WIL Teams Just Talk, No Decisions
VICTORIA, Oct. 29, 1951—After two lengthy sessions, delegates to the annual meeting of the Western International Baseball League Monday night had made no definite decisions.
Much of the day was spent discussing travelling expenses and other routine matters, although Calgary and Lewiston representatives, seeking the Tacoma franchise, met league directors separately to outline facilities in their respective areas.
However, nothing was done and most of the talk about a possible replacement for Tacoma was unofficial. Bill Starr, owner of the Tacoma franchise, was not present and it appeared unlikely that any decision would be made at this meeting.
The meeting winds up today with the election of officers and further discussion on possible league makeup.
Delegates Optimistic but Lengthy Sessions Give No News as W.I.L. Annual Parley Opens
By JIM TANG [Victoria Colonist, Oct. 30, 1951]
In some respects, covering a Western International Baseball League meeting is a great assignment. The associations are fine and there is no need to go banging around looking news. There is none.
It was no different yesterday as team delegates and league officials convened at the Empress Hotel for their annual meeting. Everybody was in a good humor, everybody—well, almost everybody—was as optimistic as ever, and everybody was willing to talk
They talked about last year's meeting at Wenatchee, tried to trade Bill Carr for the Victoria club, took an informal poll among all present on the question of the Shaughnessy play-off, told some bad jokes, tried to embarrass each other, wondered aloud whether or not Victoria business manager Reg Patterson had lost weight and dwelt on diverse other subjects from time to time. But about 1952 there was nothing much despite two lengthy and secretive sessions.
It should be different today when delegates will have to get down to cases, even it hurts.
They are supposed to decide whether or not to retain Bob Abel as president on a part-time basis, or elect a full-time head to run league business. And there will (should) have to be something official on 1952 league make up.
About all that could be gleaned yesterday was that the WIL would operate next season and that there would be eight clubs—if there weren’t ten or six.
Delegates from seven clubs—Vancouver, Spokane, Salem, Wenatchee, Yakima, Victoria and Tri-City were on hand yesterday. Also on hand were two representatives from Calgaly and one from Lewiston, supposedly seeking the Tacoma franchise, which owner Bill Starr reportedly won’t operate next season.
There seemed to be no reasonable doubt but that Vancouver, Spokane, Salem, Wenatchee, Yakima and Tri-City were ready to go to the wire again. It was gathered that Victoria would also be in again but no one would say for certain whether or not the
Franchise would remain in its present hands.
If there is a change, it is reasonable to state that George Norgan, owner of the Portland Beavers, has the inside track.
That left the eighth club, Tacoma’s replacement—if Tacoma is replaced. The franchise is for sale and most seemed inclined to believe the eighth team would be either Lewiston or Calgary but there was still the chance, slight as it may be, that it could yet be Tacoma. Tacoma interests have made an offer far below Starr’s asking price but it could turn out to be the best he will get. Whether it was for appearance’s sake or not, neither Lewiston's Elbert Mitchell or Sam Timmins or Gordon McFarlane, the Calgary duo, seemed enthusiastic about paying much for a franchise.
Timmins reported that the asking price for the Tacoma franchise was $17,500 or $25,000 to with four, unnamed players. Mitchell stated that Lewiston was offered the franchise for $17,500 and the assurance of eight players on option from Starr's Diego club. Both seemed too much for the privilege of becoming a new league member.
Timmins and McFarlane, who are reportedly acting for a Calgary brewery, felt that it might be risky for Calgary to join without Edmonton, agreed that it would be a cinch if the Alberta capital was included.
“We should never leave Edmonton out,” they stated, claiming that city was definitely interested. “We would be a lot more interested if Edmonton was in.”
Timmins was particularly concerned over the probabilty of an unbalanced schedule if Calgary entered without its Alberta rival. In this event, it seemed probable that the clubs would make seven-game, one-week stands in Calgary with three of the other seven clubs making the trip twice. Two or three days of rain during a home stand with a club making only one trip to the foothills city, a distinct possibility, would play havoc with such a schedule, Timmins, pointed out.
However, Timmins had no fears about any schedule if Edmonton became a lack member. He felt Edmonton would lead the league in attendance and that the two Alberta cities could be depended on a combined attendance of 300,000.
Edmonton's park, he stated, would seat 6,000 and has good lights. Calgary's park has a seating capacity of 2,700 and Timmins predicted it would be sold out for most games. Seating can be increased and there is lots of standing room, something Calgary fans are used to, he claimed.
Timmins suggested a 10-team league with Lewiston, Edmonton and Calgary joining the present seven clubs.
Mitchell, representing the Lewiston Baseball Committee, told directors that Lewiston would make its own deal with Starr if accepted into the league but mostly listened.
It would be Lewiston’s third experience in organized baseball although the Idaho town is a charter member of both the W.I.L. and the Pioneer League.
Lewiston was a member when the W.I.L. was organized in 1937, lasting one season. The franchise was moved to Bellingham the next year. Again, it lasted one season. The franchise was moved to Idaho Falls in 1940.
The gleanings from nine hours of “coverage” . . . Lewiston the more likely to become the eighth member, Victoria ownership doubtful, Calgary and Edmonton eventual members of W.I.L. if not this season, new rookie rule with each club perhaps limited to nine veterans with six limited service players and two rookies to round out 17-player roster.
Veteran Hockey Figures Seek Baseball Franchise
[Victoria Colonist, Oct. 30, 1951]
Two veteran hockey figures are in Victoria attempting to find out if it would be feasible to buy a Western International Baseball League franchise.
They are Sam Timmins and Gordon McFarlane, well known to veteran Prairie hockey fans who watched them play and read about them for 20 years. Resident in Calgary, they are reported a Calgary brewing company which may be willing to back a W.I.L. team.
Timmins was a goalkeeper of some fame in his hockey days. He managed to see a lot of the North American continent in two decades of puck-stopping for Calgary Tigers in the Western Canada Hockey League in the 1926-27 season and for Portland, Winnipeg, Minneapolis, Spokane, St. Paul and Chicago Shamrocks at various times before ending his lengthy career in Calgary.
Fred Hutchinson, general manager of the Victoria Cougars, was a “rink rat” at Minneapolis when Timmons performed there.
McFarlane, a bosom pal, has a career as lengthy as Timmins. The slender Calgarian, who looks younger than his years of hockey experience would indicate he is, played in the Western Canada League, for three season—1922-23, 1923-24 and 1924-25—with Seattle, Vancouver and Calgary.
He joined the Chicago Black Hawks when the W.C.H.L. was sold to the N.H.L., subsequently played with Springfield, Kitchener and Cleveland before returning to the west with Portland in 1932.
From there McFarlane returned to Calgary, wound up his career with Timmins on the Calgary Buffaloes in the 1942-43 season. The Buffaloes, whose ages averaged 37 years despite the presence of some youngsters, won the Western Canada intermediate championship that season. With Timmins and McFarlane on the club were such well-known players as Joe McGoldrick and Danny Sprout, who is still playing at Seattle with the Ironmen.
WIL Raises Status to Class A; Owners Foresee Better Players
[Vancouver Province, Oct. 31, 1951]
VICTORIA—“It’s a move long overdue.”
R.P. (Bob) Brown, veteran baseball figure, expressed this opinion as Western International League directors voted to raise the circuit from Class B to Class A status at the league’s annual meeting here in Victoria Tuesday.
“Under Class A, I feel that we will be able to work directly with major and Triple A clubs,” said the Vancouver Capilano general manager. “We can now afford to pay salaries which a higher class player demands.”
DOESN’T LIKE IT
Brown also pointed out that no player likes to have a class B tag to his name when he has failed in a previous try in the triple A or major leagues.
League president Robert Abel of Tacoma, elected to a ninth term at the helm of the WIL, hastened to point out that the move is, of course, subject to approval by the National Association of Minor Professional Baseball Leagues which will meet in Columbus, Ohio, Dec. 3.
However, he said he saw no reason why the National Association should not approve the move as member clubs of the WIL qualify under the population rule.
A league must have a combined population of 1,000,000 in order to apply for a status. The WIL has such a population.
“It’s a big step,” Abel said, “and one we should have made last year when the matter was discussed.
“It means the salary limit is raised to $5200 a team per month, as compared to the $4000 under class B. But most of all, it will give the WIL added prestige and enable clubs to secure better class ballplayers.
Spokane owner Roy Hotchkiss also welcomed the move. “A city the size of ours and Vancouver deserve it,” he said. “It will mean a better brand of baseball with more direct affiliation with the majors. Ballplayers will be easier to come by and easier to secure.”
General Manager Reg Patterson of the Victoria Athletics said he has been in favor of the change for the last thee years.
“We have been kidding ourselves the last few years by paying class A and AA salaries,” he added.