Minor League President Hopeful Over Outlook
By JOE REICHLER
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., Dec. 4—(AP)—Mindful of war clouds hanging overhead and a 19 percent drop in attendance last year, President George M. Trautman sounded an optimistic note today when he declared that all of his 57 Minor leagues are prepared to operate in 1951.
The ruddy faced boss of more than 400 clubs, fully recovered from a serious illness that absented him from last year's convention, admitted that baseball was at the crossroads," but felt confident that "we can survive it just as we did during World War 1 and 2."
"We've got our problems, Trautman said grimly as the baseball people prepared to inaugurate their 49th annual convention with the customary draft. "But they all sink into insignificance when they are compared to the critical world situation."
"I have been asked to try and find out what the government can do for us," Trautman added, "and my answer always was what can we do for our government? "We are ready and willing at all times to do what Washington wants us to do. However, I don't think we'll be asked to stop playing."
Trautman pointed out that 100 Minor league players have been called into service thus far and he expected many more to follow. However, he was encouraged by the fact that every one of the Minors' 432 clubs was prompt in paying its protective fee to the association for the '51 season.
"Although all of our clubs are optimistic about starting the 1951 season," he said. "It is my guess that we probably will lose a few leagues simply because of the manpower shortage. There are not enough older men, most of our young ones will be drafted."
Trautman blamed the 8,000,000 drop in attendance last year to a combination of things. While he attributed most of the decline to the increase of radio broadcasting and televising of major league games into minor league cities, he laid some blame on unusually poor weather and poor playing talent. Three of the 60 leagues which operated in 1950 folded. They were in the New England, Colonial and Eastern Shore.
SEND BETTER TALENT
"I believe that major league organizations should operate more intelligently with their minor league affiliates," he said. "If they want to help their lower class clubs, they should send them better playing talent."
Trautman said of the 632 operating minor league clubs, 101 are owned outright by the majors. Another 125 have working agreements.
"Broadcasting and televising of big league games in our towns have hurt us tremendously," Trautman said. "We simply can't compete with the majors. Our folks are being alienated from their own parks.
"Baseball is at the crossroads. It's in trouble. The big fellows ought to be able to see that. It's about time they got wise to themselves. It is as much their problem as ours. They are ruining their own market for the sake of the dollar. Did you know that only seven of the majors' 600 players did not come up through the minor leagues?"
"I recognize that the majors are entitled somewhat to their market potential and that big league broadcasting is desired by the public. But at the same time, it is a matter of survival.
"I still like to think of baseball as a national institution. The American public cites its virtues."
PLAYER DRAFT TODAY
As the convention opened, the player draft was the first important topic to be tackled.
The gigantic lottery, in which some 5,000 players were up for selection for bids ranging from $6,500 to $400, began with only the triple, double and single A leagues making their picks. Class B and C clubs will have their turn tomorrow.
High on the agenda once the draft is out of the way will be the bonus rule. Best informed opinion is that the controversial law is doomed. Of all the leagues polled, all unofficially, not one was in favor of retaining the bonus rule which requires a youth receiving more than $6,000 in his first years to be kept by the big leagues after only one year of minor league experience.
Big Problem To Hold Draft Proof Players
Nearly 10,000 Players Necessary To Have Loops Operate
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., Dec. 4 (UP)—Baseball's minor leagues, the spawning grounds for the majors, began battling for their existence today.
A desperate manpower situation, brought on by the Korean crisis, left it doubtful how many of the 57 minor leagues which survived last year could carry on in 1951.
Part of the answer will come out today as the top minor league circuits, the Class Triple A, the Double A and the A draft players from the lower minors. These leagues are virtually sure to operate next year, even in the event of another full scale war.
When they get through, the lower minors will complete the drafting and when it's all over baseball executives will have a general idea of how many men they can count on to carry on.
President George Trautmann of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues — the minors—estimated it would lake nearly 10,000 ball players to make sure that all leagues in operation this year would be back in business next season.
"And we just don't know if we are going to have that many," he said. "We'll just have to wait and see."
The problem was for the minors to obtain—or hold on to—players who are military draft-proof. That is even going to be a problem for the majors—let alone the minors which opened their annual winter meetings today. The majors follow with their annual December sessions next week.
In all, some 3000 ball players were up for the minor league draft, but of that number at least half may be in the armed forces before the next baseball season opens.
Because of that, the number of those drafted was not expected to approach last year's figure of 222. Too many of those eligible for the draft also are subject to a more important draft—the one Uncle Sam has going on.
With the minor league draft prices varying from $6500 for Class AAA to $700 for Class C, few ball clubs were expected to claim players whose military status is in doubt. In other words, unless a player is over-age, saw World War II service or has dependenls he is a poor baseball draft risk. And most of the draft eligibles are subject to call to the armed forces.
Big Minors Draft Total of 26 Men
By LEO H. PETERSON
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., Dec. 4.—The 24 triple-A minor league teams drafted a total of 26 players from leagues of lower classifications today as the National Assn. of Profossional
Baseball Clubs began its annual meeting.
The total was four players less than these three top minor leagues—the Pacific Coast, the International and the American Assn.—drafted last year.
Buffalo, which finished last in the International League had the first selection and chose Pitcher Thomas Acker from Sioux City, Ia. Buffalo later selected [.400-hitting] Outfielder Frank Carswell from Texarkana.
Two former major leaguers, Hal Gregg and Shortstop Wes Hamner, were among the players drafted. Oakland chose Gregg from New Orleans, where he had been sent by the Pittsburgh Pirates. Hamner was selected from San Antonio by Seattle.
Other players included:
By Sacramento — Pitcher Walter Kress from Tulsa.
By Toronto—Outfielder Jame Morton from Dallas.
By Seattle—Pitcher Michael Clark from Houston [and Outfielder Marcus Rivers from Pensacola.]
By Hollywood—Outfielder Frank Marchio from Beaumont.
Having first choice in the minor league draft, the triple-A teams had no manpower problem for next year but the leagues of the lower class ifications were going to come face to face with player shortages before the draft is completed today and tomorrow.
Three WIL Players Drafted
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., Dec. 4—Greco's Garden will need a new name next year. It will be minus one Greco.
Dick Greco, the Western International League's leading slugger in 1950, has been drafted by Birmingham of the class AA Southern Association, one of three players from the league to be selected by a team in a higher classification in the annual minor league draft.
Outfielder Joe Burgher of Tacoma was grabbed by Oklahoma city of the class AA Texas League and catcher Al Ronning of Victoria went to Pueblo, Colo., of the class A Western League.
The Tri-City Braves emerged unscathed from the draft. Thus, aside from shortstop Buddy Peterson, who was sold to Beaumont of the AA Texas League, nearly the entire roster of the 1950 edition of the Braves will be available.
However, there are several who will probably not be with the team in the coming season. Merle Frick, pitcher-outfielder has gone into the armed forces. Outfielder Dick Faber, and Pitcher Gene Roenspie, have been optioned out three times, the maximum, by their owners, the Sacramento club, thus preventing their return.
Joe Orrell, another pitcher has asked for his outright release and will most likely not be in the lineup either.
Minor League Changes Told
St. PETERSBURG, Fla., Dec. 4— Here's a quick rundown of Monday's developments at the major-minor league baseball meetings:
George Selkirk, former new York Yankee outfielder, was named manager of the Yanks' Kansas city farm team in the American Association.
Zack Taylor signed to manage the St. Louis Browns for the third straight year.
Jimmy Adair was appointed third-base coach of the Chicago White Sox.
Rollle Hemsley quit as pilot of the Columbus Redbirds of the American Association.
Manager Joe Gordon of Sacramento of the Pacific Coast League said he hoped to have his former teammate, Ken Keltner, play third base for him in 1951.
Reliable sources said Dutch Meyer, former Detroit infielder, will be named new manager of the Dallas club of the Texas league.
The Cleveland Indians announced the appointment of Tom Downey as their west coast scout.
Ottawa paved the way for taking up the Jersey City franchise in International league by transferring its own franchise to Cornwall, Ontario, in the Border league. The New York Giants would control both clubs.
The classifications of two Texas baseball league also were advanced. The Gulf State League was
upped from class C to B and the Longhorn Loop from D to C.
Permission was given for Corpus Christi to transfer from the Rio Grande to the Gulf Coast League.
Presidents of 20 class D leagues met to discuss the 1950 baseball situation.
Oaks Ink Ott, Minor League Draft Complete
By JACK HAND
St. PETERSBURG, Fla., Dec. 5—(AP)—Mel Ott, the all-time home run king of the National league, returned to baseball Tuesday as manager of the Oakland club of the Pacific Coast league. Clarence (Brick) Laws, Oakland president, signed Ott to a two-year contract at an undisclosed salary.
The news about Ott overshadowed other developments at the baseball winter meetings as the minor leagues polished off their draft in two long sessions.
After a spending spree Monday by higher class leagues, the lower minors slumped way off Tuesday.
The minors selected a total of 148 players for $335,900. Last year 222 players were called up for $449,050.
The obvious great decline by the lower leagues, which depend heavily on teen-age players, was because of the war scare.
Class B leagues picked 61 players and two umpires for $56,000. The class C circuits drafted only 12 men for $98,400.
Minor league teams are permitted to make delayed player selections until 10 a.m. Wednesday.
Grandfather Picked By Vancouver
St. PETERSBURG, Fla., Dec. 5—Veteran Pacific Coast League southpaw Antonio (Tony) Freitas has been selected by the Vancouver Capilanos of the Western International League from Modesto of the class 'C' California League.
Freitas, a 42-year-old grandfather, posted a 20-6 record with Modesto last season. He had trials with the A's and Cincinnati in the 1930s. He was released early last year by Sacramento, having posted 228 wins in 16 years in the PCL.
Freitas was only one of two players drafted by WIL teams. Tacoma selected catcher Marlon Watson, 23, who batted .317 for El Centro of the class 'C' Sunset League in 1950.
St. PETERSBURG, Fla., Dec. 7—The Seattle Rainiers have disposed of utility infielder Leon Mohr, who played part of last season in Spokane in the Western International League. He has been sent outright to Oklahoma City of the Texas League.
Joe Montalvo, the catcher who leads the Puerto Rican winter league with a .385 average, has been purchased from Shreveport of the Texas loop.
They also traded .261-hitting second baseman Mickey Witek to the Atlanta Crackers of the AA Southern Association for second baseman Ellis Clary, a .301 hitter.
Majors Warned to Curtail Broadcasting
By Carl Lunquist
United Press Sports Writer
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., Dec. 6 (U.P.) — The minor leagues told the big leagues today to "quit flooding us with your radio broadcasts and telecasts or we'll be out of business and some day so will you."
At the end of a four-hour stormy session in which President George M. Trautman of the Minors laid his cards on the table, he emerged and said that "we have a three point program which we are going to present to the Majors at their meetings next week."
Trautman said he felt that the solution of the problem "fundamentally rests with individual Major League clubs themselves."
He was the instigator of the emergency meeting at which baseball commissioner A. B. Chandler also was present. The others representing the Majors were Will Harridge, president of the American League and Warren Giles, head of the Cincinnati Reds, who represented the National League. The other Minor league representatives besides Trautman were Herman White, president of the Northern league, Frank Shaughnessy, president of the International league, and Charley Hurth, president of the Southern association. "We just told them that we are the backbone of baseball and If you cut off interest in Minor league games by flooding us with big league games, you are going to wreck the whole structure," Trautman said.
Trautman said that at the Major league meetings next week the Minors would request three things and that they would have to get them all agreed upon or "a lot of us are going to be out of business."
"First of all we are going to ask the Individual Major League clubs to curtail their Minor league networks," Trautman said.
"Second, we want better supervision of the conduct of these networks. We want a little more consideration of the local situation — a little more looking after the little guy in minor league territory.
"Third, we want to limit television broadcasts to the home territory of the club involved. That is a tremendous potential problem."
Trautman said the minors had gone to the Department of Justice in Washington and had done everything possible to get restrictions put into effect on the virtually unrestrained broadcasting of big league games into minor league territory.
Minors See Hope of Radio Control
ST. PETERSBERG, Fla., Dec. 6 (AP) — Baseball's minor leagues Wednesday night received evideace of the majors' "sympathetic attitude" to their radio-television problem.
After a three-hour conference with Commissioner A. B. Chandler and a major-minor league committee, President George Trautman of the minors expressed hope of a solution.
"It is the conclusion of the committee." said Trautman "that fundamentally the solution of this problem rests with the individual major league clubs."
Trautman outlined a three-point program that he will take in person to the American and National league meetings next week:
1. The major league clubs will be asked to curtail their own major league networks.
2. The majors will be asked for better supervision of the conduct of their own broadcast outlets.
3. Majors will be asked to limit television outlets to their own territories.
The committee has been continued and will meet at some future unannounced future date.
Trautman indicated the minors did not object vigorously to the so called "game of the day" broadcast as they did not blanket their territory as much as the majors network.
Trautman recently went to Washington to discuss the radio situation with the attorney general He said Wednesday night's conclusions were not a result of that conference.
Time after time he pointed out that this must be a matter settled by major league clubs and not by leagues.
The minors claim widespread broadcasts of major league games in their cities was an important factor in their 19 per cent attendance decline. They are asking the majors, who control the rights, for relief.
Indications were that the majors, alert to the situation would make concessions.
The department of justice is interested from a restraint of trade possibility standpoint. It has made no public rule on the matter but has discussed the problem with big league lawyers and executives several times.
The high school rule, under fire for some time, probably will be scrapped when the contract rans out December 31. 1951. Many baseball men want the right to talk to and negotiate with high school players before they graduate. Under the present rule, no high school boy can be signed until he or his class graduates.
Warren Giles, Cincinnati president, said baseball should continue to encourage schoolboys to complete their education and retain their athletic eligibility, but asked that clubs be not restricted in discussing terms with the boys, particularly during their senior year.
It seemed to be pretty much ansure thing that the much-debated bonius rule will be abolished by an overwhelming vote. Under this rule clubs were sharply restricted in movement of players who received more than a set sum for signing as free agents—$6,000 for a big league club.
Bonus Rule Killed By Ball Moguls
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., Dec. 7 (UP)—The Minor Leagues today abandoned the controversial bonus rule.
The 57 Minor league presidents voted unanimously to rescind the rule, climaxing a two year fight by the Major League clubs to get it off the books.
There was no discussion when the amendment came up for vote.
[here's the earlier story]
By LEO H. PETERSEN
United Press Sports Editor
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., Dec. 7 (UP) — The most controversial legislation in the history of organized baseball, the bonus rule, finally was doomed today.
The presidents of the 57 Minor leagues were ready to vote it off the books in their final executive meeting of the annual convention of the National Association of professional baseball clubs — the Minors.
The action will climax a two year fight to have the rule, which has cost Major league club owners hundreds of thousands of dollars rescinded.
For two years most of the Major league club owners have been fighting to have the rule repealed. But the Minor leagues, with the support of President Warren Giles of the Cincinnati Reds, had managed to keep it in effect.
Its fate was sealed, however, when Giles switched his stand and President George Trautman said there was no question but that it would be voted out today.
SOME BUSTS TOO
A three-quarters vote — or 43 of the minor league presidents — is necessary for repeal. Trautman predicted the vote to rescind the rule would be close to unanimous.
Because the rule is part of the major-minor league agreement, the Majors at their winter meetings here next week, also must vote formally to rescind it. But that is only a formality.
The rule has been on the books for five years. Under it any player signed for more than $6,000 by the Major league clubs was designated as a bonus player and he was subject to certain restrictions which meant for the most part that the club was stuck with the player for the rest of his baseball career. There were exceptions to it, but in every case it meant the club which signed the player lost a big chunk of money.
The rule has cost owner Bob Carpenter of the Philadelphia Phillies the most money over the years, although none of the three highest bonus players are with his club. The record bonus was the $100,000 which the Pirates gave to sign pitcher Paul Pettit, the California schoolboy, last winter. Next came the $75,000 which the Detroit Tigers paid to sign catcher Frank House and then the $65,000 which the Boston Braves shelled out to get pitcher Johnny Antonelli to sign a contract. Thus far, those three players have been busts.
Baseball Officials Warned To Be Set for Emergency
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., Dec. 7 —(AP)—Baseball Commissioner A. B. (Happy) Chandler told the minor leaguers at their annual banquet Thursday night to be ready for any emergency and make their plans accordingly.
"We're living in terrible times," he said. "We've got to look facts in the face. We've got to be ready for every emergency. We must be prepared to face the uncertainty and you fellows must make your plans accordingly."
Chandler denied, in effect, statements attributed to him that total mobilization was planned and that baseball may have to cease operations.
"I understand I've been quoted as saying we're going to have total mobilization;' he said. I don't claim to know. When you deny something it's like being asked, "when did you stop beating your wife?"
''I don't know whether have total mobilization," the commissioner said. "Even if we do I have no idea what effects it would have on baseball."
During a recent visit with President
Truman in Washington. Chandler said he assured the president that baseball was prepared to do anything asked of it in the event of a third world war.
"Baseball never has and never will ask for any special favors," he said.
Chandler said the president has told him every effort would be made to keep baseball going, and that he hoped the time would never come when baseball would be asked to cease operations.
"There was total mobilization in the last war." Chandler reminded, "and baseball survived it."
The representatives of the 571 minor leagues, more than a thousand baseball executives and official left the banquet in a sober frame of mind.
One baseball executive, who asked not to be identified, put his fears this way:
"If a third world war comes the people will realize that this is it. In the last war a few fought for many. This time everybody will be in it and everything else will have to be forgotten for the time being."
Central Loop To Operate On Full Basis
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., Dec. 4—(AP)—The Central baseball league is planning to operate at full strength in 1951 and may even try to expand.
The six-team league voted unanimously yesterday to operate all teams again next season and if possible try to take in two more teams.
The league also re-elected Tom J. Halligan of Flint as president for his fourth term. Halligan won out over two other candidates, Frank Colley of Columbus, President of the Ohio-Indiana league, and William Corey, president of the Zanesville baseball club.
The league also reinstated the Saginaw club. Earlier the league had ordered its franchise dropped after the club had some financial difficulties. The lengue said the team had settled things financially to its liking.
The vote to operate next summer apparently answered the question about whether owner John Vanderplow of the Muskegon club would try to sell his franchise.
Vanderplow declined to comment on his plans for next season, but indicated that the league's action had settled him on his plans.
The league said Erie and Johnstown of the Middle Atlantic lengue had shown some interest in entering the Central League. But club owners said they didn't intend to go out to grab the teams away from the Middle Atlantic loop.
Jim Williams was elected league vice-president for a one-year term. He is president-owner of the Grand Rapids club.
Deans' Lease on Lubbock Baseball Club Probed
By United Press
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., Dec. 4.—Minor league president George Trautman announced he planned an investigation of the reported leasing of the Lubbock West Texas-New Mexico League franchise to Dizzy and Paul Dean.
Trautman said baseball regulations prohibit leasing of a franchise.