Monday, April 17, 2006

Another Bill James

Another Bill James

Ken Camozzi sent me the following letter, and the follow-up letter.  When I was compiling my Cyclopedia, I threw up my hands on trying disentangle the then two Bill James, and asked “so-called” minor league expert Bob Hoie (who had compiled records for the two players, and considered himself an expert on the two pitchers) to help me straighten out the careers of the two players.  The pitcher in 1919 was— according to Hoie— was William Lawrence “Oroville Bill” James, and he pitched for both Portland and Oakland that season.  As with much of the data Bobbie Hoie has given me, the Bill James  stuff turned out to be erroneous.  

I never compiled any averages for 1919, so I can’t be sure I would have picked it up or not, but it looks like we have a new Bill James, William A. “Lefty” James. And all thanks go to Ken Camozzi, admittedly not a Bill James expert until now.

Hi Carlos,

I¹ve been busy going through all my 1918 clippings and cross referencing names in the PCIL records you sent me. A friend up in Seattle spent a lot of time making copies of almost every PCIL related page in the Seattle and Portland papers, plus I own a copy of the 1918 Sporting News on microfilm and have online access to the Oakland Tribune
(  Lots of source material.

Anyway, I¹m finding lots of missing first names. Plus I found Nick Williams one game was not recorded. Found ³Lefty² James first name as Bill. Crossed referenced his name in your PCL records books. Found “Big Bill” and “Seattle Bill” but no “Lefty”. Plus both James' listed are right handed. But the fact that “Seattle Bill” James played for Portland in 1919 peaked my curiosity, since "Lefty James" played in the PCIL in 1918. So I did a quick search of the Oakland Tribune and found “Lefty James” opening the PCL season with Portland then released on May 1. Dug a little deeper and found “Oroville Bill” James joining Oakland on June 27. He was still property of the Boston Braves until Oakland purchased him outright on July 3, 1919. I also checked the LA Times through my SABR account and it seems to confirm what I've found.

Here are some clippings. Could this Be a third Bill James? I was wondering
what your thoughts were regarding the possibility.

I also found that Nick Williams played one game in the 1919 PCIL, but wasn't recorded in the records you recently shared with me. Also the Mails,—— is actually Walter Mails, he pitched the last game for Aberdeen (my grandpa played second...a rare thing to see a lefty at second).

Ken Camozzi

After Ken wrote me the above, and I determined that the player was in fact William A. “Lefty” James.  As to Bobbie Hoie, the old saw seems to fit— “Many times wrong— but never in doubt…”

Hi Carlos,

Here's what I've found. I’m looking at the 1919 Bill James “Orville Bill” in your records, you show him playing for Portland/Oakland in 1919. What I think is that the Portland part is “Lefty” Bill James,  which would be a third Bill James to add to the confusion of the other two.  
Here's a timeline:

“Lefty” James

1918—Pacific Northwest Shipyard League and PCIL1919-04-09— LA Times: Starts season with Portland of the PCL gets  into game opening day.

1919-05-01—Oakland Tribune: Released by Portland.

1919-05-13— Galveston Daily: Joining Galveston’s team in the Texas League.

1919-05-16— Galveston Daily: Debuts in Texas League

Bill “Oroville” James

1919— Starts season with Boston Braves (last game  06-04-1919)

1919-06-27 —Oakland Tribune: Scheduled to start next week for Oakland

1919-06-28 — Woodland Daily  reports “Oroville” Bill Passed  through on his
way to join Oakland.

1919-07-02— Oakland Tribune” Oakland purchased Bill James contract from
Boston Braves.

1919-07-10— Oakland Tribune: Debuts for Oakland

Ken Camozzi

I think Ken nailed it.  Below you will find the revised PCL records of the three pitchers.  Of note, both William H. & William A. pitched for the Indians in 1912.  


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