Wednesday, May 31, 2006

A Wrong Direction Story, & An Odd Death, From Davis Barker

A Wrong Direction Story, & An Odd Death, From Davis Barker

Davis found these two item in the Sporting News in 1935:

Right Town, But Wrong Club

With a Greenville in North Carolina and another in South Carolina, the former in the Costal Plain and the latter in the Sally, it is not surprising that Joe Zanolli, a young infielder, got mixed up and reported to the wrong camp.  He was purchased by the Costal Plain League club from Statesville of the defunct Tar Heel loop, but went to the Sally loop city instead.  Joe lives in Massachusetts.  Finally straightened out, he showed up at Greenville, N. C., April 4.

Zanolli does not appear in the guide for that season, and one is left to wonder if he ever made back to Massachusetts.  I could not find him in subsequent season either.

An Extraordinary Death, & A Question or Two

Charles Wilson, manager of the Huntsville club of the Arkansas State League, on August 2, was killed in a fall from a Ferris wheel in Huntsville, Ark., the coroner calling the death accidental.  The player’s real name was Antone Butkus, he having taken the name of Wilson from home town of Wilsonville, Ill.  He was born in Marysville, Ill., August 29, 1912, and won fame as a football and basket ball player as well as in baseball.  Played with Joplin this year before going to Huntsville.  

Charles Wilson, not the only one in O. B., was a pitcher in the Western Association in 1935, then winds up as manager, at 24 years old, for Huntsville while going 11-5 on the mound at the time of his fall.  

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Books Ive Read Over the Winter, and Into the Spring, Part Two

Books I’ve Read Over the Winter, and Into the Spring, Part Two

I have to admit, this is one book for which I’ve been waiting. Barry Swanton’s Mandak League: Haven for Former Negro League Ballplayers, 1950-1957 does not disappoint. A McFarland book (which can be ordered from Amazon, where I got my copy), this history gives an overall view of that Western Canada league in all its glory, and in all its failed promise near the end. Length: 222 pages and $29.95 soft cover (from Amazon, and qualifies for free shipping from them:

The Mandak League began as an outgrowth of the Manitoba Senior League. The previous league would import up to three players per roster, many of whom were veterans of the Negro Leagues. The Manitoba-Dakota League was formed to ride the wave of interest in minor league ball after the Second World War. That golden age lasted from 1946 through 1952 or 1953, when baseball began a long decline in attendance. Swanton’s book chronicles the highs and the decline for the Mandak League.

Because the league had a very high salary cap of $8,500, it was able to attract veteran black players who could no longer be considered “prospects” by major league clubs, and attracted O. B. players with the same futures as the black veteran players.

The league began as a five-club circuit in 1950, but became a four-team league in 1951, and remained so until its demise after the 1957 season. Winnipeg was the hub of the league (with two clubs its first season), but after the 1953 it joined the rival Northern League in Organized Baseball. In 1955, Bismarck, North Dakota joined the league to partially offset the loss of Winnipeg.

The book is set out chronologically, with season-by-season recaps. The 1950 season goes into detail on the ballparks, the league personnel and umpires, then relates the pennant race, season highlights and any in-season tournaments played. The following season chapters give pennant-race recaps, highlights and playoff summaries.

All the season chapters are well constructed, well written, and hold the reader’s interest. What also helps is that Swanton’s second section of the book gives player profiles of most of the players in the league, making it easy to flip to when one is reading the first section of the book.

As to the player profiles, let me give you an example that I just now flipped to:

Lou Lombardo

Pitcher; Bats—Left; Throws—Left; Height—6’2; Weight— 210 lbs;
Born— November 18, 1928 in Carlstadt, New Jersey; Died— June 11, 2001 in Rock Hill, South Carolina.

Lombardo was 20 years old when he appeared in two games for the New York Giants in 1948. He pitched five innings and had a 6.75 ERA. In 1950, he pitched in Double-A with Little Rock in the Southern Association. In 1952, he was 11-3 for Montgomery in the Sally League. In 1953, he was 25 years old when he joined the Minot Mallards from Rochester, Minnesota of the Southern Minny (semi-pro) . He pitched six games with little success and had an 0-3 record when he was released on July 16.

After the comprehensive player profiles, Swanton has three appendices (strangely numbered: I, II, and IV, and even though I took what was called poet’s math at Columbia, I can still find my way to Super IV without much brain sweat).

The first appendix is a one-page reprint of the 1950 Minot Mallard team rules, which may or may not be of much interest.

Appendix II is the most important part of the book for me, and for many others. This appendix lists batting and pitching stats for most players, reunited (apparently) from a number of primary sources. In 1950, batting stats included are for:
G AB H HR RBI AVG Pitching: W L Pct.

From 1952 on, batting stats include DB & TR. Pitching remains light throughout, but does include Strikeouts and Walks in later seasons.

In another nice feature, Swanton list players for whom no statistic are available.

The final appendix (IV) list complete rosters for each franchise, season by season, with notes on players who appeared for other clubs in the league during the season.

In conclusion, I can’t recommend this book enough. It belongs on every minor league researcher’s bookshelf.

Monday, May 29, 2006

This Week in the California League, October 15-21, 1900

To get a better view of the Standings & Leaders, click on image.

This Week in the California League, October 15—October 21, 1900

Games this week were played on Saturday and Sunday, October 20 and 21.

With the weekend games out of the way, Sacramento pulled out to a 3½ game lead over second place San Francisco. As should be noted, the Wasps had pulled within ½ game of the leader the preceding week. Russ pace continued to lead the hitters in batting, though that won’t hold up for much longer, as he jumped his Stockton contract to play in the Montana League.

Sacramento traveled to the Bay Area to play a three-game set with last place Oakland, and left with two more wins. On Saturday, Jay Hughes notched his 200th win of the season by shutting out the Dudes 4-0. He allowed only 6 hits, and struck out 7.

On Sunday across they Bay, Oakland won 5-2 as manager Brick Devereaux gave up 13 hits, while his counterpart, Chief Borchers only gave up 7 hits and 2 runs in route to his 11th victory of the season.

In the rubber match, Demon Doyle pitched a 6-hitter at Rec Park, and giving Sacramento a 4-1 victory. The game was lost in the second inning, when Dudes pitcher Doc Moskiman gave up all four runs. If the doctor had not pitched that inning, he would have wound up on the winning side of a 5-hit shutout.

Goodwater Grove at Stockton was home to the Sunday doubleheader in the interior. In the morning contest, Ham Iburg was going for his 21st win of the season. When the game ended he still would be. He lost 8-1 to Youngy Johnson, who pitch a 7-hitter. Julie Streib and jack McCarthy both went 3 for 5 for the victors, and old Rube Levy went 3-4 for the Wasps.

In the afternoon contest, the Pirates swept the doubleheader with a 7-2 victory, six of those runs coming in the first three innings. George Harper edged his record up to 11-17, and Tom Fitzpatrick dropped to 15-12. And, so, the Wasps limped back to San Francisco 3½ games behind the Gilt Edgers.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Books Ive Read Over the Winter, and Into the Spring, Part One

Books I’ve Read Over the Winter, and Into the Spring, Part One

I’ve read a number of baseball books this year, from the baseball guides through The Hardball Times.  I  read three books on the minor league this off season: Minot Mallards of the ManDak League, 1950-1957 by Bill Guenthner, The Mandak League: Haven for Former Negro League Ballplayers, 1950-1957 by Barry Swanton, and the current American Association Almanac written and published by a friend of this blog, Rex Hamann.

I will review these publications in the order I bought them and read them, beginning today with Bill Guenthner’s Minot Mallards.  (At this point, I’d like to offer to post reviews of any other books that you may have come across this season, or may have been missed by many.  Please let me know.)

Minot Mallards has gone through two printings, and is awaiting the possibility of a well-deserved third.  In the meantime, Bill is offering the book on a CD, which can be printed out, and then bound, which is what I did.  The format is in MS Word, and he includes cover art for the book.  What I did was take it over to Office Depot, and they printed out and comb bound it for me (though they also offer perfect binding).  Bill charges three or five dollars (I forget) for the CD, which basically covers his shipping costs.

This is a history of Bill Guenthner’s team in the town of his youth, and one could call it a loving portrait of that club.  But it is also much more than that.  The book delves into the history of what lead to the league, how the league and the club came into being.  Then it gives a complete season-by-season recap, primarily from the Mallards perspective.  These recaps are well-written and interesting.    

After seasonal recaps, the author takes a retrospective look—without nostalgia— at the league and the level of competition.  Then comes a section that gives thumbnail biographies of virtually—if not every—player who appeared with the Mallards.  So many times I pick up a book on a league, and find myself asking “Who the hell is this guy?” This is a very valuable section that took the author considerable effort to put together.  There are some minimal statistics in this section for the players, but stats was not of great importance to the author.

The following section is a detailed season-by-season roster, showing where the players came from, the seasons they played for the club, and other comments.

The two final sections present photos of a number of the players, caricatures of players that appeared in the local newspaper, and the cover of a scorecard.  The final section lists in tabular form season-by-season league standings, which— being at the end of the book— makes it easy to get to when reading the season recaps.

How good is the book?  Very good, and serves as a great introduction to the league.  The team perspective also give one a feel for the ups and downs of a franchise that one might not find in a league history.  The only critique one could make is that it’s a little light on stats—but that has been remedied by Barry Swanton in his book.

In final analysis, this belongs in every minor league researcher’s library.  I can’t recommend it enough.

Contact Bill @ the following address for further information on his book:

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Famous Last Words

Famous Last Words

“The Oakland team will never win the pennant,” remarked Elmer Meredith, the San Francisco pitcher. “To my mind they are playing above their gait now [mid-May, two games ahead of the league]. I know some of them are. They will have a relapse.”

“That’s right,” cut in [Los Angeles shortstop Jimmy] Toman, who was standing near. “They are doing good fielding, but they are not batting enough to stay in front very long. Wait till they strike their bad luck. Just now, though, they certainly are playing good ball.”— Los Angeles Herald.

The Oakland Dudes finished the 1902 season some 13 games ahead of the league. At the time, though the fielding was much above the league, it was the pitching staff that really boosted the club: Harry Schmidt would have a stellar season on the mound, along with Bill Cristall, and old veteran George Hodson putting together another 20-plus win season. And the hitting came around later in the season, with a league-leading batting season by Walt McCredie

Friday, May 26, 2006

This Week in the California League, October 8-14, 1900

To get a better view of the Standings & Leaders, click on image.

This Week in the California League, October 8—October 14, 1900

Games this week were played on Saturday and Sunday, October 13 and 14.

On Saturday, Stockton and San Francisco faced off at Rec Park, with Youngy Johnson of Stockton coming out on top 4-2 over Tom Fitzpatrick. Stockton scored the the first 3 runs, then San Francisco came back with 2 in 4th, but could not come any closer.

At Sacramento, it was a laugher. Sacramento, behind Jay Hughes, won 10-zero. Hughes struck out 7. Chief Borchers took the loss for Oakland.

On Sunday, the Sacramento-Oakland affair turned out to be a see-saw game, with Sacramento coming out on top 11-10. Brick Devereaux and Doc Moskiman both pitched complete games. Devereaux hit a home run to help himself to the win. Lou Hardie and Red Held hit four-baggers for Oakland. The game, however, was lost when Oakland was forced to fill in for shortstop Abe Arellanes with center fielder Bill Drennan, who booted four balls, all at critical moments.

Over in the Bay Area, San Francisco and Stockton split a doubleheader. Ham Iburg of San Francisco pitched a four-hit shutout over Youngy Johnson, who gave up 6 runs on 11 hits after pitching his second game in two days. The game was close until San Francisco score 3 in the 7th inning.

In the afternoon tilt at Rec Park, Stockton held on to pull out a 5-4 victory. George Harper won, and San Francisco’s Phil Knell took the loss. Stockton scored first, with 2 in the 3rd, but San Francisco came back to tie it up the very next inning. Stockton scored 2 in the fifth, and added another run in the 7th. San Francisco tried to come back in the 8th inning, but fell short.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

From Davis Barker Found in TSN, April 25, 1935

From Davis Barker: Found in The Sporting News, April 25, 1935

The following Davis Barker found on the Portsmouth, Ohio ballpark.  Its dimensions are equal distance from home plate at 349 feet.  Davis has never come across such a ballpark, but I know of three: Venice Park in the early PCL, the Sunset League park in Las Vegas, and now this park.  

Portsmouth, O., Dedication, May 8

$40,000 Ball Park Will Be Thrown Open on First Day of Season

Portsmouth, O.— After an absence of 20 years, Portsmouth will make an elaborate re-entrance in Organized Ball as a member of the Middle Atlantic League, May 8.  On that date, the new $40,000 ball park will be dedicated, with the Huntington team here as guests for the opener.

From 1905 to 1915, Portsmouth was the backbone of the old Ohio State League and it is quite a coincidence that the club was moved here from Springfield, O., because the present club representing this city likewise was moved here from Springfield.  Alex Pisula, owner of the Pirates, as the team is known, found the city most receptive when he decided to pull away from Springfield, where he had operated in 1933 and 1934, with the result that the municipality got behind the park project, which will be the best in the league.

The grandstand, seating 3,000, is of brick, while the field is surrounded with a solid brick wall, nine feet-high.  The plant will be quite a novelty, in that the fence is of semi-circular construction from left field to right field, making every part of the enclosure exactly 349 feet from the plate [italics mine].

The grandstand, in addition to its large seating capacity, has 248 box seats.  Every conceivable convenience for fans and players has been provided.  The club rooms under the stands are equipped with rubbing tables and six shower baths.  Accommodations for the women have not been overlooked, for, besides a tiled rest room, there will be a ladies’ parlor, completely equipped with lounging chairs and tables.

The chamber of commerce will have complete charge of the dedicatory exercises on opening day.  To that end invitations have been sent to several of the baseball dignitaries of the nation.  F. W. SHERIDAN

The May 8 dedication was also Picasso’s birthday, though I doubt they opened the park on that day to honor him.  It might have made a unique promotion, none-the-less.  

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

John Benesch Adds a Minor League Site to Bill Williamson's List

John Benesch Adds a Minor League Site to Bill Williamson’s List

Although in French, the Provincial League Website does have significant stats for the independent era.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Ron Smith's Record, Revised

Click on Career Record to Enlarge

Ed Washuta did some new research on, and found Ron Smith had a "baseball age." He was born in 1914 rather than 1918. Additionally, Ed has the Minor League Digests for the 1948 & 1949 period, and he is listed as still on the Sacramento roster, not as voluntarily retired, so he could have been injured. However, Cuno Barragon once (or twice, because he was so pissed off) told me that Buzzy Bavasi would not release him for five seasons so he could find a slot with another club (probably in his hometown of Sacramento), and Cuno remained on the Dodger (or Spokane roster) for five years after he actually retired. Things like that happened all the time when players had no power at all.

I had a source that listed the Visalia entry as Ronald V., but Ed thought it might be another player, and so I went back and did the research I should have done in the first place-- checking the official average sheets rather than the guide. Bill Weiss listed the Visalia player correctly as Ronald G. Smith, the guide had plain "Ronald," and that was where I made my mistake. Not my first, and not my last. Take that one to the bank!

This only re-proves the adage that one can never do enough research.

Monday, May 22, 2006

This Week in the California League, October 1-7, 1900

To get a better view of the Standings & Leaders, click on image.

Games this week were played on Saturday and Sunday, October 6 and 7.

On Saturday at Rec Park, the Sacramento Brewers and San Francisco Wasps tied 7-7 in 12 innings, with Truck Eagan hitting his 6th home run. Sacramento got out to a 7-1 lead by the fifth inning, but Jay Hughes had two bad innings in which he gave up 6 runs before settling down again, giving up no runs or hits over the last three frames.

No game was play in Stockton, in favor of a Sunday double header.

At Stockton on Sunday, Stockton and Oakland split a doubleheader. Jack McCarthy went 4 for 5 to lead the Stockton club to an 11-7 win in the morning contest.

In the afternoon contest, Chief Borchers pitched a 0ne-hitter for Oakland, striking out 9 in a 3-1 win. George Harper took the loss, dropping his record to 9-17.

In the morning contest at Oakland, Tom Fitzpatrick of the Wasps faced Brick Devereaux, the Sacramento change pitcher. Devereaux made manager George Harper like a genius, pitching Gilt Edge to a 1-0 victory.

At San Francisco in the afternoon game, it was a back and forth game, with San Francisco coming out on top with 3 runs in the bottom of the 9th to take a 10-9 slugfest. Phil Knell struggled the whole game, but took the win.

What the Future Hold, I Think, I hope

I have been rather remiss with this project, so I have decided that I will post “This Week in the California League” twice a week, on Mondays and Fridays, until I complete the 1900 season. I also hope to continue through the 1901 and 1902 California League seasons.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Some Research Links Provided By Bill Williamson

Some Research Links Provided by Bill Williamson
After talking to Bill at the PCL Reunion about things on the internet, he sent me a copy of some links he finds of value.  I haven’t gone through them myself, but am planning on doing so.  Thanks, Bill…

Alabama-Florida League
All-American Girls Professional Baseball League...
American Association Almanac
Arizona Fall League
Blue Ridge League
Central League Baseball
Evangeline Baseball League (TOC)
Federal League
Golden Baseball League
Kitty League Baseball - The Class D Kentucky-...
KOM League
Mexican League
Midwest League
Minor League Baseball
Nebraska Minor League Baseball
Nothern League
Old Pacific Coast League
Pacific Coast League
PCL 100
Pioneer Baseball League
Three I League-new
Western Canada Baseball
All-American Girls Professional Baseball League Players Association
Independent Baseball on OurSports Central
Indy Leagues Graveyard - Defunct Independent Baseball Leagues
Minor League Baseball History - Baseball History - Minor League Sports - MLN Sports Zone - A Minor League News Magazine

Baseball Research
AAF Library
Accessible Archives Databases
Baseball America - Executive Database
Baseball Archive
Baseball Scorecard - Downloads
Brooklyn Daily Eagle Online (1841-1902)
Business of Baseball
Business of Baseball Downloadable Data & Documents
California Newspaper Project
Colorado Historic Newspapers
Historic Baseball : The history of the game through players, teams and leagues
Hot Hand in Sports
Internet Public Library: California
Los Angeles Public Library
New York State Newspaper Project - Home Page - Search old newspapers
Overview of Electronic Data Resources
Paper of Record - Building the world's largest searchable archive of historical newspapers.
Photographs from the Chicago Daily News: More Topics
Pro Quest/Newspaper Search
Spalding Base Ball Guides Search Page
Utah Digital Newspapers
Who's Alive and Who's Dead
Winona, Mn Newspaper Archive
United States Newspaper Program
Elysian Fields Quarterly -- The Baseball Review
Small Town Newspaper-A newspaper directory featuring small town newspapers and articles.
Pro Baseball Newspaper Articles Archive

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Jake Wade Died in February

Click on Career Record to Enlarge

Jake Wade, who played a couple of season in the Coast League, and was involved in one of the great PCL on field fights. From Dick Dobbins book, Nuggets on the Diamond:

"During th 1935 season, the Mission Reds were playing a series in Portland's Vaughn Street Park. It was "Jake Wade Day," with Wade pitching the first game of a Sunday doubleheader. Reds center fielder Lou Almada was having a field day against Wade. Anything Wade tossed up to the plate, Almada hit out of reach of the Beavers' defenders. The two began jawing at each other. Waxde became more angry with each Almada success, and by the end of the game, he was angry and embarrassed.

"Between games, both teams retired to their respective clubhouses. After a few minutes, there was a knock on the Reds' clubhouse door. Outside stood John 'Moose' Clabaugh, the burly Portland outfielder. Clabaugh was there as Wade's second for a showdown with Almada. Manager Gabby Street told both players to take off their cleats and go out to settle their differences. Almada made quick work of Wade as Clabaugh passively stood by.

"Beavers pitcher Sailor Bill Posedel later told the Missions' george McDermott that Clabaugh had urged Wade to challange Almada. Clabaugh didn't care at all for Wade and was confident Almada could beat him. Ah, teammates."

Friday, May 19, 2006

Pitcher Ron Smith Died in 2004

Click on Career Record to Enlarge

Dick Beverage just learned that pitcher Ron Smith died in 2004 in Arizona. Not much was known about this pitcher, and in fact Dick's obit in the PCL Potourri thought that Smith had jumped from the semipros to the Coast League, which I learned he didn't. When I put together Ron Smith's career record yesterday, I couldn't find anything for him in the guide for 1948 and 1949. I am also missing a string of Minor League Digests for that period, and was only able to pick him up in the 1950s MLDs, so I listed him as "voluntarily retired," but he may have been injured, etc. Any more information would be appriciated. Thanks.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Royce Lint Has Died

Click on Career Record to Enlarge

Three obits for PCL players appeared in the last issue of the Pacific Coast League Potpourri. We have done career records for them, and will post them to the blog over the next three days, beginning with Royce Lint. Lint, over his career, was both a starter and reliever. He died in April in Portland, Oregon, where he finished his career. His 154-113 minor league career tellls us a lot more about his pitching prowess than his 2-3 major league record.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Kind Words from SABR

Kind Words from SABR

I received this yesterday, and thought I’d share it with all of you.  We continue to have effect, and no always is it taken as an insult, as was the case of  The Sporting News.  We are truth seekers, and we hope to continue in that vein.  Our thanks also goes out to Davis Barker…

Davis,My thanks to you and Carlos, as well as Dick Beverage who sent on the blog site, for the postings of these distances.  It is really helpful to me.  We are finishing up the ms of Green Cathedrals and these distances supplement the ones in Lowry's book.Thank you again.  It is a terrific blog.Jim CharltonSABR publications director

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Following Up in Sioux City, With Some Long Fences

Davis Barker, deep in an article on baseball in Sioux City, came up with some pretty amazing data on their Western League park, Stock Yards Park:

No "pill box" is the park, either, in delightful contrast to Mizzou Park, whose right field fence was so short, drives over the barrier went for only two bases and the right fielder had to be an accomplished shortstop. In Stock Yards Park, the distances from home plate to the various fences are:
Right field: 307 feet
Center field: 675 feet
left field: 450 feet

No balls have ever been driven over either left or center field barriers.

The Sporting News in 1934, which must be a good year for ballpark news, though you might have to read every word. Thanks, again, Davis.

Monday, May 15, 2006

From Davis Barker:American Association Parks in 1934, August 16 Issue

From Davis Barker: American Association Parks in 1934, August 16 Issue

In a follow up to his fine sleuthing on Southern Association Parks, Davis found this note in The Sporting News:

In order to settle a number of arguments as to the size of the parks in the league, W. Blaine Patton, sports editor of the Indianapolis Star, ascertained the distances of fences at the various fields and here is what he found:

Left field, 350 feet
Center field, 500 feet
Right field, 350 feet

Left field, 262 feet
Center field, 395 feet
Right field, 265 feet

St. Paul:
Left field, 315 feet
Center field, 470 feet
Right field, 365 feet

Left field, 336 feet
Center field, 435 feet
Right field, 275 feet

Left field, 331 feet
Center field, 512 feet
Right field, 350 feet

Left field, 378 feet
Center field, 400 feet
Right field, 327 feet

Left field, 340 feet
Center field, 430 feet
Right field, 315 feet

Kansas City:
Left field, 363 feet
Center field, 559 feet
Right field, 390 feet

As Davis put it in a note to me: “Quite some contrasts!”

Friday, May 12, 2006

From Sporting Life December 14, 1901

From Sporting Life, December 14, 1901.

Speaking of Ted Breitenstein, I found this note today:

Breitenstein Breaks an Arm

The St. Louis, Mo., December 11.— Theodore Breitenstein, the famous left-hand pitcher, had his right arm broken in a carriage upset last night. He was driving when the horse started to run away. Breitenstein tugged hard on the lines, with the result that he was pulled over the dasher. Not only was his right arm broken by the spill, but his left was badly sprained.

In a time before automobile accident there were horse and buggy accidents, and many train related accidents. Actually, ballplayers today live and play in a much more benign environment today.

Tomorrow I will probably not be posting, as I’m off to The PCL Reunion in Carson, CA

Thursday, May 11, 2006

From Davis Barker Found in TSN, February 15, 1934

From Davis Barker: Found in The Sporting News, February 15, 1934

Davis Barker has been at it again, and he has come up with a marvelous find, the dimensions of Southern Association ballparks

Size of Southern Parks

It is a wise batter who knows his park in the Southern Association, for they differ enough to make it advisable to change batting tactics in every one of them.  They have right field walls ranging from 262 feet at Sulphur Dell, Nashville, to 395 at Traverlers’ Field in Little Rock, center fields from 366 feet at Russwood Park, Memphis, to 485 feet at Engel Stadium, Chattanooga, Rickwood Field, Birmingham, and Heinemann Park, New Orleans, and left fields from 297 feet at New Orleans to 474 [sic] feet at Memphis.

Ponce De Leon Park at Atlanta, with a capacity of 15,200, is the largest and Smthson Stadium, seating 5,000 at Knoxville, is the smallest.  Others range as follows:
Birmingham, 15,000
Memphis, 11,500
Chattanooga, 10,000
New Orleans, 9,500
Nashville, 8,500
and Little Rock, 7,000.

Distances from home plate to the fences in the various parks are [given in the following graphic]:

Southern Association Park Distances

Click on Image to Enlarge

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Ted Breitenstein's Career Record

Click on Career Record to Enlarge

A SABR member requested the career record of TED BREITENSTEIN. The above record is from The Historical Register (for sale from Baseball Press, as listed below).

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

A Question Asked And A Question Answered, Sort Of

A Question Asked, And a Question Answered, Sort Of

Why are Managerial Records so hard to find?  Even current managers have profiles with
tidbits of data but rarely can you find a complete managerial record.
Gary Alstadt Mississippi

Part of the problem is that for most of the history of baseball, the guides didn’t list the managers (through 1948), then only sporadically give the date for managerial changes, and never the record for the two or more managers for a season.  In other words, it would take a lot of work to find the record of managers when they were replaced in season.

The only person whom I know of who has attempted something like that is Jerry Jackson, who has spent a good part of his life compiling records for O. B. managers. Years ago, he wanted to compile an all-time manager encyclopedia, but I haven’t talked to him in years, and so don’t know the status of such a work.  

I, however, have problems with some of Jerry’s methodology.  In the early years of baseball, the person called a “manager” was not what we call a manager today.  Prior to World War One (more or less, and depending on the league), the job description of “manager” was that of what today is called a GM.  

The person who wrote filled the lineups, made the player and pitching changes, and the person who sat on the bench— was called the captain.  After 1885, a manager was not allowed to sit on the bench in many leagues— unless he was also a captain.

To Jerry the manager was the manager.  I could talk to him until I was blue in the face, and a manager would still be manager for him.  And that is why many of the listings in the Minor League Encyclopedia are in error.  Lloyd Johnson got much of his managerial listings from Jerry Jackson.

To give an example: The Sporting News and Sporting Life would publish a list of all the O. B. leagues and list the managers and presidents on a weekly basis.  For Sacramento in the 1903 PCL season, they listed Mike Fisher as manager.  He was, but “manager” meant “business manager.”  Years later, when TSN published a profile of Charley Graham, they asked about his managerial career, and he mentioned that he managed Sacramento  in the Coast League during its inaugural season of 1903.

In the work I have done on the Coast League, I had to go back and check day by day to figure out the managerial records.  But to do that, one needs local papers— especially in the early years.

I guess I answered the question— sort of.

Monday, May 08, 2006

1901 North Carolina League Redux

About a week ago I made mention that the 1901 North Carolina League was a league in which we didn't have any stats, and would be a nice project for somebody to work on. John Benesch brought to my attention that Ray Nemec recently compiled stats for that league, and that we can consider the book closed on that particular league.

We can now go on to other projects.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Bill Weiss, PCL Hall of Famer

Bill Weiss is our final entrant into the PCL Hall of Fame. I nominated Bill Weiss this year for the PCL Hall, and am extremely happy that others voting saw it the same way I did. Bill Weiss was the long-time statistician of the Pacific Coast League. He was born in Chicago more than a few years ago, and like me, moved out to California when he took over compiling statistics for the PCL and California League. He began compiling PCL statistics in 1950, and the league with the history of having the worst statistics became— overnight— the league with the best statistics, and if fact be came the model for all other minor leagues (and possibly the major leagues as well).

Bill began his career working for Howard Green, who founded any number of leagues in Texas in the post-World War Two era, and Bill Weiss became statistician for all of them. In 1949, he moved west to take on the duties of statistician for the California League and the Far West League (which Bill still calls the Far Worst League), and then the following season became PCL statistician.

As Dick Beverage has noted, no other executive has served the PCL longer than Bill Weiss.

Anybody who has compiled statistics has to look to Bill Weiss as a model. I did, and I do.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Tommy Lasorda, PCL Hall of Famer

Tommy Lasorda's became a PCL Hall of Famer this year as a manager, though he did pitch in the league during his career. What can one say about Tommy Lasorda that hasn't been said already- good, bad or indifferent? His record as a manager stands for itself.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Bill Schuster, New Inductee to PCL Hall of Fame

Click on Career Record to Enlarge

I have to admit that Bill Schuster never crossed my radar screen when I filled out my PCL Hall of Fame ballot. But here’s what Dick Beverage wrote about Schuster:

“BILL SCHUSTER, shortstop. Seattle, 194041; Los Angeles, 1941-43, 1946-49; 1949-50 Seattle; Hollywood, 1952. In 1,450 games Broadway Bill hit .275, but the numbers don’t begin to tell the story of his career. In nine years as a regular player, he played with three pennant winners— Seattle, 1940, Los Angeles, 1943 and 1947— and was the core of the defense on each of those clubs. Schuster led all PCL shortstops: in putouts, five times; assists, three times; and total chances, three times. As a hitter Bill did not post great averages— .298 in 1942 was his best. But he scored frequently, had a lot of doubles and was on base often. Bill had an ebullient personality, treated baseball as a fun game that it is and was wildly popular with the fans. After his playing career ended, he worked at Santa Anita racetrack. He died on June 29, 1987 at the age of 74.”

Thursday, May 04, 2006

New PCL Hall of Famer, Dario Lodigiani

Many people remember Dario Lodigiani for the prominent part he played in HBO’s When It Was A Game. After his first stint with the Oaks, he was purchased by the Philadelphia A’s, and then to the White Sox until he went away to War. He played one season with the White Sox after returning from service, and then went to the Coast League, where he completed his stellar Coast League career as one of the finest middle infielders of his era.

According to the PCL Potpourri, Lodigiani is still active as a scout on a part-time basis.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Bert Ellison, 2006 PCL Hall of Fame Inductee

Bert Ellison was one of those players who we also seem to forget. In the Coast League, he was just below those who were the best, but just... We also don't give him credit for winning two pennants for the Seals, including helming the great 1925 club, which many consider the second best club ever in the PCL.

According to Dick Beverage's PCL Potpourri, Ellison worked in the customs department in San Francisco until his death in 1955.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Dom DiMaggio, 2006 PCL Hall of Fame Inductee

Click on Image to Enlarge

Joe & Vince's younger brother followed them into the Coast League, and he put together two very solid seasons, and one extraordinary season. It should be taken into consideration that he began in the toughest of the minor leagues at age twenty, no mean feat in itself, having come from the North Beach Merchants to the PCL in one leap. Of course, he went on to the Red Sox for many seasons.

Monday, May 01, 2006

The Class of 2006, PCL Style

Over then next few days, I will be posting the PCL records of the newest inductees into the PCL Hall of Fame.

We will start with Eddie Basinski...who played the violin and the right side of the infield with precision.

Eddie Basinksi, New PCL Hall of Fame Member