Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Where's Bill Schuster? - Column

Eric Whitehead’s FANFARE
[Province, December 5, 1951]
News that Bill Schuster had applied for the pilot’s job with George Norgan’s Portland Beavers may have jolted many Vancouver fans who figured The Rooster to be an automatic fixture at the helm of the 1952 Capilano.
But as Tommy England, Sec.-Treasurer of the Capilano Baseball Club points out: “Pretty well an automatic application, wasn’t it? I guess every minor league manager wants to move up.”
It’s hardly likely that Schuster’s wishful thinking will affect Cap general manager Bob Brown’s ultimate decision to break out a nice fat 1952 contract for the most popular field boss the local club has had for a decade. Not that Brown has announced Schuster’s return in ’52, but the Old Fox, now knee-deep in ecstasy at the National Baseball Congress in Columbus, is probably just playing his annual winter game of peek-a-boo with us newspaper hounds.
High Priced Talent to Burn
How close did Schuster come to latching on as the Portland boss? Seattle P.I. columnist Royal Brougham seems to think [he had a fair chance of getting] the Beaver job, but Royal must have been barking up the wrong rumor.
The job as you know went to veteran pilot Clay Hopper, 1951 manager of St. Paul in the American Association.
Portland owner Norgan, who preferred to non-committal on Schuster’s final rating in the job sweepstakes, merely says: “He needs more managerial experience. After all, we had a pretty wide choice.”
Take a squint at Schuster’s competition for the Portland job: Among more than 30 applicants were such ex-big league names as Del Baker (ex-Detroit Tiger manager); Jack Onslow (fired as Chicago White Sox manager in ’50); Babe Dahlhgren; Nick Cullop; Rollie Hemsley; Marv Owen; Johnny Rucker; Zack Taylor; Ben Chapman; Babe Herman.
Some great and smart ballplayers in that lineup—with the exception of Babe “Catechem-on-the-head” Herman, who was, in hilarious spasms, at least great.
Hopper Hits the Jackpot
All these plus of course Hopper. Norgan and Portland Gen. Mgr. Bill Mulligan picked Hopper because he was “the most highly recommended man in the Brooklyn organization.” And the Beavers expect plenty of help from the Dodgers next summer.
You get the idea why Schuster took a flier on the Beaver job when you start guessing at Hopper’s salary.
Says Norgan, “Wouldn’t like to say how much, but it’s more than we’ve ever paid before.”
Ex-Beaver pilot Bill Sweeney, now bossing Seattle Rainiers, was paid $15,000. They say Sweeney’s getting $20,000 plus the fishing rights on Puget Sound for the Rainier job.
Right now, the Coast League Managers’ Row is practically a closed shop confined to the biggest baseball names west of Chicago. Look at the lineup:
At Sacramento: ex-Yankee great Joe Gordon; Seattle: ex-Tiger Sweeney; at Oakland: the Giants’ all-time great, Mel Ott; at L.A.: ex-Cardinal third baseman and team spark-plug Stan Hack; at Hollywood: another great third-sacker, ex-Pirate Fred Haney; at ‘Frisco; ex-Minneapolis pilot Tom Heath; and at San Diego: Lefty “Himself” O’Doul.
• • •
P.S.: A propos of the above: Vancouver favorite Alan Strange, likeable boss of the Spokane Indians, was also a Portland applicant . . . And Strange was a hot contender for the San Diego job until Lefty O’Doul moved in from San Francisco (where he collected $40,000 per).

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