Monday, December 24, 2007

A Pair of Pippins

Andy Anthony sent me a note asking about the Yakima Pippins, his grandmother’s favourite team. He was looking for a logo that they had on their uniforms. Today, you’d see a cartoon apple swinging a worm-shaped bat or something like that, and find it on mugs, baby t-shirts, key chains, bobble-heads, whatever, in four different sets of colours. In those days, a jersey had a city name on the front and a number on the back. Home whites, road greys. That’s it. It was cheap. And marketing was far off in the future (bobbleheads can go with ear-splitting between-inning music on the list of things baseball would be better off without).

Here you see two photos of Pippins, which allows me a great opening to rave about Dave Eskenazi’s photo collection, whence these came. It’s absolutely astounding; at least the few pictures I’ve seen are. I don’t know how he found the photos he has, or how long he’s been assembling them. But I swear they encompass the life of baseball in the northwestern U.S. and B.C.’s Lower Mainland. The book Rain Check: Baseball in the Pacific Northwest, a beautiful historical look of some of that history, would have been a far lesser book without Dave’s wonderful pictures. The Vancouver snaps I’ve seen are not to be found locally in the library or city archival photo collections.

The photo above (I have shrunk the pix so they can fit on the page) is of Felix Penso, who spent the pre-war years in the WIL with Yakima and Vancouver and the post-war years kicking around Texas. To your right is Goldie Holt, who managed the Pippins to a second-place finish in 1940. The Pippins slipped to third in 1941 and Goldie was gone at the end of the season to the San Jose Owls of the California League. He’s probably best known to non-WIL baseball lovers as being picked to be a charter member of the Cubs’ ridiculed College of Coaches in 1961. And when the real Pacific Coast League was killed by major league transplantation in 1958, Goldie opened the season managing Brooklyn’s, er Los Angeles’, club in Spokane (I'd settle for any kind of PCL in Vancouver again, but that's another story).

I'm presuming the pictures were taken in Parker Field (the style of outfield billboard seems to have been popular; Sick’s Stadium had similar lattice connectors).

And, yes, it’s a bit late for Christmas now, but Rain Check is a wonderful gift for anyone who thinks there’s more to baseball’s past in this area than A-Rod.

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