Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Was the PCL Just a West Coast Equivalent of the Majors?

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Was the PCL Just a West Coast Equivalent of the Majors?

    While waiting these last couple of hours before the 2007 season starts, I put in my tape of When it Was a Game. I just watched the portion on the Pacific Coast League. Dario Lodigiani said they had guys who "could play in the majors" and Gus Zernial said the first time he left the PCL for the big leagues, he had to take a pay cut.

    Was the Pacific Coast League really a major league without the big-name stars?

    :radio

  • #2
    Originally posted by bryanac625 View Post
    While waiting these last couple of hours before the 2007 season starts, I put in my tape of When it Was a Game. I just watched the portion on the Pacific Coast League. Dario Lodigiani said they had guys who "could play in the majors" and Gus Zernial said the first time he left the PCL for the big leagues, he had to take a pay cut.

    Was the Pacific Coast League really a major league without the big-name stars?

    :radio
    Not even close. Let's look at the 1952 PCL for instance.

    Hollywood Stars (pennant winners) - Dick Cole, Ted Beard, Chuck Stevens, Carlos Bernier, Tom Saffell, Monty Basgall, Gene Handley, Johnny Lindell, Mel Queen Sr., Paul Pettit. Sounds like a typical AAA team minus a good prospect or two.

    Oakland Oaks - Spider Jorgensen, Ray Noble, Tookie Gilbert, Sam Chapman, Hank Schenz, Al Gettel, Milo Candini, Lloyd Hittle, Piper Davis, Johnny Ostrowski, Eddie Lake. Similar to Hollywood.

    LA Angels - Bob Usher, Gene Baker, Max West, Les Peden, Cal McLish, Chuck Connors, Ron Northey. A retirement village for major leaguers from the mid-40s plus a couple low-level prospects. No match for teams from the 1952 American Association or IL

    Portland Beavers - Frank Austin, Eddie Basinski, Jim Russell, Aaron Robinson, Marino Pieretti, Red Adams, Fred Sanford. A couple guys who were probably still major-leaguers. Who knows if Austin would have made it with a less-segregated MLB.

    I can't say that any of these teams comes any closer to major league level than teams in the affiliated minors. I'd take the 1952 Brewers or 1952 Blues over any of these guys

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Mischa View Post
      Not even close. Let's look at the 1952 PCL for instance.

      Hollywood Stars (pennant winners) - Dick Cole, Ted Beard, Chuck Stevens, Carlos Bernier, Tom Saffell, Monty Basgall, Gene Handley, Johnny Lindell, Mel Queen Sr., Paul Pettit. Sounds like a typical AAA team minus a good prospect or two.

      Oakland Oaks - Spider Jorgensen, Ray Noble, Tookie Gilbert, Sam Chapman, Hank Schenz, Al Gettel, Milo Candini, Lloyd Hittle, Piper Davis, Johnny Ostrowski, Eddie Lake. Similar to Hollywood.

      LA Angels - Bob Usher, Gene Baker, Max West, Les Peden, Cal McLish, Chuck Connors, Ron Northey. A retirement village for major leaguers from the mid-40s plus a couple low-level prospects. No match for teams from the 1952 American Association or IL

      Portland Beavers - Frank Austin, Eddie Basinski, Jim Russell, Aaron Robinson, Marino Pieretti, Red Adams, Fred Sanford. A couple guys who were probably still major-leaguers. Who knows if Austin would have made it with a less-segregated MLB.

      I can't say that any of these teams comes any closer to major league level than teams in the affiliated minors. I'd take the 1952 Brewers or 1952 Blues over any of these guys
      How about the old San Francisco Seals? The PCL, while not quite on an MLB par, had some great players, and teams. Remember, prior to 1958, they had the best baseball west of St. Louis.

      Bob

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by bluezebra View Post
        How about the old San Francisco Seals? The PCL, while not quite on an MLB par, had some great players, and teams. Remember, prior to 1958, they had the best baseball west of St. Louis.

        Bob
        Let's cover 1948-51 as I have those handy.

        1948: Jackie Tobin, Hal Luby, Gene Woodling, Mickey Rocco, Strick Shofner, Joe Brovia, Roy Nicely, Dixie Howell, Bill Werle, Jack Brewer, Con Dempsey, Cliff Melton, Al Lien, Dewey Soriano, Ken Gables, Tommy Fine, Bob Joyce, Manny Perez, Dino Restelli, Will Leonard, Ray Orteig, Ben Guintini, Felix Mackiewicz, Don Trower, Dick Lajeskie. You have a few guys here who probably should have been in the majors but I doubt they'd be able to play evenly with a MLB team. They were second in the PCL that year, two games behind Oakland.

        1949: Tobin, Arky Vaughan, Walt Judnich, Rocco, Shofner, Dario Lodigiani, Nicely, Roy Partee, Lien, Steve Nagy, Perez, Brewer, Melton, Elmer Singleton, Gables, Hal Gregg, Harry Feldman, Dempsey, Reno Cheso, Roy Jarvis, Restelli, Brooks Holder, Culley Rikard, Jim Moran, Lajeskie, Jim Westlake, Gene Brocker, Ed Murphy. Woodling is gone but Vaughan and Judnich are certainly decent players. Judnich had a 112 OPS+ in the majors a year before and Vaughan 87, but 133 two years prior. Maybe MLB quality?

        1950: Holder, Moran, Joe Grace, Les Fleming, Orteig, Don White, Don Lang, Nicely, Chet Johnson, Lien, Melton, Feldman, Nagy, Ralph Buxton, Dempsey, Singleton, Perez, Bill Bradford, Ted Savarese, Lodigiani, Tobin, John Conway, Sheridan, Restelli, Partee, Bill McCawley, Dick Briskey, Harry Eastwood, Jarvis. That lineup certainly wouldn't cut it in the majors. A big drop-off from Vaughan-Judnich-Rocco

        1951: Eddie Lake, Lodigiani, Grace, McCawley, Bob Thurman, Eddie Sauer, Orteig, Jim Brideweser, Lew Burdette, Lien, Lloyd Dickey, Perez, Singleton, Hank Behrman, Dempsey, Dewey Soriano, Bob Savage, Ernie Domenichelli, Matt Zidich, Joe Page, Paul Hinrichs, Ed Cereghino, Buster Adams, Nini Tornay, John Douglas, Barney Serrell, Dale Long, Fenton Mole, Gene Valla, Al Jacinto, Ray Hamrick. Again, mostly bench guys on the major league level. Long and Lake are okay, but would you win with Bill McCawley, Jim Brideweser and Eddie Sauer as regulars? Lew Burdette's the only standout on the staff. Page was washed up. I don't see this team competing in a major league.

        Of the four, I think only 1949 could be competitive in the majors and I'm not even sold on them. Steve Nagy (MLB ERA+: 69), Con Dempsey (47 MLB ERA+) and Elmer Singleton (83 MLB ERA+) as your three aces? Ouch.


        

        Comment


        • #5
          The '52 PCL, IMO, was not as strong as...uhh, I'll just randomly pull one out...the 1927 PCL. Let's see...

          San Francisco Seals...
          C Joe Sprinz (Parts of 3 MLB seasons)
          1B Sloppy Thurston (After hurting his arm, Thurston went down to the PCL and became a halfway decent hitter, though was more memorable for his defense. A career .270 hitter, Thurston played 9 MLB seasons.)
          2B Gus Suhr (11 MLB seasons)
          3B Babe Pinelli (8 MLB seasons)
          SS Hal Rhyne (7 MLB seasons...Rhyne's poor hitting probably inhibited his MLB career. However, he was an excellent fielder.)
          OF Smead Jolley (4 MLB seasons, 46 homeruns with a .305 batting average...the anti-Hal Rhyne, Jolley's poor fielding kept him out of the Majors.)
          OF Earl Averill (13 MLB seasons, HoF...this was Averill's last Minor League season)
          OF Roy Johnson (10 MLB seasons...much like Averill, Johnson went to the Majors the next year)
          UTIL Frankie Crosetti (17 MLB seasons)

          Pitching:

          Dutch Ruether (11 MLB seasons)
          Elmer Jacobs (9 MLB seasons)
          Duster Mails (Parts of 7 MLB seasons)
          D. Moudy (Never made it)
          Buckshot May (1 MLB game)
          O. Mitchell (Never made it)
          Sloppy Thurston also went 9-7 as a pitcher.

          And the second place Hollywood Stars?

          C Johnny Bassler (9 MLB seasons)
          1B Mickey Heath (Parts of 2 MLB seasons)
          2B John Kerr (8 MLB seasons...Good field, no hit)
          3B Julian Wera (Parts of 2 MLB seasons)
          SS Dud Lee (3 full seasons in the MLB with token appearances in 2 more)
          OF Babe Twombly (2 MLB seasons)
          OF Earl "Sheriff" Smith (7 MLB seasons)
          OF Frank Welch (Traded for Sheriff Smith...9 MLB seasons)
          OF Cleo Carlyle (1 MLB season...Cleo Carlyle and his brother, Roy, both claimed that they didn't WANT to play in the Majors because they liked the weather better in California!)
          UTIL OF Wally Rehg (7 MLB seasons)
          UTIL C Sam Agnew (7 MLB seasons)
          UTIL OF Braggo Roth (8 MLB seasons...his career probably would have been longer if not for chronic attitude problems)

          Pitching:

          Frank Shellenback (Shellenback, a good pitcher who tossed two MLB seasons, was lost to the spitball ban. However, he was allowed to continue throwing the pitch in the PCL. He threw one full MLB season and part of another.)
          Johnny Couch (5 MLB seasons)
          Gordie Rhodes (8 MLB seasons)
          Hank Hulvey (1 MLB game)
          R. McCabe (Never made it)
          Walt Kinney (4 MLB seasons)
          Walter Murphy (1 MLB game)
          "They put me in the Hall of Fame? They must really be scraping the bottom of the barrel!"
          -Eppa Rixey, upon learning of his induction to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

          Motafy (MO-ta-fy) vt. -fied, -fying 1. For a pitcher to melt down in a big game situation; to become like Guillermo Mota. 2. The transformation of a good pitcher into one of Guillermo Mota's caliber.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Mischa View Post
            Not even close. Let's look at the 1952 PCL for instance.

            Hollywood Stars (pennant winners) - Dick Cole, Ted Beard, Chuck Stevens, Carlos Bernier, Tom Saffell, Monty Basgall, Gene Handley, Johnny Lindell, Mel Queen Sr., Paul Pettit. Sounds like a typical AAA team minus a good prospect or two.

            Oakland Oaks - Spider Jorgensen, Ray Noble, Tookie Gilbert, Sam Chapman, Hank Schenz, Al Gettel, Milo Candini, Lloyd Hittle, Piper Davis, Johnny Ostrowski, Eddie Lake. Similar to Hollywood.

            LA Angels - Bob Usher, Gene Baker, Max West, Les Peden, Cal McLish, Chuck Connors, Ron Northey. A retirement village for major leaguers from the mid-40s plus a couple low-level prospects. No match for teams from the 1952 American Association or IL

            Portland Beavers - Frank Austin, Eddie Basinski, Jim Russell, Aaron Robinson, Marino Pieretti, Red Adams, Fred Sanford. A couple guys who were probably still major-leaguers. Who knows if Austin would have made it with a less-segregated MLB.

            I can't say that any of these teams comes any closer to major league level than teams in the affiliated minors. I'd take the 1952 Brewers or 1952 Blues over any of these guys
            Guys,
            Thanks to all who responded to my post. Sorry, but all these names are just names to me (save for Chuck Connors). I don't profess to be any historian of the Minor Leagues and I stand in awe of your knowledge.

            I guess my thought would be this: were the best minor leaguers better than the worst the majors (Phillies, Senators, Browns) had to offer?

            :atthepc

            Comment


            • #7
              The boasting of the PCL as a major comes from the early decades of the 20th century not the 1940s and '50s.

              It is not a farfetched idea. Since the formation of the NL in 1876, there have been significant baseball talent that played outside MLB. Specifically:
              -many Negro league clubs and perhaps leagues
              -scattered minor leagues throughout the 1870s and '80s and even into the 20th century prior to the rigid classification within the National Association
              -some independent clubs, especially those containing African American players
              -some of Jack Dunn's Baltimore Oriole clubs
              -offseason competition throughout Latin America and on the west coast
              -Nippon Professional Baseball

              The PCL offered things that MLB didn't:
              -leisurely week-long home/away stands
              -longer season meaning more paychecks
              -milder weather than the east coast
              -slower lifestyle pace than many eastern cities

              Some found these things to be attractive; however, I don't think enough of the top players in the country did to consider the PCL on par with the AL or NL.

              Comment


              • #8
                The old Pacific Coast League was the third major league

                Part One, Some of the Evidence

                The third major league it was. The evidence is overwhelming. To wit; From 1947 till the East Coast invasion players in the old PCL were paid the base salaries of the American and National Leagues, the caliber of baseball played was equal to the other two leagues, the highest paid manager in organized baseball was Francis Joseph "Lefty" O'Doul. The 1949 New York Yankees wanted O'Doul to manage them and he turned it down saying, "I'm not going to take a cut in pay, but there's a guy across the bay who just won the '48 pennant, Casey Stengel, he could do the job."

                Many of the old PCL top hitters and pictures had to take a cut in pay to play in the American and National Leagues. At one time the old PCL , the American Association, and the International League were classified AAA, until 1954 when the San Francisco Seals led the other PCL owners in demanding official recognition as the third major league. The Commissioner and the 16 other owners reclassified the old PCL to an Open Classification.

                I worked for the San Francisco Seals as the Visitors batboy, Ball Boy and the Visitors Assistant Trainer (Clubhouse man) from 1951 through the 1957 season when the Seals won the pennant. I worked for all eight PCL teams and from 1954 through 1955 was the Assistant Trainer (Clubhouse man) for the Oakland Oaks. Make no mistabout it, we were the third major league.

                Next: Part Two, In 1931, A major League Ballpark on the West Coast

                Comment


                • #9
                  The old Pacific Coast League was the third major League

                  Explain the reason for being paid the base major league salary. Ferris Fain, Dino Restelli, Con Dempsey, Bill Werle and other members of the San Francisco Seals had to take a cut in pay to play in the American and National Leagues. So did other old PCL ball players who were lured away to the Big Show.

                  Could it be that if you concede the old PCL to be the third major league it would substantuate the notion that baseball played on the West Coast was equal to that played on the East Coast. Come on now. Why was Lefty O'Doul the highest paid manager in organized baseball? Why didn't he take a cut in pay to manage in the other two major leagues? Why didn't the American and National Leagues expand to the East Coast in 1958? Because they wanted to remove the third major league by disembowelling it. You can do that to your competitors if your exempt from the Sherman Anti-Trust Laws. Why?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    From Wikipedia:

                    A near-major league
                    In the early 20th century, the Pacific Coast League developed into one of the premier regional baseball leagues. With no Major League Baseball team existing west of St. Louis, the PCL was unrivaled as the vehicle for West Coast baseball. Although never recognized as a true major league, the quality of play was considered very high. Drawing from a strong pool of talent in the area, the PCL produced a number of outstanding players, including future major-league stars Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, Tony Lazzeri, Paul Waner, Earl Averill, and Ernie Lombardi.

                    While many PCL stars went on to play in the major leagues, teams in the league were often successful enough that they could offer competitive salaries to avoid being outbid for their stars' services. In addition, the mild climate of the West Coast, especially in California, allowed the league to play longer seasons, sometimes starting in late February and ending as late as the beginning of December. This let players earn an extra month or two worth of pay and reduced the need to find offseason work, something which even some major league players found necessary because of the low salaries, by today's standards, paid to many players. The longer playing season also provided room for additional games on the schedule, giving team owners a chance at generating more revenue. Teams sometimes played over 200 games in a single season. One consequence is that a number of the all-time minor league records for season statistical totals are held by players from the PCL.

                    In 1952, the PCL became the only minor league in history to be given the "Open" classification, a step above the AAA level. This limited the rights of major league clubs to draft players from the PCL, and was seen as a step toward the circuit becoming a third major league.


                    Sudden decline
                    The shift to the Open classification came just as minor league teams from coast to coast suffered a sharp drop in attendance, primarily due to the availability of major league games on television. The hammer blow to the PCL's major league dreams came in 1958, when the Brooklyn Dodgers moved to Los Angeles and the New York Giants moved to San Francisco. As a result, three of the PCL's flagship teams (the Los Angeles Angels, the Hollywood Stars, and the San Francisco Seals) were immediately forced to relocate to smaller markets. Additionally, the PCL did not benefit from the comparison with the major leagues, which now occupied the same territory and drew away much of the attention of its former fans. The league never recovered from this blow. It reverted to AAA classification, and soon diminished in the public eye to nothing more than another minor league.

                    Of the cities represented in the PCL in its heyday, only Salt Lake City, Portland, and Sacramento remain, and even these are represented by different franchises than those that had originally called these cities home. The Oakland Oaks had moved to Canada two years before the arrival of the Giants. The San Diego Padres and Seattle Rainiers were displaced by Major League teams in 1969, but by this time the PCL's decline was already far advanced.
                    I suspect that part of the problem was that the very name, "Pacific Coast League", was a "minor league" name. Major leagues, traditionally, imply a league that represents at least all of the United States. There were three leagues that tried to compete with MLB; the FEDERAL League, the GLOBAL League, and the WORLD BASEBALL ASSOCIATION. The Feds lasted two seasons, the Global League was a joke, and the World Association never got off the ground; it was nothing more than a figment of Sean Downey's imagination.

                    The Pacific Coast League's very name implied a "regional" league. The problem was that the rest of MLB was NOT regionally organized; the NL and AL competed for pretty much the same cities, and both leagues turned their eyes west in the fifties. The PCL would have been a major league without a New York franchise, and no major league has ever succeeded without one. (The National League was planning a New York franchise pretty much from the minute the Giants and Dodgers left town.)

                    The destruction of the free minors made it impossible for a minor league to grow up and challenge the big boys. The only example of that in sports that I see that is even remotely comparable is the Fiesta Bowl emerging from an upstart game to the 5th major bowl, to the game that displaced the Cotton Bowl as one of the big four games. And that's only one game; it's not a league.
                    "I do not care if half the league strikes. Those who do it will encounter quick retribution. All will be suspended and I don't care if it wrecks the National League for five years. This is the United States of America and one citizen has as much right to play as another. The National League will go down the line with Robinson whatever the consequences. You will find if you go through with your intention that you have been guilty of complete madness."

                    NL President Ford Frick, 1947

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I'm open to being convinced the PCL before say 1940 was the equivalent of a major league. However, what I want to see in the way of proof is a comparison of how guys who went to the majors did in comparison to how they did in the PCL. There's plenty of those kind of crossovers, and if you do the comparisons like I did for players who played in both the majors and Japan (i.e., credit a guy on both sides for the lower number of AB, preferrably by keeping only the closest AB in time from the level played at more), it should show how similarly they performed.
                      Seen on a bumper sticker: If only closed minds came with closed mouths.
                      Some minds are like concrete--thoroughly mixed up and permanently set.
                      A Lincoln: I don't think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Jim,

                        All of the "Big Three" PCL sluggers...Smead Jolley, Buzz Arlett, and Ike Boone...played in the Majors. Despite severe fielding inhibitions, all three were significantly above league average during their MLB careers in BA/OBP/OPS (with just one exception...Jolley's career OBP was about league average). Ox Eckhardt had just 52 MLB at-bats, and was declining during that stage of his career. Jigger Statz's MLB and PCL stats are almost interchangeable. Joe Wilhoit, famous for his 69-game hitting streak in the low Minors, is less well known as a star in the PCL. Wilhoit was above average in all three offensive categories. Herman Pillette, one of the best PCL pitchers, was terrific in just four years of MLB playing time, with an ERA+ of 112 and a W/L record of 34-32 despite very little run support. Though Frank Shellenback never came back after 1919, it was largely due to the spitball ban. His early PCL years actually reflect his early MLB years pretty well. PCL ace Harry Krause went 36-26 over 5 years with an ERA+ of 106 (if you subtract his last season where he pitched through an injury, he looks quite a bit better). The better PCL players translate pretty well on the whole...there are a few guys like Eckhardt or Vince Sherlock who did either horribly and extremely well, respectively, but their sample sizes were just too small (Sherlock wasn't half the hitter Eckhardt was). But the "Big Three" sluggers and guys like Statz and Krause would be good starting points for some kind of translation system.
                        "They put me in the Hall of Fame? They must really be scraping the bottom of the barrel!"
                        -Eppa Rixey, upon learning of his induction to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

                        Motafy (MO-ta-fy) vt. -fied, -fying 1. For a pitcher to melt down in a big game situation; to become like Guillermo Mota. 2. The transformation of a good pitcher into one of Guillermo Mota's caliber.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Dalkowski110 View Post
                          Jim,

                          All of the "Big Three" PCL sluggers...Smead Jolley, Buzz Arlett, and Ike Boone...played in the Majors. Despite severe fielding inhibitions, all three were significantly above league average during their MLB careers in BA/OBP/OPS (with just one exception...Jolley's career OBP was about league average). Ox Eckhardt had just 52 MLB at-bats, and was declining during that stage of his career. Jigger Statz's MLB and PCL stats are almost interchangeable. Joe Wilhoit, famous for his 69-game hitting streak in the low Minors, is less well known as a star in the PCL. Wilhoit was above average in all three offensive categories. Herman Pillette, one of the best PCL pitchers, was terrific in just four years of MLB playing time, with an ERA+ of 112 and a W/L record of 34-32 despite very little run support. Though Frank Shellenback never came back after 1919, it was largely due to the spitball ban. His early PCL years actually reflect his early MLB years pretty well. PCL ace Harry Krause went 36-26 over 5 years with an ERA+ of 106 (if you subtract his last season where he pitched through an injury, he looks quite a bit better). The better PCL players translate pretty well on the whole...there are a few guys like Eckhardt or Vince Sherlock who did either horribly and extremely well, respectively, but their sample sizes were just too small (Sherlock wasn't half the hitter Eckhardt was). But the "Big Three" sluggers and guys like Statz and Krause would be good starting points for some kind of translation system.
                          With all due respect, what I want to see in order to be persuaded isn't these individual cases, but rather a compilation of this data. If there are enough players (and there probably are), use back to back seasons of the same guy. I'd probably focus first on the hitters, who are more stable year to year in performance.

                          I'm sure the PCL had real talent. What I'm not at all sure about is whether the overall talent level matched the majors. It could be they were pretty much on a par with other minor leagues (think Jack Dunn's Orioles), it could be they were a little better than other minor leagues but not as good as the majors, much as Japanese ball has been recently, or it could be they were on a par with the majors. Without a compilation of data, it's hard to know which is the best description.
                          Seen on a bumper sticker: If only closed minds came with closed mouths.
                          Some minds are like concrete--thoroughly mixed up and permanently set.
                          A Lincoln: I don't think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            --I think the PCL in its hey day was almost certainly better than AAA ball today. Many good players made their careers there, choosing to stay on the west coast rather than move up to the majors. Virtually all the best west coat talent played there until (and often several years after) they were major league ready. It would be hard to convince to the overall quaility of play was quite as good as MLB though.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by leecemark View Post
                              --I think the PCL in its hey day was almost certainly better than AAA ball today. Many good players made their careers there, choosing to stay on the west coast rather than move up to the majors. Virtually all the best west coat talent played there until (and often several years after) they were major league ready. It would be hard to convince to the overall quaility of play was quite as good as MLB though.
                              This sums it up pretty well.

                              Being a major league is based on having the top talent in the country on a daily and yearly basis. The PCL falls short here.

                              The PCL may have had some good talent, good pay and beautiful parks but that doesn't make it a major.

                              Granting the PCL an open classification was a political move more than a talent recognition.

                              Comment

                              Ad Widget

                              Collapse
                              Working...
                              X