Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A League of the West Coast's Own the Golden Days of the Pacific Coast League Are Relived at an Oakland, Calif., Exhibition

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A League of the West Coast's Own the Golden Days of the Pacific Coast League Are Relived at an Oakland, Calif., Exhibition

Article excerpt

THE 1937 letter from Ed Barrow, a New York Yankee scout, to his boss hints at the difficulty of getting a promising 17-year-old baseball player named Ted Williams from the San Diego Padres in the Pacific Coast League (PCL).

"The San Diego club," wrote the scout, "has the inside with {Williams's} mother. She favors the Yankees in a way, but would not let her boy go away from home." Barrow continued, "Williams is a very slow lad ... shows promise as a hitter, but good pitching so far has stopped him cold." Barrow suggested that a better prospect was a player named Walt Judnich.

This historic letter is on display in "Runs, Hits and an Era: The Pacific Coast League, 1903-1958," a splendid exhibition now at the Oakland Museum. Although a "minor" baseball league, the PCL acted like a major league, was far more colorful, drew big West Coast crowds, and in fact tried to become a third major league.

Williams's mother did let her boy go East; good pitching anywhere did not stop him cold. He went on to play for the Boston Red Sox and became the last player in the majors to hit over .400 during a season. Judnich didn't fare too badly, either, playing in the American League for six years with a lifetime batting average of .281.

It was the PCL that proved to be the spawning ground for some of the greatest and most memorable players and coaches in baseball. The DiMaggio brothers - Joe, Vince, and Dom - started with the San Francisco Seals. Casey Stengel coached the Oakland Oaks, then went on to win the World Series for the New York Yankees. Billy Martin played in the infield for Stengel in Oakland. And famous baseball names such as Larry Jansen, Willie McCovey, Ernie Lombardi, Bobby Bragan, Luke Easter, Frank Crosetti, Lefty O'Doul, Minnie Minoso, Fred Haney, Johnny Lindell, Steve Bilko, and dozens of others first gained prominence in the PCL.

With old black-and-white photos, newsreels, old mitts and bats, baseball cards, letters, bulky wool uniforms, even a folding seat from Gilmore Field where the Hollywood Stars played, the Oakland Museum exhibition indicates how beloved was the PCL. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.