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Opening Day, 1969

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  • #2
    Pilots Are Welcomed To Seattle, Wednesday, April 10, 1969

    "Pilots find home"
    Veterans of two games even now, the league’s Northwest expansion team will make its playing debut before the home fans Friday at 2 p.m. (PST) against the Chicago White Sox. Even as the Pilots paraded downtown the din of hammers and drills and saws continued at Sicks’ Stadium, where something like 22,000 seats will be ready for Friday’s action. Eventually the stadium-an interim plant while a new $40 million domed structure is being built-will seat 25,500. Delays of politics and contractors arguments and weather kept the plant from being completely ready by opening day. The field itself, used for years by Seattle’s entry in the Pacific Coast League, is in excellent playing condition, its grass bright green, and its base paths smoothly raked. Hitters will aim for fences 305 feet away on the left field foul line, 320 on the right and 405 at dead center. In the Thursday ceremonies, with league president Joe Cronin observing, Pilot manager Joe Schultz was to receive the key to the city from Mayor Floyd Miller. Seattle meets the Chisox again Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. - The Columbian, April 10, 1969

    "WELCOME PILOTS; Here They Are, Seattle"
    With the sun breaking through an overcast, the Seattle Pilots, the city’s first major league baseball team were welcomed home today in a ceremony at the Memorial Plaza. Mayor Floyd Miller presented an oversized key to the city and proclaimed the Pilots “Seattle’s own team”. County Executive elect John Spellman then welcomed the team as “the county’s”. Gov. Dan Evans widened it to “the entire state will adopt you”, and Senator Henry M. Jackson went one up saying the Pilots belong to the Pacific Northwest. The governor presented a bat made of Washington grown wood to Marvin Milkes, general manager of the Pilots, who turned it over to the team’s first baseman, Don Mincher, who clouted a homerun in last night’s game at Anaheim, Calif.. Bridget Hanley, star of television’s series, Here Come the Brides, presented a garter and a kiss to Gary Bell, who will pitch the Pilots’ first home game tomorrow. Seafair Queen Karen Brown delivered a kiss to the Pilots’ balding, cherubic manager, Joe Schultz, who was crowned “King of Baseball” in Seattle. Telegrams from President Nixon and California Gov. Ronald Regan were read, while some 500 persons crowded Fourth Avenue and the plaza. Little Leaguers and Seafair Commanders formed a V-for-victory line as the Pilots arrived in a motorcade from the Seattle-Tacoma Airport. Congratulations were also offered by Joe Cronin, president of the American Baseball League; Bowie Kuhn, commissioner of baseball, Dewey Soriano, president of the Pilots, and William R. Daley, Cleveland chairman of the board of the Pilots. After the plaza reception, the motorcade drove up Fourth Avenue to Pike Street, then returned on Fifth Avenue to the Olympic for a civic luncheon. The Pilots play their home opener at 2 p.m. tomorrow at Sicks’ Stadium. Their opponents will be the Chicago White Sox. Members of both teams were introduced at the luncheon attended by some 750 persons. Cronin thanked the people of King County for approving the Forward Thrust proposal for a domed stadium. Evans, who will be the ceremonial “first ball” catcher tomorrow, described himself as “a wild lefthander.” He will be receiving the offerings of Senator Warren G. Magnuson. The batter will be Senator Jackson.

    "D-Day Minus One in the Pilot House"
    Some Seats Were Ready In New Right-Field Bleachers; more were erected today on concrete foundations at night. Nancy Hegan straightened Mike’s Uniform; their son, Shawn, 13 months, watched. American League pennants lined storeroom shelves; Souvenirs will go on sale when concessions open tomorrow. Last-Minute Scurry: More Than 19,000 Seats Ready for Opener Here: “It’s going to be a balmy, subtropical afternoon,” Lew Matlin said. “We’re going to play ball.” No one knows for certain how many times the Pilots’ director of stadium operations has made that brief speech, but everyone even remotely connected with the Pilots knows the spiel by heart. This time; however, Lew was talking about something as close as tomorrow. And this time, listeners were ready to believe that the Pilots would have a stadium in which to open their home season. Because, at long last, Sicks’ Stadium again resembles a baseball park. True, not all the finishing touches have been added--paint is needed here, a sign is missing there. But the place will hold up to 19,600 customers tomorrow, and will hold them in reasonable comfort. “Work here should have been started a month earlier, that’s all,” said Matlin. “But things are going well now; we are going to be ready.” Don Johnston, Seattle Center chief, lent support. “There will a minimum of 19,000 seats ready by game time on opening day,” he said. Almost all of those seats are ready right now. Workmen are laboring extra shifts to get the rest in place. When tomorrow’s game ends, they will return to work. There will be more seats available at Saturday’s game, still more at Sunday’s. The scoreboards-the main one in centerfield and two small ones on the walls of the infield box seats-are in place and operating. The restroom facilities are ready. Not all the permanent concession stands are completed, but they will be augmented by temporary stands during the opening series. “The lighting system and the sound system are all set,” said Henry Berg, the city’s stadium-project coordinator. “Both are among the best in the major leagues. The lights are 10 times brighter than the ones that were in here last year.” The outfield fence will be finished by game time. Gold-painted folding chairs are in place in the box seats, and the bleacher seats have been painted in the blue-and-gold Pilot motif. Something over 14,000 of those seats already have been spoken for. “We have roughly 2,600 reserved seats and 3,000 general admission seats left for opening day,” said Harry McCarthy, director of ticket operations. “We are encouraging people to come out early,” said Matlin, “but that is not due to a lack of parking. There are 6,000 parking places within six block of the stadium. “But we are always going to encourage people to come early. We hope the incoming crowd is spread out and that we don’t have everyone coming in right at 2 o’clock.” The weatherman, Matlin was informed, makes his team and the Chicago White Sox only a 4-1 pick tomorrow over the liquid sunshine for which Seattle is famed. “It will be a balmy, subtropical afternoon,” said Lewis. “We’re going to play ball.”; Pilots Split First Series: On an even keel after two games here, the Pilots today cruised homeward to a red-carpet welcome for their first American League performance in Seattle. A 7-3 defeat in the rain by the California Angels last night sent the Pilots’ log to 1-1 as they flew north to greet the Chicago White Sox tomorrow. California scored four runs in the fifth inning. Pedro Borbon, 22-year-old right-hander, was the winning pitcher in relief and a we baseball figured in a key play as the Pilots missed their chance to come home in a tie for the American League’s Western Division lead. Gary Bell, right-hander, a veteran of 12 major league seasons, will start at home against the White Sox. Bell admits that he has a few jitters about pitching on opening day for a new ball club. “It’s not just opening day jitters though,” he said. “I’m nervous before every game. If you lose that, you can’t be much interested in the game.” As for last night, the Pilots again started fast as they did in the first game. They scored two runs in the second inning, added another in the third and were leading 3-0 before the Angels finally tallied one in the fourth. The Pilots shot down Andy Messersmith, but couldn’t handle the Angels’ Borbon before 5,347 moist fans. Don Mincher opened the Pilots’ second with a double and Steve Whitaker walked. Ray Oyler and Mike Marshall, starting pitcher, both singled to give the Pilots a 2-0 edge. Then in the third inning, Mincher poled a home run over the right-field fence at the 365-foot mark. Mincher has now hit three homers this year, two in exhibition games and one in the regular season, and all three have been against the Angels, from whom he was drafted No. 1 by the Pilots. The Angels got one run back in the fourth and then disaster struck in the fifth. California sent nine men to the plate, and scored four runs on five hits and two Seattle errors, both by Whitaker. Marshall, who had been fairly effective over the first four innings, gave up a leadoff single to Jim Fregosi. Then Jay Johnstone lined a double down the right-field line. Whitaker bobbled the wet ball-it had been raining since before the start of the game-and then threw wildly into the Angels’ dugout in an attempt to nip Fregosi at the plate. Fregosi and Johnstone both scored on the errant throw. Big Gene Brabender, 6-5 and 220, then relieved Marshall. He gave up three more hits and two more runs before the Angels finally went out with a 5-3 lead. In the meantime, Borbon had relieved Messersmith in the fifth inning. He was the pitcher of record at the time the Angels went ahead and he put the Pilots down with no runs and only two hits through three innings before Hoyt Wilhelm took over for the last two and faced only six men. The Angels added two more runs in the eighth off John Morris before Jim Borbon finished things off. Talking of his bad throw, Whitaker who was taking over for the ailing Mike Hegan, said, “the ball was wet and it just sailed. But I might have been alright if I hadn’t been in such a hurry.” Hegan was banged up Tuesday night when he ran into the fence. He suffered a bruised hip and wrist, but wanted to play yesterday. Curt Rayer, trainer, said “no” but Hegan is expected to be ready tomorrow. Seattle pitchers gave up 13 hits and were charged with six walks, one of them intentional. In addition, the Pilots also committed four errors. It was that kind of night.

    "Police, Traffic Officials See ‘Congested’ Opening"
    Police and traffic engineering officials are less than optimistic over traffic congestion that will face baseball fans on opening day tomorrow. Several factors indicate that tempers may flare as traffic moves to and from the ballpark. And, patrons face a shortage of parking spaces. Major A.A. Kretchmar, head of the police Traffic control Division, said some 30 patrolmen will be on duty tomorrow. “Our major concern is pre-game traffic when there will be many strangers in the area and people who have not been to a game for some time.” he said. “Most people will expect to drive up and just drop their cars off in a nearby lot. The problem is that much of the parking space is several blocks from the stadium.” Another problem facing police and motorists is that the game probably will end just as the late afternoon traffic is at its peak. In order to speed up the flow, all cars in the Rainier Avenue lot next to the stadium will be directed north on Rainier Avenue. Southbound fans should use the lot on the stadium side of Empire Way South, and as a last resort, the lot on the east side of Empire Way. The Police Department and traffic engineers feel there is a deficit in parking spaces, especially for night games. Barry Fairfax, of the engineering department, said for a crowd of 18,000 fans, presuming most drive cars, there will be a minimum shortage of 1,300 spaces. The figure climbs to 2,300 for night games. He said there are some 3,000-4,000 spaces now ready for parking, with another 1,300 if the city parking lots on Empire Way, between South Holgate and Bay view Streets, are ready.; Transit System to Schedule Special Buses for Games: The Seattle Transit System will schedule special baseball buses from downtown to Sicks’ Stadium for the opening game tomorrow between the Pilots and the Chicago White Sox and for every other game played here. Tomorrow special buses will be added to the No. 7-Rainier Avenue South service starting at 12:30 p.m.. The buses will operate in Third Avenue from Pike Street and will run directly to the stadium via South Jackson Street and Rainier Avenue South. Passengers will be unloaded on Rainier across from the stadium and after the game coaches will load in Rainier next to the stadium for the trip back downtown. S.O. Engstrom, superintendent of transportation for transit, said similar baseball buses will load in Third Avenue between Pike and Pine Streets one hour before the start of games throughout the season. The trip to the stadium will take less than 20 minutes. Charter-coach service will be offered by many Seattle restaurants. These buses will be parked on Empire Way South, east of the stadium.; All Pilot Games ‘on Air’; Dudley, Schonely Radio Team: James Randolph (Jimmy) Dudley, a relative newcomer to the Pacific Northwest sports casting fraternity, and William Walter (Bill) Schonely, well known locally for several years, will team to broadcast all of the 1969 Seattle Pilots baseball games over station KVI. All Pilot games will originate “live” at home and away. A total of 50 stations in eight states comprise the Pilot network. Stations in Washington include KVI, Seattle; KHQ, Spokane; KPO, Wenatchee; KPUG, Bellingham; KIT, Yakima; KSMK, Tri-Cities; KONP, Port Angeles; KBKW, Aberdeen. Other stations in Oregon, Alaska, Utah, Idaho, Montana, Nevada and North Dakota have signed up to carry Pilot games.; Tomorrow’s Opener Will Have ‘Political’ Overtones: Senator Warren Magnuson, who has been making “pitches” on behalf of the state for several seasons, will throw out the first ball. Waiting to get it will be his Senate colleague; Henry Jackson. Governor Daniel Evans will catch and Mayor Floyd Miller will be the umpire. After that traditional ritual, the White Sox and Pilots will officially usher in major league baseball into the Pacific Northwest. Pre-game activity will begin at 1:25 p.m.. Jack Gordon, master of ceremonies will introduce many honored guests including: The aforementioned quartet, Bowie Kuhn, commissioner of baseball, William R. Daley, chairman of the board of the Pilots, Joe Cronin, president of the American League, Lloyd Meeds, Floyd Hicks and Tom Pelly, United States congressmen, John Spellman, county executive, Jack Porter, King County sheriff, Frank Ramon, chief of police, Gordon Vickery, fire chief and Al Lopez, White Sox manager, and Joe Schultz, manager, who will introduce their teams. Bridget Hanley, star of the television series, “Here Come The Brides,” will present gifts to the managers; canned salmon to Lopez and a floral horseshoe to Schultz. - The Seattle Times, April 10, 1969
    Last edited by Tailwind Tommy; 04-13-2009, 08:21 PM. Reason: line correction

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    • #3
      40 Years Ago Tonight {Tuesday, April 8, 1969}

      Happy 40th Anniversary! It was 40 years ago the A.L. expansion Seattle Pilots played their first major league game of the 1969 season.

      "Play Ball!! Tonight’s THE Night. History Opens Door for Seattle"
      History will open its door for Seattle in Anaheim tonight. Under the lights of the Big A, nine athletes in Pilot panoply will surge on to the field, and Seattle will have reached the big time of baseball, the American League. The Pilots have a date with the Angels, California type. It is the same Angels who were parent to Seattle’s minor league ensemble. On the mound for Joe Schultz’ expansion Pilots will be Marty Pattin, right-handed and ready, drafted from the Halos. On first base will be Don Mincher, relinquished in the same draft by the Angels to the Pilots because of recurrent headaches after an early season beaning last year. The only headache now may accrue to the Angels. Opposing Pattin will be Jim McGlothlin, also a right-hander, and like Marty, a former Seattlelite in the city's days of sports servitude. Both helped win a Coast League pennant in 1966....Behind them, the teams will line up like this: Seattle - Harper, 2b; Hegan, rf; Davis, lf; Mincher, lb; Rollins, 3b; Gosger, cf; McNertney, c; Oyler, ss; Pattin, p. California - Voss, rf; Fregosi, ss; Johnston, cf; Reichardt, lf; Stuart, lb; Rodriguez, 3b; Satriano, c; Knoop, 2b; McGlothlin, p. - The Seattle Times, April 8, 1969

      "'What a Wallop,’ Proud Pilot Pitcher Pattin Says"
      Marty Pattin tonight will try to keep his elation down and his fast ball low. For it is a high honor which has been bestowed on Marty Pattin. He will be the starting pitcher for Seattle in its first American League game ever. Last season, he was a second line reliever for the Angels, the team which he will face tonight. So, all the ingredients for drama are present, all the props for retributive result. Marty said yesterday: “What a wallop this is for me. I don’t have to tell you how happy I am…” - The Seattle Times Sports Hy-Lites by Hy Zimmerman, April 8, 1969
      Attached Files
      Last edited by Tailwind Tommy; 04-13-2009, 07:53 PM. Reason: line corrections

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      • #4
        Tailwind Tommy.........Great Photos, Clippings & story !!!
        Thanks for sharing for us "NEW" Pilot fans.
        I wished I had been there !!!

        I got the yearbook & the team photo yesterday.
        Looking for ticket stubs...seem to be a rare commodity.
        I'm 40 years to late but trying to catch up
        Last edited by Nashvols; 04-08-2009, 07:51 PM.

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        • #5
          40 Years Ago Tonight {Tuesday, April 8, 1969}

          It's well worth repeating...Happy 40th Anniversary to the Seattle Pilots and to all Pilots fans everywhere! It is April 8, 1969. Game time, 3:01 at Anaheim Stadium in California, and have reason to celebrate as the Seattle Pilots win their first major league game!

          "Four Newcomers Win; Expansion 9s love foes"
          The Seattle Pilots struck early, erupting for four runs in the first inning and holding off the California Angels 4-3 in a night game at Anaheim. Manager Joe Schultz of the Pilots, asked for comment on the surprising expansion victories, said: It goes to show the owners did their job by making some good players available. Seattle’s Tommy Harper led off against Jim McGlothlin with a double and Mike Hegan homered. Tommy Davis’ single, a hit batsman, a walk and Gerry McNertney’s single added two more runs.

          "Pilots sneak past Angels" The California Angels have a peculiar background, a history of losing more opening season games at home than they win. The tradition was intact today. They have now won two and lost seven. The seventh came Tuesday night before 11,930 paying patrons in Anaheim Stadium, 4-3, to the brand new Seattle Pilots. Manager Joe Schultz of the Pilots had the proper cliché. “It’s quite a thrill winning the first game.” he said, and noting that all the major league expansion teams emerged triumphant, added, “It goes to show the owners did their job.” - The Columbian, Wednesday, April 9, 1969

          "It’s Up to Mike: Marshall Makes Bid to Stretch Pilots’ 4-3 Victory Into Streak"
          It’s up to Mike Marshall to bring the Seattle Pilots home a winner. The Pilots got their initial American League baseball season off to a successful start last night with a tension-packed, 4-3 victory over the California Angels. Now, Marshall has the job of making the Pilots’ log read 2-0 when they play the Chicago White Sox in their home opener at Sicks’ Stadium Friday at 2 p.m. The right-handed Marshall will get the starting pitching assignment for Seattle tonight against the Angels’ Andy Messersmith, who toiled for both the Seattle and California Angels last season. The Pilots followed Manager Joe Schultz’ formula to the letter as they edged the Angels in their big-time debut. The Seattle skipper’s recipe for victory is actually a very simple one: "Stay close, then go to the bullpen.” That’s exactly what the Pilots did last night. They jumped into a four-run lead in the first inning, the first three batters getting hits. Then, with a 4-2 lead and the starter and winning pitcher, Marty Pattin, beginning to tire in the sixth. Diego Segui was called in to put down a minor uprising. In the ninth, with Segui starting to have some control problems, Jack Aker got the Angels out to preserve the victory. A GREAT beginning mostly turned into a nightmarish ending for the Pilots. The way things started, it looked as if the first inning might never end. Things were just reversed--The Pilots resembled the established team and the Angels appeared to be the expansion …. Tommy Harper, Seattle’s leadoff batter, opened with a double down the left field line to become the first Pilot ever to get a hit in the American League. He was followed by Mike Hegan, who blasted a Jim McGlothlin fast ball over the right-center field fence for the Pilots’ first home run. Tommy Davis then singled sharply through the pitcher’s mound and before the inning was over, 10 Pilots had gone to the plate and four runs had scored. In addition to Hegan’s tremendous home run, the key hit was by the catcher, Jerry McNertney. His two-run single scored Davis and Don Mincher, who had been hit by a pitched ball. It turned out to be a good things that the Pilots fired all those shots in the first inning. They managed only two hits, singles by Pattin and Rich Rollins, over the final eight innings. Playing in Anaheim Stadium, with Disneyland right close by, the Pilots and Angels did their bit to turn the ball park into fantasyland in the bottom half of the second inning. The Angels’ Aurelio Rodriguez opened with a single, and Tom Satriano dropped a short fly ball right in front of the centerfielder, Jim Gosger, for another single. That brought Bobby Knoop to the plate. Knoop lined a pitch into deep right field. Hegan made a brilliant effort. He latched onto the ball in what appeared to be a spectacular catch. But running at full speed, he was unable to stop and crashed into the fence. He went down. The ball dropped from his glove. In the meantime, Rodriguez had crossed the plate with the Angels’ first run. But Knoop, running the bases at full bore, overtook Satriano as they ran past second base and was called out. That eased the pressure on Pattin. He managed to retire Clyde Wright and Bill Voss and escaped with only one run being scored against him. Hegan was helped from the field. He suffered a bruised hip and wrist and a cut lip. X-rays proved negative, and he should be ready to go again--if not by tonight, at least by Friday. The Angels closed the gap to 4-2 in the fifth inning on Jim Fregosi’s home run as Pattin continued to struggle, although he never was being hurt too much. Then in the sixth inning, he walked the first hitter. Schultz decided that was enough for his starter, who had given up two runs and eight hits over the first five innings. Segui was called in from the bullpen. He gave up a long single to Satriano and the Angels had runners on first and third with nobody out. Segui settled down to the chore at hand. He struck out Knoop and a pinch-hitter, Roger Repoz, and got Voss to fly out to center to get out of the inning safely. Segui remained in control until the ninth, when he suddenly lost his control. He walked the first two Angels’ and had a one-ball count on Fregosi. Then Aker got into the act. The veteran right-handed reliever got the job done, but not before there were a few anxious moments. Fregosi bunted the runners along, putting Angels on second and third with one out. Jay Johnstone then grounded out to second, with Repoz scoring and Lou Johnson moving to third. The tying run was in scoring position with the dangerous Rick Reichardt at the plate. Reichardt grounded to the third baseman, Rich Rollins, who threw to Mincher at first base to retire Reichardt. “There was no way I was going to drop that throw,” Mincher said. And with Kansas City, Montreal and San Diego all having won earlier, the Pilots made it a clean sweep for the expansion teams in their first day in the big leagues.

          "‘You’ve Got to Learn to Catch Ball’; Hegan Hits One Over Fence, Runs Into It"
          Mike Hegan went down for the count, but he played a big role in knocking out the California Angels last night. The Seattle Pilots’ right fielder belted a home run and lost a battle with a fence as the Northwest’s first big time baseball team opened its inaugural American League season with a 4-3 victory over the California Angels before a meager crowd of 11,930 paying customers. Hegan’s two-run homer in the first inning was spectacular, of course, but it didn’t match his rendition of “Don’t Fence Me In” for thrills. It happened in the second inning. With two Angels, Aurelio Rodriguez and Tom Satriano on base, Bobby Knoop lined a ball deep into the left-field corner. Hegan reached the ball, got it in his glove and crashed into the fence. He sprawled, the ball dropped free and strange things happened on the Angel base paths. Rodriguez scored easily, but then the over-enthusiastic Knoop overran Satriano after the Pilot second baseman, Tommy Harper, had retrieved the ball from near the prostrate Hegan. Knoop’s busy dash caused him to be called out for overrunning Satriano, who obviously thought for a while that the ball had been caught. Hegan suffered a bruised hip and wrist and a cut lip in his tangle with the fence. X-rays, however, proved to be negative and he was back in the Pilots’ dressing room before the Seattle team left on its bus ride back to a Los Angeles hotel. Upon hearing Hegan’s voice after his return, Manager Joe Schultz called good naturedly from his cubicle, “… son, you’ve got to learn to catch the ball.” Schultz said of his 26-year-old outfielder, “That is something, to break in with a home run. This could be the start of something big for him.“ Then he added, “That Segui also showed me something." He was talking of Diego Segui, the right-handed relief pitcher who came to the aid of the starting and winning pitcher, Marty Pattin, in the sixth inning. “He got two strikeouts when we needed them." he said. “We were very fortunate to get him in the expansion draft." The Seattle pilot then expanded a little further on expansion. He said, “The owners took pretty good care of us. I can’t complain about what we got in the draft." Pattin, who was drafted from the Angels couldn’t have been happier about beating his former teammates. “It was tremendous," he said. “It was a great thrill." Pattin wasn’t as sharp as he would have liked to have been. He gave up eight hits over five innings, and the catcher, Jerry McNertney, said, “He was having trouble getting his breaking balls over the plate." Pattin, however, did remain tough and he did exactly what Sal Maglie, the pitching coach, asked of him. “We tell them to go as hard as they can for as long as they can." Maglie said “And he did." Segui, when Schultz terms “a great competitor," got Pattin out of a jam. Then right-handed Jack Aker came in and saved Segui in the ninth. The Angels had the tying run on base with two out, and Aker said he had only one thought in mind when he was facing Rick Reichardt. “I’ve got to make him hit the ball on the ground." The sinker-ball specialist did just that. Hegan’s trip to the hospital had brought some gloom to the Pilot dressing room even though they had won. But things brightened considerably when he returned and announced, “I’m ready and raring to go.” The opening ceremonies were a gala thing despite the disappointing crowd, but the Californians just couldn’t miss a chance to take a little dig at their opponents from the Northwest. As the Pilots were being introduced, the organist played “Singing in the Rain.” - The Seattle Times, Wednesday, April 9, 1969
          Attached Files
          Last edited by Tailwind Tommy; 04-13-2009, 08:05 PM. Reason: line corrections

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          • #6
            Opening Day, Friday, April 11, 1969, 2:00 P.M.

            "‘Play Ball’ Just Hours Away"
            Workmen late last night scurried to complete bleachers in time for the Seattle Pilots’ first home game in Sicks’ Stadium. The columns in foreground are for lights and scoreboard support. The enclosure atop the grandstands behind home plate is the press section and the one beneath for club officials and guests. The work continued through the night.; Clear View For The Press: Spic and span was the aim of Dick Clayton who provided a clear view from the press box of Sicks’ Seattle Stadium. He was among scores of workers who hit a feverish pace getting ready this morning for the Seattle Pilots’ opening game.

            "Pilot Opener Survives Snow, Rain and Dirt; Bleachers Spring From Patch of Weeds; They Made It!"
            On January 6, a wall was symbolically lifted from behind a patch of weeds that once held bleacher seats in Sicks’ Stadium. On January 6, while the crane operator pulled the levers that kicked off renovation of the Rainier Avenue playpen, there were those watching who muttered: “They’ll never make it.” Well, today, April 11, little more than three months later, Gary Bell of the Seattle Pilots reared back and pitched a baseball in Sicks’ Stadium and “they” had made it. True, the renovation of Sicks’ Stadium was not finished. But it was finished enough so that more than 19,000 could watch history being made-the first major league baseball game ever played west of Renton, south of the Central Area, north of Rainier Avenue, and east of downtown Seattle. When Bell, 32-year-old Pilot right-hander, unloaded that first pitch, seats held fans in stands that rested on those “weeds” adjacent to left field. And those fans will say someday that “I saw the first major league baseball game ever played in Seattle.” They saw it despite an unusually hard winter that hindered construction; they saw it despite a squabble over fill dirt. They saw it because they and many thousand others voted in favor of another place to play-the domed stadium--that apparently was contingent on Pacific Northwest Sports, Inc., getting the American League franchise. Bell, drafted by the Pilots from Boston, made his first start of the season. Tomorrow night, in the second of the three-game series, Lopez will send Sammy Ellis to the mound. Joe Schultz, Pilots manager, still is undecided over his choice-he is waiting to find out if Steve Barber has sufficiently mended from a spring training injury. In Sunday’s finale, Marty Pattin, credited with the Pilots’ victory over the California Angels Tuesday, will face Gary Peters. Barber, drafted from the Yankees, is nursing a shoulder injury. With it, he was battered in the first inning last Sunday by the San Diego Padres in an exhibition game. The Pilots will have one thing going for them this weekend-Carlos May will be absent. The White Sox rookie left-fielder, who had four hits in eight trips, including two home runs, in two games against Oakland, was scheduled to fly to Chicago today for Marine Reserve duty. One Pilot, Ray Oyler, has another good things going for him. Mothers of the Ray Oyler Fan Club yesterday presented the peppers infielder with the use of a new Buick Skylark for a year. Tomorrow’s game will start at 8 p.m.. Sunday’s contest is scheduled for 2 p.m. - The Seattle Times, April 11, 1969

            Other news of Pilots' Historical Importance
            Seattle Pilots vs. Chicago White Sox. Triple Home Opener. Pilots give fans in the Pacific Northwest their first taste of major league ball. Because of Seattle’s limited seating capacity, each of the three games will get the full treatment of ceremonies that accompany a club’s Inaugural.

            Tom Berg with the Seattle organization worked out with the club. Sicks’ Stadium, though not yet completed, was in a considerably better state of readiness than had seemed possible only a week before. The feverish effort to get the ball park ready for the big occasion continued virtually until game time. In fact, early arrivals in the new left field bleachers had to stand in line waiting for carpenters to finish working on the seats. From all observations and accounts, though, the fans took the inconvenience in stride. Most of the seats which had been completed for the milestone opener were occupied by 15,014 paid, and uncounted hundreds of others looked on for free through gaps in a fence hastily installed just before the game along a rise behind the left field bleachers. From a point about 80 miles beyond the right field fence, another non-paying spectator, 14,410-foot Mount Rainier, majestically witnessed the event. Seattle’s second victory in its first three major league games. Mike Hegan walked to open the Pilot third and, one out later, Mincher clouted a 335-foot home run over the right field screen into the area where additional bleachers are under construction.
            Last edited by Tailwind Tommy; 04-13-2009, 08:25 PM. Reason: line correction

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            • #7
              Opening Day, Friday, April 11, 1969, 2:00 P.M.

              "Pilots Jump to Storybook Start Against Sox"
              It was a storybook start. The tale of Seattle’s home-town jump into major league baseball could not have been penned more perfectly. Under clear skies, 15,014 fans warmed by 60-degree sunshine yesterday saw Gary Bell, affable Pilot right hander, shut out the Chicago White Sox in Sicks’ Stadium 7-0. They saw Don Mincher hit a home run, his second of the young season. They saw a charter member of the American League-the staid, sophisticated White Sox-beaten by the expansion Pilots, an enthusiastic group of baseball players determined to prove their worth. Tonight, Diego Segui, Cuban right-hander thought to be consigned to the bullpen, will try to follow Bell’s lead. He will pitch for the Pilots against Sammy Ellis, a White Sox veteran. The game will start at 8 p.m. Of Segui’s break into the starting rotation, Joe Schultz, Pilot manager, said: “It will be a temporary thing.” Diego is being pressed into service due to the shortage of Pilot starters. Steve Barber still is nursing a shoulder injury, leaving only Marty Pattin, Mike Marshall and Bell. Segui, drafted by the Pilots from Oakland, appeared in 52 games for the Athletics last season as a relief pitcher and compiled a 2.39 earned-run average. Last Tuesday, he pitched three innings in helping Pattin to a 4-3 victory over the California Angels in the season’s opener. Pattin will start tomorrow, Marshall will hurl against the Kansas City Royals here Monday night, and Bell will face the Minnesota Twins here next Wednesday. Yesterday, Bell, though in trouble on several occasions, impressed with his poise under fire left 14 White Sox on base. In doing so he struck out six and walked only four. In the third inning, the White Sox filled the bases with one out, but Gary caught Don Pavletich and Buddy Brafford looking at third strikes. In the sixth, with two out, Sandy Alomar singled and Walt Williams, a pinch batter, swatted a double over third base. But Bell got Luis Aparicio to fly out. In the ninth, Woody Held led off with a double, but he was caught moments later. The next batter, Aparicio bounced the ball off Bell’s glove. Mincher, the first baseman, picked it up and threw it to Ray Oyler, shortstop, who tagged Held. Carlos May then singled and Aparicio went to third. Bill Melton walked to fill the bases. Bell struck out Gail Hopkins. Then he got Don Pavletich to hit into a force out and Gary became the first Pilot to ever pitch a complete game. The Pilots clouted nine hits, one fewer than Chicago, with Tommy Harper, Rich Rollins and Gerry McNertney getting two each. They staked Bell to a 1-0 lead in the first inning, added two more in the third on Mincher’s homer over the right-field fence, then insured triumph with four runs in the sixth. In the first Harper led off with a single, stole second, advanced to third on a double play and scored on a single by Rollins. Mike Hegan walked to open the third inning. After Tommy Davis flew out, Mincher picked a low breaking pitch thrown by Joe Horlen and pulled it over the 13-foot fence between the 320 and 345-foot marks in right field. The Pilots batted around in the sixth, scoring the four runs after two were out. Bell accounted for two of the runs with a double, then scored the last one on Harper’s second single.; In the Homestretch: Don Mincher was congratulated by third-base coach after home run. Frank Crosetti spurred Mincher toward home after rounding third.; Souvenir: A construction worker stood in the right-field bleacher section of Sicks’ Stadium yesterday and tossed the home-run ball Don Mincher launched his way in the third inning.; V.I.P.’s ‘Inning’: Senator Henry M. Jackson had no trouble hitting pitch by fellow senator Warren G. Magnuson. Catching was Gov. Dan Evans and Mayor Floyd Miller was the umpire.; Pilots Figured the Fences; Bell Pitched Low, Mincher Hit High: Gary Bell, who kept the ball down, and Don Mincher, who, in the third inning, kept one up yesterday provided 15,014 fans in Sicks’ Stadium an auspicious start into a major league adventure. Bell, 32-year-old major league veteran acquired by the Seattle Pilots from Boston in the American League expansion draft, said of his 7-0 shutout of the Chicago White Sox: “I kept the ball down-if you pitch high in this park, you’ll get in trouble with those short fences.” Mincher, 30-year-old first baseman drafted from the California Angels, took advantage of one of “those fences” in the third when he pulled a two-run homer to right off Joe Horlen. Don said: “It was a change-up pitch, a little low.” Bell, who got a late start in spring training, became the first Pilot to pitch a complete game. He said: “I would have been happy with six or seven good innings. I only went six innings last Sunday in San Diego.” Bell pitched six innings in the Pilots’ final exhibition game against the Padres. In the seventh yesterday Joe Schultz, Pilot manager, came out to talk with Bell. “The fingers on my pitching hand seemed to draw up-pull together like a cramp in your foot,” Bell said. “Joe just asked me how it was…that was all. It was gone by the time we walked back to the dugout. Bell gave up 10 hits and walked four Sox. But he refused to yield to the pressure. Did he bear down harder with men on base? “When didn’t I have men on base?” Bell said. Only in the seventh when Gary retired the side in order, did the Sox leave the bases clean. In all, 10 were left stranded including three in the third and ninth. Bell helped his own cause with a two-run double in the Pilots’ four-run sixth. Of his hitting prowess, he said, “Oh, I hit fairly well (for a pitcher); I usually get a couple every year.” Of Bell’s effort, Schultz said: “Anytime you can get a pitcher to go nine innings, particularly in this park, it’s a great game. When you get that real good pitching, everyone seems to play better.” For most of the Pilots, it was their first time ever in Sicks’ Stadium. Two of them, Mike Hegan and Tommy Davis, said that the outfield was damp, that the sod tended to give way. In the eighth, Hegan, the right fielder made a good catch of a ball hit by Ken Berry. Mike went to his right and pulled it in one-handed. “I didn’t get a very good jump on it,” Hegan said, “The outfield grass…then the ball seemed to lift up a little just before I caught it.” Davis, the left fielder, said the outfield condition might be harder on bigger men. “When you take that first step, your foot tends to slip.” Ray Oyler, shortstop, said the infield “was good-not slow, not fast, it seems fine.” Of his single in the sixth inning, the one-time Detroit Tiger who batted only .135 last season said: “I’ll take anything I can get.” So will all his teammates.

              "View From Chicago: Pitchers View Park as ‘Sick’"
              (What does a Chicagoan think of Seattle’s plunge into major league baseball? Dave Nightingale, beginning his fourth season covering the White Sox for The Chicago Daily News, filed the following article for his newspaper on his impression). Major league baseball came to the great Pacific Northwest here yesterday, amid ruffles and flourishes and the huzzahs of governors, mayors and United States senators. It came to a little jewel of a ball park, an oasis of greenery nestled among Seattle’s seven hills… And the ball park is appropriately named, too. It’s called Sicks’ Stadium…and that’s just what the American League pitchers who have to work here will be: sick, sick, sick. For the home of the Pilots may easily become the all-time champion homer haven of baseball’s 100-year history. “Marlan Coughtry…the immortal Marlan Coughtry,” mused White Sox pitcher, Joe Horlen. “You remember him, don’t you? I do!” In 1961 Horlen pitched for San Diego in the Pacific Coast League. He worked 197 innings in league play that season and gave up just one home run… to the immortal Marlan Coughtry. “It was Seattle, of course,” Horlen said. What is Sicks’ Stadium…this Garden of Eden for hitters? “It’s like batting in a four-wall handball court…the hitters might as well stay in my room and practice.” Charlie Saad, White Sox trainer, said. Basically, the home of the Pilots has 320-foot dimensions at the foul lines, 345-foot power alleys and a centerfield fence that’s 405 feet from the plate; the playing field is surrounded by a 13-foot fence and, there’s a 305-foot “porch” in the left-field corner.

              "‘Twas a Perfect Day, for Weather and Score"
              It was the perfect day that poets dream of. Amid the aroma of fresh paint with a concerto by hammer and saw for an overture, major league baseball sprang to life yesterday in Seattle in a mini-stadium. But a coliseum of 100,000 could have showered no more adoration than the 15,014 bedazzled beholders who roared the Pilots to triumph on the day Seattle shouldered the Northwest into the American League. The sweaty haste that made “the night joint laborers with the day” produced an arena unmatched in a century of baseball for a major league spectacle. But the lacks of Sicks’ Stadium will go down in memory as treasured legend. Nowhere in the book is there record of a home run such as that by Don Mincher, the piano-mover who moonlights as the Pilots’ first baseman. The ball rattled around in concrete footings for nonexistent seats and rolled dead just short of Mount Rainier, a nonpaying spectator lured, like the cash customers, by the sun. The joy of a 7-0 shutout will make quaint and precious the memories of an Opening Day in a park whose Star-Spangled Banner, for want of a flagpole, fluttered from a light pole yardarm-at half staff, of course,- in honor of a departed ex-president. The pageantry that escorted the Pilots to the test brimmed with inspirational message and dripped with nostalgia…tribute to Emil Sick who built the park that became the cradle of major league baseball and to Freddie Hutchinson who filled it. Prayer is imperative in baseball, and the Very Rev. John A. Fitterer, president of Seattle University, provided it: “What is happening today is a sign of the vitality and rich future awaiting us as long as older men dream such dreams and younger men and women accept them with confidence.” Rod Belcher, who cannot decide whether he is sportscaster, public relations tycoon, or roving minstrel, sang “Go, Go, You Pilots”-and the Pilots Went, Went. Bowie Kuhn, the 6-foot 4-inch commissioner of baseball…Saddle-weary Gene Autry, who found gold stuffed in an old guitar…A copper-topped fugitive from television, Bridget Hanley…All emerged from the woodwork to speed Seattle to its destiny to an American League whose president, Joe Cronin, also was on hand for a paternal push. Warren G. Magnuson, a belated draftee off the University of Washington diamond, fudged by 10 feet off the mound and delivered three senatorial pitches which failed of their apparent intent of eliminating the junior colleague, Henry M. Jackson Dan Evans, the renowned skier and widely recognized governor, impersonated a catcher and survived to brave the Freeway to Olympia. For Opening Day, Seattle had a domed stadium-blue and infinite, so warmly illumined that baseball fans qualified 1,000 cases of beer, swept through the inadequate concession stands like locusts and loaded the young with blue Pilots caps, pennants and bobble-head dolls. Traffic jammed but did not clot, and all the nearby parking lots were not filled. The frenzy to zip up the stadium all the way around will continue. But nobody will work harder than a half dozen laborers who at 2 o’clock were frantically hammering and sawing on the roof of the grandstand. Then, very pleased with their handiwork, they toted to the roof’s brim the bench they had built for themselves-just in time to watch Bob McGrath, who had sneaked away from the classes he teaches at Franklin High School across the street, dispose of the canard that the National Anthem is unsinkable. That was the beginning. And the end of the perfect day was the smile on the face of the Pilot manager, Joe Schultz, It said: “Today, Chicago…tomorrow the World Series.” - The Seattle Times, April 12, 1969
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              Last edited by Tailwind Tommy; 04-13-2009, 08:20 PM. Reason: line correction and photos added

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              • #8
                Opening Night, Saturday, April 12, 1969, 8:00 P.M.

                "Oyler’s Homer Powers Pilot Victory; Chisox Cuffed Again, 5-1"
                The Seattle Pilots, flexing their expansion muscles before 8,319 fans in Sicks’ Stadium last night beat the Chicago White Sox for their second straight victory and third in four games this season. The score was 5-1. The American League victory assured Seattle of a three-game series victory. The Pilots won Friday afternoon’s home opener, 7-0. Last nights’ game was highlighted by Ray Oyler’s third inning home run that got the Pilots off to a 1-0 lead they never lost. Oyler's blow opened the scoring. Ray looked at three straight pitches, all balls, then took a strike before fouling off the fifth offering by Ellis. With the count 3 and 2, he connected and the ball soared over the 13-foot fence into partly occupied seats in left-center. The homer was Oyler’s ninth in five major league seasons. He had one in each of the past three campaigns in Detroit, where he batted .135, .207, and .171. The blast raised Oyler’s batting average this season to .333-three hits in nine trips to the plate. In the fourth, Rich Rollins led off with a double off the left-center fence at the point where Oyler hit the homer. He went to third on Jim Gosger’s infield grounder and scored on Gerry McNertney’s bloop single into short left. The ball fell between Luis Aparicio, shortstop; Pete Ward, left-fielder, and Ken Berry, center-fielder. Ellis than loaded the bases on two walks and a fielder’s choice before Mike Hegan popped up to third base. The White Sox got one back in the sixth. Buddy Bradford, first batter, dropped a single into short right just out of the reach of Don Mincher, first baseman. After Davis, running to his right, made a great catch of a line drive hit by Aparicio, Ward singled. Bradford went to third and scored on Bill Melton’s sacrifice fly. The Pilots answered with three runs in their half of the sixth. McNertney was safe when Bradford, the right-fielder, muffed what appeared to be a routine catch of a fly ball. Oyler and Segui followed with singles to load the bases. McNertney scored on a wild pitch by Bob Priddy, Oyler and Segui advancing. Oyler scored on a single by Hegan, who eventually tallied on a passed ball. In the series finale this afternoon, Marty Pattin, a right-hander, will seek his second victory of the season for the Pilots. He will face Gary Peters (0-1), a southpaw. Pattin went five innings last Tuesday and, with help from Segui and Jack Aker, received credit for the Pilots’ first victory ever, a 4-3 decision over the California Angels. Today’s game will start at 2 p.m.; Capless Ray Oyler strode across the plate after hitting homer. Dejected Duane Josephson, White Sox catcher watched with hand on hip.; Home-Run Ball Now A Collector’s Item: On the collector’s market, strange values sometimes are placed on what many would consider an obscure object. The object in question is the baseball the Seattle Pilots Don Mincher hit out of Sicks’ Stadium Friday in the major league baseball home opener. A construction worker, George Gullmet of Edmonds, picked it up from among the footings upon which seats someday will rest. However, Bud Baker, 6414 14th Ave N.W., wanted it. He is a collector. To get it, Baker had to give a baseball glove, which he will have no trouble getting, a baseball autographed by the Pilots, and an autographed picture of Mincher. The latter items Baker has yet to make arrangements for “but I’m sure I can acquire them,” he said. The glove, baseball and picture are for Gullmet’s son.
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                Last edited by Tailwind Tommy; 04-13-2009, 08:17 PM. Reason: line correction

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                • #9
                  Opening Sunday, April 13, 1969, 2:00 P.M.

                  The White Sox unloaded five homers and the expansion Pilots added two in Chicago’s 12-7 bombardment of Seattle. Seattle’s temporary park measures 305 down the left field foul line and 320 to right. The biggest home run day in the stadium was on a cool, clear, dry afternoon in the opening series against Chicago. Humidity was 50, temperature 51, skies clear and the wind southwest 13 miles per hour. Seven home run balls flew out of Sicks’-proof of preseason theories that the Rainier Avenue playpen would be a hitter’s paradise. Unfortunately for the Pilots, and 10,031 chilled partisans, five of the homers were belted by White Sox, and the Chicagoans scored a 12-7 victory. The Sox, comparative batting lambs in the series’ first two games, thus left town with one victory, only their second in five games. “There is no doubt they are going to hit home runs out of this park,” Al Lopez, Sox manager, said after his Pete Ward, Bill Melton, Woody Held, Gail Hopkins and Don Pavletich did so. “A pitcher can’t be too careful around here.” “There’ll be some home runs here.” Joe Schultz, Pilot manager acknowledged after his Tommy Davis and Jose Vidal joined the four-base parade in the ninth inning. “But whether this will be a high-scoring park, I don’t know.” Schultz said. “It depends on pitching-get good pitching and you can hold anybody. Look at the first two games.” Marty Pattin, trying for his second victory, failed to last the first inning. With one out, he walked Luis Aparicio on four pitches. Ward and Melton followed with consecutive homers. Pete hit his 340 feet over the left-center-field fence. Bill then became the first player to take advantage of the “porch” 305 feet away in the left-field corner with a towering blast just clearing the 13-foot fence. Pattin faced two more batters-Pavletich walked and Hopkins singled-before giving way to Gene Brabender. Ron Hansen greeted Gene with a fly ball to Wayne Comer in deep center, and Pavletich scored from third. When Comer slipped a little after making the one-handed catch, Hopkins tried to score from second, but was thrown out at the plate. But it was 4-0, and the Pilots, though they got one back in their half, never recovered. Held homered to lead off the second, 5-1. In the third, Melton tripled. Pavletich doubled, and Hopkins homered to right, 8-1. Jim Bouton replaced Brabender and got the last out in the third. But in the fourth innings… Buddy Bradford tripled and Aparicio singled for one run. Then, after two outs, Pavletich got his-a no-doubt shot to straightaway left-for 11-1. The Pilots countered with four runs in their half. Comer’s single to left accounted for two of them. All were charged to Gary Peters, Sox starter, who gave way to Wilbur Wood with one out. Wood, credited with the victory, pitched shutout ball until the ninth, when Davis, leading off, ignited fireworks with his first Pilot homer. Two outs later, Vidal homered. Both were hit to left. John Morris, fourth of five Pilot pitchers, was, by contrast, quite effective. He yielded only three hits and one run over four innings, while striking out four and walking three.; "Sock It to ‘Em: Pilots’ Park Bad News for Pitchers: Will Sicks’ Stadium become the American League’s all-time home run haven?" Will players really regard it as a four-wall handball court with bleachers? Will opposing managers and pitchers become united in a common bond of disgust for the renovated home of the Seattle Pilots? Nine home runs-seven yesterday-have been hit out of Sicks’ Stadium in three major league games. That’s an average of three a contest. Project it and you have 243 for an 81-game home season. The major league record is 248. That many balls were fairly out of Wrigley Field, temporary home of the Los Angeles Angels in 1961. “Pattin was pretty wild. Brabender should get better as the season progresses. Yes, Morris was fairly effective.” Marty Pattin, Pilot starter, walked two, gave up three hits and was charged with four runs in the first inning. Gene Brabender, in 2 1/3 innings gave up four hits and four runs. Jim Bouton, in 1 1/3 innings, was touched for three hits and three runs. John Morris came on in the fifth inning. He yielded three hits and one run, walked three and struck out four through the eighth. Steve Barber, making his first appearance since the exhibition season, retired the side in the ninth. Ken Berry probably left town a little shell-shocked. Three times in less than 24 hours, the White Sox center-fielder was subjected to a bombardment of fireworks set off above the groundskeepers’ shed after the Pilot home runs. The explosives went off yesterday after blasts by Tommy Davis and Jose Vidal and on Saturday night after Ray Oyler’s blow. Tom Berg, former Franklin High School and University of Puget Sound pitcher, hurled batting practice for the Pilots yesterday. He will report to Newark, Seattle farm team in the New York-Penn League, after he graduates from U.P.S. in June. Jose Vidal made his first appearance of the season for the Pilots yesterday. The right-handed batter replaced southpaw-swinging Mike Hegan in right field and picked up a single and home run in four trips. Schultz made the switch with Gary Peters, a southpaw, on the mound for the White Sox.; "They Can’t Bear To Look" Chicago’s Ron Hansen skids into second as Seattle’s Tommy Harper bobbles the ball. White Sox finally snapped the Pilots string with a barrage of power. T--2:58
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                  • #10
                    Home Openers Announced In Pilots Log!

                    Pilots Log announces home openers for April 11 - 13, 1969...
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