Mission Bells


Current Season
Team History
All-Time Leaders    Batting    Pitching
League Championship Titles: None
Manager: Gabby Street
Ballpark: Seals Stadium

Seals Stadium   Opened: 1931   Capacity: 16,000
16th Street and Bryant Street, San Francisco, California

AVG overall 1.029
LHB 1.038, RHB 1.024
Doubles .963
Triples 1.302
HR overall .309
LHB .290, RHB .320

Distances/wall heights
Left Field line 365 ft./15 ft.
Left Field 365 ft./15 ft.
Left-Center Field 400 ft./15 ft.
Center Field 404 ft./15 ft.
Right-Center 400 ft./15 ft.
Right Field 372 ft./15 ft.
Right Field line 385 ft./15 ft.

In the Redux

Second-year manager Gabby Street may be in the hot seat after the Bells slumped to the first last-place finish in their history in 1934. The Bells played better than .500 ball as recently as ’32 and ’33 but with only one playoff appearance (1926) and no league titles since the league turned major, Mission remains a franchise marked mostly by frustration.

Real-life history

In 1909 the PCL expanded from four teams to six, and one of the new entries was the Vernon Tigers. Vernon boasted a population of 772 according to the 1910 U.S. Census but was just five miles south of downtown Los Angeles; more importantly, it was one of only two “wet” cities in Los Angeles County in 1909 and Tigers owner Edward Meier took full advantage of the opportunity, building Maier Park adjacent to the self-proclaimed “longest bar in the world”, Doyle’s Bar. The crowds weren’t quite up to Maier’s expectations, so he moved the club across town to Venice for the 1913 and 1914 seasons. Attendance was even worse there, so by 1915 the Tigers were back in Vernon.

The 1952 PCL Champion Hollywood Stars

For two years the team that would one day be known as the Hollywood Stars was, ironically, co-owned by one of the first actual Hollywood stars, silent film giant Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle. Arbuckle purchased a controlling interest in the Tigers in 1919 and was rewarded with the team’s first pennant, followed by an encore crown in 1920. Despite the success, Arbuckle bowed out after the ’20 campaign and attendance flagged. The team moved to San Francisco in 1926.

There was no love lost between the Stars and the Angels in the ‘40s and ‘50s. Fans who came out to watch a contest between the crosstown rivals at Gilmore Field sometimes got to see a hockey game break out.

Initially they called themselves the Mission Bells, and then, beginning in 1928, the Mission Reds. Often they were referred to by fans and the press as “the Missions” or the “San Francisco Missions”, although these were never official titles. The team was intended to represent the Mission district in San Francisco, and they in fact played their games in that district, first in Recreation Park, and then at Seals Stadium. They shared both parks with the Seals but could not compete with the older, more established club in attendance. The Bells/Reds never won a pennant in San Francisco, although they did manage one first-place finish, in 1929. After the 1937 season they headed south again, reviving the Hollywood Stars name.

Better yet, Gilmore being a haven for the Tinseltown elite, there was always the chance that Marilyn Monroe might show up to work on her Eephus pitch.

By 1939 the Stars had their own Hollywood ballpark, Gilmore Field, and were ready to live up to their name. Co-owned by several prominent show-biz figures, they promoted themselves as “The Hollywood Stars baseball team, owned by the Hollywood Stars”. Tinseltown luminaries were on hand for many of the games. The team wore short pants some seasons. Sportwriters nicknamed them the “Twinks”. They were the first team to regularly broadcast home games on television. As affiliates of the Dodgers and Pirates, they were perennial contenders and took the pennant in 1949, 1952, and 1953. They developed a fierce rivalry with their crosstown rivals, the Angels, and at times eclipsed them in popularity.

But they weren’t going to be able to compete with the MLB Dodgers, who moved to Los Angeles in 1958. The “stars” sold the Stars to a Salt Lake City group, returning that city to the PCL for the first time since 1925. They moved again, to Tacoma, in 1966 and remain there to this day. The current edition of the club retains elements of the “classic” PCL in their choice of name, logo and uniforms: as the Tacoma Rainiers, an affiliate of the Seattle Mariners, they have adopted the branding of that city’s former PCL mainstay.