Victoria Franchise To Hinge On Winning Team
by JIM TANG
Sports editor Victoria Colonist
VICTORIA, April 16 — This is the make or break year, financially-speaking, for the Victoria Western International Baseball League club.
Its franchise saved at the last minute only by the raising efforts of the Booster Club, the Victoria Baseball and Athletic Co. Ltd. is pinning its hopes for renewed fan interest on a completely-rebuilt club and the managerial ability of Cece Garriott one-time star Coast League outfielder with the Los Angeles Angels.
Garriott, who got his first managerial experience last season when he was sent to Visalia in the California State League in mid-season and took a floundering outfit into the play-off final, is planning on speed and hustle to carry the Tyees into contention.
He signed up about 5 players from Los Angeles and opened spring training 10 days, early at Salinas to get a line on his prospects and has uncovered several who should prove to be of help. At this stage of the season, the Tyees have adequate speed and defense, lack a solid clean-up hitter and need battery help.
Only a few players are left from the club which finlshed seventh last season. The returnees are infielders Dick Bartle, Don Pries and Jim Clark, southpaws Jim Propst and Ben Lorino, and catcher Milt Martin and it is no coincidence they were the hustlingest, players on the club last year.
Pries, a .322 hitter last season, and Clark, who sparkled defensively and proved to be a pesky .275 bitter after joining the club in midseason, will hold down third-base and shortstop, respectively.
Luther Branham, 28-year-old speedster from Los Angeles who has played in the Negro American League, appears to be a fixture at second base and could turn out to be a find. He is one of the speediest base-runners to wear a Victoria uniform and has been impressive in training.
Bartle, who finished last season at Salem, is fighting Chuck Abernathy, obtained from Vancouver in exchange for southpaw Jim Hedgecock, for the first base job.
Garriott intends to play the full season in centrefield while Granville Gladstone, outfielder who spent all of last season with Portland, is a cinch for a second outfield berth unless Clark should fall at shortstop. Gladstone has been used at shortstop in exhibition games and looks good.
Other outfield candidates include Bob Moniz, a .287 hitter at Visalia last season; Ernie Sites, who slumped to .286 at Phoenix last year after several standout seasons, and Harvey Allen, Los Angeles player who has shown the strongest throwing arm on the club in training.
Martin has the first-string catching job to himself at the moment although it is hoped that hard-hitting Lilio Marcucci, who went to Portland in mid-season last year, may be returned to take over.
Propst and Lorino head a mound staff that needs some help but the two holdovers appear set for big seasons.
Don Troy, who holds six decisions over Don Newcombe in the Negro National League; is trying a come back, after being sidelined with a sore arm and will be a help if he can recover his old effectiveness.
George Randolph, a huge Louisiana right-hander, and Walter Towns, Los Angeles rookie, are other pitchers trying to win a berth Bill Wisneski, Los Angeles rookie righthander, appears to have a chance to earn a berth, as does Larry King, veteran righthander who pitched for Muskegon in 1950 and had a trial with Beaumont last season.
Pitching help is expected from Portland with Dick Waibel, improved young righthander who had a 6-5 record at Idaho Falls last season after a brief period with Victoria, and Joshua Hurd; promising lefthander now with Portland, expected to join the club in the near future.