PCL Redux

Update: 10/2/1939

San Francisco (87-72) cliched a second-place finish on Thursday by shutting out Los Angeles (95-59) 5-0 while Sacramento (80-74) lost to Oakland (74-80) 6-1. The Seals and Angels split their final six meetings to close out the regular season, so there should be little in the way of surprises for either club when they meet Tuesday to begin the best-of-seven Nyquist Trophy Series to determine the P.C.L. championship.

Los Angeles finished 13 games ahead of the Seals. With the Solons stumbling at the finish, both Portland and San Diego (also 80-74) were able to catch them and produce a three-way tie for third place; the trio finished 15 games behind Los Angeles. The Oaks finished sixth, 21 games out, Seattle (67-87) finished seventh, 28 games out, and Hollywood (58-96) finished eighth, 38 games out.

Arky Vaughan of San Francisco won the batting title for the second consecutive season, hitting .378. His teammate Joe DiMaggio finished second at .363, while Buck Leonard of San Diego was third at .348. The home run champion was Los Angeles’ Gene Lillard, who hit 38, outdistancing teammate Wally Berger and Portland’s Bob Johnson, who both hit 28. DiMaggio paced the circuit in RBI with 125, while Josh Gibson of Sacramento knocked in 111 and Turkey Stearnes of Los Angeles plated 107. The Angels’ Satchel Paige wan the pitching Triple Crown for the fifth time in his illustrious career, posting a 2.38 ERA, 27 victories, and 239 strikeouts. The Angels’ Jesse Flores was second in ERA at 2.79; Oakland’s Johnny Lindell was third at 2.92. Sacramento’s Hilton Smith was the runner-up in wins with 25 and strikeouts with 158; Flores won 21 and Lindell fanned 155 to place third in those respective categories.


Update: 9/25/1939





DiMaggio

San Francisco (79-69) was oh-so-close to the Nyquist Trophy Series in 1937 and 1938 but failed to gain entry both times. This season finds the Seals in another down-to-the-wire battle, running neck and neck with Sacramento (77-71). Fortunately for San Francisco, they were pitted against last-place Hollywood (57-91) this week, while the Solons drew fourth-place Portland (75-73). The Seals went 5-2; the Solons went 1-5. San Francisco’s lead over Sacramento is two games, with six to play for each team.

The Seals were led, as they so often have been this season, by the hitting of center fielder Joe DiMaggio, who hit .469 (15-for-32) with 2 homers, six runs scored, and a remarkable 14 runs batted in. Joltin’ Joe’s .363 average is second in the loop behind teammate Arky Vaughan’s .372; his 121 RBI is tops in the league.

The Beavers and San Diego (also 75-73) are still technically in the running for a Nyquist Trophy Series berth. They both trail the Seals by four with six to play. Oakland (71-77) was eliminated this week. Los Angeles (92-56) will host Game One of the series on Tuesday, October 3.


Update: 9/18/1939






Doerr

Los Angeles (88-53) played sub-.500 ball (two wins in five games) but it was enough to officially secure a spot in the Nyquist Trophy Series; with one more win the Halos will also clinch the home-field advantage. Second-place Sacramento (76-66) took four of the seven games they played and now lead third-place San Francisco (74-67) by a game and a half, San Diego (72-69) is still looming, 3½ games behind the Solons. Portland (70-72), Oakland (67-75), and Seattle (64-78) are likely to be mathematically eliminated within days. Hollywood (55-86) was eliminated last week.

Bobby Doerr of San Diego is the Player of the Week. The second baseman hit .407, raising his season average to .282. He’s hit eight home runs and driven in 65, while scoring 93. It’s been a bit of a comedown following his 15-homer, 110-RBI, .317 performance a season ago, but at 21, Doerr’s future seems bright.


Update: 9/11/1939





Irvin

Hollywood’s Monte Irvin continued his impressive rookie campaign by adding a second Player of the Week award to his resume. This time around the 20-year-old shortstop hit a sizzling .504 (15-for-29) with four home runs, eight runs scored, and nine runs batted in, Irvin is hitting .306 and leads the Stars in home runs with 23 and RBI with 87.

The race for second place is starting to look like a two-horse affair. Sacramento and San Francisco are tied at 72-63, giving each of them a five-game advantage over Portland and San Diego (both 67-68). The Seals have one more game with the Beavers, then will travel to San Diego and Hollywood (52-83) before finishing up at home against Los Angeles (86-50). The Solons have one more game against the Stars and will then head north to Seattle (61-75) and Portland before concluding their season with a three-on-the-road, three-at-home set with Oakland (64-71).

The Angels lead Sacramento and San Francisco by 13½ games. They can clinch home field advantage in the Nyquist Trophy Series with six more victories.


Update: 9/4/1939






Gibson

Josh Gibson, Sacramento’s slugging catcher, captured Player of the Week honors after a .526 (10-for-19), one homer, five runs batted in performance. Gibson is having another productive campaign, hitting .348 with 21 HR and 97 RBI. That’s good enough for fifth in the league in hitting and second in RBI (just three behind San Francisco’s Joe DiMaggio, who drove in his 100th run this week).

The Solons (67-61) have won four straight and are now just a game behind second-place San Francisco (68-60). Portland (63-64) trails the Seals by 4½, Oakland (63-65) trails them by five, San Diego (62-66) trails them by six, and Seattle (60-68) trails them by eight. On the opposite ends of the standings are Los Angeles (79-48), who lead San Francisco by 11½ games, and Hollywood (49-79), who trail the Angels by 30½ and the Seals by 19.


Update: 8/28/1939





Clarkson

Buzz Clarkson is Portland’s 24-year-old rookie shortstop. To say that he has enjoyed a productive first season in the Pacific Coast League would be to severely understate the case. Clarkson is hitting .314 with 20 home runs and 79 runs batted in—numbers that would make most veterans proud. This week he earned a Player of the Week nod by slamming three homers, knocking in seven, and hitting a robust .560 (14-for-25). The Beavers (60-61) won only two games this week, but even if the club falls short of the playoffs this season fans will remember it as the year their star shortstop made his astonishing debut.

There was little movement in the standings this week. Los Angeles (64-57) went 4-3 and the Angels hold an 11½-game lead over San Francisco (64-57). The Seals also won four but played one fewer game, so they picked up a half-game on the leaders and on third-place Sacramento (63-58), who also went 4-3 to remain 12½ games out of first. Portland maintained fourth place but dipped below .500 and is now 15½ games back. Oakland and San Diego (both 59-62) are now tied for fifth, 16½ games out, Seattle (58-64) is still seventh, 18 games out, and Hollywood (46-75) appears to have a lock on the cellar, 29½ games back.


Update: 8/21/1939






Heath

The hottest team in the P.C.L. right now is not league-leading Los Angeles (72-43), but suddenly-fourth-place Portland (58-57). The Beavers are on a seven-game winning streak, and after sweeping San Diego (56-58) this week, they are just two games behind second-place San Francisco (60-55). Portland was in seventh place just two weeks ago, and now they’re knocking on the door to the playoffs. With seven weeks left in the season, only five games separate second and seventh place. The Angels’ lead seems safe, but after that the race is wide open: the Seals are 12 games back; Sacramento (59-55) trails by 12½; Portland trails by 14; the Padres trail by 15½; Oakland (55-59) trails by 16½; Seattle (55-60) trails by 17.

Hollywood (43-71) would prefer to forget about this season, but left fielder Jeff Heath is still playing like the games matter. Heath took home Player of the Week honors after hitting .500 (12-for-24) with a homer and six runs batted in this week. Heath is a .289 hitter this season, adding 15 home runs, 66 RBI, and 70 runs scored to his resumé.

George Scales of Los Angeles collected his 3000th hit on Monday, becoming the fourth player to amass that number in Coast League play. He joins Turkey Stearnes, Tony Lazzeri, and Cool Papa Bell in the elite club. Seattle catcher Biz Mackey is poised to be the next to attain the mark; he needs 35 more hits to do it.


Update: 8/14/1939





Lazzeri

Tony Lazzeri’s great career in the Pacific Coast League is probably in the early stages of winding down, but it’s hard to tell from the way he’s playing. The 35-year-old Portland second baseman certainly looked more like a young man this week, hitting .545 with three home runs and ten runs batted in. Indeed, Lazzeri has barely shown hints of his true age all season, with nine homers and 50 RBI augmenting a .332 average. While taking home Player of the Week honors he also led the Beavers (52-57) to four wins in six games. It was almost enough to get the club out of seventh place, where they have resided most of the season; Portland is now a half-game behind sixth-place Oakland (52-56).

Los Angeles (69-40) didn’t fare quite as well, earning just a split in their six games, but the Angels will be near-impossible to catch even if they only play .500 ball the rest of the way. The Halos lead Sacramento (57-51) by 11½ games, San Francisco (56-53) by 13, San Diego (55-53) by 13½, Seattle (53-56) by 16. the Oaks by 16½, the Beavers by 17, and Hollywood (40-68) by 28½.


Update: 8/7/1939






Williams

Another week, another Player of the Week Award for Ted Williams. The San Diego slugger collected 18 hits in 34 at-bats for a .529 average, hitting three home runs and driving in eight along the way. Unfortunately the Padres (51-51) dropped four of seven and dropped to 14½ games behind Los Angeles (66-37), but they remained in the hunt for second place, trailing Sacramento (55-47) by just four games. Williams saved his biggest day of the year for the second game of Sunday’s doubleheader, going 5-for-6 with a triple and a home run, driving in four and scoring four as the Friars crushed Portland (48-55), 26-10.

Elsewhere the Angels remain firmly in control of the top spot, leading the Solons by 10½ games. San Francisco (51-52) is 15 back, Oakland (50-52) trails by 15½, Seattle (50-53) trails by 16, the Beavers trail by 18, and Hollywood (39-63) trails by 26½.


Update: 7/31/1939





Williams

20-year-old Ted Williams, a San Diego native, is having quite a year for the local Padres (48-47). With a .342 average, 16 home runs, and 63 runs batted in, he leads the club in all three categories. This week he really put on a show, hitting .441 with three HR and 13 RBI as the Friars embarked on what so far is a six-game winning streak. San Diego was looking close to moribund before the week began but now the Padres are over .500, in the first division, and within four games of second place, which of course represents a playoff berth. There’s still a bit of hill to climb but Padres fans may rejoice; their team is far from finished in the 1939 race. As for Williams, his star has certainly arrived.

Los Angeles (61-35) stumbled to a 2-4 finish this week but the Angels remain 8½ games ahead of second-place Sacramento (52-43), who also lost four of six. Third-place Oakland (49-46) went just 3-3 but in so doing picked up a game on both leaders; the Oaks are 11½ behind the Halos and three behind Sacramento. The Padres are 12½ games out of first, Seattle (48-48) is 13 back, San Francisco (46-50) is 15 back, Portland (45-51) is 16 back, and Hollywood (33-62) is 27½ back.


Update: 7/24/1939






Wells

Seattle (46-43) is on the rise. The Rainiers dropped the first game they played this week, 2-1 to Sacramento (50-39), but were victorious in the next five, with two triumphs over the Solons and three over Oakland (also 46-43). These are precisely the teams the Rainiers must beat if they hope to make a playoff run. Seattle is now tied with the Oaks for third place, 12½ games behind first-place Los Angeles (59-31) but a manageable four behind second-place Sacramento.

The Rainiers’ star shortstop, Willie Wells, earned the Player of the Week award with his gritty .464, 1-HR, 9-RBI performance. The 33-year-old is having another fine season, hitting .306 with a team-leading 11 home runs and 58 runs batted in, and, of course, his usual stellar defense.


Update: 7/17/1939





Johnson

It was another good week for Los Angeles (55-29), as the Angels won four of six and increased their lead over Sacramento (46-37) to a hefty 8½ games. The World Champion Solons are struggling; over the past two weeks they’ve dropped seven of ten against Oakland (45-38) and two of three against Seattle (41-42). But they remain in second place, a game ahead of Oaks and five games ahead of the Rainiers.

Thanks to a poor April and May, Portland (37-46) has not really been a player in this year’s pennant race (currently sitting 17½ games out of first and nine out of second), but the Beavers have put together consecutive .500+ weeks, so they at least seem to have righted the ship. Their top hitter, Bob Johnson, is having his usual solid campaign and earned Player of the Week honors this week by hitting .455 (10-for-22) with four home runs and nine runs batted in. Johnson is just a couple of ticks under .300 this year (.297) but is second in the league in home runs (18) and tied for third in RBI (59).


Update: 7/10/1939






Mackey

Los Angeles (51-27) was victorious in five of seven games this week, so the Angels’ lead over second-place Sacramento (44-33) is back to a commanding 6½ games. Nobody is taking anything for granted at this point, but one could be forgiven for shifting one’s focus to a more hotly-contested battle, such as the one for second place. In that one Oakland (42-35), having defeated the Solons five times in seven tries this week, now trails them by just two games. The Northern California rivals play each other three more times over the next three days—and then not again until the final week of the season—so those games are as big as games in July can be.

Biz Mackey, Seattle’s ageless catcher, seems intent on keeping the fourth-place Rainiers (38-39) in the hunt, but the club dropped four of seven this week and are six games behind Sacramento. You can’t blame their struggles on Mackey—all he did was hit .455 (10-for-22) with a pair of homers and eleven runs batted in. A .299 hitter for the season, the 41-year-old Mackey boasts a .332 career average in the Coast League.


Update: 7/3/1939





Kelleher

Frankie Kelleher batted only four times this week, but he made his limited time on the field count. On Tuesday at Portland (29-41), he went 3-for-3—with three home runs. The Oakland (37-33) left fielder drove in six of of his team’s nine runs as the Oaks crushed the Beavers 9-3. Kelleher is hitting .283 but has ten home runs in 178 AB, so he’s making a case for more playing time.

Sacramento (42-28) won five of their seven games this week, enabling them to pick up a game on Los Angeles (46-25). The Angels lead the Solons by 3½ games, the Oaks by 8½, Seattle (35-35) by 10½, San Diego (34-35) and San Francisco (35-36) by 11, Portland by 16½, and Hollywood (22-47) by 23.


Update: 6/26/1939






Heath

Hollywood (18-44) appears to be en route to the worst season in franchise history but not every member of the Stars is just going through the motions. Left fielder Jeff Heath, for one, is still playing every game like there’s a pennant on the line. This past week Heath went 13-for-26 for a .500 average, picking up three home runs and nine runs batted in along the way. The Stars? They lost four of six, including the last three in a row to arch-rival Los Angeles (42-22).

By winning five of six the aforementioned Angels regained a bit of the margin they lost last week and now lead second-place Sacramento (37-26) by 4½ games. The Solons maintained their lead over third-place Oakland (33-30); the Oaks trail the Halos by 8½ and the Solons by four. Fourth-place Seattle (32-31) is 9½ games out of first, San Francisco (32-32) and San Diego (31-31) are both 10 games out, Portland (27-36) is 14½ back and Hollywood trails by 23.


Update: 6/19/1939





Gibson

How often does a team get off to a good start in the P.C.L., and then just coast the rest of the way to an easy pennant? Almost never, and it doesn’t appear that it’s going to happen this year, either. Los Angeles (37-21) had built up a 6½-game lead over their closest competitors, but a perfect week by second-place Sacramento (34-23)—including three wins in three games with the Angels—has the Solons knocking at the door, trailing the Halos by just 2½-games.

Solons catcher Josh Gibson was the catalyst to his team’s success, hitting .545 to nab Player of the Week accolades. Gibson is hitting .348 this season, with eight home runs and 40 runs batted in. The 40 RBI is tied for fourth-most in the loop, just five behind league-leader (and Sacramento teammate) Joe Cronin.

Seattle (31-26), with nine wins in their last eleven games, has climbed into third place, 5½ games behind Los Angeles. Oakland (30-27) remains 6½ back, San Francisco (29-29) is eight back, San Diego (27-29) is nine back, Portland (24-33) is 12½ back, and Hollywood (16-40) trails by 20.


Update: 6/12/1939






Irvin

Even in a largely forgettable season there will be events that are worth remembering. The year Hollywood (13-37) is having is the kind a team would prefer to pretend never happened, and although they didn’t exactly set the world on fire this week, winning three and losing three, they were treated to a glimpse of what looks like a much brighter future. The Stars’ 20-year-old shortstop, Monte Irvin, collected 13 hits in 26 at bats for a neat .500 average, earning a Player of the Week nod along the way. Irvin is hitting .286 with six home runs and 28 RBI in this, his rookie season.

Elsewhere not a whole lot looks different from last week, as every team in the league split its six scheduled games except Seattle (26-25), who won four, and San Diego (26-24), who lost four. Los Angeles (35-17) remains at the top; Sacramento and Oakland (both 28-23) are 6½ games out; the Padres and San Francisco (27-25) are eight out; the Rainiers are 8½ out; Portland (21-30) is 13½ out, and the Stars are 21 out.


Update: 6/5/1939





Stearnes

It was quite a week for Turkey Stearnes, and quite a week for Los Angeles (32-14). On Wednesday Stearnes picked up his 3500th major league hit. Stearnes is already the all-time Coast League leader in hits and Ty Cobb is the only major leaguer with more than Turkey. Overall the 38-year-old Stearnes hit .500 for the week (12-for-24) with four home runs, six runs batted in, and nine runs scored. He’s hitting .345 on the season.

Stearnes’ Player of the Week performance led the Angels to six wins in seven games, and suddenly L.A. has opened up a 6½-game lead over Oakland and Sacramento (both 25-20). The race for second remains tight, however; San Diego (24-20) is just a half-game behind the Oaks and Solons; San Francisco (24-22)  is just 1½ games out of second, and Seattle (22-23) is just three games removed from a coveted postseason berth.


Update: 5/29/1939






Dandridge

San Francisco’s Ray Dandridge was the league’s standout performer this week, hitting .500 (a neat 15-for-30) while driving in 12 runs. The slick-fielding third-sacker is hitting .350 with a league-leading 16 doubles; his 30 RBI also ties him for the league lead with Sacramento’s Joe Cronin.

Dandridge’s fireworks were enough to propel the Seals to four wins in seven games, but that was not sufficient to keep San Francisco on pace with first-place Los Angeles (26-13), or second-place Oakland (23-15); they did pick up a half-game on third-place Sacramento (22-16). The Angels lead the Oaks by 2½ games, the Solons by 3½, the Seals by five, San Diego (20-18) by 5½, Seattle (19-20) by seven, Portland (14-25) by twelve, and Hollywood (9-29) by 16½.


Update: 5/22/1939





Williams

Los Angeles (20-12) stayed atop the standings with a 4-2 record this week, but the Angels can hardly rest on their laurels, with five teams within three games of them. Sacramento (19-13) also went 4-2 and are now in sole possession of second place, a game behind the Halos. San Diego and Oakland (both 18-14) are two games back and San Francisco and Seattle (both 17-15) are three back.

Ted Williams, the Padres’ 20-year-old left fielder, is already in his fourth season, and even after a breakout 1938, during which he reached the 20-home-run plateau for the first time, he still has goals to achieve. One of those goals is to hit .300 for a season (his career high is .284). This may be the year he does that—after a .519 (14-for-27) performance this week, his average sits at .350. That’s third best in the league right now, and Williams’ five home runs are also third-most (tied with four other players) in the league.


Update: 5/15/1939






Collins

It’s been a poor start to the season for Portland (10-16) and Hollywood (6-20), but no one else can complain—every other team in the league is at .500 or better and within 3 games of first place. Los Angeles (16-10) squeezed into sole possession of the top spot this week with four wins in six tries, while Sacramento, San Diego, and Seattle (all 15-11) are now in a three-way tie for second, a game behind the Angels. Oakland (14-12) is two games out of first and San Francisco (13-13) is three games back. It’s usually unwise to make predictions about a pennant race before Memorial Day, but it’s shaping up to be another tight race with nearly the entire league in the mix.

Ripper Collins, the Halos’ 35-year-old first baseman, took Player of the Week honors on the strength of a .533 (8-for-15) average, adding three homers and seven runs batted in to his credentials. Collins, acquired in a trade-deadline deal from St. Louis last season, is hitting .333.


Update: 5/8/1939





Mackey

It was a great beginning of the week for Seattle (12-8), as they beat Oakland (10-9) three times and Los Angeles (12-8) once, but things ended on a sour note as they dropped the next three to the Angels. This dropped them into a second-place tie with the Halos; they both trail San Diego (13-6) by a game and a half. The Rainiers’ uneven performance was certainly not the fault of veteran catcher Biz Mackey, who earned a Player of the Week nod after hitting .500 (12-for-24) with a pair of homers and 5 RBI. The ageless backstop (He turns 42 in July) is hitting .349 this season, his 19th in the Coast League.

The fourth-place Oaks trail the Padres by three games; San Francisco (10-10) is 3½ out; Sacramento (9-10) is four out; Portland (8-12) is 5½ out; Hollywood (4-15), losers of five straight, is already nine games back.


Update: 5/1/1939






Leonard

San Diego (9-4) rode first baseman Buck Leonard’s hot bat into first place, winning five of seven to skip past Seattle (8-5), who dropped four of seven. The Padres lead the Rainiers by a game, Los Angeles, Oakland, and San Francisco (all 7-6) by two games, Sacramento (6-7) by three games, Portland (5-8) by four games, and Hollywood (3-10) by six.

Leonard, the 31-year-old smooth-swinging slugger from Rocky Mount, North Carolina, hit .560 this week, driving in 12. He leads the league in hitting (.467) and RBI (17). Leonard has not hit a home run yet this season and hit only 12 last year—a far cry from the 47 round-trippers he hit as a P.C.L. rookie in 1934—but the Padres understand that home runs are hard to come by in spacious Lane Field, and feel they will be in good shape indeed if Leonard can duplicate his .346 average from last season. That mark, .346, happens to be his career average as of Sunday.


Update: 4/24/1939





Hutchinson

Seattle native Fred Hutchinson turned in a solid rookie campaign for the Rainiers last season, but if his Opening Week performance is any indication, last year was only a hint at what’s to come. In two starts against Portland last week, Hutchinson threw eighteen innings, yielding 17 hits and only two runs, striking out six, walking no one, and of course, picking up two complete-game victories, including a shutout. Hutchinson’s dominance—worthy of the league’s first Player of the Week award for 1939—was an integral component of Seattle’s 5-1 start.

The Rainiers were the only team to log five wins, so they’re all alone on first place with a week in the books. Los Angeles, Oakland, and San Diego are all 4-2 and tied for second place; Hollywood, Sacramento, and San Francisco are 2-4 and tied for fifth, and Portland is in the cellar at 1-5.


1938-1939 Off-Season

The Hollywood Stars will unveil 12,987-seat Gilmore Field on Opening Day. It’s a smaller, more intimate venue than the Angels’ Wrigley Field, where the Stars set up temporary camp last year, but it’s all theirs. For the first time in decades, every team in the league will be playing its home games in a ballpark that no other team calls home.






Gilmore Field

The Stars expect to come close to jamming their new home to near-capacity most days. There is room for the stadium to expand if the demand is there, but for now, the club will be content to build its following at a leisurely pace after playing too many dates in a half-filled stadium last season.

For the moment it appears all eight Coast League franchises have settled into their respective locations, but there will always be talk of relocation whenever a team’s attendance begins to flag. The Sacramento Solons, for all their on-field success in recent years, still occupy a metropolitan area that is tiny by big league standards. The Solons’ ability to thrive in such a market has been impressive, but their ability to continue to do so is far from a certainty.


1938