Capilanos Start WIL Race With Team to ‘Beat’ Role
By KEITH MATTHEWS
Vancouver News Herald
PENTICTON. B. C., April 15 —The Vancouver Capilanos will likely go to the Western International League baseball post April 22 an odds-on choice to take it all.
From the Caps’ spring training camp here to Palm Springs, Calif., the word has been getting around that this is the strongest Vancouver entry ever.
Two problems must be solved, however, before League President Bob Abel hands over this ’52 championship. Pitching is one — and the question mark back of the Capilano tossing staff is much the same as in every training camp over the circuit. The second is Manager Bill Schuster’s knee.
Bill missed more than half the schedule last year after a collision at home plate. During the winter he had the cartilage removed from his knee and it was pronounced sound. In the first week of training the knee kicked up again. Bill is getting around all right as we write this, but it isn’t to say it won’t keep popping out on him.
Schuster plans to play more than 100 games at third base for Vancouver and his presence will be necessary if the Caps are to dangle a 1952 pennant from their center field masthead.
Other than Schuster and the pitching, there seems little doubt that the Caps are just what everybody says—powerful. They have strength down the middle, they have long ball punch and defensive capability.
To begin with, there will be at least four Negroes on the club, and all are supposedly just as capable as Johnny Ritchey, the Vancouver catcher who won the 1951 batting title with a .346 average.
Johnny will be joined by Jesse Williams, an infielder who clubbed .342 for the Kansas City Monarchs last year. Then there’s Ed Locke, a right - handed pitcher who can also play outfield, and Henry Butts, a lefty who compiled a 20-4 record while pitching for three teams in 1951.
Jim Wert, a .325 hitter with the champion Spokane Indians last season, will be on first base and Williams is likely to wind up around the keystone. Ray Tran is a holdover at shortstop with Schuster filling out the inner line of defense at the far turn.
It’s hard to put a finger on the starting outfield. Ed Vanni, who hit .320 for Spokane a year ago, is a sure bet in left. Joe Scalise, a .331 hitter with Flint of the Eastern League, is favored for one spot Bill Cleveland, a rookie from Seattle, and Bob Duratto, a lad Schuster picked up during the winter, are scrapping for the other. A better bet for the position, however, is Gordon Brunswick, still with Seattle but likely to come back to Vancouver. He hit .301 in ’51.
The pitching? On paper it looks pretty good. Gone are Bob Snyder and Pete Hernandez, the club’s two big winners last season. To help fill the gap, the Caps traded Chuck Abernathy to Victoria for Jim Hedgecock, a 14-11 flinger last year.
Jerry Barta has looked strong in training. He’s a 1951 purchase from Tacoma. A fifth Negro, Paul Jones, is trying for a starting job on the hill and a flock of ambitious rookies are job hunting.