1938 World Series
Game One: Sacramento 8, St. Louis 5 at St. Louis, Fri., Oct. 14, 1938
In a roller coaster-like Game One, Sacramento scored the game’s first four runs and last four, falling behind 5-4 in the interim. After plating single tallies in the first two frames, Sacramento made it 4-0 in the third on Averill’s two-run blast off starter Dizzy Dean (22-10, 3.38). Trailing 4-1 in the sixth, the Cardinals loaded the bases on a single and back-to-back walks by Smith, but the veteran right-hander appeared to escape the jam when he got Dean to tap a two-out grounder to short; instead, Joe Cronin booted it, allowing one run to score and setting the stage for second baseman Stu Martin’s bases-clearing double. Now trailing, Sacramento got an eighth-inning run-scoring grounder from second baseman Joe Orengo to pull even. It was a battle of bullpens until the 14th inning, when Gibson’s two-run double off Mort Cooper (4-2, 3.76) highlighted a three-run inning and made Foster’s scoreless two-inning stint worthy of a victory.
Game Two: Sacramento 2, St. Louis 1 at St. Louis, Sat., Oct. 15, 1938
Freitas and St. Louis’ Paul Derringer (20-10, 3.01) put on a clinic, with catcher Don Padgett’s RBI-double in the fourth off Freitas and Cronin’s two-run homer in the eighth off Derringer accounting for all the scoring. The Cards had a chance to send the game into extra innings on shortstop Red Kress’ long fly to right, but Buster Adams threw a perfect strike to Gibson to cut down Enos Slaughter and complete the double play and the game.
Game Three: Sacramento 6, St. Louis 5 at St. Louis, Sun., Oct. 16, 1938
In a third straight thriller, the Solons blew a 5-2 lead and needed extra innings to come out on top. Salvo and Ken Heintzelman (12-6, 3.66) both made it into the ninth inning but both also allowed five runs to score. The decisive run came on a bases-loaded walk to pinch-hitter Steve Mesner by Lefty Sunkel (2-2, 3.68) in the 12th inning.
Game Four: St. Louis 10, Sacramento 7 at Sacramento, Thu., Oct. 20, 1938
Their backs completely to the wall—down three games to none with nothing but road games remaining—the Cardinals began their long journey back into the series with a decisive 10-7 triumph that rarely seemed as close as the final score. Kress’ two-run triple capped a three-run seventh that made the score 10-3, and although Dean ran out of gas in the eighth. he picked up the win with an assist from Benny Frey (9-2, 5.76), who threw a scoreless inning and a third to finish up.
Game Five: St. Louis 6, Sacramento 5 at Sacramento, Fri., Oct. 21, 1938
Sacramento appeared poised to close out the series, taking a two-run lead into the ninth with ace Smith on the hill, but the Cardinals had other ideas. Kress led off with a single and pinch-hitter Augie Galan followed with a two-base hit to put the tying run on base. Martin’s fielder’s choice grounder then brought home the first run and Slaughter’s RBI-single tied it. First baseman Johnny Mize followed with a base hit to move Slaughter into scoring position, and left fielder Joe Medwick picked him up on a grounder through the middle. With Frey on the hill in the bottom of the frame, the Solons put runners on the corners with one out, but the Cardinals avenged an earlier defeat by duplicating the final play of Game Two: center fielder Lloyd Davenport flied to right, and Dixie Walker threw Gibson out at the plate.
Game Six: St. Louis 8, Sacramento 5 at Sacramento, Sat., Oct. 22, 1938
Game One loser Cooper got a chance to start and rode Medwick’s 5-for-5, 2-RBI performance and Padgett’s seventh-inning two-run homer to an 8-0 St. Louis lead. The Solons began chipping away late, but Cooper finished the game and put the Cards in position to complete a miracle comeback if they could collect a fourth-consecutive road win.
Game Seven: Sacramento 5, St. Louis 1 at Sacramento, Sun., Oct. 23, 1938
Salvo faced Dean in the winner-take-all finale. Salvo yielded a first inning run but shut the door for the final eight, as Cronin’s two RBI-doubles highlighted two two-run Sacramento rallies. The Solons, the only PCL team with more than one World Series victory up to this point, now had four.
1938 Nyquist Trophy Series
Game One: Sacramento 6, San Diego 4 at Sacramento, Tue., Oct. 4, 1938
The Solons went to their ace, Hilton Smith (22-13, 3.15), for the opener, while the Padres’ handed the ball to journeyman Tiny Chaplin (16-9, 3.99). Sacramento staked Smith to an early 4-1 lead on a 2-run first-inning homer by left fielder Earl Averill and second-inning RBI-knocks by right fielder Max Marshall and first baseman Jack Burns. Down 5-1, San Diego rallied for three sixth-inning runs, the key blow being shortstop John Griffiths’ two-run double, but Smith had enough in store to limit the damage and finish the game.
Game Two: Sacramento 5, San Diego 0 at Sacramento, Wed., Oct. 5, 1938
Sacramento’s Tony Freitas (20-12, 2.74) had an easy day, shutting out the Padres on six hits. San Diego’s Wally Hebert (4-8, 5.22) found the going much tougher, especially in a rocky third inning that saw five of the first Solons batters collect hits. Down 4-0 at that point, Hebert recovered to mostly hold the Solons at bay for the rest of the afternoon, but all he had to show for his efforts was a complete game loss that put his team down two games to none.
Game Three: San Diego 10, Sacramento 1 at San Diego, Fri., Oct. 7, 1938
Badly needing a victory, the Padres jumped all over Willie Foster (14-12, 3.73), scoring four in the second and four more in the fifth. San Diego starter Dick Barrett (17-13, 3.63) capped the latter rally with a two-run double, but it was his mound work that made the biggest impact as he cruised to a complete game victory to get the Friars back into the series.
Game Four: Sacramento 10, San Diego 3 at San Diego, Sat., Oct. 8, 1938
Smith returned for the Solons to face Roy Partlow (15-14, 3.93). The Solons broke the game open early with an eight-run third inning that featured a two-run triple by Averill and a pair of two-run singles by second baseman Art Garibaldi and Smith, who wrapped up his second complete-game victory of the series.
Game Five: Sacramento 5, San Diego 4 at San Diego, Sun., Oct. 9, 1938
Manny Salvo (15-12, 3.56) was the four Solon pitcher to start a game in the series, while Game One loser Chaplin sought to rebound from his earlier loss for San Diego. Sacramento plated two first-inning runs on back-to-back RBI-singles by Averill and catcher Josh Gibson, but the Padres returned the favor in the second on an RBI-double by third baseman Jimmie Reese and a run-scoring single by Griffiths. In the fifth Averill and Gibson again picked up consecutive run-scoring singles to make it 4-2, and while both teams would add runs, the Solons held the lead for the remainder of the game. Salvo went the distance for Sacramento’s fourth complete-game triumph of the series, and the Solons had their fifth league championship and a date to represent the PCL in the World Series.
San Diego jumped out to a 6-0 lead and Roy Partlow (15-14, 3.93) kept the Seals at bay, pitching a complete game in the Padres’ 6-3 victory. San Francisco has now lost tiebreakers in back-to-back seasons.
With the Nyquist Trophy Series itinerary now set (Sacramento will host San Diego tomorrow at 1pm), league leaders are the focus for the balance the final afternoon of the regular season. The Seals’ Arky Vaughan is the batting champion, hitting .386; San Diego’s Buck Leonard is second at .346, slightly ahead of San Francisco’s Joe DiMaggio, who hit .343. Wally Berger of Los Angeles takes the home run title with 44 round-trippers, with two Hollywood players, Jeff Heath and Martín Dihigo, in pursuit with 39 and 36, respectively. Berger also tops the loop in runs batted in with 138; Leonard finishes second with 127 and Heath finishes third with 119.
Tony Freitas of Sacramento owns the lowest ERA among qualifying pitchers, a 2.74 mark; Hollywood’s Leon Day is second at 2.90, and San Francisco’s Win Ballou is third at 2.97. The top winner is Los Angeles’ Satchel Paige with 23 triumphs, followed by Sacramento’s Hilton Smith, who won 22, and two 20-game winners, Freitas and Johnny Lindell of Oakland. Paige is also the strikeout king, with 249. Luis Tiant of Oakland is second with 196 and Smith is third with 181.
Final standings: Sacramento (90-64); San Diego (85-70, 5½ GB); San Francisco (84-71, 6½ GB); Oakland (78-76, 12 GB); Los Angeles (77-77, 13 GB); Seattle (70-84, 20 GB); Portland (67-87, 23 GB), Hollywood (66-88, 24 GB).
Sacramento (90-64) needed just one victory to clinch a berth in the Nyqust Trophy Series, and they got it in the first game of their six-game set with San Diego (84-70), downing the Padres 11-4 behind Tony Freitas. The Friars rebounded to take three of the final five, however, so with San Francisco (84-70) losing four of six to Oakland (78-76), the Padres and Seals are tied for second place. A tie-breaker game will be played today at San Diego, and the winner will travel to Sacramento to face the Solons in Game One of the Nyquist Trophy Series on Tuesday.
With a week to play, the race has boiled down to a single contested playoff spot. Sacramento (87-61), with a five-game lead over San Francisco (82-66), has all but clinched home field advantage in the Nyquist Trophy Series. The second-place Seals have a one-game lead over third-place San Diego (81-67). San Francisco will close out the season against Oakland (74-74); The Padres finish up against Sacramento. Oakland, Los Angeles (73-75), Seattle (68-80), Hollywood (64-84), and Portland (63-85) have all been eliminated from postseason consideration.
Lloyd Davenport, Sacramento’s part-time center fielder, is the Player of the Week. While Davenport’s may not be a name familiar to casual observers, the 26-year-old was no compromise choice this week—he hit a robust .733! Davenport is hitting an even .300 for the season. The left-handed swinger usually starts when the Solons are facing a right-handed moundsman.
Sacramento (82-60) won four of six, enough for the Solons to maintain their 4½-game lead over their closest competitor, which is now San Francisco (77-64). The Seals won five of seven, passing San Diego (77-65) in the standings; the Padres had a winning week themselves (4-3) but it wasn’t enough to prevent them from losing ground in the race. San Diego is a half-game behind the Seals and five behind Sacramento.
Sixth-place Seattle (64-88), seventh-place Hollywood (63-79), and last-place Portland (60-81) have all been eliminated. The two teams in the middle, Oakland (73-69), and Los Angeles (71-71), are running on fumes. The fourth-place Oaks are nine games out of first, 4½ out of a playoff spot. The fifth-place Angels are eleven out of first, 6½ out of a playoff spot.
Turkey Stearnes, the Angels’ 37-year-old right fielder, picked up the Player of the Week award for an unprecedented 30th time in his remarkable 18-year career. He went 14-for-28, a .500 clip. Stearnes is hitting .339 for the season, with 22 home runs and 84 runs batted in.
Sacramento (78-58) stayed hot, winning six of seven against second-division clubs Seattle (62-73) and Portland (55-77). With a 4½-game lead over San Diego (73-62), the Solons appear to be well on their way to their first postseason appearance since 1934. While Sacramento’s lead opened up, the divide between some of the other playoff contenders tightened up. The second-place Padres and third-place San Francisco (72-62) both lost four of seven while fourth-place Oakland (70-66) and fifth-place Los Angeles (68-68) both won five of eight. The Seals trail the Padres by a half-game, the Oaks trail San Diego by 3½, and the Angels trail the Padres by 5½. Seattle, Hollywood (60-75), and Portland are all more than ten games removed from a postseason berth.
San Diego second baseman Bobby Doerr is the Player of the Week. The 20-year-old Los Angeles native hit .545 with a home run, eight runs batted in, and six runs scored. Doerr needs just one more RBI to reach 100 for the first time in his career; he’s already scored 110 runs. He’s hitting a career-best .326.
It hasn‘t been a banner year for Los Angeles (63-65) or player-manager George Scales, but the latter, at least, was able to capture some of the glory that’s been elusive this year by taking home the Player of the Week award after hitting .476 with five home runs, ten runs batted in, and ten runs scored. Scales is hitting .263 this season, which will be a career low for him unless he is able to raise it considerably during the final month. As for the Angels, they’re eight and a half games out of first and seven games out of a playoff berth, and time is growing short.
Sacramento (72-57) is all alone in first place, leading San Diego (70-58) by a game and a half and San Francisco (69-58) by two. Oakland (65-63) trails by 6½, followed by Los Angeles. Seattle (60-68; 11½ GB), Hollywood (58-70; 13½ GB), and Portland (55-73; 16½ GB) round out the picture.
Hard to imagine where San Diego (67-55) would be without Buck Leonard, who has just won the Player of the Week award for the fifth time this season after hitting .429 with a home run and 10 runs batted in. Fortunately for the Padres, all that matters is where they are with him, and that’s second place, a half-game behind Sacramento (68-55) and a half-game ahead of San Francisco (66-55). Leonard is third in the league in batting (.357) and second in runs batted in (101). He’s hit 11 home runs.
Fourth-place Oakland (61-61) had been making some headway in the race of late but the Oaks dropped five of seven this week to fall 6½ games back. They’re a game ahead of Los Angeles (60-62), who are in fifth place and 7½ back. Seattle (57-65) is 10½ back, Hollywood (56-66) is 11½ back, and Portland (53-69) is 14½ back.
Gene Lillard of Los Angeles (56-59) hit .542 with a homer and seven runs batted in to earn the Player of the Week award, but the world champion Angels continued to amble listlessly through the schedule, playing .500 ball against sixth-place Seattle (55-59) and eighth-place Portland (50-65). Lillard is hitting a career-high .314 with 20 HR and 65 RBI, but the Angels’ 10-29 record in one-run games has prevented them from making much headway in the pennant race. They are 6½ games back and in fifth place.
At the top of the standings, there there is traffic jam. San Diego and Sacramento are tied for first with identical 62-52 records, technically ahead of Sacramento (63-53), who have played two more games and trail by a percentage point; for all intents and purposes, it’s a three-way tie. The Padres and Solons both went 2-4 while the Seals went 4-2, so San Francisco was able to pick up two games on both San Diego and Sacramento. Also winning four of six was Oakland (59-56), now very much in contention at 3½ games back.
Streaks are like lightning—you never know when or where they’re going to hit, and their effects can be dramatic. San Diego (60-48), now riding an eight-game winning streak, flew past San Francisco (58-50), speeding in the opposite direction on a 10-game losing streak, and today the Padres find themselves in first place, percentage points ahead of Sacramento (61-49) and two games ahead of the now third-place Seals.
Bill Sweeney, Portland’s manager-first baseman, is the Player of the Week. Sweeney hit .480 with two home runs and eight runs batted in to help the Beavers (48-61) to a break-even 3-3 mark. Portland remains in last place but they’re only a game behind Hollywood (49-60), 2½ games behind Seattle (51-57). Rounding out the standings, Oakland (55-54) is 5½ games out of first, Los Angeles (53-56) is 7½ out, the Rainiers are 9 out, the Stars are 11½ out, and the Beavers are 12½ out. With the current streaks of the Padres and Seals on view, nothing seems impossible.
San Francisco (58-43) struggled through a poor week, winning only twice in seven games, but the Seals remain in first place—such are the perks of building a substantial lead. The lead has evaporated to 2½ games, though, as Sacramento (57-47) won four of seven, including the latest three games of their six-game set with San Francisco. The Seals and Solons square off for two more, today and Tuesday.
Buck Leonard of San Diego is having a tremendous season, hitting .345 and collecting 79 runs batted in. This week he earned his fourth Player of the Week trophy by picking up 13 hits in 25 at-bats for a .520 average. The Padres (53-48) built on Leonard’s good work by winning four of six games and climbing into third place, just five games behind San Francisco and 2½ behind Sacramento. Oakland (53-50) is in fourth place, six games out; Los Angeles (51-52) is in fifth place, eight games out. Seattle (47-55) trails by 11½, Hollywood (46-57) by 13, and Portland (45-58) by 14.
Sacramento (53-44) won four and lost two this week, which got them a half-game closer to San Francisco (56-38), who went 3-2. The Seals lead the second-place Solons by 4½ games. San Diego (49-46) and Oakland (50-47) are 7½ behind San Francisco; Los Angeles (48-49) is 9½ back. Hollywood (45-52) has dropped to 12½ games back, while Seattle (42-54) and Portland (42-55) are 15 and 15½ games back respectively. With a little over a third of the season still left, there is still time for even the second-division teams to get in the race.
Wally Berger of Los Angeles is the Player of the Week. Berger ripped opposition pitching at a .615 (16-for-26) clip, adding four home runs to his league-leading total of 31 and driving in nine. His 91 RBI are also tops in the loop.
Los Angeles pitcher Ray Prim helped get the Angels (44-46) on track this week with victories in his two starts against San Diego (45-45) and Sacramento (49-42), two of the teams the Halos are chasing in the standings. Prim hurled seven innings in the Angels’ 5-2 win over the Padres on last Monday, allowing three unearned runs, and then tossed a complete game, yielding one run, in a 4-1 triumph over the Solons on Saturday. Prim evened his record at 6-6 and lowered his ERA for the season to 4.36.
The Angels are in fifth place, still a distant 9½ games behind front-running San Francisco (53-36), but a manageable 4½ behind the second-place Solons. Oakland (48-43) is in third place, six games out of first but just one behind Sacramento, while fourth-place San Diego trails the Seals by 8½, the Solons by 3½. Hollywood (43-48) is 11 games out of first, and Portland (40-51) and Seattle (39-50) are 14 games back.
Martín Dihigo, the great multi-talented pitcher/infielder/outfielder from Cuba, has concentrated just on playing second base this year—and, of course, on hitting. The results have been dramatic. Dihigo is hitting .325 with 25 home runs and 71 runs batted in. During the past week he was especially productive, earning Player of the Week accolades by hitting .448 with five HR and 15 RBI. Dihigo’s Hollywood Stars (40-44) were only able to win three of seven games, however.
San Francisco (51-32) and Sacramento (46-39) also both won three and lost four, so the Seals remain six games ahead of the Solons while a few teams were able to pick up a little ground on both leaders. Oakland (44-40) is in third place, 7 /12 games out of first but just a game and a half behind Sacramento; San Diego (43-40) is eight games out of first, the Stars are 11½ games back, Los Angeles (39-45) is 12½ games back, Seattle (36-46) is 14½ games back, and Portland (36-49) trails by 16.
With all eight Coast League teams playing eight games this week, there was a real opportunity for a team to make serious headway in the pennant race. Among the eight, no team took better advantage of the situation than Sacramento (43-35). The Solons dropped their first game of the week and their final game of the week—but won all six games in between, picking up three games on league-leader San Francisco (48-28) and opening up a 2½-game lead over third-place Oakland (40-37). Sacramento leads fourth-place San Diego (39-37) by three, fifth-place Hollywood (37-40) by 5½, sixth-place Los Angeles (35-42) by 7½, seventh-place Seattle (33-42) by eight, and last-place Portland (32-46) by eleven.
The Player of the Week was Padres second baseman Bobby Doerr, who hit a blistering .514 with three home runs and ten runs batted in. Hard to believe Bobby is still just 20 years of age, having begun his career while still a high schooler back in 1934. He’s hit as high as .310 (1936) with as many as ten home runs (last season) but has a legitimate shot at bettering both of those career highs this year. Doerr is currently hitting .304 with eight home runs.
Last year the pennant chase in the Coast League was incredibly tight, with six teams still vying for two playoff berths into the final week of the season. Some years, however, one team just runs away with the regular-season title and 1938 is looking like it might be one of those years. San Francisco (45-23) has opened up a 9-game lead over Sacramento and San Diego (36-32). The Seals ares soaring while the rest of the league is struggling to tread water. The race for second place is compelling, however.
Oakland’s Willard Brown took Player of the Week honors as he hit .333 with a homer, eight runs batted in and seven runs scored. Brown is hitting .326 for the season. The Oaks (35-34) swept a five-game set at Los Angeles (32-37) before bowing in the first two games of another five-gamer at Hollywood (also 32-37). Oakland is in fourth place, 10½ games out of first but only a game and a half behind the Solons and Padres. The Stars and Angels are tied for fifth, 4½ games removed from a postseason berth, while Portland (30-40) and Seattle (29-39) are trying to find their way into the race.
Another seven days, another Player of the Week Award for San Diego’s Buck Leonard.
The big first sacker is looking a lot like the unstoppable force that took the league by storm back in 1934, his rookie season. He hasn’t been able to match his home run production from that year (when he played his home games at cozy Wrigley Field) but his play is having a similar effect on his team (1934 was the last time the franchise finished over .500). Leonard hit .579 this week as the Padres (34-28) took three of five from San Francisco (40-21) to pick up a game in the standings. Leonard is hitting .337 with 8 HR and 54 RBI. The Padres are in second place, 6½ games behind the Seals.
Sacramento (32-31) stayed above .500 and Los Angeles (31-31) got back to that mark; the Solons are in third place, nine games back, and the Angels are in fourth, 9½ back. Oakland (30-32) is 10½ out, Hollywood (who swept a six-game set at Seattle) is 29-33 and 11½ back, Portland (27-36) is 14 back and Seattle (25-36) is 15 back.
San Francisco’s tear continued, as the Seals (38-18) took four of six from Sacramento (29-28) to drop the Solons into third place, 9½ games out of first. The Seals are 13-4 in June. San Diego (31-26), having also won four of six this week, now has sole possession of second place, 7½ games behind San Francisco. Five of the league’s eight teams are under .500. Oakland (27-29) is 11 games back, Los Angeles (26-30) is 12 games back, Portland (26-31) and Seattle (25-30) are 12½ games back, and Hollywood (23-33), back in the cellar after winning just one game this week, is 15 games back.
The Padres were able to keep pace with the Seals due in a large part to the efforts of first sacker Buck Leonard, who has been named Player of the Week for the second time this year. Big Buck hit .385 with two homers and ten runs batted in as the Friars made themselves at home at Oakland. Leonard is hitting .317 with 7 HR and 50 RBI; the 50 RBI places him third in the league.
It’s been awhile since a team opened up as big a lead in the P. C. L. standings as San Francisco’s 7½-game cushion. The Seals (34-16) have been red-hot for two weeks, losing only twice in that span. This week they won five of six, all at the expense of San Diego (27-24), dropping the Padres into a second-place tie with Sacramento (also 27-24).
The Seals’ Dom DiMaggio earned Player of the Week honors by ripping Padres hurlers to the tune of .765 (13-for-17). The 21-year-old right fielder now leads his brother/teammate Joe—as well as the rest of the league—in the race for the Coast League batting title. Dom is hitting .401, Joe is second at .379, and another Seal, Arky Vaughan, is third at .371. Small wonder the Seals are in first place and threatening to run away with the pennant race.
Fourth-place Oakland (25-25) trails San Francisco by nine games, but the Oaks are only a game and a half behind Sacramento and San Diego in what is now a tight race for the second postseason slot. Los Angeles (24-26) is a game behind the Oaks, 2½ out of second. Hollywood (22-28), winners of five straight over Seattle (21-28), is five games behind the Solons and Padres, having dropped the Rainiers into seventh place. Portland (21-30) is now in the cellar, but only six games removed from a playoff spot.
It’s been a strange year for Jeff Heath and the Hollywood Stars. Heath has been outstanding—a .337 batting average (ninth in the league), 12 home runs (tied for second most in the league) and 36 runs batted in (second in the league), but the Stars remain in the cellar. Stranger still, Heath has been named Player of the Week three times, and the Stars have failed to play .500 ball in each of those weeks. This week they went 3-4 while Heath hit .407 with five home runs and thirteen RBI. Does Heath needs to cool down in order for the Stars to rise?
San Francisco (29-15) won six of seven this week, increasing their lead over every team in the league. The Seals lead San Diego (25-19) by four games, Sacramento (24-21) by 5½, Oakland (22-21) by 6½, Seattle (20-23) by 8½, Los Angeles (20-24) by nine, Portland (19-26) by 10½, and Hollywood (17-27) by twelve.
Los Angeles’ Jigger Statz certainly qualifies as one of the league’s elder statesman at age 40, but the veteran center fielder is showing he can still collect base hits like he did when he was in his twenties. Statz, a .296 career hitter, is hitting .420 this season after an eye-popping .727 performance (16-for-22) last week. The .420 average puts him in the league lead.
Statz’ big week didn’t help the Angels (18-19) make any strides in the standings, but further down south the Padres (22-15) are on the move. San Diego lost its first game this week, 5-2 to Seattle (15-21), but bounced back with four straight wins over Portland (16-22). The Friars are now in second place, just one game behind San Francisco (23-14). The Seals treaded water this week, winning three and losing three, so they saw their lead over San Diego shrink while managing to increase the gap between themselves and now-third-place Sacramento (22-16), who lost three of five. The Solons trail the Seals by 1½ games. Fourth-place Oakland (18-18) is 4½ games back, the Angels are five back, Portland and Seattle are both 7½ back, and Hollywood (14-23) is nine back.
Earlier this season Los Angeles (15-16) hit a rough patch that dropped them five games under .500 and into the second division, but this week the Angels looked more like a team defending a world championship, taking two of three from third-place San Diego (18-14) and three straight from front-running San Francisco (20-11). The sudden hot streak did not quite lift the Halos into the first division but it got them close; they’re in fifth place, a half-game behind fourth-place Oakland (15-15) and five games out of first. Instrumental to the club’s offensive onslaught (they scored 58 runs over the six games) was star right fielder Wally Berger, who hit had an unbelievable week even for him, hitting seven home runs, knocking in twenty, and hitting .556. Berger leads the league in home runs with 16 and RBI with an eye-popping 47.
The Seals lead Sacramento (20-13) by one game, the Padres by 2½, the Oaks by 4½.
San Francisco (18-7) stayed hot, winning four of six, which allowed the Seals to increase their lead over second-place Sacramento (16-9) by a game; the Solons split their six games this week. Another team on a roll is San Diego (14-11), who took advantage of struggling Hollywood and Los Angeles (both 10-15) to make it a 5-1 week for the now third-place Padres. San Diego is two games behind Sacramento and four behind San Francisco. Oakland (12-12) is the only other team at .500 or better; the Oaks are 5½ games out of first.
Jeff Heath of Hollywood has been named the Player of the Week for the second time in three weeks. This time around he did it on the strength of a .379 average, five home runs, eight runs batted in, and six runs scored. Heath is hitting .337 for the season but the Stars have not found a way to capitalize on his heroics, losing eight of their last twelve games.
The San Diego Padres (9-10) have not put together a winning season since 1934, when they were still known as the Hollywood Stars. This season did not start out well either, and after dropping last Monday’s contest to Los Angeles (9-10) the Friars were 4-10. Since then, however, they have won five straight, knocking off the Angels twice and the current edition of the Stars (7-12) three times. First baseman Buck Leonard helped lead the turnaround, hitting .375 with three home runs, eleven runs batted in, and nine runs scored to make himself the obvious choice for Player of the Week. The 30-year-old is leading the league in hits with 30 and is tied with teammate Dom Dallesandro for the league lead in runs with 16.
Meanwhile San Francisco (14-5) went on a 6-0 tear, good enough to put the Seals atop the standings board. They lead Sacramento (13-6) by a game, Oakland (10-8) by three and a half games, Los Angeles and San Diego by five, Seattle (7-11) by six and a half, Hollywood by seven and Portland (6-13) by eight.
Remaining on top of the Coast League standings for two straight weeks at the beginning of the season—or at any other time—is no small feat, and Sacramento (9-4) has done it. This week the road was a little rockier, as the Solons dropped three games while winning four, allowing San Francisco (8-5), who won five and lost two, to pick up a game on them. The Seals are in second place, a game in front of Los Angeles (7-6), a game and a half ahead of Seattle (6-6), two games ahead of Hollywood and Portland (both 6-7), and two and a half games ahead of Oakland (5-7). San Diego is off to a poor start at 4-9.
Hollywood’s Jeff Heath is this week’s standout performer, hitting .500 with a homer, four runs batted in and eight runs scored. The 23-year-old left fielder, who hit .310 as a rookie two years ago but slumped to .269 last season, is hitting .333 to begin the campaign. The Stars are scoring their share of runs, aided by Wrigley Field’s cozy dimensions, but the pitching staff is having a tough time adjusting, giving up a league-leading 73 runs.
Sacramento was one of the teams that stayed in the pennant race last season until the final, frustrating week; this year, the Solons seem determined to get off to the kind of start that will prove frustrating to other teams. They certainly frustrated San Diego this week, taking five of the six games the teams played.
The only other team to start off the season with a winning record during the initial week is defending champion Los Angeles, who took four out of six from the new Hollywood Stars. Angels third baseman Gene Lillard led the charge, with four home runs, nine runs batted in and a sizzling .611 batting average. Lillard, who appeared in a few Spring Training games as a pitcher, may be used at some point during the season in that capacity but his hot start with the bat may induce Angel manager George Scales to table that indefinitely.
The week’s two other match-ups, Oakland/San Francisco and Portland/Seattle, ended in splits.
After dangling for two years, the other shoe has dropped. The team once known as the Vernon Tigers and for the past 12 financially-frustrating seasons as the Mission Bells has returned to the Southland as the new incarnation of the Hollywood Stars. Thus the league’s largest city resumes two-team status while its second-largest is relieved of the burden of supporting what appears to have been one team too many.
Hollywood is not an incorporated city, and is situated entirely within the city limits of Los Angeles, but the region finally has a team to call its own. The new Stars will share the Angels’ Wrigley Field as the old Stars did, but it will be a very temporary arrangement. Ground has already been broken to construct Gilmore Field at Beverly Boulevard and Genesee Avenue in Hollywood. If the location sounds familiar to sports-minded Angelenos, it is because the new ballpark will stand just a few hundred meters east of oval-shaped Gilmore Stadium, home of the Los Angeles Bulldogs professional football team.
Meanwhile, a thousand or so miles up the coast, the Seattle Rainiers will unveil brand-new Sick’s Stadium at the corner of South McClellan Street and Rainier Avenue in the Rainier Valley district of the King City. The new field was constructed on the same plot of land as old Dugdale Park, the Rainiers’ former home. Dugdale Park burned down in 1932, but Sick’s is a modern concrete-and-steel facility, built to last while providing seats for 12,000 cheering fans.