Sunday, February 10, 2008

WIL fan's Mighty Mailbag

While I'm not writing a book about Vancouver baseball, there is someone writing a book that will touch on the Western International League.

Ken McIntosh has been busy researching Capilano Stadium, known to baseball fans today as Nat Bailey Stadium. The idea of a new park to place the dumpy Athletic Park was a bit of a political football before it was built, but the new (in 1951) ball yard has given countless baseball memories to several generations. Ken's book is 99% finished, he says.

He's even dug up material related to the old Western International League club. I don't know if you can see this, but...

A note has come in from Graham McNeil. He asked how much a signed baseball is worth. In this case, it's from the 1946 Victoria Athletics and the signatures are readable. If you're interested, mail Graham.

The post about Luke Moyls brought a response from Jim Robson, the Voice of the Mounties, via Ron Robinson, the Re-Creation Assistant to the Voice of the Mounties. Jim writes:

Hi Ron
I knew Luke Moyls well. He did the PA job at UBC football and
basketball for many years. He was an insurance agent with Parsons-Brown..
then went out on his own. He was our insurance agent for many years.
I don't remember him at the ballpark.. but I wasn't around in 1951.
(Except for one game I "covered" for the Maple Ridge Gazette as a 16 year old)
I think Luke did the Lion's PA job for many years as well.
He died probably 20 years ago.

In reading Jim's note, it's sad to think none of his old baseball broadcasts are available on line. The sound effects Ron made for the recreates are now in the Provincial Archives but they have not been converted and uploaded. Maybe some day.

As a side note, Jim and Bill Stephenson (the Voice of the Victoria Athletics/Tyees) did all the PCL Mounties games on CKWX .. except at least one. The team's first home game in 1956 was broadcast by Jim Cox over CKNW. I believe Jim did the last season of the Capilanos.

It's tremendous what the internet has done for old minor league information. About 20 years ago, I made a pile of notes on every game of the Mounties. It had to be done at the library, going through microfilm reels of newspaper (except the News-Herald, which was hidden away in hard copy in unbound stacks). Today, there are a bunch of sites devoted to the PCL and I can even find old newspapers on line (unfortunately, not local ones) which almost instantly can bring me some of the information I painstakingly scrawled down in the 80s.

One of the things I'm absolutely thrilled about is a huge project being undertaken by SABR .. an on-line data base of minor league players going back more than 100 years. Some of this information is available in old guides and other books most of us don't have access to. It looks like in many cases, the information isn't available anywhere, judging by the lack of stats and even first names of some players. But it'll be so valuable that, some day, I suspect people will take for granted it'll be available to them.

This is as good a place as any to plug Oz's NOTES FROM THE NAT web site, known to press box denizens simply as "The Blog." He provides in depth coverage worthy of something more than an A ball team, and is not afraid to post inside player/front office dirt. I wish the kind of player stuff he has were available for the W.I.L. days.

The kind of baseball Vancouver sees now is really unlike anything in its history. In the PCL days, fans could see guys going up, guys coming down and a bunch of guys who would stick around for a few years or went from team to team to team. The WIL was no different, other than the players were coming down from the PCL. Today, it's a handful of media-hyped prospects and a large bunch of guys going nowhere past Class A. You see them for nine weeks then they're gone (the real prospects may be gone within days) and replaced next year by a whole bunch of new guys. How .. or why .. anyone would want to follow that kind of baseball, interrupted by "contests" solely existant due to sponsorships, I don't know. Give me the old days when between innings, people talked about the team, their favourite players and the game, instead of either cheering on racing mascots or trying to be heard over deafening MP3 files.

1 comment:

Oz said...

Heya Jim,
Just to let you know, Notes From The Nat has moved to a new URL. the previous one got swiped by a domain thief (such is life on the internet). NFTN can now be found at

Oz from Notes From The Nat