VANCOUVER BASEBALL

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ABOUT THIS SITE

A SHORT HISTORY OF VANCOUVER BASEBALL

BOB BROWN

NORTHWESTERN LEAGUE
1905 Veterans Preview
1907 Canucks Opener
1908 First No Hitter
1913 Athletic Park Opens
1915 Player Mutiny

FIRST NIGHT BASEBALL GAME IN CANADA

WESTERN INTERNATIONAL LEAGUE
Stories and scores on:
1937 Maple Leafs Opener
1946 CAPILANOS
1947 CAPILANOS
1948 CAPILANOS
1949 CAPILANOS
1950 CAPILANOS
1951 CAPILANOS
1952 CAPILANOS
1953 CAPILANOS
1954 CAPILANOS

PACIFIC COAST LEAGUE
A NOTE FROM 1956

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ABOUT THIS SITE

 

Greetings, baseball lover. Or maybe you’re a Vancouver lover. Regardless, welcome to this humble and poorly designed site.

 

It is intended to provide contemporary reports of some of the highlights—and maybe lowlights—of professional baseball here in Vancouver. If you read the short history, you can get a roundup of some of them.

 

Unfortunately, the posting of the highlights has been waylaid a bit. I am first working on a game-by-game, season-by-season roundup of the Vancouver Capilanos, and the other teams, of the Western International League. It’s tedious because most of it involves parking myself in a library and going through old newspapers on microfilm—and some of the microfilm is not in the best of shape.  So, it’s slow going and may not be finished for some time. That means the highlight pages will be on hold. But, eventually, you’ll read contemporary stories of the game Babe Ruth played in Vancouver, the infamous 1966 on-field bat attack by Mounties’ first baseman Santiago Rosario, the 5 a.m. game that stole the pennant from Vancouver, and much more. In the meantime, please enjoy re-living the post-war Western International League seasons. You’ll find linescores for all games, a line or two on most of them and daily (or weekly) standings, along with columns as well as odd minor league items that interested me, like some goofy scoring decisions and the Hollywood Stars wearing shorts. The 1952 season is not complete, 1953 has to be restructured and I have yet to begin work on 1954, which was the last year the league operated before morphing almost overnight into the Northwest League—with no Canadian teams. That’s another story.

 

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I’ll try to avoid making this too self-indulgent. Then again, why should I? I’m paying for the web space.

 

My dad was a life-long Detroit Tigers fan. I guess he got it from my grandfather, who was from Chatham, Ontario, not far from Detroit. In fact, they lived briefly in Detroit before coming to Vancouver at the tail end of World War One when dad was a few years old. It seems to me he once told of how they spent some time watching games at Athletic Park, which had pro ball until 1922, and then amateur action until the Western International League returned in 1937. World War Two came, and dad ended up in uniform. After the war, he went to UBC and next went into the teaching profession in the Fraser Valley . Then he decided, for reasons unbeknownst to me, to get married and I came along in due course.

 

Dad used to listen to Jim Robson call the Vancouver Mounties games on CKWX 1130 and one day he decided he wanted to go into town to see the team play. My sister and I made the trek with him into Capilano Stadium. Roberto Rodriguez was on the hill for the Mounties, had been having a great, undefeated season at one point, and dad wanted to see him pitch. Another game I recall was against the San Diego Padres (yes, youngins, there were Padres before a major league team stole their name). The Mounties never drew well, and dad didn’t go in 1969, joining throngs of fans who kept seats empty as the team folded for good after that season. The field was chewed up by soccer and artsy events for nine years until Harry Ornest coaxed an expansion team out of the P.C.L. directors.

 

Life rolled on and I ended up in the radio business. By 1979, my employer was a practically-forgotten all-news station in Vancouver called CKO. With Mr. Robson now  on CKNW, and assorted Hurtin’ an’ Cheatin’ warblers now on CKWX, the new Vancouver Canadians ended up on this sorry, last-place station. I was hired to be a weekend news reader and to operate the board for the away baseball games (for the record, a fellow named Paul Mitchell did the home games). Having loads of time on my hands, I asked if I could come to the ball park (which shed ‘Capilano’ in favour of ‘Nat Bailey’ in 1978) and sit in the broadcast booth to watch the game being called. The announcer was Jerry Sherman, and he more than graciously obliged. And I’ve been there off-and-on ever since, more ’on’ over the last 18 years. Today, I cover the team for the old broadcast home of the Mounties and have spent a number of seasons filling in as the official scorer when Pat Karl is not available. The team actually employed me as a P.A. announcer in 1981 when I was told Peter Rogers was getting another position with the club. It  gave me the opportunity to do things ask Hawaii’s Doug Gwosdz how to pronounce his name (not knowing he was the one I was talking with) and announce a home run that was actually a ball caught by Craig Ryan in left field. I’d likely still be in the P.A. booth if I hadn’t decided to leave Vancouver before the 1982 season for a year in the Okanagan.

 

Nat Bailey Stadium has been an enjoyable place over the years, except when games are dragging close to four hours and pitchers can’t find the plate. Or when there are five errors when you’re scoring. Once upon a time, there was a press room, which was a great place to be after the game. Scouts would come in who were more than willing to talk about prospects (and duds). Several managers used to hang out there, Marv Foley and Rick Renick especially, as did general manager Stu Kehoe and his assistant, the late Dick Phillips. And the coaches. The irrepressable Moe Drabowski was one. Players popped in for awhile, too, though an end was put to it for a number of years after some of them gave us all a fairly graphic description of their activities on a road trip to Salt Lake City. But a few did drop in under the new general management several seasons later. Ed Wojna was one. Ty Van Burkleo brought in his kids. There were others. Chris Howard borrowed a cycling hat from me for his workouts (which he may still have for all I know). Jerry Willard would regale us on baseball strategy. We all got a kick when, a year later, he won a game in the World Series for Atlanta. But one of Stewie’s replacements decided a press room was not essential and it was closed for good. And they wonder why the press stopped coming. Making people feel unwelcome is not good P.R., especially if you’re a minor league baseball team in a major league town where everyone thinks hockey 12 months of the year.

 

There are probably tales of the press room I could relate, but I’d rather talk about someone else’s past. So, if you drop in here once in a while, you may see a new article or two here. You’ll certainly see the W.I.L. pages being slowly completed.

 

Thanks for coming.