PCL Redux

Update: 5/26/1930

It’s hard to imagine a more productive streak than the one Los Angeles’ Turkey Stearnes is on. The 29-year-old outfielder has been named the Player of the Week for the third time in a row and the fourth time this season. Stearnes hit four home runs, drove in ten, and scored ten; he already led the league in all three categories, and his leads are growing. He also leads the league in batting, and although he hit .379 this week, his batting average went down. With a .401 average, 19 home runs, 49 runs scored and 54 runs batted in, Stearnes has numbers that would look outstanding with half a season in the books—and the calendar hasn’t even hit June yet.

The Angels (22-15) have inched to within three games of first place, which is now shared by Hollywood and Portland (both 25-12). With all other teams at least three games below the .500 mark, it’s currently looking like a three-team race. But with Memorial Day still in the future, nobody’s panicking yet.

Update: 5/19/1930

Turkey Stearnes of Los Angeles (18-13) has done it again; the Halos’ star right fielder has been named the Player of the Week for the second week in a row and the third time this season. Stearnes hit .455 with four home runs and eight runs batted in, and now is now tops in all three Triple Crown categories: .407 batting average, 15 home runs, 44 RBI. 

Unsurprisingly, his team is on a good run too, winning their last four after dropping two to start the week. The Angels gained ground on both Portland (23-9) and Hollywood (22-10), as both of the top two clubs went 4-3. The Beavers and Stars have split the first four games of a five-game series in Portland; the finale is today. Portland leads Hollywood by a game and Los Angeles by four and a half.

Among the other five clubs in the loop only Seattle (15-16) is currently showing much fight; the Rainiers went 3-3 this week. Mission and Oakland (both 13-18) are already nine and a half games out of first, while Sacramento (12-19) and San Francisco (9-22) trail the Beavers by ten and a half and thirteen and a half games respectively.


Update: 5/12/1930

Hollywood (18-7) cooled off just enough to surrender their lead to Portland (19-6); the Stars split their six games this week, while the Beavers won five of their six. Portland’s five-game sweep of defending champion Oakland (10-15) may be symbolic of a shift in the balance of power in the league; or it may just be a case of one team riding a hot streak while another endures a cold one.

Third-place Los Angeles (14-11) is on a bit of a streak of their own, winners of their last four contests. Playing no small part in that run is right fielder Turkey Stearnes, now a two-time Player of the Week honoree this season. Stearnes hit a clean .500 (12 for 24) with two home runs and 10 runs batted in. He’s second in the league in the former category (.396, behind Portland’s Frank Sigafoos at .416) and tops in the latter two, with 11 homers and 36 RBI respectively.

The Beavers lead the Stars by a game and the Angels by five. Seattle (12-13) is seven games back, Mission (11-14) trails by eight, Oakland trails by nine, Sacramento (9-16) trails by ten and San Francisco (7-18) trails by twelve.


Update: 5/5/1930





Charleston

Two teams are threatening to run off and leave the rest of the pack in their dust. Hollywood (15-4) won five of six this week while Portland (14-5) did them one better, winning six of seven. The Stars and Beavers are the only two teams in the league over .500.

It’s a welcome development for both clubs. The Stars have been oh-so-close to postseason paydirt the last three seasons, ultimately finishing third each time, while the Beavers have finished below .500 all three years. They are indeed two hungry franchises.

Oscar Charleston, the Beavers’ veteran center fielder, has made a habit of collecting Player of the Week awards during his tenure in Portland. He’s just done it again, winning the honor for the 15th time since his Coast League debut in 1921. Charleston’s work this week included a .536 batting average and five runs batted in. He’s hitting .388 for the season, with two home runs and eleven RBI's.


Update: 4/28/1930






Stearnes

Los Angeles’ Turkey Stearnes has been one of the top players in the league since he first donned an Angels’ uniform in 1921. He entered this season as the circuit’s all-time leader in home runs and runs batted in, and has wasted no time in adding to his impressive totals, with five home runs and twelve RBI this week, and 9 homers and 23 RBI overall, both league-leading totals. He also hit .480 this week to capture Player of the Week honors.

His team had a pretty good week as well, winning five out of seven, but they still lost ground to their intercity rivals, Hollywood. The Stars (10-3) won six and lost just one and now lead second-place Portland (8-4) by a game and a half and the third-place Angels (7-6) by three. Seattle checks in at 6-6, three and a half behind Hollywood. Oakland (6-7), Mission (5-7), Sacramento (4-8) and San Francisco (4-9) are all off to sub-.500 starts on the young season.


Opening Week 1930





Wells

The defending league champion Oakland Oaks wasted no time in establishing themselves as the front-runners, stunning last years runners-up Sacramento with with five wins in six games. The Oaks, at 5-1, hold a one-game edge over Hollywood, who bested Los Angeles in four out of six, and Mission, who did the same to San Francisco. Portland and Seattle split their six-game series and are thus tied for fourth place, two games behind Oakland.

Seattle shortstop Willie Wells has had a fine start to his career, hitting over .300 in each of his first five seasons. He’s started this season in spectacular fashion, hitting .480 with a home run and six runs batted in against arch-rival Portland. This is the third time the 24-year-old Wells has been named Player of the Week, an honor that will likely bear his name multiple times in the future.


1929-1930 Off-Season

The wait is over. Since 1921, the Pacific Coast League has petitioned Major League Baseball for recognition as the third major league and a place in baseball’s annual championship post season. Beginning this season, the dreams of West Coast officials, players, and fans have been realized: the Coast League is now officially “major”!

“The quality of play out West has reached a point where it can no longer be considered sub-par”, admitted one Eastern owner. “We’ll see how good they are come October,” offered another. “If they’re a major league they know what they’ll have to do to prove it,” implying nothing less than a championship would validate the Coast League’s new status. The subtly dismissive nature of these comments suggests a less-than-hearty endorsement, and indeed one owner refused to sugarcoat his position: “I still think it’s a bush league. But I was outvoted.”

How, then, did the surprising development come about? Many observers believe it was all about the bottom line. “The Eastern owners eventually realized that a postseason series with Babe Ruth or Lefty Grove or Mel Ott or Lou Gehrig opposing Satchel Paige or Earl Averill or Wally Berger or Martin Dihigo is gong to sell out every game,” said a P.C.L. executive who preferred to remain anonymous. “It took them nine years, but they eventually saw the light. Maybe they just started listening to their accountants. Greed won out over arrogance.”

Arrogance may indeed have been a factor, but others believe the Eastern owners’ reluctance to roll out the welcome mat had a less savory origin. “It was racism, pure and simple,” said another anonymous P.C.L. exec. “Once they consent to play officially against a racially-integrated league, they know the pressure to integrate themselves is going to increase. Some of them have no intention to yield to that pressure, and would just as soon see it go away.” While no word has come from any of the A.L. or N.L. clubs either officially authorizing or prohibiting black players, the Major Leagues’ recognition of the P.C.L.—which has been integrated since 1921—appears to be a significant step for the Coast League, for black ballplayers, and for professional baseball.


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