Saturday, March 15, 2008

The WIL That Was Forgotten

When everyone thinks of the Western International League (and I know you all do constantly), they think of the league that was around from 1937 to 1954, interrupted for a few years because of the war.

There was a Western International League before that. It operated only in 1922. I've always thought of it as a new name for the Pacific Coast International League of 1921 which, more or less, was the old Northwestern League. But it appears the first WIL was something different. It appears to have been an attempt to merge the PCI League with the Western Canada League, which had attained B status by 1921. The WCL had clubs in various cities in the prairie provinces, including Edmonton, Calgary, Regina and Saskatoon.

I came across this wire story from 1922:

TACOMA, March 14—The Western International Baseball League will have only four clubs this year, Russell J. Nelson, business manager of the Tacoma Tigers, said today on his return from a league meeting in Calgary. Saskatoon and Regina were unable to enter the league under satisfactory conditions, and it was decided to perfect an organization with teams in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Tacoma, Mr. Nelson said.
A tentative four-club schedule is now in the making, and the season will open about May 1, with Edmonton playing in Tacoma and Calgary in Vancouver.
Directors of the league, Mr. Nelson said, agreed on a list of 18 players to June 1 and 14 thereafter.
Managers of the teams are announced as follows: Tealey Raymond, Tacoma; Gus Gleichman, Edmonton; Bob Brown, Vancouver and Bill Rogers, Calgary.

The first WIL folded in mid-season due to an odd set of circumstances. Baseball Commissioner Landis got POd at Bill Klepper, the owner of the PCL's Portland Beavers, who was also supporting the WIL's Tacoma Tigers. The Commissioner suspended him in a player tampering case, Klepper withdrew his support of Tacoma, and the league collapsed.

It seems odd that there was no pro baseball in the Pacific Northwest (other than the PCL teams in Seattle and Portland) for the next 15 years, but that's what happened until the WIL we all know was put together for the 1937 season.

Friday, March 14, 2008

1953 Page Coming Together

Well, despite a bike accident that put me out of commission for a few days and having to go back on a slowwwww dial-up connection (it takes five minutes for a .pdf file to download), I've completed the first part of getting the 1953 page together. All the pre-season stuff (which starts at the end of the 1952 season) is now in chronological order and I'm starting to transfer the 1953 game stories over from this blog. Once the season's done .. and it won't be for a few months, I suspect .. then I'll delete the 1953 game stories on this page.

I plan to make a few additions on the 1953 page. One was the pleasant task of transcribing Eric Whitehead's columns dealing with the Capilanos' season. There weren't a lot of them so that's been done; in fact, I added them to this page for now.

However, the real problem is standings. I've decided to add daily standings, knowing how the papers can screw them up badly and not fix them. Other than a period of about five days at the end of April, I was sailing along. And then at the end of July 1953, the AP assigned the wrong win and loss in a Victoria-Wenatchee game. And ten days later, it still wasn't fixed. The Sporting News picked up the incorrect standings. Meanwhile, the Victoria paper I can access was fine for a few days, then missed a Victoria-Spokane game on a day it didn't publish and its standings were wrong. A few days later, someone with the Victoria club must have told the paper because it fixed the Victoria standings, but not the Spokane ones. And as Spokane was leading the league, it meant the 'games behind' column was completely wrong. So, I am looking at two sets of standings, both wrong in different ways. That means I manually have to calculate them and that takes time. (UP also did WIL standings, but they must have been compiled on Mars as they never seem correct).

And as some game stories are either missing or consist of one line, it means going through the Vancouver and Victoria papers to see what I can add. The Victoria Colonist stories are lovely, but the home game stories are very long and take about 20 minutes each to transcribe (the Vancouver papers gave a lot less space to Capilanos). So that'll slow the process, too. Even more so as I'll likely add the Jim Tang columns from the Colonist as he whines for another season that no one was supporting the ball club.

Some time over the summer, I hope to slog my way through 1954, the final WIL season, and may take a break when all the post-war game stories are done.