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Baseball Lore, NW Style 

by Howie Stalwick


Baseball, more than any other sport, is consumed by numbers. Batting averages, earned run averages, slugging percentages, fielding percentages, strikeouts-to-walks ratios, runs batted in with men in scoring position during midweek night games when rain falls at stadiums with retractable roofs ... you name it, and if it involves numbers, baseball has it. For better or worse -- literally.


Professional baseball players, teams and managers with ties to the Pacific Northwest have posted countless good, bad and ugly numbers since the arrival of the railroad led to the creation of the region's first minor league in 1890. Spokane (then Spokane Falls), Seattle, Tacoma and Portland formed the original Pacific Northwest League.


Some numbers of note -- from one to 100 -- are listed below for professional baseball history in the Northwest. Unless otherwise noted, statistics are for the major leagues, and references to Vancouver are to the city in Washington state.





1 -- Major league batting champions raised in the Northwest. Former Seattle Mariners first baseman John Olerud, who grew up in Seattle and Bellevue, led the American League with a .363 average for Toronto in 1993.





2 -- Northwest teams in the West Coast Negro Baseball Association. The six-team league, consisting of the Seattle Steelheads, Portland Roses and four California teams, folded during its first season in 1946. Track and field legend Jesse Owens owned the Roses.





3 -- Home runs hit by Babe Ruth (in nine at-bats -- he batted fourth and ninth in the order for a team of local players) during a postseason barnstorming game in Seattle in 1924.





4 -- Teams in the Inland Empire League when its only season ended July 12, 1908 "due to extreme heat," according to The Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball. The La Grande (Ore.) Babes were in first place with a 19-12 record.





5 -- Seasons in which Tony Gwynn had 200 hits in the major leagues. Gwynn won eight National League batting titles after leading the Northwest League in hitting as a minor league rookie with Walla Walla in 1981.





6 -- Rank in career saves (347) for Vancouver native Randy Myers.





7 -- Home runs hit by Northwestern League Triple Crown winner Mike Lynch of Tacoma in 1906.





8 -- Home runs hit by current New York Mets star Mike Piazza in his first pro season with Salem in the Northwest League in 1989. Piazza holds the career record for home runs by a major league catcher.





9 -- Spokane Indians who died in a bus crash on Snoqualmie Pass on June 24, 1946. The death toll remains the highest in a single incident in North American professional sports history.





10 -- Dollars paid by Spokane Falls left fielder Fred Jevne after he was fined by umpire W.A. Cragin for punching the umpire in the mouth after Cragin called Jevne out on strikes in an 1890 game.





11 -- Games won (against 44 losses) by the South Bend River Rats in the Washington State League in 1911. South Bend's .200 winning percentage remains one of the worst in minor league history.





12 -- Games played by future Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson for the Lewiston Broncs to start his pro career in 1966. Jackson hit .292 with two home runs in the Northwest League.





13 -- Victories for Gene Brabender in 1969, when he led the Seattle Pilots in wins in their only major league season. Brabender, who presumably received minimal grief about his last name due to his 6-foot-5-1/2-inch, 225-pound frame, finished 13-14.





14 -- Games won by the Hoquiam Perfect Gentlemen -- yes, that was their nickname -- to win the Southwest Washington League in 1904.





15 -- Career high for victories by Richland native Gene Conley, who was 15-14 for the Boston Red Sox in 1962. Conley, a baseball and basketball star at WSU, is the only athlete who has ever won championship rings in both the World Series (1957 Milwaukee Braves) and the NBA Finals (1959-61 Boston Celtics).





16 -- Days between Pacific Coast League no-hitters thrown by Spokane's Alan Foster against Seattle in 1967.





17 -- Strikeouts for Dick Joyce in his 1965 pro debut with Lewiston in the Northwest League. Joyce struck out the first nine Salem batters.





18 -- Hits in his first minor season for future Mariners legend Edgar Martinez, who hit just .173 in 32 games with Bellingham in the Northwest League in 1983.





19 -- Record for strikeouts by a left-handed pitcher in one game, set by Steve Carlton and tied twice by Seattle's Randy Johnson in 1997.





20 -- Games won by Meridian, Idaho, native Vern Law for the world champion Pittsburgh Pirates in 1960.





21 -- Washington cities that have been home to minor league teams.





22 -- Games won by Spokane pitcher Bob Kinnaman to lead the Western International League in 1941. Five years later, he was one of nine Indians killed when the team's bus crashed.





23 -- Career-high games won by Chehalis native Vean Gregg in his rookie year in the majors with Cleveland in 1911. One year earlier, Gregg set PCL single-season records with 14 shutouts and three one-hitters for Portland. The records still stand.





24 -- Career-high games won by Hall of Fame pitcher Stan Coveleski with Cleveland in 1919 and 1920. The spitballer starred for Spokane and Portland in the minors.





25 -- Victories for local teen sensation Fred Hutchinson of the PCL's Seattle Rainiers in 1938.





26 -- PCL record for triples, set by Spokane's Willie Davis in 1960.





27 -- Home runs hit by Lee Stanton to lead the first Mariners team in 1977.





28 -- Home runs hit by future Mariners manager Lou Piniella during his last three minor league seasons (1966-68 in the PCL with Portland).





29 -- Stolen bases for Rickey Henderson as a minor league rookie with Boise in the Northwest League in 1976. Henderson holds the career record of 1,406 steals in the major leagues.





30 -- Average strikeouts per season for ex-Portland outfielder Harry Heilmann during the four seasons he won American League batting championships with the Detroit Tigers in the 1920s. The Hall of Famer hit between .393 and .403 to win his four titles.





31 -- Hits and runs for Tacoma in a 31-12 Northwestern League victory over Butte, Mont., on June 17, 1917.





32 -- Career high for home runs by Hall of Famer Earl Averill, a native of Snohomish. Averill hit 32 homers in 1931 and '32 with Cleveland.





33 -- Consecutive batters retired by the Mariners' John Montague during three relief appearances July 22-30, 1977.





34 -- Games finished out of first place (34.5, officially) by the 1925 Portland Beavers, despite winning 92 games. The Beavers wound up 92-104, but PCL champion San Francisco was 128-71 during a period when PCL teams played extended schedules.





35 -- Percentage points under .200 (.165) that Pilots starting shortstop Ray Oyler batted in 1969.





36 -- Career high in victories for Hall of Famer Walter Johnson, who went 36-7 for the 1913 Washington Senators. The Senators originally signed Johnson off a semipro team in Weiser, Idaho.





37 -- Rookie saves record, set by Seattle's Kazuhiro Sasaki in 2000.





38 -- Age of knuckleballer Jim Bouton -- a 21-game winner for the New York Yankees in 1961 -- when he compiled a 5-1 record in nine games (five complete) with Portland in the Northwest League in 1977. Bouton authored the baseball epic Ball Four while pitching for the Seattle Pilots most of the 1969 season.





39 -- Minor league record for victories in a single season, tied by Seattle's Rube Vickers in 1906. Vickers finished 39-20 and set PCL records with 526 innings pitched and 408 strikeouts.





40 -- Home runs hit by former Spokane Indians star Bill Madlock during the four seasons he won National League batting championships with the Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates from 1975-83.





41 -- Years after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in North American professional baseball (with Montreal, the Brooklyn Dodgers' farm club in the International League) before two black managers faced each other in a professional baseball game in North America. Bend's Mel Roberts and Boise's Derrel Thomas squared off June 27, 1987, in the Northwest League.





42 -- Average number of games pitched (primarily starts) by Dick "Kewpie" Barrett during his first eight years with the PCL's Seattle Rainiers. Barrett averaged 25 complete games and 22 wins during that span, from 1935-42.





43 -- Career hits in 115 major league games (.201 career average) for Carbonado native Paul Strand, who set a professional baseball record with 325 hits for Salt Lake City of the PCL in 1923. The Bees played 199 games. Strand's other minor league stops included Seattle, Portland and Spokane.





44 -- Home runs hit by National League leader Willie McCovey in 1963 with San Francisco. The Giants briefly shipped a slumping McCovey to the PCL's Tacoma Giants in 1960, one year after he was named National League Rookie of the Year.





45 -- Home runs hit by Vancouver native and current Mariner Richie Sexson for the Milwaukee Brewers in both 2001 and 2003.





46 -- Age of Hall of Fame pitcher Joe "Iron Man" McGinnity when he won both games of a Northwestern League doubleheader against Vancouver (British Columbia) on May 12, 1917. McGinnity was player-manager and part-owner of the Butte (Mont.) Miners.





47-- Years separating Portland's last two PCL championships (1936 and 1983).





48 -- Career high for homers by Frank Howard, a former Mariners coach and Spokane Indians player and manager. Howard hit 48 home runs for the 1969 Washington Senators.





49 -- Home runs hit by Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew for Minnesota in 1964 and 1969. Killebrew, who grew up in Payette, Idaho, hit more home runs in the major leagues in a season (49) and career (573) than any other Northwest native.





50 -- Career high for extra-base hits by Ichiro Suzuki of the Mariners (2001 and '03). He had 47 last season, when he collected a record 262 hits.





51 -- Errors committed by Seattle Rainiers shortstop Maury Wills in the PCL in 1957, four years before he won the first of two consecutive Gold Gloves with the Los Angeles Dodgers.





52 -- Stolen bases for Bump Wills (Maury's son) with the Texas Rangers in 1978. The younger Wills starred at Central Valley High School in the Spokane Valley.





53 -- Average stolen bases for Seattle native Billy North in his first four full seasons in the major leagues (1973-76) with Oakland.





54 -- Age of former Seattle Pilots and Portland Beavers pitcher George Brunet when he retired as a player in 1989. Brunet holds the career record for minor league strikeouts (3,175).





55 -- Age of legendary Negro Leagues pitcher Satchell Paige when he appeared in five games (0-0, 2.88) for the PCL's Portland Beavers in 1961.





56 -- Single-season record for homers by a Mariner, set by Ken Griffey Jr. in 1987 and tied by Griffey in 1988.





57 -- Victories for the 1966 Tri-City Atoms, managed by future Hall of Famer Duke Snider. The Atoms won the Northwest League with a 57-27 record.





58 -- Pioneer League record for homers, set by Tony Robello of Pocatello (Idaho) during a 124-game season in 1939.





59 -- American League record for road wins, set by the 2001 Mariners. Seattle tied the major league record of 116 victories overall.





60 -- Mariners record for stolen bases in one season, set by Harold Reynolds in 1987.





61 -- Consecutive-games hitting streak -- the longest in PCL history -- that 18-year-old Joe DiMaggio was building when he went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts against Spokane semipro pitcher Eddie Gesselman during an exhibition game in Spokane in 1933.





62 -- Ron Cey's league-leading RBI total for Tri-City of the Northwest League in 1968. Cey, a Tacoma native, played at Washington State before starring in the big leagues.





63 -- Age of longtime Yakima player, manager and resident Hub Kittle when he pitched one inning of scoreless relief for Triple-A Springfield (Ill.) in 1980.





64 -- Wins for the 1973 Eugene Emeralds, who finished 64-79 under manager Jim Bunning. The Hall of Fame pitcher is now a U.S. senator from Kentucky.





65 -- Errors by the 2003 Mariners, the fewest in Major League history.





66 -- Games won by Jamie Moyer, one of the all-time Mariner pitching greats, in 11 major league seasons before Seattle acquired him from Boston in a trade for journeyman outfielder Darren Bragg in July 1996.





67 -- Doubles hit by Frank Brazill for the PCL's Seattle Indians in 1925.





68 -- Games played by future Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith -- his only minor league games -- with Walla Walla in the Northwest League in 1977. Smith's manager at Walla Walla was Cliff Ditto. Honest.





69 -- Games finished out of first place by the 1934 Portland Beavers. The Beavers wound up 66-117 and set a PCL record (since tied) for most games out of first.





70 -- Games won by Jack McKeon in his third and final season as player-manager of the Pioneer League's Missoula (Mont.) Timberjacks in 1958. McKeon managed the world champion Florida Marlins in 2003.





71 -- Rank (tied) in career wins for Portland native Mickey Lolich, who compiled a 217-191 record in 16 seasons.





72 -- Career wins for Pasco native Ray Washburn, who pitched a no-hitter for the 1968 St. Louis Cardinals. Washburn led Whitworth College to the 1960 NAIA championship.





73 -- Stolen bases for Seattle's Tommy Harper in 1969. Harper led the major leagues during the Pilots' only season.





74 -- Age of Spokane play-by-play broadcaster Bob Robertson when the Indians won the Northwest League championship in 2003.





75 -- Packages of chewing tobacco presented to Spokane's Walt Powell and Victoria's Dad Meek after they hit the first out-of-the-park home runs in the nine-year history of Spokane's cavernous Recreation Park in 1913. Both players also received a case of beer.





76 -- Stolen bases for Spokane's Edo Vanni in the Western International League in 1948. Vanni later became a fixture on the baseball scene in his native Seattle.





77 -- Hits for Alex Rodriguez in 54 PCL games with Tacoma before Seattle called him up at age 20 in 1995. Rodriguez was batting .360 with 15 homers and 45 RBIs for the Tigers.





78 -- Games played by Mark McGwire -- his last games in the minor leagues -- for the PCL's Tacoma Tigers in 1986. McGwire earned a promotion to Oakland at the end of the season, then set a major league rookie record with 49 homers in 1987.





79 -- Years Everett went without a minor league baseball team after its first franchise dominated the 1905 Northwestern League in its only season. Everett has been part of the Northwest League since 1984.





80 -- Games played by actor Kurt Russell in the Northwest League in 1971 and '72, the first two of his three pro seasons in the California Angels system. Russell, a second baseman, hit .285 with Bend in 1971 and .325 with Walla Walla in 1972.





81 -- Years since Hall of Famer Rogers Hornsby set a modern-era (since 1900) major league record by hitting .424 for the 1924 St. Louis Cardinals. Hornsby managed the Seattle Rainiers to the 1951 PCL championship.





82 -- Consecutive scoreless innings thrown by Portland pitchers in the PCL in 1913. The mark remains a professional baseball record, according to The Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball.





83 -- League-leading hits for Portland second baseman Steve Collette in the Northwest League in 1976.





84 -- Runs batted in for Spokane native Ryne Sandberg when he was named Most Valuable Player in the National League with the 1984 Chicago Cubs. Sandberg was voted into the Hall of Fame in January.





85 -- Years since 1920, when former Gonzaga pitcher Leon Cadore and Joe Oeschger both threw complete games in the longest major league game for innings played. After 26 innings, the game was called due to darkness with the score tied at 1-1. Cadore pitched for the Brooklyn Robins (now L.A. Dodgers), Oeschger for the Boston (now Atlanta) Braves.





86 -- Home runs by the Mariners' Bucky Jacobsen, a native of Hermiston, Ore., in his last four full seasons in the minors.





87 -- Years since Vancouver, Wash., fielded a minor league team. Both of Vancouver's teams (1904 Oregon State League and 1918 Pacific Coast International League) lasted less than a month.





88 -- PCL record for games pitched, set by Spokane's Ken Rowe in 1964.





89 -- Losses by the Bremerton Bluejackets in 1949. The Bluejackets, Bremerton's only professional sports franchise, played in the Western International League from 1946-49.





90 -- Western International League record for stolen bases, set by Spokane's Eddie Murphy in 1951.





91 -- Runs batted in by future Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt during his final minor league season, spent with the PCL's Eugene Emeralds in 1972.





92 -- Victories for the 1960 Spokane Indians (92-61), regarded as one of the greatest minor league teams of all-time. Current Mariners broadcaster Ron Fairly played left field and hit .303 with 27 home runs and 100 RBIs.





93 -- Games won by the Mariners under Lou Piniella in 2002 and under Bob Melvin in 2003.





94 -- Victories for the 1970 Spokane Indians, ranked as the greatest modern-day minor league team by Baseball America magazine. The Indians (94-52), led by shortstop Bobby Valentine, won the PCL championship under future Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda.





95 -- Career hits total for the Mariners' first-round draft picks (all position players) in five amateur drafts from January 1978 through January 1980. Only Jim Maler and Al Chambers ever reached the majors.





96 -- Mariners record for career losses, set by Mike Moore from 1982-88. Seattle selected Moore first overall in the 1981 June amateur draft.





97 -- Complete games thrown by former Tacoma Giants star Juan Marichal from 1965-68 with San Francisco. His 30 complete games in '68 is tied for highest in the past 50 years.





98 -- Hits for Northwest League leader Julio Franco with Central Oregon (Bend) in 1979. Now with the Atlanta Braves, the 46-year-old Franco is the oldest player in the majors.





99 -- Record for consecutive games without an error by a third baseman, tied by Seattle's Jeff Cirillo in 2002.





100 -- Rank in career RBIs (1,266) for Portland native Dale Murphy, who played for Atlanta, Philadelphia and Colorado.





Publication date: 04/07/05

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