Professional Baseball Slated For Tri-City Area This Year
By Don Carlson
KENNEWICK—On April 18, 1950, the Tri-City Braves Baseball club will open the season in their new $100.000 park in the Kennewick highlands and professional baseball for the Tri-City area will be an enjoyable reality.
Dick Richards, vice-president and general manager of the club which was organized late in 1949, said:
“Baseball fans in the Tri-City area deserve the best in baseball entertainment — and the Braves will strive to furnish this for them. We are looking forward to giving the fans a successful, enjoyable season.”
Professional baseball for the area germinated in the summer of 1949 when a group of business-like sportsmen, upon learning that the Wenatchee Chiefs were interested in a new location, formed the Tri-City Baseball association. Les Babcock, Kennewick businessman, was elected president. The group sold stock in the association and succeeded in getting the owners of the franchise of the Chiefs, a Western International league team, to transfer to the Tri-City area. Construction of the baseball park started immediately.
A First-Division Club
The Chiefs, a first division ball club, were handicapped by a small population center in Wenatchee, and the owners agreed that the Tri-City area would be an ideal home location.
General Manager Richards said:
“The Tri-City area has long been in need of professional baseball because of the limited entertainment facilities. The Braves feel they have the responsibility of giving the fans here a winning ball club and we are hoping the fans will assume the responsibility of actively supporting the team.”
Richards has put a major portion of his life on the diamond, and he has seen the sport from both the player's and manager's angle. In 1927 he played as an infielder with Albany in the New York-Pennsylvania, league and next with Havana in the Cuban Winter league (batting .311). In 1929 he suffered a back injury while playing with Columbus (Ohio) in the American association and his playing career came to an untimely close.
Having worked in vaudeville the nation over, in the movies in Hollywood, and the advertising game in San Francisco, Richards returned to baseball in the early forties by organizing boys' baseball leagues in San Francisco and Los Angeles.
In 1945 Richards returned to professional baseball when with Vern Johnson the purchase of the Yakima franchise was completed.
In 1948 the Yakima franchise was sold to the San Francisco Seals and a syndicate was formed to purchase the Wenatchee Chiefs, now transferred to the Tri-City area as the Braves.
Train In California
Spring training for the Braves begins in Lindsay, California on March 20, and the association hopes to have the park in the Kennewick Highlands completed by April 1.
The $100,000 park will be one of the best-lighted fields on the West coast, which, the owners feel, will spur attendance for the 80 home games to be played by the Braves.
The park will seat about 10,000 fans, and will include grandstands, 625 box seats, concession space, an adequate parking lot outside the grounds, modern locker rooms, and a press box. Distances from home plate to the right and left field fences will be 340 feet, and to center, 400 feet—or as Richards put it “a mighty clout.”
-Walla Walla Union-Bulletin, Sun., Feb. 19, 1950