Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Spokane Reacts to Firey Deaths

Sports-Loving Spokane Stunned by Tragic Loss of Ball Club
United Press Staff Correspondent
SPOKANE, Wash., June 26. (U.P.) Sports-loving Spokane was still stunned today at the tragic death of eight members of the Spokane Indians baseball team of the Western International League who died in flaming bus wreckage Monday night.
To baseball fans, it was hard to believe that "Marty" Martinez, Vic Picetti, George Risk, Mel Cole, Jim James, Bob Kinnaman, Bob Patterson, and George Lyden would not be out under the lights at Ferris Field for their next scheduled home game with Yakima Stars.
Sam Collins, owner of the club, who nearly collapsed when he first heard the news, went about the sad duty of notifying the next of kin.
The city council said the shock to the city was a terrible one, and that they found the whole tragedy almost beyond belief.
William P. Ulrich, former owner of the club, said that just such an accident had always been his main worry when he owned the Indians.
"I always had the team manager at the other end of the Cascade passes phone me when the boys arrived safely in their town," he I said. "Those boys were a fine, wonderful group; I can't make up my mind that it's true."
Fans gathered in the sport centers of the city, talking quietly of latest details concerning the burning bus that careened down a 500-foot embankment in Snoqualmie Pass carrying to death eight of the town's best ball players and injuring seven others.
Some of the team's most loyal and boisterous fans, grade school kids, who attended most of the home games, were choked up and said very little. One of them did ask if the "Chief" was among those fatally injured. Chief Levi McCormack, a member of the Nez Perce Indian tribe of Lapwai, Ida., had been injured and his condition reported unsatisfactory.
The fact that the kid's baseball home-run-hitting hero was still alive, did not soften the blow, merely kept it from being worse.
- June 26, 1946

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