Youth, Hustle Keynote of Spokane Club
By Bob Johnson
Spokane Daily Chronicle
SPOKANE—The Spokane Indians are attempting the big switch-over this season from age and experience to youth and hustle as they prepare for the opening of the Western International league campaign.
Manager Alan Strange, the ex-Bremerton boss who will be making his first managerial start with Spokane has promised the fans a young ball club with lots of hustle and nothing else. Just how successful he's going to be depends a great deal on the players he gathers during the next week to fill the several vacancies still existing.
Gone are such oldsters as Larry Barton, Tuck Stainback. Jim Richardson and Jack Calvey.
Strange thinks he has found Calvey's shortstop replacement in Chuck Davis, a rookie the Seattle Rainiers believe has a lot of promise. He hasn't been in camp long enough for Strange to get a definite line on him.
No Replacement Yet
Nobody has yet been found to take Richardson's berth at third and the first base spot held last season by Barton still is a question mark.
Art Worth from Victoria has been working at the initial sack and has looked fair. He hits a long ball. Another first baseman was added this week in the person of Norman Garbar, up from the Stockton, Calif., class C team.
Strange answered holdout George Valine's request for more green stuff last week-end when he signed Charlie Bushong, a veteran second sacker who played with Bremerton last year. Valine had been a keystone mainstay for Spokane the past two seasons.
The outfield and catching appears set with the addition of three new flychasers. Ed Murphy, who saw brief action for San Francisco last season and was at Bremerton in 1947 and '48, will fill the shoes of Stainback in centerfield. He'll be flanked by George Stassi, up from the Texas Big Sttate league, in left field, and Sol Israel, who was in right for Victroia last year.
Outfielder Paul Zaby, who hit .341 for the Tribe in '49, hasn't come to terms. He'll fit into the fly chasing department if, and when, he does see the light financially.
Joe Rossi returns as the first string catcher. Like Zaby, he hit at a .341 clip last year and should provide the batting punch again this season. Backstop reliefer Ed Nulty is a hand man to have aroudn to play in the infield or outfield. He hit .333 during the 29 games he played last season.
Pitching isn't Strange's biggest worry although he's combing the countryside for a portside starter. Among the veterans of last season are Bill Webowski, the team's big winner with 20 victories. The pint-sized flinger has won 52 in three seasons with the Tribe.
John Conant, who had a big year with Bremerton in 1948 when he pitched 23 triumphs, is counted on to do better than his 15 of last season. Another 15-game winner returning is Dick Bishop, who is just a year out of USC.
Pitcher Wants Change
Ken Kimball who won 11 and lost 9 as a freshman, and Lee Howard, a lefty who had a 5-4 record, are holdouts. Howard, who hits a long ball when he connects, wants to get away from mount work and devote his time to the initial sack.
Strange has several rookie hurlers who are going to get plenty of attention. Jim Neeley, with two previous tries in the WI, has been signed again. Ward Rockey, ex-WSC hurler, is looking good. Jim Holder from Enumclaw shows promise and so does Wayne Brock, a chunky flinger from Pacific Lutheran college.
Spokane took a flock of rookies to spring camp at Lewiston, most of them out of the semi-pro circuit here. Looking best among them but not counted on for regular action was Les Taylor at third and Ron Hoy at second. Hoy is not too fancy in the field but he has wielded one of the biggest bats in camp.
Strange has promised a new deal for the Spokane fans who wouldn't be unhappy if the deck contained nine aces. At this writing, however, the outlook is for something less than that number.