Sunday, September 16, 2007

Friday, April 27, 1951

              W L  Pct GB
Vancouver ... 6 1 .857 —
Yakima ...... 5 2 .714 1
Salem ....... 5 2 .714 1
Spokane ..... 4 4 .500 2½
Victoria .... 3 4 .420 3
Tacoma ...... 2 5 .286 4
Tri-City .... 2 5 .286 4
Wenatchee ... 2 6 .250 4½

WENATCHEE, April 27—Spokane outwalked Wenatchee 10 to 9 here Friday night in a Western International league baseball game. It was more like a hiking contest. Twenty-four men walked. The Indians scored twice in the first, one apiece in the third and fourth, then piled up six runs in the seventh largely on the wildness of starter George Korhonen and his successor Mike Kanshin.
Spokane ......... 201 100 600—10 9 1
Wenatchee ....... 000 001 710— 9 10 1
Holder. Robert (7) Conant (8) and Nulty; Korhonen, Kanshin (7), Dahle (9) and Len Neal.

Tacoma at Salem, postponed, rain.
Victoria at Tri-City, postponed, rain.
Vancouver at Yakima, postponed, rain.

SPOKANE, April 27 (AP)—The Spokane Indians of the Western International league announced the signing Friday of Steve Mesner, 31-year-old former major leaguer to replace negro rookie Bobby Reynolds at shortstop. In seven games, Reynolds, 18, has committed six errors and has a slim batting average of .208.

WENATCHEE, April 27 (AP) — Veteran southpaw Charley Gassaway, released by the Oakland Acorns, was added Friday to the roster of the Wenatchee Chiefs of the Western International league. Wenatchee Manager Rupert (Tommy) Thompson said Gassaway will report here from Oakland in time for the Sunday doubleheader against the Spokane Indians.

EUGENE, Ore., April 27—Eugene manager Walter Mails, starting to trim down his Far West League baseball squad, this week announced release of Frank Stratton. Stratton is a right-handed pitcher, sent on trial from Tacoma.

He Loves Ball, But Portland Experience Almost Stopped Ritchey
[Vancouver Sun, April 28, 1951]
It has long been a mystery among baseball followers why a ballplayer elects to be a catcher when there are eight other positions on a team which require a minimum of exertion.
Many young men choose the “tools of ignorance” for a number of reasons, the most notable being they are not gifted with speed necessary to become a success at any other post.
Any player not a catcher will invariably state that he wouldn’t be one for all the stars on General MacArthur’s shoulder.
But not Johnny Ritchey. The most recent addition to the Capilanos frankly admits catching is the only position he has ever played or wanted to play.
The young Negro—first of his race to wear the Vancouver flannels—prefers the squatting position “because in my mind it’s one of the most important and busiest jobs on a ball club.”
It was Ritchey’s earnest desire to catch, not occasionally but every day, that almost curtailed, by his choice, any thoughts he had of pursuing baseball for his livelihood.
Before explaining that statement, let’s trace Ritchey’s travels in organized baseball. His is a short career and the telling won’t take long.
He was working on a combined second year law and social service course at San Diego State College when a scout for that city’s San Diego Padres signed him. That was in 1948. He caught less than 75 games that year. “I was lucky to play that much,” he says, “because we had four catchers and almost as many managers.”
In 1949, the Padres were “blessed” when Bucky Harris signed as manager. The quotes are Ritchey’s, not mine.
That was the year John Ritchey caught in 112 games and hit .324. The ball players said Ritchey was the best defensive catcher in the league and they expressed their opinions in all-star selections.
You get a fairly good idea what kind of a boss Harris was when Ritchey says, “They don’t make enough people in the world like him.”
The following year, Harris and Ritchey went in opposite directions. Bucky went to Washington and Ritchey was traded to Portland.
At the time, the Beavers were preparing husky Jimmy Gladd for a return to the majors. Their plans were for him to catch in nearly every game. The rookie Ritchey was to sit on the bench.
For a young fellow desirous of improving his earning capacity in order to provide better things for a wife and two girls, keeping the bench warm wasn’t an assignment to be taken with closed lips.
He protested and was hastily regarded as a vociferous dissenter. At the Portland’s spring training camp, where he did little but receive batting practise, Ritchey realized that he and Portland were furlongs apart regarding the assessment of his talents. Wholly disgusted, Ritchey packed his Gladstone, said goodbye to baseball, and went home.
He was prepared to let baseball go its way as long as it didn’t get in his. He was through for certain.
Then Bob Brown phoned. Here Ritchey laughed.
“I didn’t even want to talk to him. But he kept talking. I guess he must have been one of the most persuasive talkers any place.
“As far as baseball is concerned I’m like a little boy with ice cream. Give me some of it and I want more. I’d like to catch every day for the Caps. Sure, catching is hard work. But I like it. Always have.”
Did he know his boss, Bill Schuster?
Ritchey got a little red and replied, “I sure do. My first year in the Coast League he pretty near ran me out of baseball. I never saw anybody run the bases like him.”
About now you are probably wondering what the rest of the Caps think about their Negro teammate. A number of comments were freely expressed. Veteran Ray Tran seemed to sum it quite well when he said “Ritchey? One of the nicest guys I know. And a good ball player, too. That’s what counts most, isn’t it?”

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