Sunday, November 21, 2010

#3 Joe Schultz, Manager

Let's pound some Budweiser!!

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Joe spent 9 seasons in the Majors as a catcher with Pittsburgh from 1939-1941, and 1943 to 1948 with the St. Louis Browns. He was a coach with the Browns in 1949 after his playing time was done. 

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Joe did alot of managing in the minors. He was with the Wichita Indians in 1950 and 51, the Tulsa Oilers from 1952 to 1954. He then spent 1955 with the Nashville Volunteers. In 1956 and 57 he was the skipper for the San Antonio Missions. 1958 saw Joe work with the York White Roses. From there Joe was with the Omaha Cardinals in 1959, and the Memphis Chickasaws in 1960. In 1961 Joe moved to AAA with the San Juan/Charleston Marlins, and he would take over the Atlanta Crackers in 1962.

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Joe would finally move to the majors in 1963, becoming the third base coach for the the St. Louis Cardinals. He would hold that position until the end of the 1968 season. In 1969 Joe would become the one and only regular season manager for the Seattle Pilots. He would be replaced in Seattle by Dave Bristol, but the team would move to Milwaukee at the start of the season.

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If you have this card, I need one please!
1970 would see Joe take on the job of third base coach for the Kansas City Royals. From 1971 to 1976, Joe would be the third base coach this time with the Detroit Tigers. In 1973, Joe would replace Billy Martin as manager in August after Billy as fired for publicly ordering pitchers to bean other players. Joe would retire from baseball after 1976.

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As a minor league manager, Joe compiled a record of 1010-975, and in the majors he was 78-112. Joe passed away on January 10, 1996 at the age of 77. He is at rest in the Calvary Cemetery and Mausoleum in St. Louis, Missouri.

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Thursday, November 4, 2010

#2 Frank Crosetti, 3B Coach

Frank Crosetti played with the Yankees from 1932 to 1948 and was the team's 
third-base coach for the next 20 years. Nicknamed ''the Crow,'' Crosetti played for eight teams that won World Series titles and was teammates with Yankee legends such as Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig 
and Joe DiMaggio. The 5-foot, 10-inch Crosetti batted .245, hit 98 home runs 
and drove in 649 runs in 1,682 games in 17 seasons. He was an All-Star in 
1936 and 1939, but his best season might have been 1938, when his 757 plate 
appearances set a major league record for a 154-game season. He also led the 
American League with 27 stolen bases. He was the team's starting shortstop 
from 1932 through 1940, when Phil Rizzuto replaced him.

After retiring as a player, Crosetti coached Yankee greats such as Mickey 
Mantle and Roger Maris on teams that took part in 15 World Series.
''I couldn't rank Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mantle, Maris and 
other great Yankee hitters,'' Crosetti told The Los Angeles Times in 1961. ''They played 
at different times, had different styles...." He said he had ''been asked to 
pick the best Yankee teams since I came up in 1932, but that can't be done 

Born Oct. 4, 1910, in San Francisco, Frank Peter Joseph Crosetti spent many 
of his formative years in Los Gatos near San Jose. His father raised vegetables on a 12-acre plot, while Crosetti and his brother spent their free time playing one-a-cat, a baseball-style game.
''We used the big end of the corncob as a ball,'' he said. ''We had a bunch 
of corncobs and when they dried they'd get hard, and we'd chop the big end 
off. For a bat, we'd get a board and whittle it down on one end to make a 

Crosetti's family moved to the North Beach area of San Francisco when he was 
in high school, but Crosetti was not a good student. He once skipped classes 
at Lowell High for two consecutive weeks and spent most of those days 
watching ballgames played by the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast 

After dropping out of high school at the age of 16, Crosetti worked at a 
produce market before a friend asked if he was interested in going to Butte, 
Mont., to play semipro baseball. The two worked for a Montana power company 
by day and played baseball at night through the summer, then returned to San 
Francisco, where Crosetti played in several games a day at various parks in 
the region.

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The San Francisco Seals signed Crosetti in 1928 and he played three seasons for the team 
before joining the Yankees, a club that featured San Francisco native and future Hall of Famer Tony Lazzeri at second base. Joe DiMaggio, who was also from San Francisco and played for the Seals, had his contract purchased by the Yankees in 1935. The three players, all of whom were of Italian origin and none of whom were particularly loquacious, forged a friendship that began when a team executive instructed Lazzeri and Crosetti to drive DiMaggio down to spring training in St. Petersburg, Fla.

''Tony didn't talk much and DiMag didn't say a word. He just sat in the 
backseat and looked out the window,'' Crosetti told Newsday in 1991. ''Tony 
and I shared the driving. We would go two or three hours and then look at the 
other guy and say, 'Wanna drive?' and then we'd shift places. Sometimes that 
was all the conversation in the car. ''Finally, on about the third day, I said to Tony: 'Let's let the kid drive.' 
So he turned to him in the backseat and said, 'Wanna drive, kid?' And DiMag 
said, 'I don't know how.' I don't know if he was pulling our legs or not.''

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After Crosetti retired as a player, he became a fixture in the third-base 
coaching box. He once was reportedly about to succeed the legendary Casey 
Stengel as manager of the Yankees, but denied the story. ''I wouldn't manage a ballclub for any amount of money," he said. "I have the best job in baseball right here and my only ambition is to remain as 
third-base coach of the Yankees. Anyone who says different is nuts.''

Frank Crosetti became the third base coach for the Pilots in 1969, but was 
released after one season when manager Joe Schultz was fired. Crosetti vehemently denied that he asked to be released, and learned of his firing from a radio newscast. After leaving the Pilots, Frank would coach for the Minnesota Twins in 1970 and again in 1971.

In retirement, Crosetti was a frequent visitor to the Yankee clubhouse when the team made trips to Oakland. During one of his visits, he told a New York Daily News reporter that Babe Ruth's legendary "called shot" home run against the Chicago Cubs in the 1932 World Series never happened. Legend has it that Ruth pointed to the outfield fence before he hit the homer. ''I've been asked this a million times and he did not point,'' Crosetti said. "The next day, it was all in the papers. He sat next to me in the dugout and said, 'If the writers want to say I pointed, let 'em.'

''That was the tip-off, right there." What happened was, the Cubs were getting  on him and he had two strikes on him. So he put his finger up in front of his face and what he meant was, 'I have one strike left.'
''And then it happened that on the next pitch, he hit a home run. But he didn't point.''

Frank unfortunately died at the age of 91 due to complications from a fall in Stockton, California. He is entombed in Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery in Colma, CA.

information borrowed from and inspired by Los Angeles Times and Wikipedia

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Help me, please

I'm working on putting some posts together for this blog, but I need some help from my fellow bloggers. Can you guys help me understand how to get a video up. I have found some Pilots videos on other sites, and on YouTube but am a complete idiot on how to put them in my post. I know that some of you do it quite often, and would love some help. Thanks in advance to all you wonderful, helpful blog friends.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

#1 Ray Oyler, Shortstop

Early in 1960, Ray Oyler was signed to a professional contract with the Detroit Tigers by longtime Tigers scout Wayne Blackburn. He was immediately assigned to the Tigers’ Duluth-Superior club in the Class C Northern League, where he was installed as the Dukes’ regular shortstop, appearing in all 121 games played. Ray scored 90 runs that season, by far his highest single-season total, fostered by a career-high .396 on-base percentage. Oyler returned to the Dukes to play shortstop in 1961. While batting .261 to match his 1960 average, with a .388 on-base percentage through 84 games, the Tigers promoted Ray to play shortstop in Knoxville of the Class A South Atlantic League. The promotion slowed Oyler’s offense to a .171 crawl in 22 games for the Smokies. 1962 saw Oyler adjust to Sally League pitching, increasing his average to .236 and his home runs, from a previous high of six in 1960, to 11 for the Smokies. Ray patrolled shortstop while appearing in all 140 Knoxville games in 1962, smacking a career-high six triples to go with the 11 homers. Oyler’s defense shined as he led Northern League shortstops in putouts and fielding percentage. The Smokies finished 86–54 and made it to the league finals, where they came out on the losing end.

The Detroit organization saw enough in Oyler’s 1962 performance that they again promoted him, this time to play with its Triple A International League affiliate in Syracuse. As it did two seasons earlier, Ray’s offense swooned as he saw his average dip to .213, with a career-high 130 strikeouts in 146 games for the Chiefs.
The following spring, Oyler, now 25, found himself opening the season in the minor leagues for a fifth season. Assigned to repeat with the Syracuse Chiefs for 1964, Ray responded as he did two summers prior in the South Atlantic League, by showing more comfort at the plate, hitting IL pitching at a .251 clip with surprising authority—slugging 19 homers and driving home 61. With his slick fielding and maturing bat, Oyler’s talents were now catching the eye of the Tigers’ front office and yet another promotion was just around the corner. Ray didn’t see any action with the 1964 Tigers, but he had seen the last of the minor leagues for a while.

Ray stayed with the big club as they gathered in Lakeland, Florida, in spring 1965. Oyler showed enough that spring to prompt Tigers skipper Charlie Dressen to take him north. On Sunday, April 18, 1965, Ray Oyler debuted in the majors by starting at shortstop, batting eighth, in place of Dick McAuliffe, as the Tigers played the Angels at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. Oyler stepped to the plate in the top of the second against left-hander Rudy May, also, incidentally, making his major league debut. May struck him out—one of ten he recorded that afternoon. Ray went 0-for-2 and participated in five plays at short, with four assists and a putout.

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Oyler appeared in several more games, mostly—believe it or not—as a pinch-hitter, batting a total of nine times before collecting his first hit. In a game against Baltimore at Detroit on Sunday, May 23, Oyler singled to center off of lefty Dave McNally in the bottom of the fifth while pinch-hitting for pitcher Phil Regan. Ray’s first multi-hit game occurred a week-and-a-half later at Cleveland June 4. His initial extra-base hit took place off of Yankee Pedro Ramos at Detroit on Thursday, July 8, when he doubled to right in the bottom of the eighth, driving in a run and helping to extend the Tigers lead in a 6–1 victory.

Two weeks later, with Cleveland in town, Oyler stepped in against veteran lefty Jack Kralick, leading off the bottom of the second and slashed his first of fifteen major league home runs, igniting a four-run rally that helped propel the Tigers to a 10–5 win. During the course of his rookie season, Oyler’s playing time gradually increased due to McAuliffe’s being sidelined with a broken wrist. Ray appeared in 27 games in September as the regular shortstop as the Tigers proceeded toward an 89-win season, 13 games behind the pennant-winning Twins. He finished 1965 with a .186 average and five homers, his most in four seasons with Detroit.

Oyler returned to his backup role the following spring. Starting the 1966 season well—batting .297 on the first of June—acting manager Bob Swift started platooning Ray at short in June, July, and early August with McAuliffe against left-handed pitching. A highlight for Ray in 1966 occurred July 17 when he had a pair of hits in each game of a doubleheader against the Indians. He went 4-for-8, as the Tigers were swept in the twin bill, raising his average above .200 for the final time that season. Ray’s averaged slipped to .171 by year’s end, though. Oyler’s play in the field impressed the Tigers’ new manager, Mayo Smith, enough to move stalwart Dick McAuliffe—who himself noted that Oyler was “the best shortstop I ever played with”—to second base.Despite the intentions of manager Smith, as the 1967 season wore on, Oyler was forced to split time at short with veteran Dick Tracewski due to continuous nagging leg ailments.
Ray Oyler back in Detroit
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In an effort to pick up his offense, Oyler had arrived in Lakeland early that spring after returning from winter ball in Puerto Rico, where he experimented with switch-hitting. Ray was able to contribute offensively in his own way, leading the 1967 Tigers with 15 sacrifice bunts. During the heat of the 1967 pennant race, Oyler showed a rare display of anger when he got involved in a shoving match with Yankees outfielder Bill Robinson. After tagging Robinson out in a rundown, Oyler got an elbow to the ribs, an apparent attempt by Robinson to jar the ball loose. Ray made a running charge at Robinson only to be intercepted by other players on the field. Later, Ray said, “I lost control of myself. I’m sorry I did.” Nevertheless, five years later, the two scuffled again after a similar play while both were toiling in the Pacific Coast League.

Oyler’s stake at the shortstop position gave way to the desire for more punch with the bat for the last month of the 1967 pennant race when Mayo Smith restored McAuliffe to short, putting Jerry Lumpe in the lineup at second base. Tigers General Manager Jim Campbell brusquely noted the need for “a shortstop who can hit,” following the Tigers’ near-miss at the 1967 pennant. They praised him for his glove but loathed the lack of hitting. Ray did lift his average to .207, with 29 RBI, both high marks for his big-league career.

Following the conclusion of the 1967 season, several teams inquired about Oyler, due to his defensive prowess. After an attempted deal with Baltimore for Luis Aparicio fell apart during the 1967–1968 off-season, the Tigers found themselves with the Oyler-Tracewski combo they featured in 1967. Following a winter as a sporting goods salesman in Detroit, Oyler arrived at camp in Lakeland in February 1968, determined once again to add some more wood to his cache of leather: “I know I can do better than (hit .207) if I play every day.…I’ve put on a few pounds to 178 and I feel good. You’re more relaxed at the plate when you play every day.…I hope to hit .250. I think I’ve that much in myself.” During spring training, Oyler took to wearing glasses to help him see the ball better while hitting, causing teammate Norm Cash to compare Ray with a World War II German tank soldier. Ray also was one of the first players to have a protective side flap on his batting helmet due to having been hit in the head more often than he cared for.

As the season progressed, Oyler’s anemic hitting became virtually nonexistent—after singling off of Minnesota’s Bob Miller in the eighth inning July 13, Ray failed to collect even one hit in his last 37 trips to the plate, walking just once—and his role was reduced to that of a defensive replacement at short for Tom Matchick and Dick Tracewski. Oyler gained notoriety for his weak bat with Mayo Smith’s move of center fielder Mickey Stanley to start in Ray’s place as Detroit shortstop during the 1968 World Series. In preparation for this World Series position change, the manager had inserted Stanley into the shortstop position in seven September contests and decided to proceed with this daring arrangement for the Series.
Ray was not left shelved on the bench, however, as he supplanted Stanley at shortstop as a late-inning defensive replacement in each of the Tigers’ victories, while also contributing a successful sacrifice in his only plate appearance.

As Stanley noted in George Cantor’s book The Tigers of ’68: Baseball’s Last Real Champions: “He never carried a grudge about my replacing him during the series,” said Stanley. “He was simply a great guy. To get into the Series and then to have some guy moved entirely out of position to take your place. He’d take me out there during workouts and tried to give me a crash course in shortstop. He was such a great competitor. He played hurt, he played hungover. He never complained. We all loved that guy.”

During the series, Mayo Smith assured that Stanley would play short in Oyler’s place “only for now.” What neither manager Smith nor Oyler knew at the time was that Game 7 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis would be Ray’s last appearance as a Tiger. On October 10, 1968, Oyler celebrated with his Tigers teammates and their fans everywhere as Detroit came back from a 3-games-to-1 deficit to defeat the St. Louis Cardinals for the Tigers’ first championship in 23 years. Five days later, Ray was no longer a Tiger. Unprotected for the American League’s expansion draft, he was nabbed as the third player chosen by the new league entry in Seattle.

Oyler was to be that rare defensive gem so often absent on new teams. Manager Joe Schultz responded at spring training when asked whether Oyler’s hitting would be a liability: “Ah, hell. Ray Oyler will bat .300 for us with his glove.” In Jim Bouton’s diary of the Pilots, Ball Four, Ray became known as “Oil Can Harry,” for looking like he had changed a set of rings. Before the Pilots even played their first game in 1969, Seattle radio disc jockey Robert E. Lee "Bob" Hardwick looked over the list of players drafted by the Pilots, discovered Oyler's batting average and created the "Ray Oyler Fan Club," initially as a radio bit on his radio show. Grabbing onto the popularity of the late-60s Laugh-In TV show's "Sock it to Me" catchphrase, the fan club was called the Ray Oyler "S.O.C. I.T. T.O. M.E. .300" Club, meaning "Slugger Oyler Can, In Time, Top Our Manager's Estimate" and hit .300. Some 15,000 baseball-starved fans signed up. Ray homered in the Pilots’ second home game at Sick’s Stadium. He went on to hit a career-high seven blasts, due in part to the coziness of Sick’s Stadium. Ray started strong, hitting .350 through the first two weeks, but tailed off, predictably, to a final mark of .165, ten points below his career average In August, Ray re-injured his knee that had hampered him at the start of the 1967 season, while playing in Washington for Seattle, on turf damaged by football players in a recent Redskins game. Ray was traded to Oakland, which then sold him to California in the spring of 1970.

In the aftermath of delivering his first hit as an Angel to ignite a winning rally, Oyler happily exclaimed: “I finally feel like I’m part of the team. I finally did something to help out.” Ray replaced Jim Fregosi in the fifth inning in an August 5 tilt against the Twins. He had been just 0-for-9 prior to the hit and he followed the single with a squeeze bunt adding another run for the Angels in the ninth inning. Oyler smiled and said, “I used Fregosi’s bat. Heck, I’ve never had a model of my own.” Ray’s only other hit was his last in the majors, connecting in the ninth inning of a September 9 Angels loss to the White Sox off of Jerry Janeski. The 1970 season marked Oyler’s final round at the major league level, lasting just 24 games, primarily because of his .083 batting average. Ray’s last big-league appearance took place in the Angels’ final game October 1. Ray stepped in as a pinch-hitter for pitcher Greg Garrett in the bottom of the seventh and took a called third strike from White Sox rookie hurler Don Eddy. Incidentally, Angels manager Lefty Phillips used Ray as a pinch-hitter nine unsuccessful times, or six more times than during the previous four seasons combined. Ray had collected three pinch hits in eleven such opportunities as a rookie in 1965.

After seeing minor league action briefly in the Pacific Coast League in 1970, going 2-for-7 while with the Hawaii Islanders, Oyler joined the Salt Lake City Angels for 1971 as a player-coach, hitting .192 with six homers in 58 games. Salt Lake City won the PCL South Division title and defeated Tacoma, the North Division titlist, in the playoffs. Oyler returned to play with Hawaii in 1972. Islanders pitcher and former big leaguer Dave Baldwin reminisced: “Ray was my teammate in Hawai’i [in the PCL] in 1972. The Islanders acquired him as the team was beefing up to get a major league franchise. We also had players like Clete Boyer, Mike McCormick, Leon Wagner, and Jimmie Hall. Ray was to be our shortstop and John Donaldson was at second—an outstanding double play combination.”

In May 1972, Ray was injured three different times the same week. He left a game against Eugene with a swollen hand after a bad bounce from a grounder hit by Joe Lis(future Mariner) smacked him on the right wrist. He missed a game and returned only to be struck in the nose by a pickoff throw from pitcher John Purdin in a game against Salt Lake City. Again, he had to leave the game. The next evening, in game two of a twin bill, Oyler collided with outfielder Jim Hicks on a fly off the bat of the Salt Lake City Angels’ Rudy Meoli. He had to be taken off the field on a stretcher to a hospital. The bruised ribs from the collision landed Ray on the disabled list. Oyler came back a player-coach for Hawaii of the PCL in 1973, his final year in professional baseball. He did not appear as a player that season, however.

While with the Pilots, Oyler fell in love with the Seattle area and retired there following his baseball career, managing a bowling alley in Bellevue and working for Boeing. He also was employed by Safeway Stores as a salesperson. Ray resurfaced briefly as the Tigers’ batting practice pitcher when they visited Seattle to play the Mariners during the 1977 and 1978 seasons. He suffered a fatal heart attack January 26, 1981, at age 42, at his home in Redmond, Washington. He was buried at Sunset Hills Memorial Park in Bellevue.

Some information borrowed and influenced by SABR bios and Wikipedia.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Seattle baseball history, part 2

The 1967 Major League Baseball winter meetings gave life to the Seattle Pilots, owned by former Cleveland Indians owner William R. Daley and former Pacific Coast League president Dewey Soriano. They entered the American League along with the Kansas City Royals as part of a hasty round of expansion triggered by the Kansas City Athletics' move to Oakland. Senator Stuart Symington of Missouri had threatened to have baseball's antitrust exemption revoked unless Kansas City was promptly granted another team.  They were originally slated to begin play in 1971, but Symington would not accept the prospect of having Kansas City wait three years for another team and pressured MLB to have the Royals and their expansion brethren (the Pilots and the National League's San Diego Padres and Montreal Expos) ready for play in 1969. Until a new stadium (what would become the Kingdome) was ready, the Pilots would play at Sick's Stadium, the home of the city's longtime PCL franchise, the Seattle Rainiers.

Manager Joe Schultz actually thought they could finish third in the newly formed, six-team American League West even though they had been badly out drafted by the Royals. However, to the surprise of almost no one outside Seattle, the Pilots were terrible. They won their very first game, and then their home opener three days later, but only won five more times in the first month and never recovered. They finished last in the West with a record of 64–98. In a sign that the Pilots were doomed for failure, Lou Piniella a 26-year-old rookie was traded at the end of spring training. Piniella was sent down a few weeks earlier despite having strong numbers in spring games. The problem was that Pilots manager Joe Schultz did not like Piniella, who was set to make $175, 000. The Pilots did not want to pay him, so they got rid of him. Piniella would end up with the American League's other 1969 expansion team the Kansas City Royals, and he would win that year's Rookie of the Year.

However, the team's poor play was the least of the Pilots' problems. The team's ownership was badly under capitalized; Soriano hadn't been able to afford the franchise fee and had to ask Daley to help pay it. In return, Daley got 47 percent of the team's stock—the biggest single share—and became chairman of the board. Also, Sick's Stadium was completely inadequate even as a temporary facility. While a condition of MLB awarding the Pilots to Seattle was that Sicks had to be expanded to 30,000 seats by the start of the 1969 season, only 17,000 seats were ready because of numerous delays.

 The scoreboard was not even ready until the night before opening day. While it was expanded to 25,000 by June, the added seats had obstructed views. Water pressure was almost nonexistent after the seventh inning, especially with crowds above 10,000. Only 677,944 fans came to see the Pilots that year; they never attracted a crowd even near capacity. On October 2nd, 5,473 Pilot fans, came to see the season finale against the Oakland A's. They would lose 3-1 and finish in last place and 33 games out of first. One bright spot was Harper who would lead the majors with 73 stolen bases. Much of the story of that season is told in pitcher Jim Bouton's classic baseball book, Ball Four ( a must read for all baseball fans).

By the end of the 1969 season, the Pilots were almost out of money, and they wouldn't survive long enough to move into their new stadium without new ownership. No credible offers surfaced from Seattle interests at first, however. Under these circumstances, Soriano was initially very receptive to an offer from a Milwaukee-based group headed by car salesman Bud Selig. Selig had been a minority owner of the Milwaukee Braves and had led unsuccessful efforts to keep them from moving to Atlanta, and had been working ever since then to bring the majors back to Milwaukee. During Game 1 of the World Series, Soriano agreed to sell the Pilots to Selig for $10 million to $13 million. Selig would then move the team to Milwaukee. However, under strong pressure from Washington state officials, MLB asked Soriano to try to find a local buyer first.

Unfortunately, one local deal collapsed when the Bank of California called a loan for start-up costs, and another bid was turned down out of concern it would devalue the other teams. With no other credible offers on the table, the owners approved the sale to Selig's group. Selig had already announced plans to rename the team the Brewers, a name that had been used by past Milwaukee baseball teams dating to the 19th century. However, legal action kept Selig from formally taking control, and dragged out through the winter.
Opening day at Sick's Stadium, 1969
The matter still hadn't been resolved by the end of spring training, leaving new manager Dave Bristol and the players unsure of where they would play. The team's equipment sat in Provo, Utah while the drivers awaited word to drive to Seattle or Milwaukee. After the state filed an injunction to stop the sale on March 17, Soriano and the Pilots filed for bankruptcy to forestall any more legal action. After general manager Marvin Milkes testified that the Pilots didn't have enough money to pay the players, the bankruptcy judge granted the Pilots' filing on April 1 and ruled the move to Milwaukee in order. MLB would not return to Seattle until 1977, when the Mariners entered the AL, along with the Toronto Blue Jays. One player from the 1969 Pilots would come back to the new team in 1977. Former Pilot Diego Segui would be a member of the inaugural Mariners. Diego would have the honor of throwing the first pitch in Mariners history. When the Kingdome would close in 1999, he would also have the honor of throwing the last pitch. His son David would also play for the Mariners, making them one of two father-son combos to play for the Mariners.

some information borrowed and inspired by Wikipedia and

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Seattle basball history, part 1

Believe it or not, Seattle has a long history of baseball. While the city would not see Major League Baseball until 1969, the first pro team would start in 1890 with a team called the Hustlers. To tell the story of professional baseball in Seattle prior to the Seattle Rainiers is to tell the story of Dan Dugdale. Dugdale's ties to baseball began six years before that in his hometown of Peoria, Ill. From 1884-95, Dugdale used his above-average talent as a catcher to play for 20 different teams in 13 different states.

In 1898, Dugdale arrived in Seattle seeking fortune from the Klondike Gold Rush. It only makes sense then that the first team he helped to build was the Klondikers. Later called the Rainmakers, Clamdiggers and Chinooks, the Klondikers were one of the pioneering teams in the Pacific Northwest League that became fully functional in 1901.
Keeping a baseball league in business at that time was no small feat, especially when there were other leagues competing for players and popularity. Dugdale was bought out in 1904 by the Seattle Siwashes of the Pacific Coast League and agreed to manage the Portland team in that league.
Then in 1907, Dugdale returned to Seattle and aligned the Siwashes with the Northwestern League. He also built Yesler Way Park on the corner of 12th Avenue and Yesler Way that year. While playing in that facility, the Siwashes were renamed the Turks and won the league pennant in 1909.
After another renaming, this time to the Giants, Dugdale again invested in a new stadium. Dugdale Park was located in Rainier Valley and was the first double-decker stadium built on the West Coast. The ballpark opened its gates in 1914.
In all, Dugdale's teams won five pennants and produced many future Major League players.
Then, in 1919, the Pacific Coast League returned to Seattle and formed a team called the Rainiers. The team was renamed the Indians two years later and won the first PCL championship for the city of Seattle in 1924.
Tragically, Dugdale Park was burned by an arsonist in 1932 on the Fourth of July. The act forced the Indians, who had previously called that park home, to move to Civic Stadium. Located where Memorial Stadium stands today, Civic Stadium was known for its concrete-hard infield and large wooden light poles that were in play if struck by a ball.
The next few years were tough ones for baseball in Seattle. It wasn't until 1937 when a man named Emil Sick came along that things started to turn around again.

Although the Rainiers were charter members of the Pacific Coast League from 1903-06 and then rejoined the league in 1919 under the Indians title, it wasn't until 1937 when Sick bought the team and renamed them the Rainiers that the team began known as one of the marquee teams of the league.
From 1938-41, the Rainiers made six consecutive playoff appearances, winning pennants in three of those trips.
Previously known as the owner of the Rainier Brewing Company, Sick bought the team to help promote his brew. But Sick also opened his wallet for his new investment. In 1938, construction was complete on Sick's Stadium, a state-of-the-art ballpark for its time that was erected at the same place where Dugdale Park had been located.

Rainiers games became one of the most popular things to do in Seattle during Sick's ownership. Following the new stadium's opening, the Rainiers led the PCL in attendance 11 of the next 20 seasons. For five of those years, they led all of the Minor Leagues as well. During the 1946 season, the short lived West Coast Negro League would have a team in Seattle named the Steelheads. The league would only last about two months.

The PCL was regarded as the most competitive league in the country after the American and National leagues during the Rainiers' heyday. The quality of play was extraordinary, as evidenced by future Hall of Famers Gaylord Perry, Willie McCovey and Juan Marichal beginning their baseball careers playing for teams in the PCL.
While no Rainiers players went on to become one of these all-time greats, the franchise did have its share of hometown favorites that had excellent playing careers. Three of the most prominent players from the Rainiers' back-to-back-to-back championships were "Kewpie" Dick Barrett, Bill Lawrence and Jo-Jo White. Barrett won more than 200 games as a Rainier, Lawrence was considered one of the best defensive center fielders of his time, and White played many successful seasons in the Majors before being traded to Seattle. Another famous name that came to the Rainiers was a manager for one year in 1951. Rogers Hornsby would lead the team to a 99-68 record, and would go onto win the PCL championship in that year.
Perhaps the most famous Rainiers player of them all, though, only played one season with the team. Franklin High School graduate Fred Hutchinson quickly became a fan favorite because of his hometown roots and incredible success. In the team's first season, "Hutch" won 25 games as a 19 year old in 1938. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer named him Seattle Man of the Year for his brilliance on the mound. Hutchinson was never able to pitch at that level again, but he did go on to manage for 12 seasons in the Majors with the Tigers, Cardinals, and Reds. Between Major League managerial stints, he returned to lead the Rainiers to the 1955 PCL pennant. He died of cancer at the age of 45 in 1964.
Meanwhile, the PCL began to lose its loyal following when the Major Leagues began to migrate to the West Coast. The Brooklyn Dodgers moved to Los Angeles and the New York Giants headed to San Francisco before the 1958 season. Businessman first, Sick saw the change coming and opted to sell the Rainiers to the Red Sox in 1960. The team would become a part of the California Angels organization from 1965 to 1968. While the team continued in Seattle, it was never able to regain the popularity that it generated while under Sick's ownership.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

New Blog

I'm not sure why I'm going to try and take on a second blog. I may not update this as frequently as Emerald City Diamond Gems, but I'll try. I'm thinking the philosophy behind this one will be a timeline of Seattle baseball. I will try to start with the Pilots and then work chronologically through the Mariners. Some cards and pictures i don't own. Images sometimes can and will be lifted from the internet. Sorry folks, that's the way it goes sometimes. I will try to give credit to a source if I "borrow" an image. Let's hope the seas aren't too rough on this journey.