Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Hall of Fame

Every baseball player, if he’s any kind of a baseball player at all, dreams of going into the Hall of Fame. When you’re an aging, unjockish baseball reporter, the best you can dream of is a free hot dog (that’s hot) and beer (if it’s free, temperature is irrelevant) as you’re covering a game. Let’s face it. You’re not going into the Hall of Fame.

Much to my amazement, I am going into the Hall of Fame.

No, not that one. But I received the stunning news that I am being inducted into the Vancouver Canadians Baseball Hall of Fame media section. I wouldn’t have dreamt of it because this Hall of Fame doesn’t have a media section. Or, at least it doesn’t until Friday when the first group of us goes in.

There is a Western International League connection here, as among the inductees is the gentleman whose picture (from the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame site) you see—Clancy Loranger. Clancy covered the Vancouver Capilanos from July 1945, when the W.I.L. re-formed, through to the bitter end, then covered the Vancouver Mounties of the P.C.L. until, well, the bitter end of them. We can only presume Clancy’s presense at these two demises is purely coincidental.

Clancy actually had a bearing on the record book. He was the official scorer at Cap Stadium for a time, including a tense game on August 13, 1962. Gerry Arrigo was throwing a great one for the Mounties against Tacoma; he eventually struck out 11 and Kd six in a row at one point. More importantly, he was tossing a no-hitter. In the sixth, Frank Reveira lined one into left field. Joe Christian got under the ball, caught it, took two steps and dropped it. Clancy ruled it a hit. Mounties manager Jack McKeon (yes, that one) immediately signaled to the press box that it should be an error. Afterwards, Tacoma manager Red Davis said it was an error. Even Christian thought it was an error—he sprinted for the ball, he said, but should have made the play.

But a hit it remained. The only hit of the game.

Clancy ignored the besiegement and stuck to his ground, that ground between two covers also known as the Rule Book. A footnote to Rule 10.05, to be specific, which told scorers to give hitters the benefit of the doubt and score a hit when exceptionally good fielding of the ball fails to result in a put out.

So, Arrigo never got a no-hitter. And neither did a single Mounties pitcher during the entire life of the franchise.

Clancy covered the return of the P.C.L. in 1978 and took in a couple of spring trainings and regular seasons before retiring.

Two of the other all-time greats have been named to the Hall as well. If you’re of my vintage, you grew up listening to Jim Robson call the Mounties on CKWX (which he did from 1957 to 1969). Then there’s Greg Douglas, an innocent cub sports reporter for the Vancouver Sun in 1966, who witnessed Merritt Ranew being bashed on the skull with a not-so-innocent swing by on-deck hitter Santiago Rosario—one of the most infamous incidents in P.C.L. history.

Greg and I work together at the same spot and I see him once in awhile. The retired Robson still pops by his old press box at the former Cap Stadium maybe once a year to say hello. But I haven’t seen Clancy for a couple of decades and I hope they’re able to induce the Dean of the P.C.L. Writers (and likely one of the last few W.I.L. writers still around) to make an appearance at this week’s ceremony. At least he won’t have to worry about hits and errors. The guy who does now, Pat Karl, is being inducted, too.

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