Willy League Strong; Will Be Close Race
By JACK HEWINS
SEATTLE, April 10—It’s very likely to he another rousing battle right down to the wire this year in the Western International baseball league.
In training camps all the way from Penticton, B. C., to the frozen-orange country of California, Willy league managers are sending optimistic reports to the folks back home. Four teams look good from here.
Vancouver has balance, Tacoma and Victoria pack power at the platter, Wenatchee has the pitching.
INDIANS ARE QUESTIONABLE
The question marks are Bremerton and Spokane, which got a slow start, Yakima's rebuilding Bears and Salem, which is shy on pitchmg and defence generally. Building a new team as well as a new grandstand, Spokane must be rated as the league's “sleeper” entry. Manager Jim Brillheart has had trouble getting nine men into uniform down at Woodland, Calif., but his “probables” are numerous and impressive.
Outfielders Larry Orteig and Bill Wright, Infielder Al Orlando, and catches Bud Sheely and John Wilbourne all were on the dicker list at last report and all could help the Indians. Two hard-hitting veterans, gardener Turk Stainback and catcher Joe Rossi, plus heavy clouting in fielder Paul Zaby. Gave the team the nucleus of a blasting outfit. Pitching is good but shallow.
At Lewiston Idaho, Alan Strange has been working with a crew of pitchers and catchers while waiting for help from the Coast league to round out the team. In one recent game Strange used four batterymen in defensive spots.
Yakima probably deserves better than question mark value, but the pitching has not come up to expectations. The fielding has been inconsistent and the hitting light. It’s a good bet Joe Orengo will have his problems well in hand by opening day, April 21.
Head man (they call him the “papa bear”) Dewey Soriano may have to step down from the front office more than once a week to pitch if Orengo doesn’t find flinging help.
The veteran Nick Pesut returned to the team and power-hitting Clint Cameron is in from Hollywood. Cameron may appear in the outfield when not behind the dish. Around Joe Orelle and Lou McCollum, boss Charlie Peterson is building a strong mound crew. First baseman Bob Goldstein and centerfielder Jim Warner give the Chiefs a distance-hitting potential.
Nothing but rosy reports come from the Canadian camps. Business manager Reg Patterson says Victoria has the “best looking club yet.” Catcher Bob Day whacked a 425-foot home run in one practice game. The team was having a little holdout trouble, with four men unsigned, among them were pitchers Vince Pesky and the Hawaiian veteran Len Kasparovitch.
Pitcher Jim Hedgicock thinks the Vancouver team “looks better than our ’47 pennant winner.” Bob Brown, grand old man of the league, issued an ultimatum to his Vancouver players to “hustle or get out” and manager Bill Brenner said the warning has paid off. “The only thing left to worry about is getting in shape myself,” Brown said.
Vancouver signed Frank Constantino, ex-Yakima catcher, and is high of rookie third-sacker Jimmy Moore. Pitcher Bob Costello, whose arm went dead unaccountably midway through the 1948 campaign has switched to a sidearm delivery and appears sharp.
Bob Johnson, himself a famous slugger, has gone in for long hitters at Tacoma’s Ontario, Calif., camp. In one game, three men connected for home runs, one of them was off the bat of Bill Chambers, who had just joined the team and may be the answer to the catching problem. Johnson has plenty of pitchers—in numbers—and if they keep up with the team’s hitters, Tacoma may be the pace-setter all the way.