By Jack Hewins [April 7, 1951]
SEATTLE — Ah, what a league 'twould be this summer, friends, if Schulmerich were only there.
A lot of spice went out of the Western International circuit when Big Wes swapped his bat for an oar and went to guidin' fishermen. The loop is due to live again now that Schuster has come home.
William (The Rooster) Schuster—in case you're not abreast of things—has taken on the responsibility of managing the Vancouver Capilanos, although some will hold Vancouver responsible. Some will also say he has put new blood in the league, but others will call it tabasco and umpires will settle for vinegar.
Already the Canadian metropolis is chucklin' in gleeful anticipation and the only contact it's had with Schuster was when he picked up his uniform, said hello to Boss Bob Brown, smiled for the photographers and outlined his training policy.
“I understand there's a beer parlor in our hotel at Penticton,” he said. “Well, it won't be off limits to the ball club.” Schuster paused to let the shocked gasps subside and added: “When my players have finished a day on the diamond I don't think they'll feel much like celebratin'.”
Schuster was in the Coast league so long most of the parks wanted to charge him rent. Umpires came to accept him as an occupational illness, like a sty on the eye or a blister on the indicator finger. “I never,” says Wild William innocently, “have trouble with umpires—only with those characters who masquerade as umpires.”
As for managers—well, it was a manager and not an umpire who threw Schuster out of his last
Coast league park. Paul Richards, who put in a term with Schuster and Seattle in 1950, never quite understood a ballplayer who could enliven a dull moment (of which there was no dearth in Seattle) by scrambling up the wire backstop and making faces at the fans.
A couple of games before the end of the season William hauled off and pegged a baseball into the enemy dugout from whence had come some uncomplimentary language. Not trusting himself to carry the word, Richards sent a messenger to tell Schuster to get off the field, out of the park and out of town.
Explaining it now and without rancor, shortstop Schuster says he merely threw a curve which the first baseman failed to come up with. And, he'll want you to know, there never was any hard feelings between him and Richards. They just didn't see eye to eye.
“It is true," says Mister S., “that I pull some funny stuff, but it's strictly intentional.” And Keith Matthews, writing in the Vancouver News-Herald, has warned his readers the Caps might have the world's worst ball team but there'll never be a dull moment.
Wes Schulmerich kept the league fully stocked with laughs in its early years. He was a master of the impromptu gag—when he tried to retire from playing and became a full-time baseball clown, with repertoire, his act lost its punch. He needed the spur of the moment.
Once while Wes was managing Lewiston his second baseman, Ernie Bishop, came to bat with men on base. Ernie stepped into the box and looked down the first base line for a signal, but Wes had vanished from the coaching box. Ernie stepped back and turned to look at the bench, still without locating the manager.
Just then the Schulmerich voice boomed over the field: “Hit it when you're ready, Ernie!” Then Bish spotted him. Big Wes had gone into the stands, appropriated a vendor's rig and was selling peanuts.
Schuster, too, is everready with a quip. The other day he poled a practice pitch out of the park at Penticton and turned to Matthews. “Tell the folks back home,” he said, “I ain't just a Schuster that uster.”
WILFan note: Hewins was a sportswriter based out of AP Seattle. He started doing features for, presumably, weekend newspapers, and this morphed into a once-a-week column of Pacific Northwest sports news about 1950. This is the first column I've been able to find dealing at length of anything do with the WIL.