PCL Redux

Update: 6/10/1940


San Francisco (37-15) seems to be extending their lead in the Coast League by another game every week. They did it again this past week, and with three more games of a six-game series with second-place Los Angeles (29-22) on the horizon, they are poised to keep the trend going. The Seals took two of the first three games of that series after completing a five-game sweep of Hollywood (20-32). San Francisco leads the Angels by 7½ games, San Diego (28-23) by 8½, Oakland (28-24) by nine, Portland (24-27) by 12½, Sacramento (24-28) by 13, the Stars by 17, and Seattle (16-35) by 20½.

The Beavers’ Bob Johnson has been a prolific run-producer his entire career, a fact that has probably been overlooked by some due to the rarity of his team’s postseason appearances. Johnson has spent his entire career in Portland and is the club’s all-time career leader in home runs. This week he took home Player of the Week accolades with a .464 average (13-for-28), a home run, three runs driven in and eight runs scored. Johnson is currently second in the league in homers with nine.

After the “live ball” replaced the “dead ball” in the P.C.L. in the early 1920’s, no-hitters became extremely uncommon. There were none from 1921 to 1935; fibnally Willie Foster tossed one in 1936 for Sacramento. Two and a half years later Jack Salveson threw one in the closing weeks of the season while pitching for Los Angeles. Add a third name to the list—the Angels’ Satchel Paige no-hit Portland last Monday, striking out 11 and walking 2 in the Halos’ 3-0 victory.

Update: 6/3/1940


Josh Gibson of Sacramento (20-25) has been a perennial standout performer, boasting a .330 career batting average and 208 career home runs. But when the 28-year-old catcher got off to a slow start this year (along with a number of his teammates), fans worried that he had lost something. That doesn’t seem to be the case, as this week he hit .360 with two home runs and eight runs batted in to capture the Coast League’s Player of the Week award. Not surprisingly, Gibson’s hot streak coincided with a string of Solons wins (Sacramento went 5-2 this week). The Solons are still in sixth place, and Gibson is still hitting just .230 for the season, but the team and its star catcher are both moving in the right direction.

San Francisco (32-14) continues its domination, winning six of eight, and the Seals now lead second-place Los Angeles (24-19) by a not insubstantial 6½ games. San Diego (23-20) and Oakland (24-21) are in a virtual tie for third, 7½ games back, Portland (22-21) is 8½ back, Sacramento is 11½ back, Hollywood (18-28) is 14 back and Seattle (14-29) is 16½ back.

Update: 5/27/1940


San Francisco (26-12) was victorious in their first five games this week, losing only Sunday’s contest to Hollywood (16-22), and the Seals are now four games in front of Oakland (22-16), five in front of San Diego (21-17), six in front of Los Angeles (20-18), and seven in front of Portland (19-19). Instrumental in this recent surge was shortstop Arky Vaughan, the Player of the Week. Vaughan picked up 14 hits in 29 at-bats, a .483 average, while knocking in ten runs. He’s hitting .372 for the season (fifth best in the league), and has driven in 31 runs (tied for second). Now in his ninth season, the 28-year-old is recognized as the Coast League’s all-time leader in career batting average. Currently at .350, he’s three points ahead of his longtime manager, Seals legend Lefty O’Doul.

With five teams at or above .500, the other three are accounting for a lot of losses so far this season. Sixth-place Hollywood is six games under .500, seventh-place Sacramento (15-23) is eight games under, and last-place Seattle (13-25) is already 12 games on the wrong side of even.

Update: 5/20/1940


San Francisco (21-11) bounced back from a rocky performance a week ago to take four of six contests from first division teams; they took the final two games against Los Angeles to earn a split in that six-game series, and then split the first four games of a five-game set at Oakland (that series concludes today). The Seals now lead the Oaks (18-14) by three games and the Angels and San Diego (both 18-15) by 3½ games. Portland (16-17) is 5½ games back, Hollywood and Sacramento (14-18) are both seven games back, and Seattle (11-22) trails by 10½. 

San Diego’s Buck Leonard wrested the Player of the Week award away from San Francisco’s Joe DiMaggio for at least one week. The Padres’ first sacker hit .452 (14-for-31) with a pair of homers, eight runs batted in, and eight runs scored. The 32-year-old Leonard is hitting .391, good for fourth in the league, with 27 RBI, which currently places him second.

Update: 5/13/1940


It’s three in a row for Joe DiMaggio. San Francisco’s 25-year-old center fielder picked up 16 hits in 29 at bats (a .517 average) while driving in eight runs to pick up his third consecutive Player of the Week award. Joltin’ Joe now leads the league in hitting at .485 and RBI with 32, and his five HR place him just one behind league leader Wally Berger of Los Angeles. Berger’s sixth home run of the season, which came on May 7 against Sacramento, was the 500th of his career.

The Seals (17-9), despite DiMaggio’s heroics, fell back to the pack a bit, losing five of seven, so their lead over second-place Oakland (15-11), who went 4-3, is down to two games. Los Angeles and San Diego (both 14-12) are three games back. The other four teams in the P.C.L. are under .500: Portland and Sacramento (both 12-14) are five games out, Hollywood (11-15) is six games out, and Seattle (9-17), suffering a brutal 1-6 stretch, is in the cellar, eight games off the pace.

Update: 5/6/1940


What does Seals center fielder Joe DiMaggio do for an encore? He repeats the whole performance.

DiMaggio is the Player of the Week for the second week in a row, this time hitting .440 (11-for-25) with three home runs and 14 runs batted in. The 25-year-old is hitting “only” .471, which places him second in the league in hitting to San Diego’s Ted Williams (.485), but his five homers tie him the the league lead with Los Angeles’ Wally Berger and his 24 RBI put him well ahead of all challengers.

Spurred by Joltin’ Joe’s big week, the Seals (15-4) went unbeaten and now lead Los Angeles and Oakland (both 11-8) by four games. Portland and San Diego (both 9-10) are six games out, Sacramento and Seattle (both 8-11) are seven games out, and Hollywood (5-14) trails by ten.

Update: 4/29/1940


Joe DiMaggio, San Francisco’s exceptional center fielder, ripped opposing pitchers to the tune of .522 (16-for-29) en route to the Player of the Week award. More importantly, he led the Seals (9-4) to five wins in seven games, earning them a share of first place with Oakland (also 9-4). The Oaks, losers on Opening Day, had followed up that setback with a nine-game winning streak, but losses in their last three contests allowed to Seals to catch them.

One of the most incredible games in Coast League history took place on Thursday in Oakland. Los Angeles led the Oaks 6-3 heading into the bottom of the 8th, but the Acorns came up with a run in the 8th and two in the 9th to send the contest into extra innings. The two teams were unable to score for the next 13 innings. Finally the Halos’ Billy Holm singled home a run in the top of the 23rd frame, but it was to no avail; Satchel Paige, working his 8th relief inning, walked the first five Oaks in the inning, and Loyd Christopher’s double off Jesse Flores (who had to start the next day) gave the Oaks a thrilling 8-7 win.

The Angels, Portland, and San Diego (all 7-6) trail Oakland and San Francisco by two games, Seattle and Sacramento (both 5-8) trail by four, and Hollywood (3-10) is already six games back.

Update: 4/22/1940


Injuries to two Angels outfielders created an opportunity for 38-year-old ex-St. Louis Brown Johnny Moore to step into a starting role, and the veteran flycatcher made the most of it, earning the Player of the Week award by hitting .522 (12-for-23) with two homers and 13 runs batted in as Los Angeles (5-1) began the defense of their league title in grand style. The Halos have company in the top slot, however, as Oakland also went 5-1. All four opening-week series were decisive, so the league is currently divided between teams with winning records and teams with losing records. The Angels victimized San Diego (1-5), the Oaks bettered Hollywood (1-5), Portland (4-2) had the advantage over Seattle (2-4), and San Francisco (4-2) topped Sacramento (2-4).

The season’s second week will test the mettle of the loop’s two top teams, as Oakland hosts Los Angeles in a five-game tilt.