed for big things is Ray French, up from Clovis of the New Mexico-West Texas league. He batted .315 with that team and has been terrific on the bases in pre-season games. Vern Johnson has planted him in center field, switching the veteran Gene Johnson to left. The latter, now in his third season and a reliable .300 hitter, bats in the cleanup spot.
As for the pitching, Keith Simon and Max Strait are starting their third seasons with the Packers. Howard Johnson (if you yell "Johnson!" around the Packer camp everybody answers) is trying a comeback with the team he pitched for before the war.
Bob Pirack, 19, won six and lost one with Salt Lake and Clovis last season. Garth Ford, a tall boy from Utah, looks good but is untested. A Pasco boy, Dick Fast, has a pitch to match his name but may be optioned to gain experience. The only lefty on hand early in the week was Bill Freeman, a product of the San Francisco sand lots.

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