Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Friday, June 15, 1951

               W  L Pct. GB
Vancouver ... 40 16 .714 —
Spokane ..... 37 20 .649 3½
Salem ....... 28 29 .473 13½
Wenatchee ... 24 29 .453 14½
Tri-City .... 24 29 .453 14½
Victoria .... 24 31 .436 15½
Yakima ...... 22 31 .428 16½
Tacoma ...... 22 34 .393 18

WENATCHEE, June 15—Steady pitching from Lou Tost hurled the Wenatchee Chiefs to a 6-3 win over the Tri-City Braves in a Western International league baseball game Friday night.
Wenatchee got off to an early lead with two runs in the second and two in the fourth. Will Hafey's triple, Lil Arnerich's double and Tost's single accounted for two in the first inning.
In the fourth, Hafey poled a bases-empty home run. A walk and singles by Len Neal and Buddy Hjelmaa sent on the second run. The Chiefs scored single runs in the fifth and eighth to insure the victory.
Tri-City tallied twice in the sixth when Vic Buccola's double drove in a run and Baccola scored when Don Fracchia threw the ball into the dugout. The Braves added another in the eighth when Nick Pesut doubled home Sam Kanalos, who had singled.
Buddy Peterson, Tri-City infielder, and Charlie Peterson, Tri-City manager were ejected in the fourth over a dispcted can at third. An inning later, Cy Greenlaw and Jack Brewer, Tri-City hurlers, were tossed out after riding the umpires from the bench.
Tri-City ......... 000 002 010—3 7 1
Wenatchee ..... 020 210 01x—6 10 4
McCollum and Pesut; Tost and Neal.

VANCOUVER, B.C., June 15—Mr. and Mrs. Vancouver flocked Friday night to the new $550,000 Capilano stadium and watched a happy baptism as Vancouver staggered Salem 10-3. Some of the fans were standing. The stadium seats 6,500 and the crowd was estimated unofficially at roughly 7,000.
Salem .......... 000 002 001—3 9 4
Vancouver ... 013 010 32x—10 13 0
Bevens, Hemphill (8) and Beard; Snyder and Ritchie.

Tacoma .... 400 002 000—6 9 0
Yakima ..... 000 010 030—4 9 1
Clark, Knezovich (8) and Lundberg; Boemler, Erickson (1), Anderson (6), Savarese (9) and Brenner.

Spokane .... 010 003 300—7 6 1
Victoria ..... 302 000 000—5 6 9
Palm, Wyatt (5) and Nulty; Marshall, Smith (6), Hedgecock (9) and Marcucci.

No Youngster, But
[Vancouver News Herald, June 15/51]
There is a nasty rumor circulating that Carl Gunnarson broke into organized baseball the same day as Walter Johnson, though the two incidents took place several thousand miles apart.
Before this story gets around too much, we wish to stop it. It's a ridiculous piece of slander.
It happens that Gunnarson is a successful business man who often finds himself before the public eye. As such he is open to criticism and it just seems to be human nature that whenever you run into a successful business man, you run into countless stories about him, mostly no praise-worthy and often exaggerated beyond reason.
Gunnarson's business is pitching baseballs for the Capilanos. He does this from the trade terms "the wrong side." Otherwise known as the left hand.
True, Carl is no spring chicken. Originally he came from Mozart, Saskatchewan. When? Well, Carl admits it happened in 1920, January 1st to be exact.
According to his book-keeping, that makes him 31. There are guesses to the contrary, mostly because it hasn't been written yet to the contrary of baseball that a player ever gave his correct age. However, when challenged Carl will allow that his birth certificate is open for all to see, so we'll leave him with his 31 years and no questions asked.
Outsmarts 'em now
Carl's introduction to Vancouver was during the war years when shipyard baseball was the best we had to offer. In turn, Gunnarson was about the best pitcher the league had to offer.
About a year before the pros came back, the "Gunner" got his big chance. A shot at a pitching job with the Coast League Portland Beavers.
He did right well at it, too. In his first year, he was one of the Bevo' most reliable starters, but the following season when some of the pros started to trickle back from the wars, Carl was sent out to the bullpen to earn his pay.
Even then — this in 1945 — Carl was no youngster. His fast ball, which at one time had crackled for him, was starting to lose its zip. The ticket to the bullpen was just a stopping over point on the way to the Western International League.
The WIL resumed operation after a four-year war halt, in 1946. Gunnarson, by this time, was a member of theSalem Senators.
As the years wore on, the "Gunner" kept getting starter. He was making up for the loss of his "big pitch" by knowledge of the batters' weaknesses and by keeping them off balance with a variety of "stuff" they never hoped to see again.
However, it seemed as we were about to start the 1951 season that one old face would bwe removed from the Capilano roster. It was almost a cinch to be Gunnarson's, for the veteran had pitched only 69 innings while winning two and losing the same the year before.
Nobody paid much attention to him in Penticton. When the Caps' left-handed pitching was brought up, we spoke of Bob McLean first and added a fond hope that Billy Whyte would surprise. Gunnarson, however, might as well have been training at Brockton Point for all the notice he got.
A proud record
As it turned out, this is the way Carl wanted it. He put more miles on his "puppies" than Schuster put on the air the townspeople had loaned him. By the time spring training had ended, Mr. Gunnarson was in the finest shape of his career.
Now, there was just one more thing he had to achieve. He had to convince his "skipper", Schuster, that he had the necessary ingredients to earn a steady job.
Early in the year, the "Gunner" picked up three straight victories, all of them in relief and none of them particularly brilliant.
One day, when the Caps were due to play Tacoma, Schuster announced Gunnarson as his starting pitcher.
"Who?" a writer asked, "is going to hold him up for the last five innings?"
"Don't ask me," Schuster grinned. "He asked for the chance to start and he's getting it."
The "Gunner" responded with a five-hitter, allowing the opposition one run in as nice an exhibition of pitching as you'd ever hope to see. In fact, Carl should still have an unbeaten record for '51 had it not been for a careless fielding error on his own part in which he allowed four unanswered runs and lost 4-3.
As it is, Carl's record is five wins and one loss, and who is there to say that Mr. Gunnarson is not the "comeback of the year" story?

WILfan note: Carl's age seems to have been a matter of debate until the end. Here's an AP story from 1960.

Death Takes Gunnarson
PALM SPRINGS, Calif., April 13 — Carl Gunnarson, 44, trainer for the Vancouver Mounties of the Pacific Coast League, had a fatal heart attack during a spring training baseball game here yesterday.
Gunnarson, who was trainer for the Seattle Rainiers in 1955 and 1956, was rushed to a hospital after complaining of chest pains.
He died shortly after the game with the Rainiers ended.

But two UPI stories on his death report his age as 42. Regardless, he was less than forthright when he claimed he was born in 1930. But, then, age-fibbing is an old baseball custom, isn't it?
Carl spent 1957 as the business manager and trainer for the Salem Senators under G.M. Bill Brenner, his manager during part of his time with the Caps.

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