Figure Spokane To Be Stronger In '51
(This is one in a series on the prospects of Western International league baseball teams.)
By BOB JOHNSON
Spokane Chronicle Sports Writer
SPOKANE— The Spokane Indians, who broke out the start on top in the 1950 Western International baseball league race but lagged in seventh place, 28 lengths behind at the finish, figure to do much better in the 1951 battle for the bunting.
The Indians have several men who joined the club late last season and they plus some welcome additions have brightened the picture considerably in the opinion of Manager Alan Strange.
There are a few "ifs" that must be reckoned with before the tribe can be tabbied as a potential contender. But if the current hold outs finally ink contracts the situation will greatly improve, Still on the outside are three important pitchers — lefty Ray McNulty — plus outfielder Glenn Stetter.
Stetter, the league's No 1 hitter last year with a .369 average, has said he'll farm this summer. The others haven't been heard from in weeks. Carter, particularly, figures in Strange's plans. The former Tacoman, who appeared in 50 games last year, is being counted on as the No. 1 reliefer on the squad.
The infield will be three-quarters new. Jim Brown, a handy man in the double play, has been acquired from Stockton Calif. to play second base. Bob Reynolds, a Negro rookie, comes from Sacramento to play short and an old standby, Ken Richardson, who was with Spokane in 1949, returns to third.
OUTFIELDER IS NEEDED
Jim Wert, purchased from Victoria last season, remains on first, although he is being pressed by Art Worth, a long-ball hitter.
Reynolds may give way to Wally Scott at short. Scott, purchased from Salem has not reported to camp due to illness in the family. When he does he'll probably move to short and Reynolds be assigned the utility infielder role.
The outfield has speedy Ed Murphy in center and Edo Vanni in left. Strange has been on the prowl for a replacement for Stetter.
He has about decided to start with pitcher Bob Roberts, who had some outfield experience in the Pioneer league a few seasons back The appointment is expected to be only temporary, however.
The catching looks capable even though the Tribe's No. 1 receiver last year, Joe Rossi, is with Portland. His place will be filled by Ed Nulty a reserve receiver who broke an ankle at the start of the '50 campaign and was lost for the year. Reserve receivers include Hank Hinz, an ex-prop star from Spokane, Lloyd Livernash, another local product, and Wilmer Meicenheimer, an 18-year-old recently signed Giant from Richland.
The pitching staff includes several of last year's starters. Heading the list is John Conant who won 17 and lost as many more a year ago. Dick Bishop (15-14), Ward Rockey (12-12), Jim Holder (9-9), Roberts (2-8), and Bank Weaver (1-2) are the others from last season.
Other flingers making bids are Wayne Brook, Joe Jankola, Fordean Tabor, Gene Burke and Hank Eckhart. Eckhart, a young left hander, is regarded by Strange as the "find" of the spring camp. Burke a strapping right hander, was formerly a basketball star at Eastern Washington College of Education.