Random notes from the Far West League, August 1948

As I scrolled through microfilm of the Marysville Appeal-Democrat from the summer of 1948, looking for information about Spencer Harris (see previous post), I came across some other tidbits worth sharing.  I haven’t prepared these in depth, because my time at the California State Library was limited that day, so more details are forthcoming as this project continues.

July 1, 1948: There was a story on page 7 about the prospect of television coming to the Sacramento Valley.  At that time Northern California did not have a single TV station…the first, KPIX, wouldn’t go on their air until Christmas Eve 1948.  Much has been written about the role television played in the reduction of minor league attendance (and eventually, the reduction in teams and leagues) in the early ’50s.  The Far West League’s history came during this transition period.

August 5: Santa Rosa rookie lefthander Bill LaThorpe pitched the first no-hit, no-run game in FWL history, striking out 17 as the Pirates defeated the Roseville Diamonds in Roseville, where the team had just relocated from Pittsburg.  Future major leaguer (in both the U.S. and Japan) Al Grunwald hit a grand slam to support LaThorpe, who improved his season record to 10-2 on the way to a final mark of 15-4.  It was one of his four shutouts on the season; that would hold up as the all-time FWL single season record.

August 13: The Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro American League played an exhibition game in Yuba City, across the Feather River from Marysville, against that city’s team in the semi-pro Sacramento Valley League.

August 14: Vince DiMaggio (not the one who was Joe and Dom’s older brother), normally an outfielder for the Roseville Diamonds, made his first start as a pitcher and went the distance, throwing a four-hitter in a 3-2 Roseville win (but did I write down the opponent?  no).  DiMaggio did not pitch the 45 innings necessary to get his stats published in the 1949 Sporting News Baseball Guide, but after 1948 he spent the rest of his limited pro career (all in the FWL) as a pitcher.  He set the FWL single-season record for innings pitched with 269 for Eugene in 1950, when he went 14-11.  This DiMaggio (Vincent S.) must have had some kind of arm; he had 11 outfield assists in just 44 outfield games in 1948.

Not Jules Verne Hudson

August 18: Eighteen-year-old lefty Jules Hudson (full name, Jules Verne Hudson) of Oroville struck out 22 Willows Cardinals in an 11-inning 4-3 victory.  Hudson fanned 20 in the first nine innings.  He led the league with 237 strikeouts in 167 innings; he also walked 159!  Hudson doesn’t seem to have played pro ball in 1949; he returned in 1950, missed the next three seasons (perhaps for military service?), then returned to play from 1954-56 but never got above the Class AA level.

Well, those are some of the things that came up while racing through a reel of microfilm.  It’s the kind of thing that makes me look forward to the other treasures I may unearth in researching the history of the Far West League.

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