PCL Redux

Update: 9/26/1932

Sacramento clinched a first place finish with a 6-1 win over Oakland on Tuesday; San Francisco eliminated Los Angeles from postseason contention the next day, beating Mission 4-3, and then eliminated the Bells the day after that with a 9-1 shellacking. The Solons (92-62) finished six games ahead of their Nyquist Trophy Series opponent, the Seals (86-68). Los Angeles and Mission tied for third at 82-62, Portland finished in fifth at 75-79, Hollywood and Oakland finished tied for sixth at 71-83, and Seattle finished last with a record of 57-97.

The Angels’ Turkey Stearnes took the batting title, hitting .375, just beating out Hollywood’s Earl Averill (.372) and San Francisco’s Lefty O’Doul (.370). Wally Berger of Los Angeles led the loop in home runs with 51, as Averill, Stearnes, and Halos rookie Gene Lillard tied for second with 39. Averill was the RBI champion with 153, edging Berger (152) and easily outdistancing Stearnes and the Stars’ John Beckwith, who both knocked in 124. Cool Papa Bell of Mission stole 56 bases to pace the circuit, while a pair of Oaks, Frenchy Uhalt and Lyn Lary, each swiped 30.

The Solons’ Fay Thomas was the ERA champion with a 2.59 mark, finishing ahead of teammate Willie Foster (2.76) and Los Angeles’ Satchel Paige (2.81). Foster won 21 games to lead the league, while four pitchers won 20: Fay Thomas and Tony Freitas of Sacramento and Martín Dihigo and Frank Shellenback of Mission. Paige took the strikeout title (for the fifth year in a row), fanning 192, while the Seals’ Lefty Gomez whiffed 182 and Foster fanned 176.


Update: 9/19/1932





Averill

What had been a fairly tight four-team race looks nearly academic with a week to play in the regular season. Sacramento (88-60) has clinched a postseason spot, and leads second-place San Francisco (83-65) by five games with six to play. The Solons have all but assured themselves home field advantage in the Nyquist Trophy Series. The Seals, while likely out of the running to finish first, are in the driver’s seat to land the second playoff berth. Their final six meetings are against Mission (79-69), who are tied for third with Los Angeles (also 79-69), each four games behind the Seals. The Seals need just two wins to eliminate the Bells, while three wins would eliminate the Angels even if the Halos sweep Hollywood.

Speaking of Hollywood, Earl Averill, the Stars’ biggest star, is the Player of the Week. The big center fielder hit .455 with four home runs, eleven runs batted in, and eight runs scored. Impressive as his numbers are, it’s really just a typical year for Earl, whose .373 batting average and 140 RBI are second in the league. He’s third in home runs with 36. Averill’s career average of .359 is tops in league history.


Update: 9/12/1932






Holland

With two weeks remaining in the regular season, the smart money is on Sacramento (84-58) to earn a postseason berth. The Solons completed a six-game sweep of Mission and took three of five from Hollywood, and now lead second-place San Francisco (80-62) by four games, third-place Mission (78-64) by six, and fourth-place Los Angeles 77-65) by seven. The Seals had an even better week, winning six of seven and slipping past the Bells and into second place. The Bells and Angels suddenly look like long shots; both were swept on Labor Day to begin the week, and then they had to play each other. The Halos took three of five in that series, but their prospects look dim, as do those of the team they just finished playing.

The Angels play the Solons this week and are obviously now in must-win mode; the Bells play Hollywood while the Seals play Seattle, and then Mission and San Francisco meet to close out the season. This week’s games will likely bring the postseason picture into clearer focus.

Cellar-dwelling Seattle has has a miserable season, but a handful of Rainiers can hold their heads high, including Player of the Week Dutch Holland. The 28-year-old third-sacker hit .349 with three home runs and eleven runs batted in. Despite Seattle’s struggles, he’s having the beast year of his career, hitting .349 (fifth in the league) with 26 home runs and 76 runs batted in.


Update: 9/5/1932

Sacramento (79-56) has taken command of the pennant race. The Solons have an eight-game winning streak, with four of those wins coming against third-place San Francisco and the last four against now-second-place Mission. Sacramento has opened up a three-game lead over the Bells (76-59) and a five-game lead over San Francisco and Los Angeles (both 74-61). The Solons and Bells conclude their six-game series with today’s Labor Day doubleheader.

This week the Bells will travel to Los Angeles to take on the Angels. Sacramento visits the Angels the week after that, and the Seals and Bells play each other in the season’s final series. All four contenders will have plenty of opportunities to help themselves and/or help sink their opponents.

The Halos’ Wally Berger picked up his second consecutive Player of the Week award with a .429 average, four home runs, and ten runs batted in. Berger homered in eight consecutive games, a major league record, and has hit eleven homers in his last eleven games. His 48 round-trippers and 142 RBI lead the league by comfortable margins, and he’s just out of the top five in batting with a .348 mark.


Update: 8/29/1932

The race has tightened considerably over the past few weeks; four teams are clearly in contention for two postseason berths. Mission (75-44), victorious in four out of seven games this week, remains in first place. Sacramento (73-56) picked up a half-game on the Bells, winning four of six; the second-place Solons are two games behind the leaders. San Francisco (71-58) played just .500 ball this week and thus lost ground to the Bells and Solons, but the third-place Seals are just two games out of second and four games out of first. Los Angeles (71-59) made the largest leap this week, winning five out of six; the fourth-place Angels are now just two and a half games out of second place and four and a half games out of first.

This week the Angels’ Wally Berger packed about a month’s worth of power-hitting into seven days. While compiling a .464 average, he hit a home run in every game, and has hit four in the last two days—two in Saturday’s game and one in both games of Sunday’s doubleheader. With seven round-trippers this week, he now has 44 for the season, 12 more than anybody else in the league. He also drove in seventeen runs and scored thirteen, and has taken over the league lead in RBI with 132 and runs scored with 117. He’s hitting .344.

Mission’s Martín Dihigo became the first player in the league to win 20 games this season with his victory over Oakland on Thursday. Dihigo is 20-5 with a 3.00 ERA. Of course, when the versatile 27-year-old Cuban is not toiling on the mound, he’s playing second base and batting in the third spot for the Bells—and doing fairly well there, with a .334 average and a team-high 15 home runs.


Update: 8/22/1932





Beckwith

A disastrous week for front-running Mission (71-51) has allowed several teams to take giant steps towards a competitiveness in the 1932 P.C.L. pennant chase. The Bells opened the week by dropping a pair to fifth-place Oakland (62-60) before salvaging a win in the finale, but then lost three straight to second-place Sacramento (69-54). The Solons and third-place San Francisco (68-55) were each able to pick up two games on the leaders while playing .500 ball; meanwhile, the Oaks and fourth-place Los Angeles (66-58), both of whom went 5-1, picked up four games on the Bells and two on the Solons and Seals. The Bells still lead Sacramento by two and a half and San Francisco by three and a half. The Angels trail the Bells by six and the Solons by three and a half; the Oaks are nine behind the Bells and six and a half behind the Solons.

Hollywood (56-68) has not really been a factor in this year’s race but the Stars had a good week too, and Player of the Week John Beckwith was instrumental in the team’s surge. The 32-year-old first baseman hit .577 and drove in six runs as the Stars won five out of six. Beckwith is hitting .310 with 20 home runs so far this season, and with 96 runs batted in, is closing in on his eighth-consecutive 100-RBI season.


Update: 8/15/1932

Mission (70-46) remains four and a half games better than the second place team. That team is now Sacramento (66-51). The defending World Champions were beaten only once this week and this picked up two games on the Bells and leapfrogged over San Francisco (65-52); the now-third-place Seals are a game behind the Solons.

Pinky Higgins of Portland continued his incredible rookie campaign, hitting .577 with three home runs and six runs batted in to capture Player of the Week honors. Higgins, 23, is hitting .371 with 22 HR and 99 RBI.


Update: 8/8/1932






Vaughan

Mission (67-43) started the week hot, winning three of four from Los Angeles (58-53), then hit a wall, dropping three straight to fifth-place Portland (54-47). The fourth-place Angels and third-place Sacramento (61-50) also stumbled to 3-4 finishes and thus were unable to gain ground, but second-place San Francisco (62-49) picked up a game. The Bells lead the Seals by five and a half, the Solons by six and a half, and the Angels by nine and a half.

The Seals have a star in the making, third baseman Arky Vaughan. The 20-year-old rookie hit .577 this week, with a home run and eleven runs batted in. Vaughan, who originally hails from Arkansas but attended high school in Fullerton, California, is hitting .341 with six home runs, 65 RBI, and 89 runs scored, and is said to have a shortstop’s range at third base.


Update: 8/1/1932

Mission (64-39) has opened up a six-and-a-half-game lead over their closest pursuers, Sacramento (58-46) and San Francisco (58-46). The Bells swept a five-game set from eighth-place Seattle (37-67) before bowing to fourth-place Los Angeles (55-49) on Sunday.

The Angels had just a break-even week, winning three and losing three, but left fielder Wally Berger was phenomenal, hitting .542 with a home run, five runs batted in, and ten runs scored. Berger’s 28 home runs matches his total from last season, and is just one shy of the league lead, shared by his teammates, Turkey Stearnes and Gene Lillard.

Hollywood made a couple of deals before the deadline, trading pitcher Nip Winters to Los Angeles for pitcher Ed Baecht, and acquiring shortstop Dick Bartell from Portland in exchange for shortstop Alan Strange and future considerations.


Update: 7/25/1932





Lombardi

Oakland (47-50), led by Player of the Week Ernie Lombardi, are the hottest team in the league over the last seven days. The big catcher hit .560 with five runs batted in to lead the Oaks to six wins in seven games this week. Is the surge enough to vault the Acorns into the playoff conversation? That may be a little premature—they’re still nine and a half games out of second place. But another one or two weeks like this one and they might be reasonably considered a contender. As for Lombardi, the 24-year-old backstop appears to be on his way to his best statistical season to date, with a .343 average, eight home runs, and 50 RBI.

Mission (59-38) remains in the catbird’s seat, having picked up a half-game in the standings this week over second-place San Francisco (57-41). Sacramento (54-44) remains in third, five and a half games behind the Bells but only three behind the Seals, while fourth-place Los Angeles (52-46) is fading, seven and a half games out of first and five out of a postseason spot.


Update: 7/18/1932

San Francisco (53-38) has surged into second place, just two games behind Mission (55-36) and two and a half games ahead of Sacramento (51-41). The Seals began the week with three straight wins over Los Angeles (49-42), dropping the fourth-place Angels six back, and then took two from Hollywood (37-54) before bowing to the Stars in Sunday’s contest. The Solons were the only other first division team to fashion a winning record this week, but Sacramento still lost ground to San Francisco.

Portland (46-46) got to the .500 mark this week for the first time since May 12. The Beavers lost Oscar Charleston for the season earlier this year, but they’ve refused to fold up the tents, as rookie third baseman Pinky Higgins has shouldered much of the load. Higgins took Player of the Week honors this week for the second time this season, hitting .520 with two home runs and ten runs batted in. The 23-year-old is hitting .363 for the season (fifth in the league), with 16 home runs and 79 RBI.

Lefty O’Doul of San Francisco is 35 years old and doesn’t run or play the field particularly well, and cavernous Seals Stadium has severely reduced his ability to put up big home run numbers. What he can still do is hit. O’Doul begins the week with an attention-grabbing .412 average. He’s hit .400 before (.403 in 1924) and is looking to become the first P.C.L. player to accomplish the feat twice. After hitting .373 in April he’s hit well over .400 every month since then (.418 so far in July).


Update: 7/11/1932

Turkey Stearnes, Los Angeles’ veteran right fielder, may be having one of the best seasons of his storied career this year; he’s certainly having a phenomenal month. Stearnes hit .520 with five home runs and 13 runs batted in this week to give him a .622 average, nine home runs, and 20 RBI for the first eleven days of July. Three of the home runs came in last Tuesday’s 10-5 victory over Hollywood; he drove in seven runs in that game. He’s hitting .393 for the season.

Despite Stearnes’ efforts the Angels (47-38) were unable to pick up any ground on first place Mission (52-32). The Halos remain in third place, five and a half games behind the Bells. Not much changed in the first division this week, except that San Francisco (48-37) took over second place and Sacramento (47-38) fell into a third-place tie with Los Angeles. The Seals trail the Bells by four and a half and lead the Angels and Solons by a game.


Update: 7/4/1932






Stearnes

Mission (49-28) played .500 ball this week, and thus yielded a game in the standings to the three other first-division teams, all of whom won four and lost two. Sacramento (45-33) and San Francisco (also 45-33) are now four and a half games back, and Los Angeles (44-34) is five and a half back. The Solons and Angels can thank the Seals for some of their good fortune, as San Francisco took three of five against Mission this week. The Bells will have an immediate chance to regain what they have lost, as their next five games are also with the Seals.

Los Angeles’ Turkey Stearnes has been one of the league’s top stars since he first donned an Angels uniform in 1921. At 31, he shows no signs of slowing, having hit .600 last week, with four homers and eight runs batted in. Stearnes is hitting .382 this season, second in the league, and is fifth in homers with 18.


Update: 6/27/1932





Demaree

San Francisco (41-31) had a good week, going 5-2, sufficient to pass Los Angeles (40-32) in the standings and earn a second-place tie with Sacramento (also 41-31). The Seals also picked up a game on their “roommates”, Mission (46-25), who lead the Seals and Solons by five and a half games and the Angels by six and a half.

Frank Demaree, Sacramento’s 22-year-old left fielder, is the Player of the Week. The Winters, California native hit .480 with five home runs and ten runs batted in as the Solons fought Portland and Seattle to a draw in six games. Demaree has 9 home runs, 59 RBI, and a .331 average this year. He hit .314 with 21 home runs as a rookie in 1930, but tailed off considerably the following season, so this year’s strong start represents a return to form for the youngster.


Update: 6/20/1932






Koenig

As Mission (42-22) continues to soar, increasing the distance between themselves and their pursuers each week, the more compelling race has become the one for second place. Sacramento (38-28) has passed up Los Angeles (37-28), while San Francisco (36-29) looms just a game and a half behind the Solons and a game behind the Angels. With the season nearing its halfway point, half the teams in the league are in a good position to mount a serious challenge for the league championship.

The week’s top performer was Bells’ third baseman Mark Koenig. The former Yankee, given up on by the New York club after a disappointing 1931 season, has returned to his native San Francisco and is one of the key reasons Mission is a first-place team. A fine shortstop, Koenig has moved to third to accommodate fellow San Franciscan Frankie Crosetti, and in addition his solid play at the hot corner, he is also hitting a sizzling .381. This week he hammered out a .636 average while driving in eight runs as the Bells took four of six games.


Update: 6/13/1932





Hafey

Two teams that have struggled for much of the season, Hollywood and Portland, put together 5-2 runs this week while the top teams floundered, but it was only enough to get the Stars and Beavers (both 27-32), into a fifth-place tie, ten and a half games behind league-leading Mission (37-21). Sacramento (32-27) has caught San Francisco (also 32-27) for third place; both clubs are five and a half games behind the Bells and two games behind second-place Los Angeles (34-25).

Seattle (21-38) didn’t fare too well this week, winning their first two and then dropping five straight, but nevertheless the Rainiers’ Chick Hafey is the Player of the Week. The veteran outfielder hit .476 with four home runs and nine runs batted in. He has 13 home runs and 39 RBI for the season, and his recent hot streak has pushed his batting average just a hair below .300, to .298.


Update: 6/6/1932






Dixon

The Mission Bells, formerly known as the Vernon Tigers, have had more downs than ups in the Coast League since the loop went major in 1921, never finishing first and making just one postseason appearance, a loss to Oakland in 1926. But nothing lasts forever, and 1932 may the year the Bells emerge as the best team in the P.C.L. They’re sure looking like it now, with a 34-17 record and a three and a half game lead over second place Los Angeles (31-21).

Typifying the Bells’ rags-to-riches story is right fielder Rap Dixon. Dixon’s P.C.L. career started promisingly; he hit .304 with Sacramento in 1924 as a 21-year-old rookie, but was dropped from the club a year later in a salary dispute. A malcontent label stuck to him as he returned to the Negro Leagues, and in spite of several good seasons in those circuits, he was unable to catch on with another P.C.L. club until last season, when Mission came calling. He responded with a somewhat disappointing .273 season; not really what the Bells were hoping for, but not quite bad enough to send the talented 29-year-old packing. This year is another story entirely; with a .346 average, five home runs, and 35 runs batted in, Dixon has become one of the team’s biggest offensive contributors. And after a .500, three-home-run, eight-RBI performance this week, he’s the Player of the Week as well.

San Francisco (29-23) is in third place, five and a half games behind Mission, and Sacramento (28-24) is a game behind the Seals. The second division clubs are all under .500 and 12 or more games behind the leaders.


Update: 5/30/1932





Hufft

In one week Mission (30-14) has gone from a game and a half behind Los Angeles (27-18) to three and a half games in front of them. The Bells took advantage of Sacramento’s (23-22) defeat of the Angels in four of the clubs’ five meetings by likewise taking four of five themselves against Hollywood (19-26). Mission then took the first two games of a six-game set with the Halos on Saturday and Sunday. The top two clubs in the league play a Memorial Day doubleheader today and then meet on Tuesday and Wednesday to conclude the series. San Francisco (24-20) trails the second-place Angels by two and a half games and the Solons are four behind Los Angeles.

The Player of the Week is Oakland’s Irvin Hufft. While the Oaks (18-26) themselves struggled against Seattle (17-28) and Portland (20-24), losing five of seven, the left fielder fought the good fight with a .536 average, two home runs, and seven runs driven in and ten runs scored. Hufft’s .385 average this season is third in the league.


Update: 5/23/1932






Lazzeri

Los Angeles (26-12), with five wins in six games this week, continues to roll, and the Angels have increased their lead over second-place Mission (24-13) to a game and a half. The Bells won four and lost one before getting rained out yesterday. San Francisco (21-17) is five games back and Sacramento (19-19) is seven games off the pace.

Last year’s runners-up, Hollywood (16-22), are not off to a great start but second baseman Tony Lazzeri is. Lazzeri earned Player of the Week accolades by hitting .500 with a home run, six runs batted in, and ten runs scored. His season average is now at .357. He also picked up his 2000th career hit this week. With 2005 by the week’s end, Lazzeri ranks fourth on the P.C.L.’s all-time hit list. He’s second in home runs with 317, and second in RBI with 1166. Lazzeri is the loop’s career leader in bases on balls with 872.


Update: 5/16/1932

Los Angeles (21-11) is off to a red-hot start, and left fielder Wally Berger is a key reason for their success. Berger is the Player of the Week for the second consecutive week. This time the 26-year-old slugger hit .458 with two home runs and four runs batted in, giving him a .352/8 HR/21 RBI line for the season thus far. The Angels rode Berger’s hot streak to victories in their first five games this week before dropping the second game of Sunday’s doubleheader to Portland.

The Halos have taken a one-game lead over Mission (20-12), who went 4-2. San Francisco (18-14) is in third place, three games behind Los Angeles, and Sacramento (16-16) is in fourth place, five games off the pace. Oakland and Portland (both 15-17) have fallen below the .500 mark. To make matters worse for the Beavers, doctors who examined Oscar Charleston’s elbow have confirmed it is broken, and the injury is expected to sideline the Portland captain for the remainder of the season.


Update: 5/9/1932





Berger

Los Angeles (16-10) soared into a first-place tie with Mission (16-10) with a 5-1 week. Also moving up in the world is San Francisco (15-11), who won four out of six to climb within a game of the top spot. The pennant chase remains as tight as a drum with the next three teams—Oakland, Portland, and Sacramento—all at 13-13, just three games behind the leaders. Only Hollywood (11-15) and Seattle (7-19) carry sub-.500 records.

Angels left fielder Wally Berger led the Halos’ charge, hitting .458 with two home runs, five runs batted in, and seven runs scored. It was the 12th Player of the Week Award for Berger, who’s hitting .327 with 6 HR and 17 RBI this season.

Another Berger, Fred, is making the most of his first regular assignment. Starting in left field in all 26 of Portland’s games, he’s hitting .391 (fourth in the league) with 4 HR, 24 RBI, and 27 runs scored (second in the league). Brothers Wally (26) and Fred (23) are making sure the Berger name is displayed prominently in the league’s leader boards.


Update: 5/2/1932

It was another big week for the ageless Oscar Charleston of Portland, who captured his second consecutive Player of the Week trophy on the strength of a .400 average, five home runs and eleven runs batted in. Charleston now leads the league in all three Triple Crown categories with a .481 average, seven home runs, and 24 RBI. Naturally, such production would tend to have an effect on a team’s won/lost record, and indeed, the Beavers are in the thick of the pennant hunt with an 11-9 record, in a four-way tie for second place with Los Angeles, Oakland, and San Francisco.

Mission (13-7) is the team everyone is looking up at. This week the Bells surged into first place by winning six out of seven games, dropping only a 5-1 decision to the Angels and then responding by winning three straight at Sacramento (10-10). In atypical Bells fashion, they’ve been doing it with pitching and defense; they have the league’s best ERA and best fielding percentage.


Update: 4/25/1932






Charleston

35-year-old Oscar Charleston, whose eleven previous seasons in a Portland uniform make him the hands-down clear-cut choice as the greatest Beaver ever, is living in the present rather than looking wistfully at the past. The legendary center fielder took Player of the Week honors this week (for a remarkable 17th time), hitting .560 with a homer and seven runs batted in. He leads the P.C.L. in hitting after two weeks with a sizzling .519 average.

The Beavers are off to a decent start, a game over .500 at 7-6. That puts them just a game out of first place, behind two 8-5 clubs, Los Angeles and San Francisco. It’s a logjam at the top here in the early going, with three other clubs (Sacramento, Mission and Oakland) also at 7-6. Hollywood (5-8) and Seattle (3-10) are the only two team below .500.


Opening Week 1932





Higgins

After a week’s play, everyone’s either in first place or last; there were no splits in the opening series. Los Angeles beat Hollywood four out of six games, Mission did the same to San Francisco, Portland did the same to Seattle, and defending champions Sacramento followed suit against Oakland.

A couple of rookies made their presence known: on Friday, the Angels’ Gene Lillard hit three home runs against Hollywood in the third game of his career, while Portland’s Pinky Higgins wore out Seattle pitchers all week with a .536 average, two home runs, and twelve runs batted in. Higgins was the obvious choice for Player of the Week in his very first week in the league.


1931-1932 Off-Season






Civic Field

Where’s the rain in Seattle when you really need it? Fire has claimed Dugdale Park, the Rainiers’ home since 1913. The club will play its home games this season at Civic Field, a grassless, 15,000-seat facility originally built for football but now more suited to circuses and rodeos. Obviously, the some-days-dusty, some-days-muddy solution is a temporary one. The Rainiers are committed to building a steel-and-concrete stadium on the charred site of Dugdale Park sometime in the near future. In the meantime, they’ll be playing an interesting, if unorthodox, brand of baseball in the King City.


1931